भगत सिंह : कितने दूर, कितने पास

भगत सिंह हमारी राष्ट्रीय चेतना में कितने गहरे बसे हैं इसका अंदाज़ा इसी बात से लगाया जा सकता है कि धुर दक्षिणपंथी दलों से लेकर धुर वामपंथी दलों तक उन्हें अपना नायक बनाने और उनसे अपनी परम्परा जोड़ने का भरसक प्रयास करते हैं. उनके जन्मशताब्दी वर्ष में शायद ही देश की कोई ऐसी पत्रिका होगी जिसने उन पर विशेषांक नहीं निकाला या फिर विशेष सामग्री नहीं दी. गांधी के अलावा शायद ही ऐसा किसी अन्य के साथ होता हो. गांधी के सन्दर्भ में भी स्वरों में पर्याप्त अंतर होता है तथा अक्सर वाम तथा दक्षिण अलग अलग कारणों से उनके प्रति आलोचनात्मक रुख रखते हैं, भगत सिंह के सन्दर्भ में अनिवार्य रूप से सभी का स्वर प्रशंसा का ही होता है लेकिन यहाँ अपनी अपनी तस्वीरों में मढ के. जहाँ वामपंथी उन्हें कम्युनिस्ट बता कर उनके सपनों के भारत की बात करते हैं वहीँ संघ परिवार उन्हें कट्टर राष्ट्रवादी और देश की आन बाण शान पर अपने प्राणों की बलि देने वाला देशभक्त जवान बताकर अपने सपनों का भारतवर्ष बनाने की बात करता है. ज़ाहिर है जनता के बीच भगत सिंह की जो विश्वसनीयता और उन्हें लेकर जो श्रद्धा भाव है वह अद्वितीय है.

कौन थे भगत सिंह ?

लेकिन इन सबके बीच असली भगत सिंह कहाँ हैं? कौन हैं? क्या थे उनके स्वप्न और हम उनसे कितने दूर खड़े हैं या फिर कितने पास हैं? संयोग से अपने अन्य समकालीन क्रांतिकारियों से अलग भगत सिंह का लिखा पढ़ा आज भी उपलब्ध है और भगत सिंह की तलाश उन्हीं लेखों, पत्रों, टिप्पणियों और पर्चों के सहारे की जा सकती है.

सितम्बर 1987 में भगत सिंह के साथी रहे शिव वर्मा के सम्पादन में कानपुर के समाजवादी साहित्य सदन ने उनके कुछ लेख और पत्र “भगत सिंह की चुनी हुई कृतियाँ” नाम से प्रकाशित किए. मुख्य खंड में 29 दस्तावेजी लेख/पत्र तथा परिशिष्ट के अंतर्गत भगत सिंह के संगठन ‘हिन्दुस्तानी समाजवादी प्रजातांत्रिक संगठन’ के दस दस्तावेज़ इसमें शामिल थे, जिनके लिखने में निश्चित रूप से उनकी प्रमुख भूमिका रही होगी और जिनसे सहमति तो रही होगी. इन दस्तावेजों के साथ शिव वर्मा ने एक लम्बी भूमिका के रूप में “क्रांतिकारी आन्दोलन का वैचारिक इतिहास” लिखकर भगत सिंह की वैचारिक अवस्थिति साफ़ की थी.

यहाँ यह याद कर लेना अप्रासंगिक नहीं होगा कि हिन्दुस्तानी प्रजातांत्रिक संगठन का नाम बदल उसमें “समाजवादी” शब्द जुड़वाने में भगत सिंह की प्रमुख भूमिका थी. एक मज़ेदार तथ्य यह कि जिन दो लोगों ने “समाजवादी” शब्द जोड़ने का विरोध किया था उन दोनों ने ही बाद में भगत सिंह और उनके साथियों के खिलाफ़ गवाही दी, खैर, इन लेखों और दस्तावेजों को पढ़ते हुए इतना तो बिलकुल स्पष्ट हो जाता है कि चाफेकर बंधुओं से ग़दर पार्टी तक के क्रांतिकारियों की जो पूरी परम्परा थी भगत सिंह उसके सबसे आधुनिक और विकसित प्रतिनिधि थे. भारतीय क्रांतिकारी इतिहास में वह पहले क्रांतिकारी थे जिन्होंने धर्म, जाति और ऐसे तमाम मुद्दों पर अपनी स्पष्ट राय रखी थी.

धर्म, साम्प्रदायिकता और भगत सिंह

1928 में किरती में लिखे अपने आलेख “धर्म और हमारा स्वतंत्रता संग्राम” में वह लिखते हैं –

“बात यह है कि क्या धर्म घर में रहते हुए भी लोगों के दिलों के भेदभाव नहीं बढ़ाता? क्या उसका देश के पूर्ण स्वतंत्रता हासिल करने तक पहुँचने में कोई असर नहीं पड़ता? … बच्चे से यह कहना कि ईश्वर ही सर्वशक्तिमान है मनुष्य कुछ भी नहीं है, मिट्टी का पुतला है, बच्चे को हमेशा के लिए कमज़ोर बनाना है. उसके दिल की ताक़त और उसके आत्मविश्वास की भावना को नष्ट कर देना है.”

अपने थोड़े बाद के लेख “मैं नास्तिक क्यों हूँ?” में वह कहते हैं,

“तुम जाओ और किसी प्रचलित धर्म का विरोध करो, जाओ किसी हीरो की, महान व्यक्ति की, जिसके बारे में सामान्यतः यह विश्वास किया जाता है कि वह आलोचना से परे है क्योंकि वह ग़लती कर ही नहीं सकता, आलोचना करो तो तुम्हारे तर्क की शक्ति हज़ारों लोगों को तुम पर वृथाभिमानी का आक्षेप लगाने को मज़बूर कर देगी.”

भगत सिंह और जाति का सवाल

उस दौर में जब महाराष्ट्र में एक मज़बूत दलित आन्दोलन के बावजूद कांग्रेस सहित आज़ादी की लड़ाई के तमाम भागीदारों के बीच जाति प्रश्न को लेकर कोई दृढ़ चेतना दिखाई नहीं देती और संघ जैसे कट्टरपंथी संगठन तो वर्ण व्यवस्था को बनाए रखने की पुरज़ोर कोशिश कर रहे थे, भगत सिंह का अछूत समस्या पर जून, 1928 को किरती में प्रकाशित लेख “अछूत समस्या” निश्चित रूप से क्रांतिकारी था.

इस लेख में वह यह कहते हुए कि

“क्योंकि एक आदमी गरीब मेहतर के घर पैदा हो गया है, इसलिए जीवन भर मैला ही साफ करेगा और दुनिया में किसी तरह के विकास का काम पाने का उसे कोई हक नहीं है, ये बातें फिजूल हैं। इस तरह हमारे पूर्वज आर्यों ने इनके साथ ऐसा अन्यायपूर्ण व्यवहार किया तथा उन्हें नीच कह कर दुत्कार दिया एवं निम्नकोटि के कार्य करवाने लगे। साथ ही यह भी चिन्ता हुई कि कहीं ये विद्रोह न कर दें, तब पुनर्जन्म के दर्शन का प्रचार कर दिया कि यह तुम्हारे पूर्व जन्म के पापों का फल है। अब क्या हो सकता है?चुपचाप दिन गुजारो! इस तरह उन्हें धैर्य का उपदेश देकर वे लोग उन्हें लम्बे समय तक के लिए शान्त करा गए। लेकिन उन्होंने बड़ा पाप किया। मानव के भीतर की मानवीयता को समाप्त कर दिया। आत्मविश्वास एवं स्वावलम्बन की भावनाओं को समाप्त कर दिया। बहुत दमन और अन्याय किया गया। आज उस सबके प्रायश्चित का वक्त है”,

खुली अपील करते हैं कि

“संगठनबद्ध हो अपने पैरों पर खड़े होकर पूरे समाज को चुनौती दे दो। तब देखना, कोई भी तुम्हें तुम्हारे अधिकार देने से इन्कार करने की जुर्रत न कर सकेगा। तुम दूसरों की खुराक मत बनो। दूसरों के मुँह की ओर न ताको। लेकिन ध्यान रहे, नौकरशाही के झाँसे में मत फँसना। यह तुम्हारी कोई सहायता नहीं करना चाहती, बल्कि तुम्हें अपना मोहरा बनाना चाहती है। यही पूँजीवादी नौकरशाही तुम्हारी गुलामी और गरीबी का असली कारण है। इसलिए तुम उसके साथ कभी न मिलना। उसकी चालों से बचना। तब सब कुछ ठीक हो जायेगा। तुम असली सर्वहारा हो… संगठनबद्ध हो जाओ। तुम्हारी कुछ भी हानि न होगी। बस गुलामी की जंजीरें कट जाएंगी। उठो, और वर्तमान व्यवस्था के विरुद्ध बगावत खड़ी कर दो। धीरे-धीरे होनेवाले सुधारों से कुछ नहीं बन सकेगा। सामाजिक आन्दोलन से क्रांति पैदा कर दो तथा राजनीतिक और आर्थिक क्रांति के लिए कमर कस लो। तुम ही तो देश का मुख्य आधार हो, वास्तविक शक्ति हो। सोए हुए शेरो! उठो और बगावत खड़ी कर दो।“

यह यों ही नहीं था कि उनकी शहादत के बाद  रामास्वामी पेरियार ने अपने अखबार “कुडई आरसु” में श्रद्धांजलि लेख लिखा था. भगत सिंह का जाति प्रश्न पर यह स्पष्ट और कड़ा स्टैंड निश्चित रूप से उनकी अग्रगामी चेतना और भारतीय समाज की बेहतर समझ का परिचायक था.

एक वैचारिक क्रांतिकारी

यही नहीं जो लोग उन्हें “मरने के लिए मरे जा रहे” रूमानी क्रांतिकारी के रूप में देखते हैं उन्हें युवा राजनैतिक कार्यकर्ताओं के नाम लिखा उनका पत्र पढ़ना चाहिए जिसमें वे उन्हें गाँवों और फैक्ट्रियों में जाकर लोगों को संगठित कर एक नयी सामाजिक व्यवस्था के निर्माण की अपील करते हैं. इसी पत्र में वह लिखते हैं कि

“इससे क्या फर्क पड़ता है कि भारतीय सरकार के प्रमुख लार्ड इरविन हों या सर पुरुषोत्तम ठाकुर दास. एक किसान को इससे क्या फ़र्क पड़ता है कि लार्ड इरविन की जगह सर तेज बहादुर सप्रू गद्दी पर बैठे हैं.”

ज़ाहिर है कि उनकी देशभक्ति गोरे अंग्रेजों को सत्ता से हटाने भर तक सीमित नहीं थी बल्कि वह देश के मज़दूर, किसानों और वंचित जन के हाथ में सत्ता पहुँचाने की उस लड़ाई में मुब्तिला थे जिसकी तलाश में वह समाजवाद के सिद्धांत तक पहुँचे थे.

“इन्कलाब जिंदाबाद से हमारा अभिप्राय क्या है” नामक लेख में वह इसका मज़ाक उड़ाने वाले सम्पादक को जवाब ही नहीं देते बल्कि क्रांति के अपने स्वप्न को भी स्पष्ट करते हैं,

“क्रान्ति शब्द का अर्थ प्रगति के लिए परिवर्तन की भावना और आकांक्षा है.”

इस प्रगति को लेकर उनका नज़रिया तमाम जगहों पर बहुत स्पष्ट रूप से सामने आता है. यह कोई वायवीय रोमांटिक स्वप्न नहीं है. अपने समकालीन क्रांतिकारी लाला रामशरण दास की किताब “ड्रीमलैंड” की भूमिका में वह रूमानी इन्कलाब और अपने उद्देश्यों का ज़िक्र करते हैं. लेखक की स्वप्नजीविता की कड़ी आलोचना करते हैं और साफ़ साफ़ अपनी विचारधारा “भौतिकवाद” घोषित करते हैं.

यह भूमिका दरअसल पुस्तक की समीक्षा ही है और इस रूप में राजनीतिक आलोचना का एक उत्कृष्ट उदहारण है. इस भूमिका के अंत में वह कहते हैं कि

“मैं अपने नौजवानों के लिए ख़ास तौर पर इस पुस्तक की सिफारिश करता हूँ, लेकिन एक चेतावनी के साथ. कृपया आँख मूंदकर इस पर अमल करने के लिए या इसमें जो कुछ लिखा है उसे वैसा ही मान लेने के लिए इसे न पढ़ें. इसे पढ़ें, इसकी आलोचना करें, इस पर सोचें और इसकी सहायता से स्वयं अपनी समझदारी बनाएँ.”

भगत सिंह की यह चेतावनी किसी भी समय किसी भी रचना के पाठक के लिए समीचीन है.

भगत सिंह और उनके नारे

भगत सिंह को समझने के लिए उनके दिए नारे भी बेहद महत्त्वपूर्ण हो सकते हैं. उन्होंने ‘वन्दे मातरम’ या ‘भारत माता की जय’ की जगह जो नया नारा उपनिवेशवाद विरोधी आन्दोलन को दिया वह था – इन्कलाब जिंदाबाद. इन्कलाब से उनका अभिप्राय क्या था यह हम पहले ही स्पष्ट कर चुके हैं. अराजकतावाद से आगे बढ़ते हुए समाजवादी विचारों को आत्मसात करने की प्रक्रिया में उन्होंने यह साफतौर पर कहा कि

‘हथियार और गोला बारूद क्रांति के लिए कभी कभी आवश्यक हो सकते हैं लेकिन इन्कलाब की तलवार विचारों की सान पर तेज़ होती है.

यानी इस क्रान्ति को वैचारिक तैयारी के बिना अंजाम देना संभव नहीं था.

भगत खुद भी दीवानावार किताबें पढ़ते थे. उनकी जेल डायरी के नोट्स देखें जांय तो मार्क्स, एंगेल्स, लेनिन से लेकर गैरीबाल्डी और मैजिनी तक को वह पढ़ रहे थे और इन्हीं किताबों से उनके सम्मुख क्रान्ति का स्वप्न आकार ले रहा था.

यह यों ही नहीं था कि उन्होंने कोर्ट में अपनी पेशी के दौरान लेनिन के निर्वाण दिवस पर तीसरी कम्युनिस्ट इंटर्नेशनल को पत्र लिखा था. इस पत्र में  एक और नारा है – साम्राज्यवाद मुर्दाबाद. ज़ाहिर है वह अंग्रेज़ी हुकूमत के खिलाफ सिर्फ़ इसलिए नहीं थे कि यह एक विदेशी हुकूमत थी. वह साम्राज्यवाद के खिलाफ थे और इसके विकल्प के रूप में समाजवाद के समर्थक. यह यों ही नहीं है कि ब्रिटिश गुप्तचर एजेंसी के प्रमुख ने अपनी रपट में गांधी से अधिक ख़तरा भगत सिंह जैसे “कम्यूनिस्ट” क्रांतिकारियों से बताया था. भगत सिंह निश्चित तौर पर भारत की आधिकारिक कम्युनिस्ट पार्टियों का हिस्सा नहीं थे, लेकिन अपने विचारों में वह वैज्ञानिक समाजवाद के बेहद करीब थे. आज़ाद हिन्दुस्तान को लेकर उनके स्वप्न एक शोषण विहीन और समानता आधारित समाज के थे जिसमें सत्ता का संचालन कामगार वर्ग के हाथ में हो.

भगत सिंह का स्वप्न और हमारा दायित्व

और उस स्वप्न के आईने में जब हम अपना समय देखते हैं तो निश्चित रूप से यह उनके जितने पास लगता है उससे कहीं अधिक दूर. वह लड़ाई उपनिवेशवाद की मुक्ति तक तो पहुंची लेकिन उसके आगे जाकर वंचित जनों के हाथ में सत्ता देकर एक समतावादी समाज की स्थापना अब भी एक स्वप्न ही है.

हमने जो आर्थिक व्यवस्था चुनी वह समतावादी होने की जगह लगातार विषमता बढ़ाने वाली साबित हुई और आज आज़ादी के सात दशकों बाद भी हम अपनी जनता के बड़े हिस्से को ज़रूरी सुविधाएं भी मुहैया नहीं करा पा रहे. सामाजिक ताना बाना भी बुरी तरह उलझा और ध्वस्त हुआ है. एक अपेक्षाकृत बराबरी वाला संविधान अपनाने के बावजूद समाज के भीतर जातीय, धार्मिक और इलाकाई भेदभाव लगातार बढ़ता गया है. बाबरी विध्वंस के बाद से लगातार देश में दक्षिणपंथी ताक़तें मज़बूत हुई हैं और धर्म का स्पेस राजनीति में घटने की जगह भयावह रूप से विस्तारित होता चला जा रहा है. कश्मीर और उत्तर पूर्व में जिस तरह उत्पीड़ित राष्ट्रीयताओं के प्रतिरोध और दमन देखे जा रहे हैं वह देश के रूप में हमारी परिकल्पना को ही प्रश्नांकित कर रहे हैं.

ऐसे में भगत सिंह को याद करना उपनिवेशवादी आन्दोलन की क्रांतिकारी तथा जनपक्षधर धारा को याद करना है. यह सवाल सिर्फ एक महान क्रांतिकारी शहीद की स्मृति को ज़िंदा रखने का नहीं बल्कि उस विचार और स्वप्न को जीवित रखने का है और इसे आगे ले जाने की जिम्मेवारी उनकी है जो खुद को भगत सिंह का वारिस कहते हैं.

विभाजन , आजादी औऱ गांधी

जिस दिन अखबार के पूरे पहले पन्ने पर देश की आज़ादी की ख़बर छपी थी , राष्ट्रपिता के बारे में बस एक छोटी सी एक कॉलम की ख़बर थी – गाँधी आज उपवास करेंगे.

पंद्रह अगस्त को दिल्ली में जवाहरलाल नेहरू ने आधी रात को तिरंगा फ़हरा कर आज़ादी की घोषणा की तो गाँधी कश्मीर से लौटकर कलकत्ते के बेलियाघाटा में थे जहाँ 10 अगस्त को वह फिर से भड़क उठे फ़साद के नियंत्रण की कोशिश कर रहे थे। उस दिन चरखा कातते हुए ब्रिटेन की सुधारक और भारतीय आज़ादी की समर्थक अगाथा हैरिसन को लिख रहे थे –‘तुम जानती हो आज जैसे महत्त्वपूर्ण मौकों को मनाने का मेरा तरीक़ा भगवान का धन्यवाद देना है यानी प्रार्थना करना।इस प्रार्थना के बाद निश्चित रूप से उपवास होना चाहिए…और फिर ग़रीबों के प्रति समर्पण के रूप में चरखा चलाया जाना चाहिए।’ बंगाल के मंत्रियों को उन्होंने दिखावे और भ्रष्टाचार से दूर रहते हुए जनता की सेवा की सलाह दी तो बंगाल के राज्यपाल सी राजगोपालाचारी की बधाई के जवाब में कहा – ‘मैं तब तक संतुष्ट नहीं हो सकता जबतक हिन्दू और मुसलमान एकदूसरे के साथ सुरक्षित न महसूस करें।’ इसके बिना वह उस दिन की ख़ुशियों में शामिल होने को तैयार नहीं थे।  जब भारत सरकार के सूचना एवं प्रसारण मंत्रालय के अधिकारी उनसे सन्देश लेने आये तो उन्होंने कहा –मेरे पास कहने के लिए कुछ नहीं है। बीबीसी के संवाददाता ने जब ज़ोर दिया तो कहा –भूल जाओ कि मुझे अंग्रेज़ी आती है।

आज़ादी की ख़ुशी को विभाजन और साम्प्रदायिक दंगों ने ढँक लिया था. यह विभाजन अंग्रेज़ों की सफलता था और उनके ख़िलाफ़ मुक्ति की लड़ाई लड़ रहे भारतीयों की हार.

क्यों बंटा देश ?

आश्चर्य होता है कि जो देश बिना संसाधनों के 1857 में ब्रिटिश सत्ता के ख़िलाफ़ उठ खड़ा हुआ था, वह 90 सालों में इस क़दर कैसे बंट गया. आगे चलकर माफ़ी माँग कर रिहा हुए और फिर साम्प्रदायिकता के पोस्टर बॉय बने सावरकर ने कभी अपनी अपनी किताब ‘1857 का स्वातंत्र्य समर’ में लिखा था –

किस प्रकार फिरंगी शासन छिन्न-भिन्न हो गया था और हिन्दुओं-मुसलमानों की आम सहमति से स्वदेशी सिंहासन स्थापित हो गए थे…किस प्रकार अपने शत्रुओं को यह कहने पर बाध्य कर दिया था कि इतिहासकारों और प्रशासकों को भारतीय सैन्य क्रान्ति द्वारा सिखाये गए अनेक पाठों में कोई भी इस चेतावनी से अधिक महत्त्वपूर्ण नहीं है – अब ऐसी क्रान्ति संभव है जिसमें ब्राह्मण और शूद्र तथा हिन्दू और मुसलमान सभी हमारे विरूद्ध एक साथ संगठित हों और यह मानना सुरक्षित नहीं है कि हमारे आधिपत्य की शान्ति और स्थिरता बहुत सीमा तक उस महाद्वीप पर निर्भर है, जिसमें विभिन्न धर्मों वाली विभिन्न जातियाँ निवास करती हैं, क्योंकि वे एक दूसरे को समझती हैं और एक-दूसरे की गतिविधियों का सम्मान करती हैं.

पेज 25, 1857 का स्वातंत्र्य समर, विनायक दामोदर सावरकर

लेकिन अंग्रेज़ों ने इस महान विद्रोह से अपने सबक़ सीखे.

अंग्रेज़ों ने 1857 के जनविद्रोह की विफलता के बाद लगातार इस एकता को छिन्न-भिन्न करने का प्रयास किया. बम्बई के तत्कालीन गवर्नर लार्ड एल्फिन्स्टाईन ने 14 मई 1859 को एक बैठक में नोट किया था – ‘बांटो और राज करो’ (Divide et Impeta) एक पुरानी रोमन कहावत है,यह अब हमारी नीति होनी चाहिए. अंग्रेज़ों की इस कोशिश को इतिहास पढने वाला हरकोई जानता है और यह समझना मुश्किल नहीं कि इस कोशिश में उनका साथ साम्प्रदायिक हिन्दुओं और मुसलमानों के संगठनों ने ही दिया.

साम्प्रदायिक ताकतों का उभार और कांग्रेस तथा गांधी जी

अगर इतिहास देखें तो 1888 में अपने निर्माण के समय से कांग्रेस ने सेक्युलर नीतियाँ अपनाईं थीं और हिन्दू या मुसलमान की जगह भारतीय हितों का प्रतिनिधि संगठन बनकर उभरी थी. लेकिन दूसरी तरफ़ दोनों ही धर्मों में ऐसे संगठन धीरे-धीरे उभरे जिन्होंने अंग्रेज़ों के सहयोग से देश में साम्प्रदायिक बँटवारे की नींव गहरी करने में पूरी ताक़त लगाईं.

मुस्लिम लीग हो या हिन्दू महासभा या फिर आर एस एस, आप देखेंगे कि अपने धार्मिक हितों की बात करने वाले ये संगठन दरअसल अपने समुदायों के उच्चवर्गों के हितों की रक्षा कर रहे थे और आज़ादी की लड़ाई से पूरी तरह दूर थे. यह महज़ संयोग नहीं है कि 1942 में जब पूरा देश भारत छोड़ो के नारे से गूँज रहा था तो सावरकर और जिन्ना, दोनों ही ब्रिटिश हुकूमत के साथ खड़े थे और बंगाल और सिंध जैसी जगहों पर साथ में सरकार चला रहे थे, संयोग यह भी नहीं है कि उसी दौर में हिन्दू महासभा के समर्थन से चल रही सिंध की सरकार ने जब पाकिस्तान का प्रस्ताव असेम्बली में लाया तो महासभा ने उसका मूक समर्थन किया और गाँधी के हर क़दम का विरोध करने वाली मुस्लिम लीग सावरकर के डोमिनियन स्टेट्स स्वीकार करने वाले प्रस्ताव पर कुछ नहीं कहती थी. न सावरकर के शिष्यों ने कभी जिन्ना को मारने की कोशिश की न जिन्ना के डायरेक्ट एक्शन में कभी सावरकर पर कोई हमला हुआ. सोचियेगा कभी इन दोनों साम्प्रदायिक संगठनों की गाँधी से साझा दुश्मनी का कारण क्या था?

अंग्रेज़ों की साज़िशें और कांग्रेस की कोशिशें

नोआखली में गाँधी
(तस्वीर द वायर से साभार)

ब्रिटिश सत्ता ने बंगाल का विभाजन, मिंटो-मार्ले सुधार, मांटेग्यू-चेम्सफोर्ड सुधार जैसे क़दमो से इस दरार को खाई में बदलने में पूरा सहयोग दिया. लोकमान्य तिलक ने 1916 में मुस्लिम लीग के साथ समझौता कर इसी खाई को पाटने की कोशिश की थी और हमने देखा है कि गाँधी उसी परम्परा को आगे बढ़ाते हुए लगातार हिन्दू-मुस्लिम एकता की कोशिशें कर रहे थे और एक क़दम आगे बढ़कर सामाजिक रूढ़ियों का भी विरोध कर रहे थे.

विभाजन को रोकने का एक ही तरीका था कि उत्तर से दक्षिण तथा पूरब से पश्चिम तक के सभी अल्पसंख्यकों, दलितों और भाषा-भाषियों को यह भरोसा दिलाया जाता कि आज़ाद भारत में वे बराबर की सुरक्षा और सम्मान के हक़दार होंगे. तभी एक राष्ट्र के निर्माण में सारी जनता अपने पूर्वाग्रहों से मुक्त होकर पूरे उत्साह से शामिल हो सकती थी. सर्वधर्म समभाव, अस्पृश्यता के विरुद्ध सतत आन्दोलन, अंतर्जातीय विवाहों को प्रोत्साहन, संस्कृतनिष्ठ तथा फ़ारसीनिष्ठ भाषा की जगह सहज-सरल-सर्वसमावेशी हिन्दुस्तानी के प्रचार और अन्य भाषाओं को बराबरी का सम्मान दिलाने की मुहिम जैसे क़दमों से गाँधी यही प्रयास कर रहे थे.

इसीलिए नोआखली में उनकी चिंता का केंद्र अल्पसंख्यक हिन्दू थे तो दिल्ली में उनकी चिंता के केंद्र में अल्पसंख्यक मुसलमान थे. बँटवारे का समर्थन तो छोड़िये उन्होंने बँटवारे के बाद भी यह सपना देखना नहीं छोड़ा था कि एकदिन हिन्दुस्तान और पाकिस्तान फिर से एक हो जाएंगे, उनके लिए तो कभी वे बंटे थे ही नहीं. इसीलिए तो वह एकतरफ दिल्ली में हिंसा रोकने की कोशिश कर रहे थे तो दूसरी तरफ़ लगातार पाकिस्तान में हो रही हिंसा की लानत-मलामत करते हुए वहाँ जाकर उसे रोकने की इच्छा जता रहे थे.

इसीलिए गाँधी दोनों तरफ़ के विभाजनकारी तत्त्वों के लिए एक असुविधा थे.

विभाजन : कुछ तथ्य

कैबिनेट मिशन के प्रस्तावों पर विचार करने के लिए जब 25 जून 1946 को कांग्रेस कार्यसमिति की बैठक हुई थी तब गाँधी ने कहा था -– मैं हार स्वीकार करता हूँ…आपलोगों को अपनी समझ के अनुसार काम करना चाहिए। वह अंतरिम सरकार स्थापना की अल्पकालिक योजना के बिना संविधान सभा की दीर्घकालिक योजना की सफलता को लेकर संशय में थे। लेकिन पटेल मिशन के सदस्यों के साथ 2 जून की बैठक में वादा कर आये थे कि वह कांग्रेस कार्यसमिति में उन ‘16 मई प्रस्तावों’ को पास करा लेंगे जो अंतरिम सरकार के गठन का रास्ता खोलती थी. नेहरू और मौलाना आज़ाद को भी उन्होंने राज़ी कर लिया था.

जब गाँधी से पूछा पटेल ने कि क्या आप संतुष्ट हैं तो गाँधी ने जवाब दिया – उलटे मेरा संशय गहरा हो गया है. लेकिन जब सरदार पटेल, नेहरू और कार्यसमिति के अन्य सदस्य राजी थे तो गाँधी ने हार मान ली.

गाँधी सही थे

हालाँकि जब भारी उठापठक के बाद लीग और कांग्रेस की संयुक्त सरकार बनी तो यह साबित हो गया कि गाँधी के संशय सही थे.

पटेल ने अपनी ज़िद से इस सरकार में गृहमंत्री का पद अपने पास रखा. मुस्लिम लीग के लियाक़त अली खान को वित्त मंत्रालय मिला. यह निर्णय असल में उलटा पड़ा. लियाक़त ने वित्त मंत्री के रूप में कांग्रेसी मंत्रियों के हर प्रस्ताव की राह में रोड़े अडकाये. हालत ये कि चपरासी तक की नियुक्ति में उन्हें वित्त मंत्रालय के चक्कर लगाने पड़ते थे. असल में, पहले दिन से लीग के मंत्रियों ने प्रधानमन्त्री नेहरू या पटेल को नेता मानने से इंकार किया और कैबिनेट के भीतर एक अलग कैबिनेट की तरह काम करते रहे. डायरेक्ट एक्शन के चलते मुस्लिम लीग ने पाकिस्तान के लिए जो दबाव बनाया था वह सरकार के भीतर रहकर और बढ़ाते गए. लीग के मंत्री राजा गज़नफ़र अली खान ने खुलेआम कहा – हम सरकार में पाकिस्तान के अपने लक्ष्य को हासिल करने के लिए हैं.

उस मंत्रिमंडल के सदस्य रहे मौलाना आज़ाद लिखते हैं – वे (मुस्लिम लीग के सदस्य) सरकार में थे और फिर भी सरकार के ख़िलाफ़ काम कर रहे थे… हालात ऐसे हुए कि लियाक़त ने बजट बनाया तो पटेल और राजगोपालाचारी पूरी तरह इसके ख़िलाफ़ हो गए. उन्होंने आरोप लगाया कि यह बजट जानबूझकर भारतीय उद्योगपतियों के हितों के ख़िलाफ़ है.

उधर अंग्रेज़ भीतर-भीतर लीग का समर्थन कर रहे थे और अंतत: लन्दन में हुई एक बैठक में ‘समूह से बाहर होने के अधिकार’ को लेकर लीग के पक्ष में फ़ैसला दिया. 15 दिसंबर को सरदार पटेल ने क्रिप्स को लिखा – आप जानते हैं गाँधी जी पूरी तरह से हमारे समझौते के ख़िलाफ़ थे, लेकिन मैंने अपना ज़ोर लगाया. आपने मेरे लिए एक बेहद प्रतिकूल स्थितियाँ बना दी हैं. हम सबको यहाँ लग रहा है कि धोखा हुआ है…

नेहरू भी यह ख़ूब समझ रहे थे. नवम्बर के अंत में मेरठ की एक आमसभा में उन्होंने खुला आरोप लगाया था कि – मुस्लिम लीग और अंग्रेज़ अधिकारियों में एक मानसिक गठजोड़ है.

साम्प्रदायिक ताक़तों के उत्पात

उधर साम्प्रदायिक घटनाएँ लगातार बढ़ती जा रही थीं. गाँधी जब नोआखली में आग बुझाने की कोशिश कर रहे थे तो बिहार में सात हज़ार और फिर गढ़मुक्तेश्वर में एक हज़ार मुसलमान मारे गए.

देश के दूसरे हिस्सों से भी हिंसा की ख़बरें लगातार आ रही थीं. इधर अंतरिम सरकार के भीतर मुश्किलें बढ़ती जा रही थीं और जिन्ना ने संविधान सभा का बहिष्कार किया हुआ था. हालात इतने बिगड़े कि पटेल और नेहरू ने वायसराय लार्ड वेवेल से लीग के सदस्यों को मंत्रिमंडल से बाहर करने की अपील की. लेकिन पटेल की इस धमकी के बावजूद कि अगर लीग के लोग बाहर नहीं जाएंगे तो हम चले जाएंगे, वेवेल ने ऐसा करने से इंकार कर दिया. जब एटली ने ब्रिटिश सरकार की विदाई के लिए जून, 1948 की समयसीमा तय की तो कांग्रेस ने अपना निर्णय वापस ले लिया.

ऐसे हालात में नेहरू और पटेल दोनों धीरे-धीरे इस बात के लिए मुतमइन होते जा रहे थे कि लीग के साथ कोई तालमेल संभव नहीं है. ब्रिटिश सरकार बिगड़ी हुई क़ानून व्यवस्था और संविधान सभा की विफलता के लिए आज़ादी के दिन आगे बढ़ाती तो भी हालात ऐसे ही थे कि अंततः विभाजन या लम्बे गृहयुद्ध जैसी स्थितियों में से किसी एक के ही चयन की संभावना होती. न तो मुस्लिम लीग अपने प्रभाव के इलाकों में हिंसा रोकने के लिए तैयार थी न हिन्दुत्ववादी दक्षिणपंथी ताक़तें अपने इलाक़ों में.

कभी जिस गाँधी की एक आवाज़ पर देश अंग्रेज़ों के ख़िलाफ़ उठ खड़ा होता था अब वह अकेले पड़ते जा रहे थे, पार्टी के अन्दर भी और बाहर भी.

दिसम्बर के अंत तक पटेल स्वीकार कर चुके थे कि विभाजन ही इकलौता रास्ता है. उनके जीवनीकार राजमोहन गाँधी मणिबेन की डायरी के हवाले से बताते हैं कि 25 दिसम्बर 1946 को बी पी मेनन ने उन्हें पंजाब और बंगाल के विभाजन द्वारा पाकिस्तान के निर्माण की एक योजना सुझाई थी और पटेल ने उसे स्वीकार कर लिया था.

जिन्ना जो पकिस्तान मांग रहे थे उसकी तुलना में यह भारत के लिए काफी बेहतर विकल्प था. जिन्ना ने नवम्बर में वेवेल से बातचीत में ही इसका इशारा कर दिया था – चाहे कितना भी छोटा हो, लेकिन मुसलमानों को अपना एक देश चाहिए. लेकिन वह चुप नहीं बैठे थे. बंगाल और सिंध में उनका बहुमत था लेकिन पंजाब में यूनियनिस्ट पार्टी के मलिक खिज्र हयात खान तिवाना की कांग्रेस और अकाली दल के साथ साझा सरकार थी जो लीग और विभाजन के ख़िलाफ़ थी. ऐसे ही उत्तर पश्चिमी सीमांत प्रदेश में कांग्रेस की सरकार थी. ‘इस्लाम ख़तरे में है’ के नारे के साथ लीग ने इन प्रदेशों में सरकार गिराने की मुहिम शुरू की तो एकबार फिर दंगे शुरू हो गए. मार्च के आरम्भ में खिज्र हयात को इस्तीफ़ा देना पड़ा और उसके बाद फिर हिंसा का एक दौर शुरू हुआ.

जब बीस मार्च को माउंटबेटन भारत आये तो पंजाब में आधिकारिक रूप से 2049 मौतें हुई थीं और हज़ार से अधिक लोग घायल हुए थे.

अब तक सब मानसिक रूप से विभाजन के लिए तैयार हो चुके थे, सिवाय गाँधी के.

मार्च के आरम्भ में जब पटेल की सहमति से हिन्दुस्तान टाइम्स में ख़बर छपी कि कांग्रेस पंजाब और बंगाल के विभाजन के लिए तैयार है तो 22 तारीख़ को नोआखली से गाँधी ने पटेल से पूछा – क्या आप अपना पंजाब प्रस्ताव मुझे समझा सकते हैं? यह मेरी समझ में नहीं आया. पटेल का जवाब था – एक ख़त में इसे समझाना मुश्किल है. यह बहुत सोच-समझ के लिया गया फ़ैसला है जल्दबाज़ी में नहीं. मैंने अखबारों में पढ़ा कि आपने इसके ख़िलाफ़ राय दी है. ज़ाहिर तौर पर आप जो सही समझें कहने के लिए आज़ाद हैं.

बाक़ी तो कोई अंदाज़ न लगा पा रहा था लेकिन देश की रग पहचानने वाले गाँधी जानते थे कि देश बंटा तो हिंसा होगी.

Margaret Bourke-White द्वारा खींची गई तस्वीर

हिंसा का जो बवंडर आज़ादी और बँटवारे के साथ आया था, गाँधी को उसका अंदाज़ा था। कलकत्ते आते हुए माउंटबेटन को उन्होंने लिखा था- ‘अगर बँटवारा हुआ, ख़ासतौर पर बंगाल और पंजाब का बँटवारा हुआ तो यह भयावह रूप से त्रासद हालात पैदा करेगा।’ लेकिन माउंटबेटन बज़िद थे। जून 1948 की डेडलाइन को अगस्त 1947 में बदल दिया गया, और फिर जब मानव इतिहास की सबसे खौफ़नाक घटनाओं में से एक में हिन्दुस्तान की नई सरहदों से लहू की बेशुमार धारें फूट पड़ीं तो न युद्धों के अनुभवी लार्ड माउंटबेटन रोक पाए न जिन्ना न नेहरू न पटेल।

Barkha Dutt has been on the road for 74 days and counting. Jaipur, Ahmedabad, Surat, Mumbai, Pune, Mumbai…

For me, the migrant worker crisis has become a much bigger crisis than Coronavirus, says Emmy nominated newscaster

Barkha Dutt on kasaragod

Barkha Dutt’s been living dangerously during the last 74 days. She’s leapt into trucks crammed with scores of migrant labourers hitching a lift back to their villages. She’s jumped onto a train about to pull out of Bangalore station and talked to migrant workers returning to Uttar Pradesh. She’s struggled into a PPE outfit and visited the mortuary of a Covid-19 hospital in Indore.

For the Emmy-nominated newscaster it’s been a reporting Odyssey on an epic scale that’s taken her 14,000km criss-crossing through eight states over 74 days. Dutt says she knew she had to be on the road with the migrants to bring their stark suffering home to Indians. “There was no way I was going to understand the magnitude of what’s happening unless I got out and I told the story from out there.

Dutt, who became one of the most recognised faces on India’s TV screens as host of NDTV’s flagship newscast show and who is now founder-editor of multimedia YouTube venture Mojo, first hit the road making one-day forays from Delhi to Uttar Pradesh and then to Madhya Pradesh and Jaipur. Since hotels weren’t open and might not be infection-free, she and her team would make the exhausting two-way journey from and back to Delhi each night. Along the way, Dutt, who’s known for her direct and sometimes combative interviewing style, would make pit stops to talk to the endless stream of workers trudging back from the bigger cities to their home villages.

But that didn’t seem to be quite enough, so packing just a few changes of clothes, she set out with her team that included her cameraman and driver from Delhi to travel to Jaipur, Ahmedabad, Surat and then on to Mumbai. Once there, they decided to push further to Pune and from there to Hyderabad and then back to Mumbai where Covid-19 was suddenly spiralling out of control. After talking to doctors and visiting a Covid-19 ward there, they drove on to Karnataka and then through to Kerala, which Dutt described as the only place in India where people seemed happy and where, to her surprise, everyone praised the state government’s Covid-fighting efforts.

What was the driving force that took her across India? (It should be noted national journalist who’s been on the road constantly tracking the migrants in a sustained way on their homebound journey). When the migrant crisis first erupted she travelled to Delhi’s borders and found an endless stream of people had flocked there in the hope of hopping onto a bus back to their home states. Their hopes quickly turned to disappointment when Delhi’s surrounding states were ordered to shut their borders. Dutt was shocked both by what she saw.

Dutt’s journey began as an effort to chronicle the story of how Covid-19 was hurting the country and also what she believes has now morphed into a greater migrant worker crisis. Says Dutt: “For me, the migrant worker crisis has become a much bigger crisis than Coronavirus. I’ve been arguing for a long time we’re in the middle of a humanitarian crisis. There’s going to be desperation in every strata that was dependent on a salary or a fixed income. Every strata is going to suffer.”

“I just think we have been clumsy as a country,” she reflects.

“Our class divide has been wrenched open. Our class is so discomfited by these stories we want to look away. We want to say this (kind of reporting) is some sort of poverty-chasing journalism. I don’t know what they want the alternative to be — that we should let them be invisible?”

Along her journey, she’s turned her camera on scores of tragic tales that have caught the public’s attention. “I remember walking with a man who worked as a contract labour in Maruti. He was just filled with rage. He just looked at me and he said, ‘In this country, only the poor will die. No politician’s child will die.’ He was going to Uttar Pradesh and he asked, ‘Could they not even have arranged a bus for us? It’s because we are poor. We don’t even have the right to a bus,’” she recalled. “He was so passionate and so strong in that little video clip I put out on Twitter it was watched a million times.” Another that touched a deep chord with viewers was when she consoled the family of a man who died just 80km short of his home.

In another poignant moment that focused attention on the migrants’ plight, she met a woman walking with her children who’d been turned back from the border four times. “When she saw me, she just started sobbing. I said to the camera that I can’t really practise social distancing here,” says Dutt, who then memorably hugged the woman. “Those are the reports that really resonate with people,” she adds.

She says she began as a “reluctant accepter” of the lockdown but since has become a “ferocious opponent” of it, believing that it will “in the end cause far more damage than this virus seems to be causing.”

Dutt says she’s done anywhere between 100 and 200 news clips — ranging from five minutes to 45 — since she hit the road. Dutt, who became famous for her front-line Kargil reports in 1999, even managed to squeeze in a discussion on the Ladakh standoff from the open door of her Maruti Ertiga that has taken her across the country.

Dutt’s “had the gumption to set herself up as a one-woman video channel and has made it a new trend to anchor a range of news from her vehicle, wherever she is,” notes Sevanti Ninan.

There have, inevitably, been health risks but Dutt shrugs them off, saying there was no way they could be avoided. “I jumped into a truck and inside there were hundreds of migrant workers. You’re inside a truck, inside a train, inside a basti. Inside Dharavi. Yes, you’ll wash your hands, you’ll wear gloves. But the one thing you can’t practice is social distancing. You are always in these crowded areas. You are with people.”

Finding places to stay has also been an every night struggle because all the hotels are shut. Every night, they would be desperately phoning friends for help and often ended up staying with friends of friends of friends.

One night they even found themselves in a rundown one-room abandoned farm, “I mean a farm, not a farmhouse,” she stresses.

Who should shoulder the blame for the utter havoc that has played out over the last two months? Dutt says both the Centre and state governments are equally at fault for constant flip-flops. First the government wanted to keep people wherever they were when the lockdown began. Then, the Delhi government organised buses to take workers back to their states but there was panic when they saw the crowds and the absence of social distancing.

Finally, when the lockdown was slated to end, the government caved in and allowed first buses and then began running trains. Says Dutt: “This is the biggest exodus since the Partition of India. Then through that exodus you kept changing policy.” Also, she notes, “Every worker I met told me they had purchased the ticket.”

The distressing tales changed only she entered Kerala, which has been the most successful state at keeping the infection at bay. In Kerala Dutt did a video interview with Health Minister K. K. Shailaja, nicknamed the “Coronavirus Slayer,” and another with the collector of Kasargod district where a 540-bed hospital is being built from scratch by the Tatas and will be ready in two months.

Dutt’s reached the far end of India but the journey isn’t about to end (from Telangana she had originally planned to head east but changed direction because of the impending cyclone). They still have to drive all the way back – most probably to Delhi but it could be in a different direction if there are newsbreaks elsewhere. Even when they do get back to Delhi it won’t be for more than a day or two as there are new journeys still to be made. “I want to go to the villages where the migrants have gone back to. I want to see what’s happening to them. The next phase of the story will be there,” she says.

Dutt, whose late mother Prabha Dutt was a pioneering news reporter, has always had a special place in the country’s news media firmament. After she left NDTV she’s been writing columns for The Washington Post and other publications and done a mix of TV shows. In 2017, she registered Mojo but admits she didn’t do much with it. That changed last October when she decided it was time to focus strongly on it. “I am going to make this happen. We formed a small team of eight people. I have a basement office so literally I am like a start-up entrepreneur.”

Her timing was fortuitous, she says. Soon afterwards, the anti-CAA protests began and that was followed by the demonstrations at Delhi’s Jamia Millia and Jawaharlal Nehru University. Suddenly, Dutt and her tiny team found they were run off their feet. And that was only a prelude to even bigger news stories, first the Delhi riots and finally Covid-19.

Dutt quickly decided there was no point in being a ‘me-too’ channel with one debate after another. And it couldn’t focus on breaking news because it was far too small. “We realised our calling was on the ground reporting. We see ourselves returning close to people and returning to storytelling. That is the small groove we are looking for.”

Have the last two months been the high point of Dutt’s career?

She hesitates on that and talks about the Kargil stand-off where she first made her name as a reporter. But there the enemy was very clear. “If a shell came you ducked and if a rocket came, you dived into a bunker,” she says. Here the enemy is unseen and insidious.

She says she’s very tired but doesn’t sound it. In fact, she sounds high on the adrenaline that’s been pumping for the last two months. And that will keep her going as she continues her journey across India. 

Modi 2.0 : Dark clouds have engulfed the nation.

The government has undermined secular democracy; social justice; federalism; and economic self-reliance

Narendra Modi

Surreal is, perhaps, the only way to describe marking of the first anniversary of the Modi 2.0 government. As the government data detailing the pre-coronavirus disease destruction of the economy and the consequent ruination of crores of lives during the last year was being released, Prime Minister (PM) Narendra Modi was writing to all of us describing the year as “a golden chapter in the history of Indian democracy”. This ruination has been aggravated by the coronavirus pandemic and the unplanned and abrupt unilateral lockdown announced by the PM. This lockdown has neither strengthened the efforts to combat the pandemic nor has it provided any relief to beleaguered citizens. The situation continues to worsen.

India appears to have entered a post-truth society. The Oxford Dictionary defines post-truth as “relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief”. The propaganda and spin machine of the government projects a surreal world divorced from the truth.

The first year of this government has been traumatic. Apart from all other issues such as the economic downturn, increase in people’s miseries, assaults on democratic rights and civil liberties, this year has been traumatic for the single-minded focus with which this government began to systematically undermine India’s secular, democratic, republican order.

Among the attacks — the delivery of a verdict and not justice in the Ram temple site dispute in Ayodhya, the triple talaq criminalisation of only Muslim men, not other’ for deserting their wives — are two that spring to mind immediately.

Modi 2.0 began with an immediate assault on the Constitution with the abrogation of Article 370. In one stroke, the state of Jammu and Kashmir became a part of history and was bifurcated into Union territories. The promises made during the freedom movement and the Constitution have been betrayed. The manner in which this was done was an affront to the constitutional scheme of things. By dissolving the elected assembly and not holding the elections along with the 2019 general elections, this government deliberately bypassed the constitutional stipulation that the border of any state in India cannot be altered without the concurrence of the assembly. As the assembly was non-existent, the governor appointed by the Centre was presumed to be the substitute, whose consent was naturally obtained. The entire exercise was done surreptitiously.

Then came the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA), a brazen violation of the Constitution in stipulating religion as a criterion for citizenship. The Constitution underlines the equality of every citizen, irrespective of caste, creed, gender or any other attribute. The corollary to CAA was the National Population Register on whose basis the National Register of Citizens would be prepared. This exercise was rightly seen by many as the intensification of communal polarisation that feeds into the larger construct of targeting the Muslim minority. These two, along with many other assaults, are part of the effort to transform a secular, democratic, republican India into an intolerant theocratic, exclusivist fascistic state, which is the project of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the ideological mentor of the Bharatiya Janata Party. Citizenship is the fundamental requirement for every other right provided by the Constitution. Once people are stripped of their citizenship, they stand automatically stripped of all their rights and liberties in India.

These assaults on the Constitution were accompanied by the weakening of the constitutional institutions. Both these issues were challenged in the Supreme Court (SC) and continues to remain there without being heard, considered or adjudicated on. The SC has chosen to consider matters such as anticipatory bail to journalists charged with aiding campaigns of hate as being more important than the defence of the Constitution. From the deepest recesses of my memory come surging images of courts during South Africa’s apartheid regime where criminals were acquitted, and the victims prosecuted. Retired SC Justice Gopala Gowda recently commented that the draconian experience of the infamous ADM Jabalpur case in which anyone considered a political threat to authorities could be taken into custody without trial, during the Emergency, is now passé.

The four foundational pillars of the Constitution — secular democracy; social justice; federalism; and economic self-reliance — are taking a severe beating. Sharpening communal polarisation and the undermining of secularism are accompanied by attacks on any expression of dissent. Draconian laws such as the Sedition Act, the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and the National Security Act are used. The stigma of social oppression has worsened.

There is increasing centralisation of all authority by the central government bypassing elected state governments, negating federalism. A unitary State is required not only to centralise authority to facilitate the realisation of the RSS project but also to create a surveillance-based “security State”.

The grandiose announcement of ~20 lakh crore financial package in the name of self-reliance is nothing but a blueprint for India’s self-subservience. It provides profit maximisation for foreign and domestic corporates. The net result will be the further widening of economic inequalities which have already reached alarming levels.

Such are the dark clouds that have engulfed the Indian Republic during the last year. The silver lining must be enlarged by all of us together to overshadow and consume these dark clouds.

As the First Year of Modi Government 2.0 Ends, It’s Clear that Democracy Has Been Quarantined

If there is one thing we’ve learned about Modi, it is that he never learns from his mistakes. The current crisis is the product of his cult of personality and the only response he is capable of is to double down on his worst impulses.

Chakraborty

To understand what Narendra Modi has done to India in the first year of his second term as prime minister, I want you to consider the contrasting fate of two young people, Amulya Leona and Anurag Thakur.

Leona, still in her teens, has been in jail for three months now, charged with sedition and other serious crimes for simply shouting ‘Long Live Pakistan’ and ‘Long Live India’ from the stage of a public event in Bangalore.

If Leona spoke about living, Thakur, who is junior minister of finance in Modi’s government, spoke about killing.

EXTERNAL AFFAIRSSECURITYCULTUREOPINIONVIDEOANALYSISMEDIAGOVERNMENTWORLDEDITOR’S PICKTOP STORIESLIVE WIRESCIENCEADVERTISEMENThttps://googleads.g.doubleclick.net/pagead/ads?client=ca-pub-3076479851646180&output=html&h=300&slotname=6577494094&adk=3293964096&adf=1080489043&w=360&lmt=1590840959&rafmt=1&psa=0&guci=2.2.0.0.2.2.0.0&format=360×300&url=https%3A%2F%2Fm.thewire.in%2Farticle%2Fpolitics%2Fas-the-first-year-of-modi-2-0-ends-its-clear-that-democracy-has-been-quarantined&flash=0&fwr=1&fwrattr=true&rpe=1&resp_fmts=3&sfro=1&wgl=1&adsid=NT&dt=1590840959674&bpp=52&bdt=1841&idt=223&shv=r20200526&cbv=r20190131&ptt=9&saldr=aa&abxe=1&cookie=ID%3D3229fd39e1edec63%3AT%3D1579841846%3AS%3DALNI_MZ0l2nZCXB9DJus09_3hwf1SLZ1wQ&crv=1&prev_fmts=0x0&nras=1&correlator=3374312890420&frm=20&pv=1&ga_vid=amp-rnPoNQnfe0gBT6pYS9gDng&ga_sid=1590840960&ga_hid=1303262817&ga_fc=0&iag=0&icsg=573235752&dssz=26&mdo=0&mso=0&u_tz=330&u_his=1&u_java=0&u_h=749&u_w=360&u_ah=749&u_aw=360&u_cd=24&u_nplug=0&u_nmime=0&adx=0&ady=102&biw=360&bih=616&scr_x=0&scr_y=0&eid=21066085&oid=3&pvsid=3647442378640365&pem=840&ref=https%3A%2F%2Ft.co%2FQAsqO1DjhH&rx=0&eae=0&fc=1924&brdim=0%2C0%2C0%2C0%2C360%2C0%2C360%2C616%2C360%2C616&vis=1&rsz=%7C%7CleE%7C&abl=CS&pfx=0&fu=8336&bc=31&ifi=1&uci=a!1&fsb=1&xpc=2r2GKjMEQS&p=https%3A//m.thewire.in&dtd=242

As the First Year of Modi 2.0 Ends, It’s Clear that Democracy Has Been Quarantined

PoliticsIf there is one thing we’ve learned about Modi, it is that he never learns from his mistakes. The current crisis is the product of his cult of personality and the only response he is capable of is to double down on his worst impulses.8 hours ago | Siddharth Varadarajan

Illustration: Pariplab Chakraborty

Illustration: Pariplab Chakraborty

To understand what Narendra Modi has done to India in the first year of his second term as prime minister, I want you to consider the contrasting fate of two young people, Amulya Leona and Anurag Thakur.null

Leona, still in her teens, has been in jail for three months now, charged with sedition and other serious crimes for simply shouting ‘Long Live Pakistan’ and ‘Long Live India’ from the stage of a public event in Bangalore.

If Leona spoke about living, Thakur, who is junior minister of finance in Modi’s government, spoke about killing.

From the stage of a public event in Delhi, he exhorted a crowd of Bharatiya Janata Party supporters to shout “Shoot the Traitors”. The ‘traitors’ were not an abstraction but the women and men of Shaheen Bagh and elsewhere who had been protesting the government’s Citizenship (Amendment) Act. A few days later, in fact, someone actually fired on the protestors at Jamia Millia. However, the police has yet to file a case against Thakur, let alone seek to take him into custody. “The time is not right”, a top law officer of the government told the Delhi high court when asked whether the police intended to register an FIR against the minister.

Leona and Thakur are not alone

Not since the emergency of Indira Gandhi have so many people across India spent so much time in custody for political reasons than in the past year, and never before has the sword of arrest and detention hung over more heads. One former chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir, Mehbooba Mufti, is now into her ninth month of incarceration.

At the same time, never before in independent India has there been such impunity for those connected to the establishment. If you are a member of the ruling party or support the government’s political agenda, you can advocate violence and even carry it out, spread hatred against religious minorities, humiliate and abuse the poor, without worrying about being asked to render account in a court of law. In New Zealand, an Indian origin Justice of the Peace was sacked for advocating an economic boycott of Muslims in India. In Uttar Pradesh, two MLAs were caught on camera doing the same thing on the ground, yet they got to keep their jobs and the police insisted there was no reason to file charges.

In many parts of India today, the right of the people to mock or even criticise their leaders no longer exists or hangs by a slender thread. Last week, the police in Madhya Pradesh registered a criminal case against a journalist for referring to the prime minister as a ‘gappu’, or braggart. In Agra, a man who called the Uttar Pradesh chief minister a ‘dog’ has been charged with sedition. Last month, a young photographer in Kashmir was threatened with arrest under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act as a terrorist for a photograph she posted on Instagram in 2018. In Andhra Pradesh, a woman who asked a series of embarrassing questions about the recent industrial accident in Vishakapatnam was arrested by the police. The purpose these ‘individual’ cases serve is to scare others into silence. The amended UAPA has also given home minister Amit Shah the power to designate any individual as a “terrorist” without a trial or even the filing of charges.

Modi’s abject failure as an administrator is evident from the manner in which he has handled both the coronavirus pandemic and the human catastrophe he triggered by imposing a lockdown without any planning or preparation. But for me, the disaster he has caused is the logical if hideous culmination of an underlying pathology that has come into sharp focus during the past year – his contempt for democracy. Only a leader who has that contempt – who believes he can stay in power regardless of what he does – will run the risk of not bothering to make any effort to ameliorate the suffering of millions of migrant workers, all of whom have the right to vote.

Modi’s disregard for democracy runs deep and wide, and extends to every institution that is meant to serve as a check and a balance to the exercise of executive power. In his first term as prime minister, he undermined the judiciary, the Reserve Bank of India, the Central Bureau of Investigation, the country’s university system, the Central Vigilance Commission, the Right to Information, Parliament and its committees. In his second term, he has turned his sights on the federal nature of India’s polity. He has also gutted the Central Information Commission and further undermined the independence of the judiciary to ensure his assaults on the democratic rights of the people from Kashmir to Kanyakumari are not challenged.

Gone is the pretence of development and growth, used as a camouflage during the first term to avoid a backlash to the BJP’s communal agenda. The only “accomplishments” the BJP can point to in the first year of Modi’s second term all relate to its anti-Muslim mindset. First came the gratuitous criminalisation of Muslim husbands who abandon their wives without properly divorcing them. (However, Hindu husbands who do the same have nothing to fear.) Then on August 5 came the scrapping of Article 370 and the imposition of a communications blockade on the people of Jammu and Kashmir that ran for six long months and has still not been fully lifted.

Next, the Modi government pushed for, and secured, a favourable (if manifestly absurd) verdict from the Supreme Court on the Ayodhya issue that will see the fulfilment of the BJP’s long-standing agenda of building a Ram temple at the site where its leaders and supporters destroyed the Babri Masjid in 1992. In an inversion of legal common sense, a property dispute which led to the commission of a heinous crime was fast-tracked at the urging of Modi even as the criminal case continues to languish.

Last December saw the Modi government’s third ‘accomplishment’, the passage of the CAA. Just as the stated purpose behind the Triple Talaq law would have been served by making it a crime for any husband, and not just Muslims, to abandon their wives without a proper divorce settlement, the stated purpose behind the CAA could have been met by allowing any bona fide victim of persecution from the neighbourhood to become an Indian citizen rather than just the non-Muslim ones. But the Modi government’s intention was to use religion as a factor to polarise society. Home minister Amit Shah’s infamous ‘chronology’ made it clear the government intended to proceed next to creating an all-India National Register of Citizens, a plan he and Modi were forced to backtrack on, at least temporarily, when they realised the depth of public opposition to it.

The government’s next ‘accomplishment’ was to use communal violence in Delhi to break the resolve of the anti-CAA protests. When that process failed – or was interrupted by the coronavirus – it spun a yarn about the violence being the product of an ‘Islamist-Marxist conspiracy’ and arrested several activists at the forefront of the protest against the CAA under the draconian UAPA. This despite the fact that the whole world knows the violence was overwhelmingly targeted at Muslims, and that Muslims were as likely to conspire to destroy their homes and livelihoods as the Jews in Nazi Germany were to engineer Kristallnacht.

While the Modi lobby is likely to see the suppression of democracy and the growing insecurity of Muslims as major achievements in their leader’s sixth year as PM, there is no getting away from Modi’s three big failures: his government’s Kashmir policy, his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and his inability to insulate the poor and vulnerable from the predictable consequences of the lockdown

The government’s unwillingness, on ‘security’ grounds, to restore 4G services in the valley or release all political leaders and permit democratic political activity is the biggest indication that the scrapping of Article 370 is not the silver bullet Modi and Shah claimed it would be. The longer the current approach continues, the greater will be popular fears in the valley of a ‘demographic’ solution to the Kashmir problem.

Of course, the Supreme Court’s refusal to do anything about the mass arrests or the internet ban, let alone prioritise the question of the legality of the Article 370 and CAA moves, can be chalked down as another great government achievement, one that Ranjan Gogoi, MP, can savour as he contemplates life from the treasury benches.

Maximum pandemic, Minimum Governance

Sadly for India and, for Narendra Modi, the ad hoc, knee-jerk, centralised, undemocratic style of functioning that is the hallmark of the prime minister’s method of functioning has led him to commit monumental blunders on the coronavirus front that not even the judiciary can save him from. Indeed, after first giving the government a pass on its treatment of migrant workers, the Supreme Court was forced by the unending misery on display across India to reconsider its approach.

The fact is that from the word go, Modi’s handling of the crisis has been disastrous. As late as March 13, his government was blithely declaring there was no public health emergency. Yet 11 days later, the prime minister felt compelled to impose a national lockdown with four hours notice to the public. While Modi cannot be faulted for believing a lockdown was the answer to the spread of the disease – most of the world’s leaders have acted similarly – he is perhaps the only major leader to have made zero preparations.

Even if he had firmed up the lockdown plan on March 19, the day he announced the ‘Janata Curfew’ for March 22, that would have given him six days to plan for the consequences. Having squandered the days before the lockdown and immediately after in the pursuit of political objectives such as the toppling of the Congress government in Madhya Pradesh and the communalisation of the pandemic, the Modi government hoped the heavy-handed use of state machinery would allow it to get away with its minimum governance. The reality is that the lockdown has failed to contain the epidemic even as it has laid waste to the economy and to the livelihoods of millions. Along the way, the sangh parivar’s ugly Islamophobia has also undermined years of Indian diplomacy in the Gulf region – a development that will have harmful economic consequences for the country

During Modi 1.0, Arun Shourie joked that the BJP government was ‘Manmohan Singh plus cow’. Today, given the manner in which Modi has used the pandemic to centralise governance, promote the interests of big business, trample on the democratic rights of the people and manage the judiciary, his rule is increasingly beginning to resemble the emergency of Indira Gandhi. Apologists for Indira Gandhi used to say, ‘at least the trains run on time’. Modi 2.0 is not even able to manage that, such is the shambles six years of ideologically driven ‘governance’ have created.

If there is one thing we’ve learned about Modi in all the years he has been chief minister and prime minister, it is that he never learns from his mistakes. The current situation is the product of his cult of personality, and the only response he is capable of is to double down on his worst impulses. Centralisation of authority, authoritarianism and divisive, polarising politics have helped him transcend crises before. As COVID-19 spreads and the economy flounders, the coming year will prove far more damaging for Indian democracy than anything we have seen thus far.

Congress crisis : Era of dependent on Rahul !?

Fact: Rahul Gandhi is the Congress MP from Wayanad in Kerala.

Fact: Rahul Gandhi is not only the Congress MP from Wayanad in Kerala.

Fact: Rahul Gandhi is nobody in the hierarchy of the Congress party.

Fact: Rahul Gandhi cannot be nobody in the hierarchy of the Congress party.

Fact: Rahul Gandhi does not want to return as president of the Congress party.

Fact: Rahul Gandhi wants to return as president of the Congress party.

But he will do so when he believes the terms and time are right. Until then, the denuded Grand Old Party of India must lie disabled in the ineluctable paradoxes riven by one man’s whim.

The Congress is a family-held court and has best functioned as that for decades — command flows from the top, command is followed, and that is how what gets done in the Congress gets done. It’s all down to the Gandhi name and the de facto supremacies and supplications it enjoys. Take the Gandhis away and you may not be able to count the number of ways the organisation splits in a single breath. Rahul Gandhi has decreed that nobody from his family should be Congress president and has made it known that he remains unhappy Sonia Gandhi stepped in to take working charge when he left. But that is the way the Congress is. Rahul Gandhi’s decree is a death decree. Or, in the event that a non-family member does become party boss, it will be the fulfillment of a dead decree. Real power will still remain in the hands of the Gandhis, they are the essential glue to whatever remains.

Recall the day in March 1998 that Sitaram Kesri was removed as Congress president and Sonia Gandhi assumed charge — it was effected with the swiftness of a coup by the loyalist vanguard; almost its first act was for a group to barge into the 28 Akbar Road AICC headquarters, wrench off Kesri’s nameplate from the party president’s chamber and nail in Sonia Gandhi’s.

Rahul Gandhi — and this is least of all for him to deny — is a central pillar of that court. That central pillar has decided to position itself in a way the court cannot proceed.

A couple of days before Jyotiraditya Scindia’s abject defection to the BJP set off a flutter of speculation over what had led to it, and what could follow for the Congress, Opposition parties put out a joint statement demanding the release of all political detainees in Jammu and Kashmir. It did not carry the endorsement of the nation’s chief Opposition party. The reason? There was nobody in the Congress to take a call on whether to sign on or stay out. The signatory Opposition groups waited two days, then went ahead and made their demand public. “The party is in self-destructive stasis,” a senior Congress leader said, “the smallest decisions don’t get taken, or take inordinate time to get taken, or get taken in a manner that often reflects there is disagreement at the top. It is no secret, for instance, that Rahul Gandhi still does not approve of our power-sharing alliance with the Shiv Sena in Maharashtra. Were he still Congress president, the alliance would probably never have happened. He seems to want a moral politics, he says he cannot be bothered if that does not get him power, he says he has time.”

The question many in the Congress have been asking, with growing urgency, is whether the party itself has time. And whether Rahul Gandhi, being who he is and knowing that full well, has time for the party. The last time the Congress Working Committee (CWC) met — on the gravity and horrors of the Delhi carnage — he was absent. And that wasn’t the first time. Rahul’s absences, abrupt, often unexplained, and far too frequent for a man who willy-nilly is the face of the main Opposition party, exact a political price. “We have been in deep and consistent decline for nearly a decade now, we need strong leadership and direction, and for that we need a leader who is seen to be leading every day, every hour. That’s what Narendra Modi is able to do. But that never was the case with Rahul Gandhi, even when he was Congress president,” lamented a senior partyman, “He has made repeated promises to people to be among them, he has repeatedly belied that promise. After we got hammered by the Aam Aadmi Party the first time, he came out and said he will learn lessons from the defeat and produce results. Did he? Ever?”

Overwhelming opinion in the party is that Rahul should be blamed, rather than applauded, for owning responsibility for the series of electoral reverses ending in 2019 and quitting. “That was the time we faced our toughest challenge,” said a young partyman considered close to him, “That is when we wanted leadership most, and that is when he chose to walk away from the burnt down deck. He left the party wondering what next.”

Rahul himself seems unbothered by the what next. A careful reading of his lengthy resignation letter makes that plain. It is, in fact, a theoretical, even ascetic, rejection of power and electoral politics as he sees it. “My fight has never been a simple battle for political power,” he wrote, “we didn’t fight a political party in the 2019 election. Rather we fought the entire machinery of the Indian state, every institution of which was marshalled against the Opposition… Our democracy has been fundamentally weakened. There is a real danger that from now on, elections will go from being a determinant of India’s future to a mere ritual.”

He inhabits, and seldom omits to articulate, the central ideas of the Constitution and the politics of compassion, plurality and inclusion which he believes are gravely imperiled. His resignation missive had, in fact, presaged some of the darkness that has now come into open play. “The attack on our country and our cherished Constitution that is taking place is designed to destroy the fabric of our nation,” he wrote with cold clarity, “The stated objectives of the RSS, capture of our country’s institutional structure, is now complete… The capture of power will result in unimaginable levels of violence and pain for India. Farmers, unemployed youngsters, women, tribals, Dalits and minorities are going to suffer the most. The impact on our economy and nation’s reputation will be devastating…” He spoke too in that letter of his “commitment” to fight the challenge “as a soldier”.

But does his demeanour reflect those intentions? Has he been able to invent strategies — or display commitments — that will invoke that battle? Is he willing to give his worldview the legs and the energy to compete in the race, much less win it? Is the objective of power even in his crosshairs? 

He has kept his party effectively confounded on much of that. A former aide who worked closely with him post 2015, laughed out loud when asked to describe Rahul’s style of functioning and mindset in a sentence. 

“He is impatient, he is inattentive, he is inconsistent, he is excited by an idea one day and he has forgotten about it the next, he is great at procrastinating, he will shift positions, he will run away, one moment you think you’ve convinced him about something, the next moment he’s slipped out. He was right to feel frustrated by the so-called Sonia old guard, but he was party president for two years, enough time to have restructured. He either did not have the will, or failed at it, or merely let things drift because he did not want the responsibilities of taking full grip. Rahul Gandhi, he never completes the circle…”

But he is also capable of rounding things off with rough bursts of impetuosity. Like when he publicly tore up his government’s ordinance that sought to shield convicted politicians and pushed Manmohan Singh to the brink of resignation. Or when he abruptly arrived on the JNU campus to demonstrate solidarity with Kanhaiya Kumar and company. Both were acts of whim, both took the party by surprise, both were received in the party with disapproval. Rahul didn’t seem to care.

The crisis for the Kamal Nath government in Madhya Pradesh is only a collateral consequence of the departure of Jyotiraditya Scindia; its core message is for the Congress high command and Rahul Gandhi to absorb: the party is restive as never before and needs clarity, most of all from Rahul Gandhi. Congressmen are deeply unhappy about the way they are led — or not being led — and that displeasure and unease are not about this faction or that, they are widespread.

Notice the refusal of Sachin Pilot, deputy chief minister of Rajasthan, to attack Scindia for crossing the ideological battlelines to the BJP: “Unfortunate to see @JM_Scindia parting ways with @INCIndia. I wish things could have been resolved collaborately within the party.” That is his way of flare-signalling to accost the leadership’s attention; he too awaits “collaborative” resolutions, he has been cheesed off for being denied chief ministership, he may just have fired a warning shot. Shashi Tharoor probably believes he was the right pick for leader in the Lok Sabha, not Adhir Chowdhury; he too has been seeking clarification, through a transparent organisational election, if nothing else. The Congress wants something to move, a shake-up, a wake-up. Rahul Gandhi says go ahead, do it, he isn’t in the way. Ask Congress people what they think of that; privately, most will tell you.

Fact: Rahul has said that the Congress party should decide the new leadership and he shall lend his full support.
FactThe CWC and all of the AICC rejected his resignation following the 2019 debacle and insisted he should stay on.
FactThe party did decide.
Fact: Rahul did not heed the party.

दंगों के दंश : |हिंदुस्तान का अंधेरा अध्याय 1984, से 1992, 2002…..2020 तक जारी ::

अक्सर दंगों को समाज के एक बड़े हिस्से की स्वीकृति होती है और उनमें पुलिस की मिलीभगत भी जो सत्ता के इशारे के बिना संभव नहीं हो सकती

नवंबर 1984 एक ऐसा कालखंड है जिसने आज़ाद भारत का एक सबसे अंधेरा अध्याय लिखा, इंदिरा गांधी की हत्या के बाद जो नस्ली हिंसा का दौर शुरू हुआ उसका केंद्र तो राजधानी दिल्ली थी लेकिन वह नफरत देश के कई हिस्सों में अलग-अलग रूपों में दिखी । दिल्ली में पिछले तीन दिनों से भड़की साम्प्रदायिक हिंसा ने एक बार फिर 1984 के सिख नरसंहार को चर्चा में ला दिया है । इससे वे धुंधली यादें फिर स्मृतिपटल पर उभर आईं हैं जो बार-बार परछाईं की तरह हमारा पीछा करती हैं ।

इंदिरा गांधी की हत्या के बाद देश में सिख समुदाय के खिलाफ हुई लूटपाट और हिंसा की यादें ज़ेहन से मिटी नहीं है । जैसे आज पुलिस दिल्ली में दंगों को रोकने में नाकाम होने के साथ-साथ दंगाइयों के साथ खड़ी दिख रही है,ठीक वैसे ही तब भी पुलिस द्वारा दंगाइयों को छूट देने और मूकदर्शक बने रहने की कहानियां राजधानी तक ही सीमित नहीं थी ,

उत्तराखंड का हल्द्वानी तराई से लगा वह इलाका है जहां सिख समुदाय बड़ी संख्या में है, हल्द्वानी और उसके आसपास रुद्रपुर (अब उधमसिंह नगर), काशीपुर, बाजपुर, गदरपुर, सितारगंज, खटीमा, नानकमत्ता और किच्छा समेत तमाम इलाकों में सिखों की अच्छी-खासी आबादी है, उत्तराखंड में हेमकुंड साहिब, रीठा साहिब और नानकमत्ता जैसे तीन महत्वपूर्ण गुरुद्वारों की कहानी सिख गुरुओं के यहां आने और सिख समुदाय के इस राज्य से जुड़ाव को बताती हैं । आज़ादी के बाद सिखों की एक नई लहर तराई के इलाके में आ बसी, जट-सिखों ने यहां गेहूं, धान, सरसों से लेकर गन्ने की खेती तो की ही व्यापार में भी उनका महत्वपूर्ण हिस्सा बना ।

हल्द्वानी के बाज़ार में उस दोपहर एक सिख व्यापारी के साइकिल स्टोर पर हमला हुआ… मोटर साइकिल पर पुलिस को आते देख बलवाई ठिठक गये.. लेकिन पुलिस वाले साइकिल स्टोर के पास से क्रूरता से मुस्कुराते हुये निकल गये, भीड़ के लिये यह लूटपाट का लाइसेंस था, उसके बाद लोगों ने दुकानों में लूटपाट की और भद्दे जयघोष के नारे लगाए ।

लोग लूटी गई उन साइकिलों को दौड़ा रहे थे जिन पर गद्दी फिट नहीं की गई थी, साइकिलों पर वे प्रेशर कुकर लटके हुए थे जिनकी सीटी (प्रेशर व्हिसिल) नहीं थी,कोई जूतों के डिब्बे और कोई क्रॉकरी सेट लूट कर ले जा रहा था,रिक्शों पर रेफ्रिजरेटर लादे जा रहे थे, यादें बहुत धुंधली हैं लेकिन मिटी नहीं हैं, हालांकि शहर में किसी सिख की हत्या नहीं हुई तब भी इंसानियत को बेशर्मी से कुचला जा रहा था, पुलिस होकर भी नहीं थी ! जब आई तो उसकी दिलचस्पी जान-माल की सुरक्षा से अधिक लूटे गये सामान को हथियाने में थी ।

शाहीन बाग के प्रदर्शनकारियों पर गोली चलाता एक शख्स और पीछे मूकदर्शक बनी खड़ी पुलिस ..(दिल्ली)

काफी नुकसान होने के बाद आकाशवाणी से समाचारवाचकों ने दंगों को रोकने की अपील की –सिखों ने भी आज़ादी की लड़ाई में कंधे से कंधा मिलाकर हिन्दुओं के साथ खून बहाया है

लेकिन इस ऐलान के होने तक सिखों का काफी खून बह चुका था, और भरोसा लहूलुहान था, साढ़े तीन दशक पुरानी यादें इसलिये कि आज हम एक बार फिर उसी मुहाने पर खड़े हैं, फिर पुलिस मूलदर्शक है .. और समाज का एक बड़ा हिस्सा आतंकित है , दंगों में प्रतिक्रिया होते देर नहीं लगती.. और अन्याय का शिकार हमेशा गरीब और कमज़ोर लोग ही होते हैं । हम 1984, 1992 और 2002 के बाद एक और अंधेरा अध्याय हिन्दुस्तान के नाम करने के लिये आतुर क्यों हैं? हम यह समझने के लिये तैयार क्यों नहीं कि किसी भी समुदाय के खिलाफ बतायी जाने वाली बातें अक्सर वहम को बढ़ाने और नफरत को आधार देने के लिये होती हैं !

उस वक्त हल्द्वानी में जेल रोड से लगे एक छोटे से मोहल्ले में माता-पिता, दोस्त और रिश्तेदारों के बीच होने वाली बातचीत का एक हिस्सा – जो हमारे समाज के खोखलेपन को दर्शाता है- “सरदार बदला लेने की तैयारी कर रहे हैं ..वो अपने घरों में खाने-पीने का सामान जमा कर रहे हैं…अगले कुछ महीने तक लड़ने की तैयारी है !” “रात के वक़्त छतों पर पहरा देना होगा.”

याद है कि रात के वक्त पहरे दिये भी गये, जिनके पास बंदूक थी के उनको पहरेदारों की टोली में शामिल होने को कहा गया, यह अविश्वास तब था जब वो एक ही आंगन में खेलते हुए बड़े हुए थे… और उसी आंगन में सभी के बच्चे एक साथ खेला करते थे … चन्द लोगों के बहकावे ने उनको किस हद तक बेनकाब कर दिया था , एक ही गली में रहने वाले लोगों को कैसे एक दूसरे से रातोंरात नफरत सी हो जाती है, ये मनुष्य के मौकापरस्त दोहरे चरित्र को दर्शाता है !

दिल्ली में हुई हिंसा का एक चित्र

अक्सर दंगे कुछ ही घंटों में रोके जा सकते हैं लेकिन उन्हें कुछ दिनों और कई बार हफ्तों तक होने दिया जाता है…!                                               क्यों…? ताकि इसकी सियासी फसल लंबे वक्त तक काटी जा सके ! सियासत के लिये समाज में पैदा हुई दरार को चुनावी फिज़ा में बार-बार जिंदा करना आसान होता है.

सोशल मीडिया पर लगातार दिल दहलाने वाले वीडियो आ रहे हैं, इनकी सत्यता की तुरंत जांच नहीं की जा सकती, लेकिन मदद के लिये आ रही गुहार के पीछे कष्ट को समझा जा सकता है ! मौजपुर, चांदबाग, मुस्तफाबाद, सीलमपुर और जाफराबाद भारतीय संस्कृति पर फांसीवाद के नए अध्याय हैं ।

बताने की ज़रूरत नहीं कि न तो 84 के दंगापीड़ितों को न्याय मिला, और न गुनहगारों को सज़ा ! यही बात 1990 में विस्थापित कश्मीरी पंडितों के लिये भी कही जा सकती है ! जिनके दर्द पर तो शायद न्यायपूर्ण चर्चा भी नहीं हुई, गुजरात, भागलपुर और हाशिमपुरा समेत कई नरसंहार इस लिस्ट में शामिल हो सकते हैं! सभी में एक बात शामिल है, दंगों को समाज के एक हिस्से की बड़ी स्वीकृति होती है, और पुलिस की मिलीभगत, जो सत्ता के इशारे के बिना संभव नहीं हो सकती !

आज़ादी के बाद कई दूसरे मौके भी आये जब भारत ने दंगों का वीभत्स रूप देखा,अपनी तमाम बर्बरता के बावजूद वे स्थानीय स्तर तक ही सीमित रहे । लेकिन सोशल मीडिया (ट्विटर, फेसबुक, व्हाट्सएप ) और साम्प्रदायिक ब्रेनवॉश का अड्डा बन चुके न्यूज चैनलों के इस दौर में ख़तरे कहीं अधिक विराट हैं, हाल के समय की हिंसा भड़कने की इन घटनाओं में न्यूज चैनलों का बहुत बड़ा योगदान रहा है ! रोज शाम को हिन्दू-मुस्लिम , मंदिर-मस्जिद और हिंदुस्तान-पाकिस्तान की डिबेट चलाने के अलावा इन नफरत के सौदागरों को सस्ती लोकप्रियता हासिल करने का कोई और जरिया नहीं रह गया है,

चैनलों में धर्म के ठेकेदारों की एक बड़ी संख्या खड़ी कर दी गई है ….जिससे साम्प्रदायिक हिंसा के यूनिवर्सल हो जाने का संकट हज़ार गुना बढ़ गया है ! आज दंगे की आग पूर्व से पश्चिम और उत्तर से दक्षिण कुछ सेकंडों में पहुंच सकती है,सूचना के इस दौर में ग़लत सूचना के संप्रेषण की व्यापक संभावनायें हैं. हमें इन ख़तरों के बीच ही लोकतंत्र और इंसानियत की रक्षा करनी है.

Continue reading “दंगों के दंश : |हिंदुस्तान का अंधेरा अध्याय 1984, से 1992, 2002…..2020 तक जारी ::”

Truth of Mahatma Gandhi about minorities ! A big falsehood spreading by Modi & Shah :

Gandhi never said anything to the effect that Hindus and Sikhs could come over to India from Pakistan whenever they wanted. Illustration:

Gandhi was completely opposed to any suggestion about doubting the nationality of minority Hindus in Pakistan and minority Muslims in India.

The above statement is part of the speech Prime Minister Narendra Modi delivered at the Ramlila Ground in Delhi on December 22, 2019. Exactly a month after that rally, I deeply regret to inform you that our prime minister can utter lies even about Mahatma Gandhi.

“Those people from three neighbouring countries who belong to minority communities and have fled to India to escape persecution, have been provided a measure of help and relief by the Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019; they have been shown some leniency. These concessions are not necessarily the outcome of Modi’s thinking. It is not that the idea materialised in Modi’s mind overnight and Modi made it happen. These concessions conform to the very spirit of Gandhi’s thought. Mahatma Gandhi said so – those who have used his name to pontificate about the state of the nation and continue to use his surname for their vested interests, better listen carefully. Gandhi ji said so – you may or may not believe Modi, but at least believe Gandhi! Mahatma Gandhi has said, whenever our Hindu and Sikh brothers and sisters living in Pakistan feel they want to come to India, they are welcome. Mind you, I am not the one saying this but our venerable Mahatma Gandhi.”

While it takes no more than a moment to utter a falsehood, it may take as long as a decade to catch that lie. Gandhi never said it the way it has been conveyed – that our Hindu and Sikh brethren from Pakistan can come to India whenever they want. On the contrary, Gandhi never tired of saying that if the minorities in Pakistan and India were to die fighting the injustice meted out to them by their respective governments, it would make him happier.

Union home minister Amit Shah did one better than Modi. On January 16, 2020, he went for a meeting in Vaishali district, Bihar complete with a written note which he proceeded to read out, saying it was what Gandhi had said on September 26, 1947: “Mahatma Gandhi said, on September 26, 1947, that from every point of view the Hindus and Sikhs living in Pakistan were qualified to come to India. The first and foremost duty of independent India was to see that they got jobs, the amenities required for a comfortable existence, and citizenship.”

Did Mahatma Gandhi actually say it the way Modi and Shah claim he did?

I have before me a two-volume collection of Gandhi’s prayer discourses in Hindi, Prarthana Pravachan, which has been published by the Delhi-based Raza Foundation and Rajkamal Prakashan. This collection contains all the prayer discourses given by Gandhi, from April 1, 1947, to January 29, 1948. It would be instructive to read the discourse of July 5, 1947, especially a part of it:

“But Pakistan’s real test will lie in how it treats the nationalist Muslims, Christians, Sikhs and Hindus who live there. Moreover, there are many sects among Muslims themselves. Shias and Sunnis are the well-known ones, but there are many others too, and how they are treated remains to be seen. Will they fight with the Hindus or develop a friendship with them?”

Here Gandhi is clearly stating that there aren’t just Shias and Sunnis in Pakistan; there are other Muslim sects as well. He wants to see how Pakistan deals with them. It was precisely this point that was raised by the opposition during the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill (now an Act) debate in parliament, namely that by linking the issue with religion the government was shutting the door on such groups among Muslims who may be persecuted; that the move was not in accordance with the spirit of the Constitution and Gandhi’s principles.

The government’s thinking would have been on predictable lines – “Who reads Gandhi these days? The Hindi newspapers will publish only what we say. Taking it for the unvarnished truth the reader will carry on animated discussions in the park about how Modiji is doing what he is for the good of the country.”

That is what happened. The Hindi newspapers will still not publish anything about how Modi and Shah have incorrectly presented Gandhi’s statements.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi pays tribute to a statue of Gandhiji in Sabarmati Ashram.

The first concern Gandhiji raises in his discourse of July 5, 1947, is regarding the treatment of nationalist Muslims in the new nation of Pakistan. The question is, who is this nationalist Muslim who will be residing in Pakistan?

For an answer to this question, let us look at those sections of the discourses of July 10, 1947, and July 12, 1947, where Gandhi clearly states who this nationalist Muslim of Pakistan is.

In the discourse of July 10, 1947, he says:

“If people flee their homes in Sindh and other places out of fear and come here, shall we turn them away? If we do so, with what face shall we call ourselves Indians? How can we chant the slogan Jai Hind? Welcome them saying, this too is your country just as that is your country. This is how we should deal with them. If nationalist Muslims are also forced to leave Pakistan and come here, then they too will live here. As Hindustanis, we all have the same standing. If this cannot be, then Hindustan cannot come into being.”

On July 12, 1947, Gandhi said:

“Many Muslims come to meet me these days. The mention of Pakistan makes them nervous. The apprehension of Christians, Parsis and other non-Muslims is understandable, but why should Muslims be afraid? They say, ‘we are considered quislings [traitors]. The problems we encounter will be far greater than the troubles the Hindus will face in Pakistan. As soon as the government is in full control, our association with the Congress will be deemed an offence under the Shariat.’ If this is what Islam means, then I do not accept it. How can the nationalist Muslims be called quislings? I trust that just as Jinnah Saheb will protect non-Muslim minorities, so will he defend these Muslims.”

This part of the discourse of July 12, 1947, makes it amply clear that the nationalist Muslim is one who walks on the path set by Gandhi, and is associated with the Congress. At the same time, he is apprehensive that to continue an association with the Congress in the new nation of Pakistan would be seen as an offence under the Shariat. The background to this apprehension is to be found in the tussle between the Muslims who supported the Congress and those who backed the Muslim League. Historian Yasmin Khan has dealt with this issue extensively in her book, The Great Partition: The Making of India and Pakistan.

As is well known, the British government had decided to hold talks about independence only with elected representatives, hence elections to the central and provincial legislative assemblies were held from December 1945 to March 1946. In those elections there were reserved seats for Muslims where only Muslim voters could elect Muslim candidates. There was intense competition between the ‘League-i’ Muslims and ‘Congress–i’ Muslims for those seats. In Muslim neighbourhoods, the Congress-i Muslims became increasingly isolated. They suffered the ire of League supporters, even getting roughed up, but remained steadfast on Gandhi’s path. For that they were dubbed ‘kafir’ by the maulanas supporting the Muslim League. On his part, the head of the Jamiat ul Ulema had issued a fatwa against Jinnah in 1945, calling him ‘Kafir-e-Azam’.

The object of Gandhi’s concern is this nationalist Muslim who consistently rejected Jinnah – in India, and in the newly formed nation of Pakistan, too. This was a time when in addition to taking a stand against Jinnah, the nationalist Muslim found himself ranged against his very own within his home and family. After Partition many nationalist Muslims stayed on in Pakistan, but that did not mean they had placed their faith in Jinnah’s Pakistan. These were the Muslims who came to Gandhi and said that they felt afraid to be in Jinnah’s Pakistan.

Many Muslims rejected Jinnah’s Pakistan and came to India. Otherwise, a great actor like Dilip Kumar would not have become the crown of the Hindi film industry. In all this talk about crossing over and not crossing over, it is important to remember one thing, namely that when the territorial division took place, many felt that people would not allow themselves to be divided; that one day they would come together.

Jinnah and Gandhi. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

In their speeches, Modi and Shahreject the nationalist Muslims who fought all that Jinnah stood for. They don’t mention them at all. The way they see it, all Muslims should be recognised by what they wear, and that garb, according to them, is of one kind only – whereas, in this country Muslims wear dhotis too, even sherwanis and suits (of course, the latter may not be in the range of Rs 26 lakh). Is it possible to imagine a constitution where one can reject, or exclude, the nationalist Muslim and yet talk about Gandhi? My unequivocal reply is that it is just not possible.

During his rally in Vaishali district, Shah not only quoted Gandhi, he also provided the date (September 26, 1947) on which, he said, Gandhi had made that statement. I read the discourse Gandhi gave on that day, in the Prarthana Pravachan. It turned out that the date given by the home minister was correct – Gandhi did speak on that day, after all – but the statement he read out was not; it was not part of the discourse of September 26, 1947. In that day’s discourse, Gandhi shared with the audience an account of his conversation with a respected vaidya named Gurudutt who had come from Pakistan to meet him. In the conversation, Gurudutt tells Gandhi, I did not heed your advice, I came away.

What advice of Gandhi did Gurudutt not heed? Gandhiji was telling people that wherever they were, they should be fighting against the injustice being perpetrated by their government – even if it meant dying in the effort.

In that day’s discourse, Gandhi mentions one term, fifth columnist, which is used to describe those people who secretly aid the enemy of their country through activities that sabotage it from within. It is important to mention this section of Gandhiji’s discourse of September 26, 1947, so that Modi and Amit Shah realise that Gandhi never said anything to the effect that Hindus and Sikhs could come over to India from Pakistan whenever they wanted. Gandhi stated:

“Looking upon Hindus in Pakistan and Muslims in India as fifth columnists, as unworthy of trust, will not do. If they are disloyal to Pakistan while living there, we cannot speak for just one side. If we look upon the Muslims living here as fifth columnists, will the Hindus and Sikhs living in Pakistan be also considered fifth columnists? This will not do. Those living there, who no longer want to live there, are welcome to come here. To give them jobs, look after their comfort becomes the most important duty of our union government. But it certainly cannot be that they continue to be there and become little spies, working for us, not for Pakistan. This would never do, and I would not be party to it.”

Gandhi was completely opposed to any suggestion about doubting the nationality of minority Hindus in Pakistan and minority Muslims in India. Gandhi never said – remember, or recognise, Muslims by their clothes.

Towards the end of his discourse of September 26, 1947, Gandhi mentioned one more thing which Amit Shah seems to have missed – Satyameva jayate, nanritam; truth alone triumphs, not untruth.

In his discourse of September 18, 1947, Gandhi said: “Assume that all Muslims in Pakistan are bad. So what? My only advice to you is, let India remain the ocean in which the filth is swept away. We cannot be doing bad things because someone else is doing them.”

What I really want is for Modi to express his‘mann ki baat’ to Gandhi as he reads the prayer discourses. His hands will start shaking and his lips will start twitching. He will be able to see how after being cast aside by the people and politicians, Gandhi was still able to get on his feet, stand alone. Now journeying from Delhi to Noakhali, now Bihar. Experimenting once again with his beloved principles of ahimsa and truth – his final effort to bring them centrestage, claiming his life.

The prime minister will also be able to see how he, Modi, gave the very person lauding Gandhi’s killer as a patriot the Lok Sabha ticket from Bhopal in 2019; how, during a debate on TV Today, BJP politician, Amitabh Sinha, in response to a question from Kanhaiya Kumar, said he would not say anything against Godse, Gandhi’s assassin.

I am certain that after reading Gandhi’s prayer discourses, Modi will go back to the same Ramlila Ground and say: The name of this ground is connected with the name of Rama; Rama’s name is connected with truth, and Gandhi’s name is also connected with truth. I have taken the names of both Rama and Gandhi and lied to them. I seek the forgiveness of 130 crore Indians.

नेताजी सुभाषचंद्र बोस और गांधीजी का रिश्ता ।

1939 में कांग्रेस के अध्यक्ष पद पर नेताजी की जीत को लेकर महात्मा गांधी की प्रतिक्रिया का पूरा संदर्भ जाने बिना इनके आपसी संबंधों को पूरी तरह नहीं समझा जा सकता

सुभाष चंद्र बोस जी के जन्मदिवस के अवसर पर अनायास ही वो तस्वीर उभर जाती है, कि सच में क्या ऐसा था जो मौजूदा समय में राजनीतिक स्वार्थसिद्धि के लिए महात्मा गांधी जी और नेताजी सुभाषचंद्र बोस जी के बारे में प्रचारित किया जा रहा है । निःसन्देह आप जब इतिहास को टटोलेंगे तो इससे इतर कुछ ऐसा पाएंगे जो इन दोनों महान हस्तियों के अकल्पनीय व्यक्तित्व को आपके सामने लाएगा । किस तरह कुछ हद तक विपरीत विचारधारा के बावजूद वे एक-दूसरे की भावनाओं का सम्मान करते थे ।

आज नेताजी सुभाष चंद्र बोस के जन्मदिवस पर जब आप ये शब्द पढ़ रहे होंगे, उसी समय सोशल मीडिया से लेकर अन्य मंचों पर नेताजी के बरक्स महात्मा गांधी की भी चर्चा चल रही होगी. ठीक है कि भारत की आज़ादी का कोई भी विमर्श महात्मा गांधी का नाम लिए बिना पूरा नहीं हो पाता. लेकिन आज नेताजी को महात्मा के खिलाफ ऐसे ही खड़ा किया जा रहा है मानो ये दोनों ही व्यक्तित्व आज के राजनेताओं की तरह एक-दूसरे के प्रति मनभेद और द्वेषभाव रखने वाले लोग हों.

तो आइये आज जान ही लेते हैं कि अहिंसा और हिंसा के प्रश्नों के साथ-साथ व्यक्तिगत रूप से नेताजी बोस और महात्मा गांधी एक-दूसरे के बारे में असल में क्या सोचते थे

सुभाष चंद्र बोस को देशबंधु चित्तरंजन दास से मिलाने का काम महात्मा गांधी ने ही किया था. लेकिन असहयोग आंदोलन को अचानक समाप्त किए जाने से नाराज मोतीलाल नेहरू और चित्तरंजन दास ने जब कांग्रेस से अलग होकर स्वराज पार्टी बना ली, तो सुभाष बाबू भी स्वराजियों के साथ ही गए. लेकिन गांधी का व्यक्तित्व ऐसा था कि एक बार जब वे किसी व्यक्ति में गुणदर्शन कर लेते थे, तो फिर कोई भी वैचारिक मतभिन्नता उन्हें उनसे अलग नहीं कर सकती थी. और कमोबेश यह गुण सुभाष बाबू में भी था.

इसलिए हम आगे लिखे जाने वाले प्रसंगों में देखेंगे कि लगभग पच्चीस वर्षों के दरम्यान दोनों के संबंधों में तमाम उतार-चढ़ावों के बावजूद परस्पर प्रेम और ज्यादा प्रगाढ़ होता गया. दो पीढ़ियों के बीच वैचारिक स्तर पर होने वाले पारदर्शी और सम्मानजक बहस का यदि कोई सुंदर नमूना आपको देखना हो, तो वह आप नेहरू और सुभाष बाबू के साथ गांधी के हुए संवादों में देख सकते हैं. राजनीतिक संवाद या पॉलिटिकल कम्यूनिकेशन का आज जो स्वरूप हो गया है, उसे देखते हुए आज के युवाओं को ऐसे संवादों को बार-बार पढ़ना चाहिए.

4 जून, 1925 को ‘यंग इंडिया’ में महात्मा गांधी जब बाढ़ राहत के संदर्भ में एक लेख लिखते हैं, तो ऐसे कार्यों में सबसे दक्ष नेतृत्व के रूप में उन्हें सबसे पहले सुभाष चंद्र बोस की याद आती है. सितंबर, 1922 में उत्तर बंगाल में आई बाढ़ के दौरान सुभाष बाबू की भूमिका की प्रशंसा करते हुए गांधी लिखते हैं- ‘जिन्हें आपदा-राहत के काम का जरा भी ज्ञान है, वे जानते हैं कि केवल सेवा करने की इच्छा या रुपये होने से ही काम नहीं चल सकता. उसके लिए ज्ञान और योग्यता की भी जरूरत होती है. (1922 की बाढ़ राहत) के दौरान यथोचित कार्यप्रणाली के द्वारा दो बुराइयां रोकी जा सकीं — एक तो एक ही काम दोबारा करना और दूसरा अकुशल प्रबंधन. समूचे बाढ़ पीड़ित प्रदेश को 50 केन्द्रों में बांट दिया गया था. इस विशाल संगठन के अध्यक्ष और कोई नहीं श्रीयुत सुभाष चंद्र बोस थे, जो आज माण्डले के किले में सम्राट के मेहमान हैं.’

कलकत्ता नगर निगम के अध्यक्ष रहने के दौरान जब सुभाष बाबू को बिना कोई कारण बताए गिरफ्तार कर लिया गया और बाद में उन्हें बहुत ही गंभीर बीमारी की हालत में रिहा किया गया, तो महात्मा गांधी ने ब्रिटिश सरकार के इस रवैये के खिलाफ एक जबरदस्त आलेख लिखा था. 26 मई, 1927 को यंग इंडिया में लिखे इस आलेख में गांधी कहते हैं, ‘इस दुःखद मामले से भी अगर जनता कोई सांत्वना की चीज ढूंढ़ निकालना चाहे, तो उसे एक चीज जरूर मिल जाएगी और वह यह कि अंतिम क्षण तक श्रीयुत सुभाषचन्द्र बोस सरकार द्वारा समय-समय पर रखी गई उन अपमान भरी शर्तों को बड़ी जवांमर्दी के साथ मानने से इन्कार करते रहे. अब हमें आशा और प्रार्थना करनी चाहिए कि परमात्मा उन्हें ही फिर स्वस्थ करे और वे चिरकाल तक अपने देश की सेवा करते रहें.’

नेताजी बोस और महात्मा गांधी के बीच के वैचारिक भेद को बढ़ा-चढ़ा कर पेश करनेवाले लोग अक्सर 1939 में कांग्रेस अध्यक्ष के चुनाव वाला प्रसंग जरूर याद दिलाएंगे. हमें बचपन से किताबों में एक ही वाक्य बार-बार पढ़ाया गया है जहां गांधी को इस अवसर पर यह कहते हुए दिखाया जाता है कि ‘पट्टाभि की हार मेरी हार है’. बस केवल यही एक वाक्य पढ़ा-पढ़ाकर एक भ्रम पैदा किया जाता रहा है. आइये हम 31 जनवरी, 1939 को बारडोली में लिखे गए गांधी के उस संदेश के कुछ और जरूरी हिस्से को सही परिप्रेक्ष्य में पढ़ते हैं. यह संदेश चार फरवरी, 1939 को ‘यंग इंडिया’ में छपा था. इसमें गांधी कहते हैं, ‘…तो भी मैं उनकी (सुभाष बाबू की) विजय से खुश हूं और चूंकि मौलाना अबुल कलाम आज़ाद द्वारा अपना नाम वापस ले लेने के बाद डॉ पट्टाभि को चुनाव से पीछे न हटने की सलाह मैंने दी थी, इसलिए यह हार उनसे ज्यादा मेरी है.’

गांधी आगे लिखते हैं, ‘इस हार से मैं खुश हूं….सुभाष बाबू अब उन लोगों की कृपा के सहारे अध्यक्ष नहीं बने हैं जिन्हें अल्पमत गुट वाले लोग दक्षिणपंथी कहते हैं, बल्कि चुनाव में जीतकर अध्यक्ष बने हैं. इससे वे अपने ही समान विचार वाली कार्य-समिति चुन सकते हैं और बिना किसी बाधा या अड़चन के अपना कार्यक्रम अमल में ला सकते हैं. …सुभाष बाबू देश के दुश्मन तो हैं नहीं. उन्होंने उसके लिए कष्ट सहन किए हैं. उनकी राय में उनका कार्यक्रम और उनकी नीति दोनों अत्यंत अग्रगामी हैं. अल्पमत के लोग उसकी सफलता ही चाहेंगे.’

अगस्त, 1939 में जब नेताजी पटना के दौरे पर थे तो उनके खिलाफ काले झंडे दिखाकर प्रदर्शन किया गया. महात्मा गांधी ने इसकी कड़ी आलोचना की थी. 1940 में जब नेताजी ने कांग्रेस कार्यसमिति के फैसलों से अलग होकर अकेले ही अपनी योजना पर काम शुरू कर दिया और गिरफ्तार हो गए, तब भी गांधीजी से पूछा गया कि गांधी और कांग्रेस कार्यसमिति सुभाष बाबू के बचाव में आगे क्यों नहीं आ रहे हैं.

नौ जुलाई, 1940 को सेवाग्राम में इस पर अपना रुख स्पष्ट करते हुए गांधीजी ने कहा था- ‘…सुभाष बाबू जैसे महान व्यक्ति की गिरफ्तारी कोई मामूली बात नहीं है. लेकिन सुभाष बाबू ने अपनी लड़ाई की योजना काफी सोच-समझकर और हिम्मत के साथ सामने रखी है. वे मानते हैं कि उनका तरीका सबसे अच्छा है….उन्होंने मुझे बड़ी आत्मीयता से कहा कि जो कुछ कार्यसमिति नहीं कर पाई, वे वह सब करके दिखा देंगे. वे विलंब से ऊब चुके थे. मैंने उनसे कहा कि अगर आपकी योजना के फलस्वरूप मेरे जीवन-काल में स्वराज्य मिल गया तो आपको बधाई का सबसे पहला तार मेरी ओर से ही मिलेगा. आप जब अपना संघर्ष चला रहे होंगे उस दौरान अगर मैं आपके तरीके का कायल हो गया तो मैं पूरे दिल से अपने नेता के रूप में आपका स्वागत करूंगा और आपकी सेना में भरती हो जाऊंगा. लेकिन मैंने उन्हें आगाह कर दिया था कि उनका रास्ता गलत है.’

17 जनवरी, 1941 को जब बोस कलकत्ता के अपने एल्गिन रोड वाले मकान से किसी को कुछ बताए बिना गायब हो गए, तो गांधीजी ने उनके बड़े भाई शरतचन्द्र बोस को तार में लिखा- ‘सुभाष के बारे में खबर चौंकाने वाली है. कृपया सच्चाई तार से सूचित करें. चिंतित हूं. उम्मीद है सब ठीक होगा.’ इसके जवाब में शरतचन्द्र बोस ने अपने जवाबी तार में गांधीजी को लिखा था – ‘सुभाष के बारे में जनता की तरह हमें भी कोई जानकारी नहीं है. वे कहां हैं और उनके क्या इरादे हैं और वे किस समय घर छोड़कर गए थे, इसका कुछ पता नहीं. पिछले तीन दिनों से बहुत कोशिश करने के बावजूद कोई सफलता नहीं मिली. परिस्थितियों से लगता है कि उन्होंने संन्यास ग्रहण कर लिया है.’

23 अगस्त, 1945 को जब यह खबर फैल गई कि विमान-दुर्घटना में सुभाषचन्द्र बोस की मृत्यु हो गई, तो अगले ही दिन अमृत कौर को पत्र में गांधी लिखते हैं- ‘सुभाष बोस अच्छे उद्देश्य के लिए मरे. वे निस्संदेह एक देशभक्त थे, भले ही वे गुमराह थे.’ 24 फरवरी, 1946 को ‘हरिजन’ में गांधी लिखते हैं- ‘आज़ाद हिंद फौज का जादू हमपर छा गया है. नेताजी का नाम सारे देश में गूंज रहा है. वे अनन्य देशभक्त हैं (वर्तमान काल का उपयोग मैं जान-बूझकर कर रहा हूं.) उनकी बहादुरी उनके सारे कामों में चमक रही है. उनका उद्देश्य महान था, पर वे असफल रहे. असफल कौन नहीं रहा? हमारा काम तो यह देखना है कि हमारा उद्देश्य महान हो और सही हो. सफलता यानी कामयाबी हासिल कर लेना हर किसी के किस्मत में नहीं लिखा होता. इससे ज्यादा तारीफ मैं नहीं कर सकता, क्योंकि मैं जानता था कि उनका काम विफल होने ही वाला है. और अगर वह अपनी आजाद हिंद फौज को विजयी बनाकर हिंदुस्तान में ले आए होते, तो भी मैंने यही कहा होता, क्योंकि इस तरह आम जनता में जागृति नहीं फैल पाती…’

‘…नेताजी और उनकी फौज हमें जो सबक सिखाती है, वह तो त्याग का, जाति-पाति के भेद से रहित एकता का और अनुशासन का सबक है. अगर उनके प्रति हमारी भक्ति समझदारी की और विवेकपूर्ण होगी तो हम उनके इन तीनों गुणों को पूरी तरह अपनाएंगे, लेकिन हिंसा का उतनी ही सख्ती से सर्वथा त्याग कर देंगे….इसलिए मैं कैप्टन शाहनवाज के इस बयान का स्वागत करता हूं कि नेताजी का योग्य अनुयायी बनने के लिए हिन्दुस्तान की धरती पर आने के बाद, वे कांग्रेस की सेना में एक विनीत, अहिंसक सिपाही बनकर काम करेंगे.’

22 मई, 1946 को आजाद हिन्द फौज के 60 अफसरों के साथ अपनी लंबी बातचीत में गांधीजी ने उनकी प्रशंसा करते हुए कहा था- ‘आपने अपने दल के हिन्दुओं, मुसलमानों, पारसियों, ईसाइयों, आंग्ल-भारतीयों और सिखों के बीच जो पूर्ण एकता स्थापित की वह कोई छोटी-मोटी उपलब्धि नहीं है.’ इनमें से एक अफसर ने गांधीजी से पूछा, ‘अगर सुभाष बाबू विजय प्राप्त करके आपके पास लौटे होते, तो आप क्या करते?’ गांधीजी ने मुस्कुराते हुए कहा, ‘मैंने उनसे कहा होता कि वे आपके हथियार छुड़वा दें और उन्हें मेरे सामने जमा कर दें.’

सुभाष बाबू द्वारा सभी धर्मों और जातियों के बीच एकता स्थापित करने की प्रशंसा गांधीजी ने तीन दिसंबर, 1947 को जनरल करिअप्पा के साथ अपनी बातचीत में भी की थी. गांधीजी ने कहा था, ‘नेताजी ने आजाद हिन्द फौज की स्थापना करके एकता का एक सुंदर उदाहरण हमारे सम्मुख रखा कि प्रत्येक हिन्दू, मुसलमान, ईसाई और पारसी को चाहिए कि वह हिन्दुस्तान को अपना देश माने और एक होकर देश के लिए कार्य करे. उन्होंने इस प्रकार हमारे सम्मुख यह एकता सिद्ध करके दिखाई.’

27 अप्रैल, 1947 को आजाद हिन्द फौज के लोगों को फिर से संबोधित करते हुए गांधीजी ने कहा था, ‘आजाद हिन्द फौज का नाम अहिंसक आजाद हिन्द फौज रखना चाहिए , (हंसते-हंसते), क्योंकि मुझसे आप कोई दूसरी बात नहीं सुन सकेंगे. सुभाष बाबू तो मेरे पुत्र के समान थे. उनके और मेरे विचारों में भले ही अंतर रहा हो, लेकिन उनकी कार्यशक्ति और देशप्रेम के लिए मेरा सिर उनके सामने झुकता है.’

गांधीजी और नेताजी की चर्चा एक साथ करते समय क्या हम इन आत्मीय प्रसंगों को भी पढ़ने और समझने का जरूरत समझेंगे? गांधीजी और नेताजी जैसे लोगों का दिल तो बहुत बड़ा था. उनके आपसी संबंधों को समझने के लिए हमें भी अपना दिल थोड़ा बड़ा करना पड़ेगा. वही उनके प्रति एक सच्ची श्रद्धांजलि होगी.

अब चलते-चलते हमें उस संदेश का एक हिस्सा भी सुन लेना चाहिए जो सुभाषचन्द्र बोस ने गांधीजी के जन्मदिन पर दो अक्तूबर, 1943 को बैंकाक रेडियो से प्रसारित किया था. उसमें नेताजी ने कहा था, ‘…मन की शून्यता के ऐसे ही क्षणों में महात्मा गांधी का उदय हुआ. वे लाए अपने साथ असहयोग का, सत्याग्रह का एक अभिनव, अनोखा तरीका. ऐसा लगा मानो उन्हें विधाता ने ही स्वतंत्रता का मार्ग दिखाने के लिए भेजा था. क्षण भर में, स्वतः ही सारा देश उनके साथ हो गया. हर भारतीय का चेहरा आत्मविश्वास और आशा की चमक से दमक गया. अंतिम विजय की आशा फिर सामने थी….आने वाले बीस वर्षों तक महात्मा गांधी ने भारत की मुक्ति के लिए काम किया और उनके साथ काम किया भारत की जनता ने. ऐसा कहने में जरा भी अतिशयोक्ति नहीं होगी कि यदि 1920 में गांधीजी आगे नहीं आते तो शायद आज भी भारत वैसा ही असहाय बना रहता. भारत की स्वतंत्रता के लिए उनकी सेवाएं अनन्य, अतुल्य रही हैं. कोई एक अकेला व्यक्ति उन परिस्थितियों में एक जीवन में उतना कुछ नहीं कर सकता था.’

Patriotism vs jingoism

Gandhian nationalism, enshrined in the Constitution, is based on ideals of equality and diversity. As a new pretender, with its hate-filled credo, tries to supplant it, our duty is to put up a dogged fight.

Like the railways, electricity, and the theory of evolution, nationalism was also invented in modern Europe. The European model of nationalism sought to unite residents of a particular geographical territory on the basis of a single language, a shared religion, and a common enemy. So to be British, you had to speak English, and minority tongues such as Welsh and Gaelic were either suppressed or disregarded. To be properly British you had to be Protestant, which is why the king was also the head of the Church, and Catholics were distinctly second-class citizens. Finally, to be authentically and loyally British, you had to detest France.


Read Also


Now, if we go across the Channel and look at the history of the consolidation of the French nation in the 18th and 19th centuries, we see the same process at work, albeit in reverse. Citizens had to speak the same language, in this case French, so the dialects spoken in regi­ons like Normandy and Brittany were sledgehammered into a single standardised tongue. The test of nationhood was allegiance to one language, French, and also to one religion, Catholicism. So Protestants were persecuted. Likewise, French nationalism was consolidated by identifying a major enemy; although who this enemy was varied from time to time. In some decades the principal adversary was Britain; in other decades, Germany. In either case, the hatred of another nation was vital to affirming faith in one’s own nation.

This model—of a single language, a sha­red religion, and a common enemy—is the model by which nations were created throughout Europe. And it so happens that the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is in this respect a perfect Eur­opean nation. Mohammad Ali Jinnah insisted that Muslims could not live with Hindus, so they needed their own homeland. After his nation was created, Jinnah visited its eastern wing and told its Bengali residents they must learn to speak Urdu, which to him was the language of Pakistan. And, of course, hatred of India has been intrinsic to the idea of Pakistan since its inception.

Indian nationalism, however, radically departed from the European template. The greatness of the leaders of our freedom struggle—and Mahatma Gandhi in particular—was that they refused to identify nationalism with a single religion. They further refused to identify nationalism with a particular language and even more remarkably, they refused to hate their rulers, the British.

Fathers

Gandhi, Tagore and Kota Shivaram Karanth chose plurality/equality as the vehicles for patriotism

Gandhi lived and died for Hindu-Muslim harmony. He emp­hasised the fact that his party, the Indian National Congress, had presidents who were Hindu, Muslim, Christian and Parsi. Nor was Gandhi’s nationalism defined by language. As early as the 1920s, Gandhi pledged that when India became independent, every major linguistic group would have its own province. And perhaps the most radical aspect of the Indian model of nationalism was that you did not even have to hate the British. Indian patriots detested British imperialism, they wanted the Raj out, they wanted to rec­laim this country for its residents. But they could do so non-violently, and they could do so while befriending individual Britons (Gandhi’s closest friend was the English priest C.F. Andrews). Further, they could get the British to ‘Quit India’ while retaining the best of British institutions. An impartial judiciary, parliamentary democracy, the English language, and not least the game of cricket; these are all aspects of British culture that we kept after they had left.

British, French and Pakistani nationalism were based on paranoia, on the belief that all citizens must speak the same language, adhere to the same faith, and hate the same enemy. On the other hand, Indian nationalism was based on a common set of values. During the non-cooperation movement of 1920-21, people all across India came out into the streets, gave up jobs and titles, left their colleges, courted arrest. For the first time, the people of India had the sense, the expectation, the confidence that they could create their own nation. In 1921, when non-cooperation was at its height, Gandhi defined Swaraj as a bed with four sturdy bed-posts. The four posts that held up Swaraj were non-violence, Hindu-Muslim harm­ony, the abo­lition of untouchability and economic self-reliance. Three decades later, after India was finally free, these values were enshrined in our Constitution.

When the Republic of India was crea­ted, its citizens were sought to be united on a set of values: democracy, religious and linguistic pluralism, caste and gender equality and the removal of poverty and discrimination. They were not sou­ght to be united on the basis of a single religion, a shared faith, or a common enemy. Now this is the founding model of Indian nationalism, which I shall call ‘constitutional patriotism’, because it is enshrined in our Constitution. Let me identify its fundamental features.

The first feature of constitutional patriotism is the acknowledgement and appreciation of our inherited and shared diversity. In any major gathering in a major city—say in a music concert or in a cricket match—people who compose the ‘crowd’ carry different names, wear different clothes, eat different kinds of food, worship different gods (or no god at all), speak different languages, and fall in love with different kinds of people. They are a microcosm not just of what India is, but of what its founders wished it to be. For, the founders of the Republic had the ability (and desire) to endorse and emphasise our diversity. As Rabindranath Tagore once said about our country: “No one knows at whose call so many streams of men flowed in restless tides from places unknown and were lost in one sea: here Aryan and non-Aryan, Dravidian, Chinese, the bands of Saka and the Hunas and Pathan and Mogul, have become combined in one body”.

A second quote underlining the extraordinary richness of the mosaic that is India comes from the Kann­ada Tagore, Kota Shivaram Karanth. Karanth had heard demagogues speak of something called ‘Aryan culture’. Did they realise, he asked, “what transformations this ‘Aryan culture’ has undergone after reaching India?”. In Karanth’s opinion, “Indian culture today is so varied as to be called ‘cultures’.” The roots of this culture go back to ancient times: and it has developed through contact with many races and peoples. Hence, among its many ing­redients, it is impossible to say surely what is native and what is alien, what is borrowed out of love and what has been imposed by force. If “we view Indian culture thus”, said Karanth, “we realise that there is no place for chauvinism”.

Now, an appreciation of this diversity means that we understand that no type of Indian is superior or special because they belong to a particular religious tradition or because they speak a certain language. In 19th century England, Protestants were superior to Catholics, English speakers were superior to Welsh speakers. In 20th century India, patriotism was defined by the allegiance to the values of the Constitution, not by birth, blood, language or faith.

The second feature of constitutional patriotism is that it operates at many levels. Like charity, it begins at home. It is not just worshipping the national flag that makes you a patriot. It is how you deal with your neighbours and  your neighbourhood, how you relate to your city, how you relate to your state. In America, which is professedly one of the most patriotic countries in the world, every state has its own flag. And some states of India also have their own flag, albeit informally. Every November, when Rajyotsava Day is celebrated in Karnataka, a red-and-yellow flag is unfurled in many parts of the state. It is not Anglicised upper-class elites like this writer who display this flag of Karnataka, but shopkeepers, farmers, and autorickshaw drivers.

Patriotism can operate at multiple levels. The Bangalore Literary Festival (which is not sponsored by shady corporates, but is crowd-funded) is an exa­mple of civic patriotism. The red-­and-yellow flag of Karnataka is an example of provincial patriotism. Cheering for the Indian cricket team is an example of national patriotism. So, patriotism can operate at more than one level—the loca­lity, the city, the province and the nat­­ion. A broad-minded (as distinct from paranoid) patriot recognises that these layered affiliations can be har­m­o­ni­ous, complementary and reinforce one another.

The model of patriotism advocated by Gandhi and Tagore was not centralised, but disaggregated. And it has helped make India a diverse and united nation. Look at what is happening in Spain today. Why have the Catalans rebelled? Because they weren’t given the space and the freedom to honourably have their own language and culture. And the centralised Spanish state came down so hard that the Catalans had a referendum in which many of them said, ‘we want independence’. Had the Republic of Spain been founded and run on Indian principles, this would not have happened. Had Pakistan not imposed Urdu on Bengalis, they may not have split in two nations a mere quarter-­of-a-century after Independence. Had Sri Lanka not imposed Sinhala on the Tamils they would not have had thirty years of ethnic strife. India has escaped civil war and secession because its founders wisely did not impose a single religion or single language on its citizens.

One can be a patriot of Bangalore, Karnataka, and India—all at the same time. But the notion of a world citizen is false. The British-born Indian J.B.S. Haldane put it this way: “One of the chief duties of a citizen is to be a nuisance to the government of his state. As there is no world state, I cannot do this…. On the other hand I can be, and am, a nuisance to the government of India, which has the merit of permitting a good deal of criticism, though it reacts to it rather slowly. I also happen to be proud of being a citizen of India, which is a lot more diverse than Europe, let alone the US, USSR or China, and thus a better model for a possible world organisation. It may, of course, break up, but it is a wonderful experiment. So I want to be labelled as a citizen of India”.

A citizen of India can vote in panch­ayat, assembly and parliamentary polls; he or she can make demands on their local sarpanch, MLA, or MP. In between elections he or she can affirm their citizenship (at all these levels) through speech and (non-violent) act­ion. But global citizenship is a mirage; or a cop-out. Those who cannot or will not identify with locality, province or nat­ion accord themselves the fanciful and fraudulent title of ‘citizen of the world’.

The third feature of constitutional patriotism, and this again comes from people like Gandhi and Tagore, is the recognition that no state, no nation, no religion or no culture is perfect or flawless. India is not superior to America necessarily, nor is America superior to India necessarily. Hinduism is not superior to Christianity necessarily, nor is Islam superior to Judaism necessarily. Religious and ideological fundamentalists are possessed by the idea of superiority. They believe that they and only they have the perfect truth.

But no state, no religion, is perfect or flawless. And no leader either. The great B.R. Ambedkar, in his last speech to the Constituent Assembly, said that “in India, Bhakti or what may be called the path of devotion or hero-worship, plays a part in its politics unequalled in magnitude by the part it plays in the politics of any other country in the world. Bhakti in religion may be a road to the salvation of the soul. But in politics, Bhakti or hero-worship is a sure road to degradation and to eventual dictatorship”.

Ambedkar’s warning was prophetic. It anticipated the rule, or rather the mis­rule, of Indira Gandhi, which came about only because her bhakts placed their liberties at her feet. And now, Modi bhakts are blindly worshipping our present prime minister. In truth, this cult of the great leader which Amb­edkar warned against bedevils not only Indian politics, but also Indian corporate and intellectual life, even Indian cricket.

Gandhi himself once admitted to making a Himalayan blunder. But I cannot recall Narendra Modi ack­nowledging even a minor mistake. However, it is very important that citizens recognise that like nations and cultures, leaders are not perfect or infallible either.

Indi(r)a

The central figure in the dynasty that has captured Congress

A fourth feature of constitutional patriotism is this: we must have the ability to feel shame at the failures of our state and society, and we must have the desire and the will to correct them. The most gross and debased aspects of Indian culture and society are discrimination against women and  against Dalits. And a true patriot must feel shame about them. Gandhi felt shame, Ambedkar felt shame, Nehru felt shame, Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay felt shame. That is why in our Constitution we abolished caste and gender distinctions. Yet these distinctions pervade everyday life. Unless we continue to feel shame, and act accordingly, they will continue to persist.

The fifth feature of constitutional patriotism is the ability to be rooted in one’s culture while being willing to learn from other cultures and countr­ies. This too must operate at all levels. If you live in Basavanagudi, love Basavangudi, but think what you can learn from Jayanagar or Richmond Town. Love Bangalore but think what you can learn from Chennai or Hyderabad. Love Karnataka, but think what you can learn from Kerala or Himachal Pradesh. Love India, but think of what you can learn from Sweden or Canada. So, true patriots must be rooted in their locality, their state, their country but have the recognition and the understanding that they can learn from other cultures, ­other cities, other countries who have done some things better than them.

Two quotes, from the greatest of modern Indians, illustrate this open-min­ded patriotism very well. Thus Tagore wrote in 1908: “If India had been deprived of touch with the West, she would have lacked an element essential for her attainment of perfection. Eur­ope now has her lamp ablaze. We must light our torches at its wick and make a fresh start on the highway of time. That our forefathers, three thousand years ago, had finished extracting all that was of value from the universe, is not a worthy thought. We are not so unfortunate, nor the universe so poor”.

Thirty years later, Gandhi remarked: “In this age, when distances have been obliterated, no nation can afford to imitate the frog in the well. Sometimes it is refreshing to see ourselves as others see us”.

As a patriotic Indian, I am delighted that the West has acknowledged the importance and value of yoga. Likewise, there must be many aspects of life in the West, in Africa, in China and Japan that we can acknowledge, appreciate, learn from. As Tagore suggested, we must find glory in the illumination of a lamp lit anywhere in the world.

An appreciation of individual and cultural diversity; a readiness to enact one’s citizenship at different levels; the recognition that no religion, nation, or leader is flawless; the ability to feel shame at the crimes of one’s religion, state, society or nation; the willingness to learn from other countries—these, to me, are the five founding features of the model of patriotism bequeathed us by the nation’s founders. This model is now in tatters. It is increasingly being replaced by a new model of nationalism, which privileges a single religion, Hinduism, which argues that a real Indian is a Hindu. This new model also privileges a single language—Hindi. It insists that Hindi is the national language, and whatever the language of your home, your street, your state, you must speak Hindi also. Thirdly, this model privileges a common external enemy—Pakistan.

Whether they acknowledge it or not, those promoting this new model of Indian nationalism are borrowing (and more or less wholesale) from 19th century Europe. However, to the template of a single religion, a single language and a common enemy they have added an innovation of their own—the branding of all critics of their Party and their Leader as ‘anti-national’. This scapegoating comes straight from the holy book of the RSS, M.S. Golwalkar’s Bunch of Thoughts. In this book, Golwalkar identified three ‘internal threats’ to the nation—Muslims, Christians and Communists. Now, I am not a Muslim, Christian or Communist, but I have nonetheless become an enemy of the nation. Because any critic, any dissen­ter, anyone who upholds the old ideal of constitutional patriotism is considered by those in power and their cheerleaders to be an enemy of the nation.

In the wonderful film Newton, one character says, “Ye desh danda aur jhanda se chalta hai”. This line beautifully captures the essence of a paranoid and punitive form of nationalism, based on a blind worship of the (sole and solitary) Flag, and the use of the stick to harass those who do not follow or obey you. This new nationalism in India is harsh, hostile, and unforgiving. The name by which it should be known is certainly not ‘patriotism’, and not even ‘nationalism’. Rather, it should be called jingoism.

The dictionary defines a patriot as ‘a person who loves his or her country, esp. one who is ready to support its freedoms and rights and to defend it against enemies or detractors’. Note the order; love of country first, support of freedom and rights second, and defence against enemies last. And what is the dictionary definition of jingoist? One ‘who brags of his country’s preparedness for fight, and generally advocates or favours a bellicose policy in dealing with foreign powers; a blustering or blatant ‘patriot’; a Chauvinist’. The order is reversed: first, boasting of the greatness of one’s country; then advocating attacking other countries. No talk of rights or freedom, or love either.

The dictionary also has some representative quotes. Thus the 18th century Irish philosopher George Berkeley defined a patriot as “one who heartily wisheth the public prosperity, and doth…also study and endeavour to promote it”. The patriot wishes above all to promote welfare and happiness. On the other hand, the Gentleman’s Magazine said in 1881 that “the jingo is the aggregation of the bully. An individual may be a bully; but, in order to create Jingoism, there must be a crowd”. This is so appropriate to our country and our time. For, while Arnab Goswami is a bully, it is his audience which creates and sustains jingoism.

Patriotism and jingoism are two distinct, different, opposed varieties of nationalism. Patriotism is suffused with love and understanding. Jingoism is motivated by hate and revenge. Thus the Pall Mall Gazette in 1885: “The essential infamy of Jingoism was its assertion as the first law of its being that might was right.” Danda aur Jhanda; that is the sum and substance of jingoism, whose Indian variant goes by the name of ‘Hindutva’.

I have already outlined the founding features of patriotism. What are the fou­­nding features of jingoism? First, the belief that one’s religion, culture and nation and leader are perfect and infallible. Second, the demonising of cri­tics as anti-nationals and deshdrohis. Third, violence and lumpenisation, not just abusing your critics but harassing and intimidating them, through the force of the state’s investigating agencies and through vigilante armies if required.

I am a citizen, but also a scholar, so I must explain not just what distinguis­hes patriotism from jingoism but why jingoism is on the ascendant today. Why is it that the hardline Hindutvaw­adi has so many supporters? Why is it that Times Now and RepublicAaj Tak and Zee News command higher viewership than their competitors?

I believe there are four major reasons why jingoism is on the ascendant, while constitutional patriotism is on the retreat. The first is the hostility to our national traditions of the Indian Left. The Communist parties, particularly the CPI(M), are an important political force in India. They have been in power in several states. Their supporters have historically dominated some of our best universities, and been prominent in theatre, art, literature and film. But the Indian Left, sadly and tragically, is an anti-patriotic Left. It has always loved another country more than their own.

The country our Communists were devoted to used to be the Soviet Union, which is why they opposed the Quit India Movement, and launched an armed insurrection on Stalin’s ord­ers immediately after Gandhiji was murdered. Later, the country the Communists loved more than India was China; so, in 1962, they refused to take their homeland’s side in the border war of that year. In the same decade, the Naxalites sprung to action shouting, ‘China’s Chairman is our Chairman’. Still later, when the Communists became disillusioned with both Soviet Union and China, they pinned their faith on Vietnam. When Vietnam failed them, it became Cuba; when Cuba failed them, it became Albania.

When I was a student in Delhi University, there was a Marxist professor who thought Enver Hoxha was a greater thinker than Mahatma Gandhi. But then Albania failed too. So now, Venezuela became the foreign country our comrades loved more than India. Consider thus the extraordinary veneration among the Indian Left for the late (but by me unla­mented) Hugo Chavez. If you think Narendra Modi is authoritarian, then Hugo Chavez was Narendra Modi on steroids. The megalomaniac Chavez destroyed the Venezuelan economy and Venezuelan democracy, and yet he was worshipped in JNU and by Indian Leftists elsewhere too.

Some months ago, I met a prominent CPI(M) intellectual, a historian like myself, but unlike me a party man. Since he is, by the standards of his tribe, reasonably open-minded, I offe­red him an unsolicited suggestion. I said, why don’t you put Bhagat Singh’s portrait up at your party conferences? How can you allow a professed Marxist to be appropriated by the Hindutvawa­dis? As it happens, in the conferences of the CPI(M) there are only four portraits displayed. All are men. None are Indian; none are alive. The dead white men our Communists publicly venerate are two German intellectuals—Marx and Engels, and two Russian tyrants—Lenin and Stalin. So I told this Communist historian, at least have Bhagat Singh’s portrait at your party conferences, for he was a Marxist, and he was Indian. The historian said, without much hope or conviction, that he would put the proposal up to the party leadership to consider.

The anti-patriotism of the Ind­ian Left is the first reason that jingoism is on the ascendant. The second reason is the corruption of the Congress Party, the tragedy by which the great party which led our freedom movement has been captured by a single family. I have spoken of how the Left chooses its icons, but in some ways the Congress is even worse. When the UPA was in power, it named everything in sight after a Nehru-Gandhi. Why couldn’t the new Hyderabad international airport have been named after the Telugu compo­ser Thygaraja or the Andhra patriot T. Prakasam? Why Rajiv Gandhi? Likewise, when the new sea link in Mumbai had to be given a name, why couldn’t the UPA consider Gokhale, Tilak, Chavan or some other great Maharashtrian Congressman? Why Rajiv Gandhi again?

Many, indeed most, of the icons of the national movement belonged to the Congress party. But the Congress has abandoned and thrown them away because it is only Nehru, Indira, Rajiv, Sonia, and now Rahul that matter to them. (The only great, dead, Congre­ss­man outside the family they are will­­ing to acknowledge is Mahatma Gandhi, because even they can’t obliterate him from their party’s history.) Gopalkrishna Gandhi, who is one of the wisest and most patriotic Indians alive, once said, in a moment of sad reflection: “It is because the Congress has disowned Patel that the BJP has been able to misown Patel”. Tragica­lly, Sonia’s and Rahul’s Congress have also disowned Shastri, Kamaraj, Kamala­devi Chattopadhyay, Jagjivan Ram, Narasimha Rao and many, many, others.

If Hugo Chavez gets a more rousing welcome in JNU than any Indian, then obviously this will help the jingoists. Likewise, if the UPA Government named all major schemes after a single family, ignoring even the great Congress patriots of the past, then that would give a handle to the jingoists, ­too. The corrupt, chamchagiri culture of the Congress Party is a disgrace. When I made a sarcastic remark on Twitter about Rahul Gandhi becoming Congress president, someone put up a chart listing the presidents of the BJP since 1998—Bangaru Laxman, Jana Krishnamurthi, L.K. Advani, Rajnath Singh, etc., the last name on the list being Amit Shah, followed by ‘party worker’. Whereas the presidents of the Congress in the same period were ‘Sonia Gandhi, Sonia Gandhi, Sonia Gandhi…Rahul Gandhi….’

A third reason for the rise of jingoism is that it is a global phenomena, manifest in the rise of Trump, Brexit, Marine Le Pen, Erdogan, Putin etc, all of whom puruse a xenophobic, paranoid, often hateful form of nationalism. The rise of jingoistic nationalism elsewhere encourages the rise of Hindutva to match or rival them.

A fourth reason for the ascenda­ncy of jingoism is the rise of Islamic fundamentalism in our own backyard. The state and society of Pakistan are becoming more and more fundamentalist. Once they persecuted Hindus and Christians; now they persecute Ahmadiyyas and Shias too. And Bangladesh is also witnessing a rising tide of violence against religious minorities. Since religious fundamentalisms are rivalrous and competitive, every act of violence against a Hindu in Bangaldesh motivates and emboldens those who want to persecute Muslims in India.

The BJP and the RSS claim to be authentically Indian, and damn the rest of us as foreigners. Intellectuals such as myself are dismissed as Macaulayputras, or, if we are fem­ale, as Macaulayputris, as bastard children of Macaulay, Marx and Mill. As a historian, I would say that the Hindutvawadis are the true foreigners. Their model of nationalism—one religion, one language, one enemy—is totally inspired by nineteenth century Europe, unlike the Gandhian model of nationalism which was an innovative swadeshi response to Indian conditions, designed to take account of cultural diversity and to tackle caste and gender inequality.

If the Sanghi model of nationalism is inspired by Europe, their model of statecraft is Middle Eastern in origin. In medieval times, from about the eleventh to the sixteenth century, there were states where monarchs were Muslims and the majority of the population was Muslim, but a substantial minority was non-Muslim, composed in the main of Jews and Christians. In these medieval Islamic states, there were three categories of citizens. The first-class citizens were Muslims, who prayed five times a day and went to mosque every Friday, and who believed that the Quran was the word of God. The second-class citizens were Jews and Christians whose prophets were admired by Muslims, as preceding Mohammed, the last and the greatest prophet. Third-class citizens were those who were neither Jews nor Christians nor Muslims. These were the unbelievers, the Kafirs.

In medieval Muslim states, Jews and Christians, the ‘People of the Book’, were given the term ‘Dhimmi’, which in Arabic means ‘protected person’. As a protected person, they had certain rights. They could go to the synagogue or church; they could own a shop; they could raise a family. But other rights were denied them. They could not enrol in the military, serve in the government, be a minister or prime minister. Nor, unlike Muslims, could they convert other citizens to their faith.

The Hindutva model is being applied in Yogi Adityanath’s Uttar Pradesh

Such was the second-class status of Jews and Christians in medieval Islam. This model was applied in Medina and Andalucia, and in Ottoman Turkey. While Kafirs (including Hindus) had to be suppressed and subdued, Jews and Christians could practise their profession and raise their family, and live peacable lives so long as they did not ask for the same rights as Muslims.

This is precisely how Hindutvawadis want to run politics in our country today. Muslims and Christians in India now must be like Jews and Christians of the medieval Middle East. This model is being applied most energetically in India’s largest state, Uttar Pradesh. As the slogans go: UP mein rehna hai to Yogi Yogi kehna padega. UP mein rehna hai to Ram Mandir banana padega. UP mein rehna hai to gau puja karna padega. If Muslims in UP accept the theological, political and social superiority of Hindus they shall not be persecuted or killed. But if they demand equal rights they might be.

So this is the new model of nationalism on offer in India today: equal parts nineteenth century Europe; equal parts fifteenth century Turkey, Iran, Iraq and Egypt. What is indigenous about it? What is decent, moral, wise or democratic about it?

The new jingoism in our country is a curious mixture of outda­ted ideas of nationalism mixed with profoundly anti-democratic ideas of citizenship. And yet it finds wide acceptance. This is because the anti-patriotism of the Indian Left, the cronyism of the Congress party and the global rise of nativism and fundamentalism have acted as a spur, an encouragement, a provocation to the rise of jingoism in India. That does not mean that we should accept it as legitimate, or even as Indian. Those of us who are constitutional patriots must continue to stand up for the values on which our nation was nurtured, built and sustained. For, if the Hindutvawadis are to continue unchecked and unchallenged, they will destroy India, culturally as well as economically.

The political and ideological battle in India today is between patriotism and jingoism. The battle is currently asymmetrical, because the jingoists are in power, and because they have a party articulating and imposing their views. The constitutional patriotism of Gandhi, Tagore and Ambedkar has no such party active today. The Communists followed Lenin and Stalin rather than Gandhi and Tagore; and the Congress has turned its back on its own founders. But while we patriots may not have a party or political vehicle, we should carry on the good fight for our values even in its abs­ence. For citizenship is an everyday affair. It is not just about casting your vote once every five years. It is about affirming the values of pluralism, dem­ocracy, decency and non-violence every single day of our lives. So long as enough of us do so with vigour and honesty, the jingoists will not win, and the Republic will survive.

***Illustration by Sajith Kumar

The killing fields of the Great War were manned by recruits who answered the call to patriotic duty. But years of mea­ningless slaughter opened their eyes to the emptiness of that appeal. The British war poets gave eloquent voice to this disgust. In his devastatingly graphic Dulce Et Decorum Est, Wilfred Owen unc­­overs the bare fangs of that high Latin ideal: “My friend, you would not tell with such high zest/To children ardent for some desperate glory/The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est/Pro patria mori.”


(This essay is based on a lecture given in memory of Justice Sunanda Bhandare, one of our bravest and most far-sighted jurists, and a true patriot.)

Ramachandra Guha is a historian. He is the author of, among other books, India After Gandhi.