A “fifth-generation dynast” Rahul Gandhi has no chance in Indian politics against a “hard-working and self-made” Narendra Modi, and Kerala did a disastrous thing by electing the Congress leader to Parliament, historian Ramachandra Guha said in Kozhikode on Friday, 17 January.
Guha said the reduction of the Congress from a “great party” during the freedom movement to a “pathetic family firm” now is one of the reasons for the ascendency of Hindutva and jingoism in India.
“I have nothing against Rahul Gandhi personally. He is a decent fellow, very well-mannered. But young India does not want a fifth-generation dynast. If you Malyalis make the mistake of re-electing Rahul Gandhi in 2024 too, you are merely handing over an advantage to Narendra Modi,” said Guha on the second day of the ongoing Kerala Literature Festival (KLF) during his talk, “Patriotism Vs Jingoism”.
Addressing the crowd, full of Keralites, he said, “Kerala, you have done many wonderful things for India, but one of the disastrous things you did was to elect Rahul Gandhi to the parliament.”
Gandhi, who in the 2019 general elections lost from his family bastion of Amethi in Uttar Pradesh, had won from the Wayanad seat in Kerala.
“Narendra Modi’s great advantage is that he is not Rahul Gandhi. He is self-made. He has run a state for 15 years, he has administrative experience, he is incredibly hard working and he never takes holidays in Europe. Believe me, I am saying this in all seriousness,” he said.
But, even if Rahul Gandhi was “much more intelligent, more hard-working, never took a holiday in Europe, as a fifth generation dynast he still will be at a disadvantage against a self-made person”, the 61-year-old author said.
‘Sonia’s Chamchas Telling Her She’s Still a Badshah’
He took on Congress president Sonia Gandhi too who, he said, reminded him of the “late Mughal dynasty” and how aloof they were of the state of their kingdom.
“India is becoming more democratic and less feudal, and the Gandhis just don’t realise this. You (Sonia) are in Delhi, your kingdom is shrinking more and more but still your chamchas (sycophants) are telling you that you are still the badshah,” he said.
Further, he quoted his teacher and noted Indian sociologist Andre Beteille to describe the story of Nehru-Gandhi family as a classic “reversal of the famous Biblical injunction”: the sins of the father will be visited upon seven successive generations.
“In Nehru's case, it is the sins of the seven successive generations have been re-visited upon Nehru... look at the national debate today. Why is Nehru evoked every time? Why does Modi always say Nehru ne kashmir mein yeh kiya, China mein yeh kiya, Triple Talaq mein yeh kiye ... because Rahul Gandhi is there.”
“Now if Rahul Gandhi disappears, Modi has to talk about his own policies and why they failed,” he said.
According to Guha, “Hypocrisy of the Indian Left - the fact that they loved other nations more than India”, “rise of aggressive nationalism worldwide” and “the rise of Islamic fundamentalism in neighbouring countries” are some other reasons behind the evident leap of Hindutva in India in the recent times.
Historian William Dalrymple, novelists like Benyamin, Namita Gokhale, Chetan Bhagat and journalists Karan Thapar and Rajdeep Sardesai are among the many other writers who will be attending the four-day festival.
The focus theme of KLF 2020 is environment and climate change.
‘My Talk Was a Defence Of Constitutional Patriotism Against Hindutva Jingoism'
Later, in an exchange with Congress MP Shashi Tharoor, Guha said that his talk was a defence of constitutional patriotism against Hindutva jingoism. He added that he was “sorry that a reporter has cherry picked two sentences out of a one hour talk to distort its meaning.”