There appears to be some disquiet in Arun Jaitley's otherwise uneventful and tranquil politics. His recent blogs show his need to prove himself to his ‘master’ all over again. Under Modi, you cannot win brownie points by doing well in your departments as a minister.
The parameter for good performance here is how loud and low you can get in pulling the Gandhi family down. No need to fulfill your promises. Absolutely no need to refer to your manifesto to see how far you have travelled — as minister or as a government.
This is the undoing of the Modi government — this near-insane obsession with the ‘Gandhi’ name.
At the root of this insanity lies a deep-rooted insecurity about their own ability — both individually and collectively — to ‘out-hero’ the hero.
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Attacking Gandhi Family Makes BJP ‘Muscular’
There are two routes to emerge as heroes: either do something heroic or undermine the heroism of your rival. Most senior leaders of the BJP, for most part of their political lives, have been in the opposition. It is now in their DNA to play that part. Even when they are given an opportunity to emerge as heroes, they would rather attack heroes of the other side. By attacking the Gandhis, Modi and his cronies keep strengthening their own myths about themselves. It makes them feel muscular.
43 years after the Emergency, and 40 years after the Emergency was lifted, the entire Modi Cabinet is busy travelling around India, to talk about it.
The Emergency was lifted not because of any major resistance to it, nor because of any worthwhile struggle put up by Mr Jaitley and company (in fact, Balasaheb Deoras wrote to Indira Gandhi extending support to the Emergency). It was lifted because the leader who imposed it, for compelling reasons that can and must be debated, herself lifted it when she thought those reasons were no longer valid.
Indira Gandhi decided to take the democratic route of elections, knowing fully well she was heading towards a defeat. She and several of her successive Congress governments have apologised for the decision.
People forgave her within less than three years of punishing her for it. The Congress won five out of ten elections held post Emergency, and supported two governments. Yet, Modi and company want to make a huge drama around the event — an event from which, at best, we could all learn some lessons.
BJP Needs More Lessons in Democracy
The Congress has definitely learnt its lesson. But the BJP government under Modi definitely needs more lessons in democracy. UPA-II faced maximum dissent but did not stop the youngsters who almost broke into the Rashtrapati Bhavan, protesting against the Nirbhaya gangrape.
Anna Hazare’s Ramlila Maidan agitation had open sponsorship and support of the RSS and the Vivekananda Foundation — UPA-II still engaged with them, as any mature government should deal with dissent.
We did not plant stories in the media that Naxals and jihadi elements had infiltrated the protests and had sinister designs. Were today's Opposition to exhort the Police and the Army to go on a strike against the Modi government, imagine how the Bhakt-brigade would respond, imagine how the Modi government would respond.
Morarji Desai had done exactly this while opposing Indira Gandhi in the run up to the imposition of the Emergency. And now compare that with how the Modi brigade responded to dissent in the various campuses or when the creative world dissented by returning their awards. I am tempted to remind Arun Jaitley the promptness with which his party colleagues offer free visa services to Pakistan for those who even cast their vote against Modi.
RSS Was Inspired by Europe’s Fascist Regimes
Before criticising Indira Gandhi for an aberration, please see the 'new normal' you have mainstreamed without a declared emergency. Jaitley's two comments border on humour. He accuses Indira Gandhi of having resorted to slogans rather than delivery. Unless Jaitley is subtly criticising Modi, he should remember that the Green Revolution wasn't merely a slogan.
Pokharan 1, was not just a slogan, nor was Bangladesh liberated by a mere slogan. Bank liberalisation, abolition of privy purses etc were path breaking decisions that transformed India and institutionally undid ancient inequalities in society. The ideology of Mr Jaitley's then opposition party was bitterly opposed to all these measures.
Irony laughs herself to death when a minister of the Modi government — a government totally controlled by the RSS — compares Indira Gandhi to Hitler. Veer Savarkar actually criticised Nehru for his opposition to Hitler and Mussolini.
BS Moonje, RSS founding Sarsanghachalak KB Hedgewar's friend, philosopher and guide, visited Italy in 1931. Mr Jaitley should read his diaries in which he chronicled his meeting with Mussolini and how deeply he was influenced by the Italian dictator. He sought to model the RSS after European fascist regimes.
He openly expresses how impressed he was with the organisation and ideology of the fascists. The Modi government is now openly and unabashedly clutching at dry straws. What sense does it make for an entire government to halt governance in 2018 to embark upon a campaign against an emergency imposed for 21 months in 1975?
Postscript / an innocent question: Has Narendra Modi involved Ms Maneka Gandhi too in this campaign against the Emergency?
(The writer is former political secretary to Sheila Dikshit, and is with the Congress party. He tweets @Pawankhera .This is an opinion piece and the views expressed are the author’s own. The Quint neither endorses nor is responsible for the same.)
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