Sunday, March 27, 2011


Ram Guha is deeply disturbed. Narendra Modi’s power punch at the recent India Today Conclave and a visit to Ahmedabad have hit him where it really hurts, and not for the reasons he has mentioned in the latest of his no-holds barred attacks on him. There can be no greater pain for a deceiving craftsman than to see his much praised creation of cleverly constructed falsehoods so graphically exposed for its worthlessness in front of his eyes so quickly.

Those who heard the Gujarat Chief Minister speak at the Conclave were, to their own surprise, wowed as they have never been in recent years. The man they heard and saw was no ordinary politician for whom ‘governance’ and ‘aam admi’ are mere words meant to be conveniently used to gain and enjoy power.

For the first time, perhaps, they saw a real leader, arguably the only one in India today, who deeply understands and has seamlessly integrated the needs, concerns and ambitions of a poor villager with the vision of a strong and prosperous India that can better the best. In rapt attention they listened, and spontaneously cheered, as Modi detailed his experiments with governance in Gujarat to convince them that India can be energised and transformed from the indifferent, diffident nation it is to a confident and focused one that can actualise its huge potential and make this century its own. In the process, without attacking anyone, Modi also made everyone acutely aware of the serious leadership and value deficit that is eating into India's entrails, even its soul.

Not surprisingly, it is Modi’s Mahatma Mandir that Guha has picked on to hit back at him. Guha simply is unable to accept the fact that Gandhi has been reinvented and his mass-movement strategy used with great success, not by the Congress party that remembers the Mahatma perfunctorily on October 02 every year, but by a man who comes from an ideological background that Guha has dexterously and viciously demonised in his many distortions of modern India’s history.

The Modi blow is double, because, lip service to Gandhi apart, both the Congress party and its ideological props like Ram Guha have projected Jawaharlal Nehru – dynasty’s dictates – as by far the tallest visionary, thinker and maker of modern India. They have successfully kept Gandhi trapped in goat milk and charkha and lion cloth and non-violence, none of which have contemporary resonance.

Modi has taken him out of that frozen-in-time cage and put him in territory that they have successfully been selling as Nehru’s alone. To make it even more unpalatable, Modi has symbolically named one of Nehru’s ‘temples of modern India’ that he has built after the Mahatma. This is blasphemy. Its implications are enormous. Modi has understood that for long and a horrified Guha has just been blown by it.

Gandhi and Nehru, as I understand from the little that I have read, heard and seen as an ordinary citizen, were poles apart along one critical dimension. Both were England-educated lawyers from privileged backgrounds, but only one of them made the real, internal transformation without which our freedom struggle could not have become the unstoppable, empowering mass movement it did. Nehru did little more than change his clothes to bask in Gandhi’s light. He never connected with the masses at the mental frequency and with the emotional intimacy that Gandhi did.

It was Nehru’s elitist disconnect that led him to surround himself with like-minded people and transplant and impose an economic ideology and perpetuate a model of governance that not only did not resonate with the people but spawned an enduring culture of sloth and indifference, one that established only an impersonal and imperious connect between the ordinary Indian and the state. In hindsight, it is evident that is the state that shackled the entrepreneurial and creative genius of ordinary Indians and led to the ‘Nehru’ rate of growth, the burden of which his advisers quickly and dishonestly passed on to India’s Hindu majority.

In Gujarat, Narendra Modi has removed many shackles and reinvented the existing tools and structures of governance that have failed elsewhere, to unleash the real ‘Hindu’ rate of growth that India failed to achieve for six decades. In short, in that state, he has demolished the myth that Guha and his ilk have created around Nehru. No wonder they are blind to his almost Gandhian lifestyle or his burning desire to see that India gets its second and real freedom. It burns them to see that that the tryst with destiny that Nehru spoke about is being given real shape and will be turned into reality by someone who is not only not from the dynasty but who, given a shot at India’s top job, will rewrite history and free India from the clutches of a self-serving elite that has done great harm to the country.

That is what hurts the Guhas of India. They have connected themselves to the world but have failed to connect to the India outside their cocoons. Worse, they do not even feel the need to. That is also what afflicts the dynasty they are promoting, one that has given them so much. That is why their borrowed, theoretical prescriptions for the poor and the marginalised do little to empower them in the real sense and bridge the yawning, demeaning gap.

Modi, on the other hand, has achieved the seemingly impossible, something that lowly Hindi/local language speaking Indians were not expected to even conceive, much less crystallise and deliver better than the best educated the Nehruvians have 'given' to India with an air of misplaced, sickening superiority. He has shown the audacity to dream and think big, real big, but not in the elitist and defeatist Nehruvian mould. He has understood the importance of linking the man in the village to the man on the moon, as it were, and, thanks to long years among the people as one of them, has found the right ways to deliver to him the dream that so far the Guhas of the world thought was meant only for a privileged few like them.

That is why Guha wants to take you to Sabarmati Ashram to see Gandhi. The leader of the aam admi of colonial India must remain there so that the aam admi of free India remains where he is without asking why. He must not know that had Gandhi been alive today, he would have been found not there but in Modi's Mahatma Mandir.

By putting Gandhi there, without saying so, Modi has taken Nehru out of the ruins of the modern temples that he built and sent him back to Anand Bhavan, the family mansion he never left, where he and the dynasty belong. How can such a 'megalomaniac' get anything but a gutter gore from a chuha like Guha?
Related reading:
1. Delusions of intellect by Sandeep (Must read)
2. Will Modi accomplish his 'Mission Impossible'?