On His Day…
When the Indians were remembering their first Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru on his birthday on November 14, 2014, current Prime Minister Narendra Modi was in Australia. He spent the day with children in Canberra, as the South Asian nation celebrates ‘Children’s Day’ each year on November 14 as a tribute to Nehru. In Australia, PM Modi praised Nehru for his contribution to the history of India. In 2015, he tweeted on November 14 morning: “Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru’s life was spent in giving India freedom & leading India as the 1st PM. Tributes to him on his birth anniversary.” PM Modi spent the day in London that year.
The Indian premier marked the Children’s Day in India in 2016. Speaking at an event in Ghazipur, he said: “Pandit Nehru, your family members abuse me, your party abuses me, but I am here to fulfil what was left incomplete from your time.” He also said: “Pandit Nehru decided to constitute a Patel Committee and in that report, they had listed steps for the development on this area. I have come here on 14th November deliberately, to expose those who did not work towards fulfilling what Pandit Nehru had wanted to do.” It means that the PM tried to be(come!) ‘Nehru’ in 2016! Some national broadsheets declared that PM Modi set an example of ‘mature politics’ by praising Nehru.
The Statue of Unity
PM Modi was in Manila on November 14, 2017. In the morning, he briefly tweeted: “Tributes to Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru on his birthday.” On February 7, 2018, he told the joint sitting of the two Houses of Parliament: “Nehru is the biggest problem in India.” Inside the Parliament, he not only criticised Nehru, but also praised Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel – the first Deputy PM of India, saying that the country still remains united because of Patel and not for Nehru! He further talked of Mahatma Gandhi on that day, stressing: “Our nation does not know what Hindu nationalists did to Gandhi and what opinion Sardar Patel had about Hindu nationalist organisations, like the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and Hindu Mahasabha.” Unveiling Sardar Patel’s 182-metre tall ‘Statue of Unity’ on his 143rd birthday on October 31, 2018, Modi said: “It’s an answer to those who question India’s existence.” Perhaps, he tried to highlight Patel’s contribution to the Indian Freedom Movement in an attempt to establish a new political narrative!
Three great Indian leaders were born in October-November: Mahatma Gandhi (October 2), Sardar Patel (October 31) and Pandit Nehru (November 14). And it seems that all of them are controversial personalities! According to PM Modi, it would have been difficult for India to remain a ‘Union of States’ without Patel. He told the Parliament on February 7 that Nehru, and not Patel, was responsible for the ‘Partition of the Indian Subcontinent’. “If Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel would have been the first Prime Minister of the country, entire Kashmir would have been ours (India’s),” stressed the PM.
However, there are some big issues PM Modi still needs to clarify… If India built the statue of Patel to showcase the national unity, then why did the government decide not to invite top opposition leaders to attend the event? The presence of leaders of all the major parties could have promoted PM Modi’s status from a ‘politician’ to a ‘statesman’.
Secondly, the PM didn’t invite Chief Ministers (CMs) of various Indian provinces. (Ideally,) he could have formed a ‘National Committee’ and invited the CMs to join the committee. The presence of the CMs in that ceremony might have helped the PM show the ‘national unity’!
Nehru, Gandhi & Patel
Thirdly, Patel was a leader of the Indian National Congress (the current Opposition party) and he imposed a ban on the RSS. Even, there was a change in his perception about the RSS after the assassination of Gandhi!
Finally, Patel was popularly known as a ‘rightist’ leader in the Congress, while Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose was a ‘socialist’ leader and Nehru was a ‘secular and centrist’. They differed with each other over various issues and the Indians know the history. Despite the differences of opinions between them, the Indian history remains ‘integral’. We can’t establish a new concept of India by separating a piece of narrative from the mainstream Indian history. History is not a fragmented subject, but an uninterrupted flow of incidents or time.
The ‘philosophy of India’ is not limited only to a statue or to Gandhi’s spectacles. This philosophy is hidden in India’s soul. Nehru wanted to develop the Indian economy on the basis of consensus. Although he tried to establish heavy industries through the Planning Commission, he wanted every Indians – from elites to lower class people – to take the advantage of the economic development. Nehru’s daughter Indira (Gandhi) rejected the ‘politics of discussion and consensus’, as she tried to establish an authoritarian system! The ‘declaration of emergency’ is a fine example of her attempt to destroy the democratic values. Atal Bihari Vajpayee – the 10th Prime Minister of India – was the leader of Bharatiya Janata Party… But, he used to respect consensus. Vajpayee never tried to trigger a ‘Nehru-Patel’ dispute, as he was a follower of Nehru.
There is a fine touch of ‘undemocratic and narrow-minded’ politics in this ‘Nehru-Patel’ war. This is not INDIA… India doesn’t tolerate ‘division’ in the pretext of ‘unity’. This great nation believes in ‘Unity in Diversity’.
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