The latest monsoon session of the Parliament had to witness many unexpected happenings. From Rahul’s unanticipated hug to Prime Minister Modi in the Parliament to PM’s momentarily wooly response that turned indignant later, the session proved to be somewhat different.
Though Rahul’s speech garnered a mixed reaction on the internet, it seems that some of his questions posed to the Prime Minister and his government have infuriated him too much. The Prime Minister on his heart has perhaps taken one such statement by Rahul that addressed the Prime Minister as ‘Bhaagidaar‘, and there must be sufficient reasons for this. He offensively responded to Rahul’s accusation in his speech but dodged the real questions. Instead of responding to the accusation on facts, the Prime Minister chose to answer it through rhetoric. He brilliantly utilized his knack of oratory to twist the accusation in his favor and went on to claim that he is a ‘Bhaagidaar’ in the grief of the common people, the farmers, the laborers, and the youth.
In almost every public speech after his Parliamentary speech, the Prime Minister has been leaving no stone unturned in advancing clarifications to Rahul’s accusation of being a ‘Bhaagidaar,’ though through his trademark style of beating around the bush. It must be made clear that the Prime Minister generally doesn’t react to these sort of accusations. In Sahara-Birla diary that the Supreme Court refused to order an inquiry upon, the Prime Minister did not react anything at all, though the diaries allegedly had his name in it. This issue had also dominated mainstream political discussion for a considerable time. Rahul Gandhi too had raised this issue after the celebrated Public interest lawyer Prashant Bhushan had petitioned to the Supreme Court for an inquiry in the matter. But, even after all these happenings, the Prime Minister had remained tight-lipped. This time he is reacting, and he is reacting sharply and angrily. This difference in conduct is certainly open to interpretation. Rahul Gandhi has been trying to hammer at the very credibility of PM Modi, and that is perhaps disturbing Prime Minister the most. Nowadays, he visibly appears anxious and sometimes annoyed too, to these kinds of accusation.
Another general accusation that the Prime Minister appears to have taken on his heart is the Congress’s attempts to portray him as a friend of influential industrialists and a foe of the farmers. In April 2015, Rahul had derided Modi-government in the Parliament as ‘Suit-Boot Ki Sarkar’ that had attracted sharp reactions from BJP. This time many such intermittent attacks on the Prime Minister indicating his closeness with certain influential industrialists has infuriated him certainly. These accusations are not new but he did not find it worth responding for 4 years. Now he cannot afford to dodge it anymore as he understands it very well that continuing to dodge these accusations shall have its political repercussions in the upcoming General elections, as Modi’s entire political edifice as the Prime Minister stands on his claim of being a ‘Chai-Wala’.
What surprised me the most is that the Prime Minister went on to compare himself with Mahatma Gandhi?
Mahatma vs Modi?
Recently Modi said in a program in Lucknow that he is not afraid to stand alongside the industrialists because his intention is noble and honest. Taking a jibe at Congress, he said that you could not find out any picture of them standing with the industrialist, because they had to transact behind the curtains. He also laughingly referred to Amar Singh that he knows all these things, who was sitting in the audience. But, what surprised me the most is that the Prime Minister went on to compare himself with Mahatma Gandhi. He said, ‘Mahatma Gandhi’s too never shied away in standing alongside Birla. He used to stay in his house and the family because his intention was pure.’ Does it mean that the Prime Minister wants to compare himself to Gandhi Ji? Is Modi’s life as open and transparent as Gandhi Ji’s life had been? Leave apart his political life, Gandhi Ji was extremely open and transparent in his personal life too. Did Gandhi Ji ever try to hide the details of his donors? Had Gandhi Ji stood alongside Birla to construct a multistoried five-start Party’s office in Hastinapur? Had Gandhi Ji been as power-hungry as Modi Ji has been? The answer to all these questions is resounding ‘No.’ Gandhi Ji spent most of his life in Dhoti unlike Modi Ji’s regular expensive clothes and occasional attire worth Rs.10 lakhs that got auctioned in crores.
It is true that Gandhi Ji never shied away in standing alongside Birla, but it is equally valid that he never shied away to hold to his principles, to castigate the influential industrialist if the circumstances demanded so. Perhaps, Modi Ji doesn’t know about this and therefore he must. He must realize that there is a world of difference between him and Gandhi Ji and that he cannot arbitrarily go on to compare it, for whatever purpose, or in whatever context. This is not comparable at all.
GD Birla had once recounted a conversation that he had with Mahatma Gandhi, upon his arrival in India in 1915. He said, ‘I informed him that I would … send him a monthly donation … ‘Fine,’ he replied. Look what I did—it was very silly of me! I said, ‘Very good then. I’ll expect a monthly letter from you.’ He retorted saying, ‘Does this mean I have to come to you with a begging bowl every month?’ I felt so ashamed. I asked Gandhi Ji, ‘If I write to you, will you reply?’ ‘Of course,’ he said. Just to test him, I wrote a letter to him four or five days after he’d left. He replied—on a postcard (Birla nd). (See, Independence and Social Justice: The Ambedkar-Gandhi Debate, by Rajmohan Gandhi, April 11, 2015, Vol. No.15, EPW).
Equation with industrialists
See, Gandhi Ji was not ready to write a letter also to Birla in return after the receipt of the monthly donation and a sense got politely chided by Gandhi for daring to demand so. Can Modi Ji afford to do this? Leave the letter apart that Gandhi Ji refused to write to Birla on his own, and this Country understands it very well that how Modi and his governments have been returning their favors to Corporates.
According to a Rediff.com report, ‘In 1942, at the time of launching Quit India Movement, Gandhi Ji who was living at Birla house, moved out to the Congress office, lest it embarrasses his host who had been making windfall profits in World War II. Birla, according to one account, had to coax Gandhi to return to his house.’
Similarly, another influential industrialist family Tatas too had not been spared by Gandhi. He had criticized them also in the similar fashion.
According to an article titled ‘Independence and Social Justice; The Ambedkar Gandhi Debate‘ penned by Rajmohan Gandhi and published in EPW, in April 1921, when displaced villagers first began their satyagraha against what was then only a proposed dam, (The Mulshi Dam), Gandhi had penned a biting, if also courteously worded, challenge to the Tatas in his journal, Young India.
Gandhi Ji had written, “I wish the great house of the Tatas, instead of standing on their legal rights, will reason with the people themselves and do whatever they wish in consultation with them … What is the value of all the boons that the Tata scheme claims to confer on India if it is to be at the unwilling expense of even one poor man? I dare say the problem of disease and poverty can be easily solved, and the survivors will live in luxury if the three crore half-starved men and women, and lakhs of the decrepit humanity, were shot and their bodies utilized for manure … And yet nobody but a lunatic will put up such a suggestion. Is the case any weaker when men and women are not to be shot but compulsorily disposed of their valued lands, [around] which sentiment, romance and all that makes life worth living, have grown up? I suggest to the custodians of the great name that they would more truly advance India’s interests if they defer to the wishes of their weak and helpless countrymen.” (CW 20: 40–41, 27 April 1921).
Can Modi Ji do all this? Can he castigate any influential industrialist publicly? Has he ever done it in the past? Of course, all of them are not dacoits but does it mean that all of them are an incarnation of Harischandra? Just see the irony that the PM who had put all his might to amend the land acquisition Act to snatch land from the farmers without their consent goes on to compare himself with Mahatma who had castigated Tatas for their project that had displaced villagers. This kind of analogy is a death of thousand ironies.
The Prime Minister is seen in a group photo with a scamster on one of his officials’ foreign tours, and he doesn’t say a single word on it, I want to ask Modi Ji that was Gandhi Ji like this? Has Modi Ji ever publicly regretted calling Mehul Choski as ‘Mehul Bhaai’?
So, the crux is, there is not an even little scope of such comparison. This is an entirely false, imaginary and an arbitrary comparison. Of-course standing alongside industrialists is not a sin, but standing to one’s principles is far more important than standing alongside industrialists. This is what Gandhi Ji’s life teaches us.
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