Open Letter to Gopal Gandhi

Dear Mr Gopalkrishna Gandhi

Let me begin by saying, i hold no one in the past 100 years in absolute reverence. But i do have my preferences. And Mohandas Gandhi your Great Grand Father is not exactly high on that list. Neither is Jawahar Lal Nehru, our first Prime Minister. I was not born in those times and so on the back of 20/20 hindsight, me and millions of others can clearly see that the ecstasy and hope that Independence engendered, 70 years later have turned to a scenario of gloom and doom. 70% people don’t have basic access to toilets, lakhs of villages still don’t have electricity, millions don’t have access to clean drinking water. So yes 70 years down the line, harrowed citizens have the right to question if the founding fathers’ vision, methods and methodology was indeed right.

Nehru, Shastri, Indira, Morarji, Rajiv, Devegowda, Rao or Gujral irrespective of who sat in the hallowed precincts of the PMO, it remains a fact that Narendra Modi through sheer hard work, dedication, vision, energy, intelligence and honest ability has by one of the largest mandates possible in a Multi Party Democracy with many regional players, emerged the most eligible contender in the last 30 years. To question this fact is kicking Multi Party democracy and it’s principles in it’s face. His mandate is even more so significant that as in Nehru’s era there was no established Multi-Party system and lack of powerful regional leaders. The INC being the only big player in the early days of independence and Rajiv Gandhi winning on an emotional mandate following the assassination of Indira Gandhi were the only bigger mandates. So yes it can be stated that Narendra Modi’s mandate can be considered to be the biggest True mandate in our Multi Party democracy till date. I am also convinced that if a Jawahar Lal Nehru’s was to face off Narendra Modi today bearing in mind 70 years of the Nehru Dynasty rule, Nehru would not get the popular mandate that Modi would.

Reading through your whole letter i find it exudes more ‘elitism’ than Intelligence, an assumption that Nehru’s vision is above criticism or when you only notice who most people ‘vote against’ only when a Modi wins a massive mandate as here:

But, Mr. Modi, with that said, I must move to why your being at India’s helm disturbs millions of Indians. You know this more clearly than anyone else that in the 2014 election, voters voted, in the main, for Modi or against Modi. It was a case of “Is Narendra Modi the country’s best guardian — desh ka rakhvala — or is he not?” The BJP has won the seats it has because you captured the imagination of 31 per cent of our people (your vote share) as the nation’s best guardian, in fact, as its saviour. It has also to be noted that 69 per cent of the voters did not see you as their rakhvala

 

While we function as a Parliamentary Democracy and not as a Presidential one, where primary choices may involve preferences for regional leaders or candidates for many reasons and not necessarily a rejection of a candidate pers se, we do have polls which have reflected on Narendra Modi’s popularity or favorability over the country. This poll was conducted by PEW a reputable agency in February well before Modi peaked his best. It says:

Nearly eight-in-ten Indians (78%) have a favorable view of Modi, compared with 16% who hold an unfavorable view.

Image  Image

When asked if they are “very supportive” of either candidate, 60% answered yes for Modi, while only 23% answered the same for Gandhi. (Source: PEW)

In the above you can see, that people share a favorable opinion and not that of a demon as you make him out to be. In contrast the dynastic leaders that you possibly recommend and possibly vote for have thrice the numbers Modi has for him as unfavorable. The above hammers the lies, confusion and fear that you try and sow in gullible minds that 69% people fear Modi by mixing Presidential and Multi-Party parliamentary election outcomes. By your logic more people would have feared Sonia and MMS in 2004 and 2009. But then as i read more i see being logical is not your motive, sophistry is:

In invoking unity and stability, you have regularly turned to the name and stature of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel. The Sardar, as you would know, chaired the Constituent Assembly’s Committee on Minorities. If the Constitution of India gives crucial guarantees — educational, cultural and religious — to India’s minorities, Sardar Patel has to be thanked, as do other members of that committee, in particular Rajkumari Amrit Kaur, the Christian daughter of Sikh Kapurthala. Adopt, in toto, Mr. Modi, not adapt or modify, dilute or tinker with, the vision of the Constitution on the minorities. You may like to read what the indomitable Sardar said in that committee.

Why is there, in so many, so much fear, that they dare not voice their fears?

Here you command that Modi that he should not modify, dilute or tinker with the Constitution on the Minorities. The Constitution allows the mandated powers to be adapt, dilute or change it’s provisions if something does not work. It matters little who sat in which committee 70 years ago and thrashed out which law. If something is not working as you yourself assert last line “Why is there, in so many so much fear” after 70 years, there is simply nothing wrong in adapting, modifying set parameters to course correct. So your recommendation is again not just silly, it is devious and fascist to the core. In addition it is thoroughly against the vision of the founders where you want to blunt Modi’s right to introduce constitutional amendment because Sardar Patel sat on the committee. I am certain if changes are required today in addition or in lieu to what Mr Patel penned decades ago he would be more than happy at necessary amendments and changes being undertaken.

Further:

 Reassure the minorities, Mr. Modi, do not patronise them. “Development” is no substitute to security. You spoke of “the Koran in one hand, a laptop in the other,” or words to that effect. That visual did not quite reassure them because of a counter visual that scares them — of a thug masquerading as a Hindu holding a Hindu epic’s DVD in one hand and a minatory trishul in the other.

 

Here you indulge in scaremongering the type that voters including Muslims in large numbers have rejected in the polls. Modi has won several constituencies with very high percentages of Muslims. The 73/80 seats in UP would not be possible without votes from all sections of society, all castes, all religions. So you’re basically inciting and regurgitating a lie with barely any sophistication.

No one should have the impudence to speak the monarchist language of uniformism to a republic of pluralism, the vocabulary of “oneness” to an imagination of many-nesses, the grammar of consolidation to a sensibility that thrives in and on its variations. India is a diverse forest. It wants you to nurture the humus that sustains its great variety, not place before it the monochromatic monoculturalism of a political monotheism.

Again above you write high sounding language little realizing that appeasement of non pluralist exclusivist ideologies and doctrines does not strengthen our pluralist culture and heritage. It is strengthening the pluralist heritage and culture and pride in this tradition that will ensure safety for all. Water those roots and the pluralist plant is strengthened. That is exactly what Narendra Modi is doing. He is not watering the ‘appeasement’ narrative but the true pluralist Dharmic tradition that is ours. He has succeeded in making a vibrant Gujarat where, by all measures the Muslim community is faring far more decently than in other states where there is neither development nor security. So your unsolicited advise can be considered devious and motivated fear mongering.

When you reconstitute the Minorities Commission, ask the Opposition to give you all the names and accept them without change. And do the same for the panels on Scheduled Castes and Tribes, and Linguistic Minorities. And when it comes to choosing the next Chief Information Commissioner, the next CAG, CVC, go sportingly by the recommendation of the non-government members on the selection committee, as long as it is not partisan. You are strong and can afford such risks.

It is fine if this advise was from a disinterested observer. But it comes from someone wanting to beat the well beaten hackneyed path of appeasement politicking. It comes from someone without the vision to course correct a methodology and approach that does not work. So my advice to Modi ji would be not to heed your message. It assumes Modi does not have a vision of his own and will have to rely on failed narratives of the past. Apologies, but the mandate for Modi is exactly not to do, what you recommend.

Mr. Modi, there is a southern deficit in your India calculus. The Hindi-belt image of your victory should not tighten itself into a North-South divide. Please appoint a deputy prime minister from the South, who is not a politician at all, but an expert social scientist, ecologist, economist or a demographer. Nehru had Shanmukham Chetty, John Mathai, C.D. Deshmukh and K.L. Rao in his cabinet. They were not Congressmen, not even politicians. Indira Gandhi had S. Chandrashekhar, V.K.R.V. Rao. I cannot, for the life of me, understand why the UPA did not make Professor M.S. Swaminathan and Shyam Benegal, both nominated members in the Rajya Sabha, ministers. There is a convention, one may even say, a healthy convention, that nominated members should not be made ministers. But exigencies are exigencies. Professor Nurul Hasan, a nominated member, was one of the best Ministers of Education we have had.

Again as i read what you recommend above, as a citizen i question Nehru’s developmental model and vision as a whole. With 70% having no access to toilets, the maximum illiterates in the world, lack of basic needs like electricity and water, i think that whole lot mentioned above were failures and not successes to be emulated. I am scared of Nehru’s vision and the policies of his dynasty that gave India a pathetic 2% growth rate, chained hundreds of millions to poverty, disease, illiteracy. As a concerned citizen, i would thus advise Mr Modi to stay well away from your recommendations for the better of this country.

Your Fellow Citizen

 

 

http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2014/02/27/indians-support-for-modi-bjp-shows-an-itch-for-change/

http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/lead/an-open-letter-to-narendra-modi/article6022900.ece

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