One was the architect and principal bricklayer of Indian democracy and the man anointed by Mahatma Gandhi to be the country’s first Prime Minister. Jawaharlal Nehru spent more years in British jails than any other Indian nationalist and independence fighter, not excluding the Mahatma. In sharp contrast, Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, an atheist who propagated the idea of a Hindu state (Hindu Rashtra), was released from Cellular Jail after submitting a mercy plea to the British. No surprise, then, that he opposed the Quit India movement. Also, in the Gandhi assassination case, he was acquitted on a narrow technicality.
And yet, in his Mann Ki Baat broadcast on 27th May 2018, that happened to be Nehru’s 54th death anniversary, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said he paid respects to the first PM. This was damning the builder of modern India with faint praise. But worse, Mr. Modi attempted to club Nehru with the progenitor of Hindutva, saying this time of year was also associated with Savarkar (born on May 28). This is a travesty, if there was one.
Speaking on the death anniversary of one of India’s greatest sons, the Prime Minister couldn’t duck paying superficial homage to Nehru, though through his four years as PM he has said and done enough to display his utter disregard, even hatred, for Jawaharlal. It may have been better if Mr. Modi had waxed eloquent about Savarkar, an icon for people like the present PM who believe in Hindu Rashtra, rather than a composite Indian Rashtra that was born out of a successful challenge to colonial rule.
Courtesy : Editorial of ‘Deccan Chronicle’
– 29th May 2018