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‘We needed to make a demon of Jinnah… Let’s learn from our mistakes’

August 18, 2009 2 comments
Could Advani have made such a misstep ...!

Could Advani have made such a misstep ...!

How seriously has India misunderstood Jinnah?

I think we misunderstood because we needed to create a demon.

We needed a demon because in the 20th century, the most telling event in the entire subcontinent was the partition of the country.

Your book reveals how people like Gandhi, Rajagopalachari and Azad could understand the Jinnah or the Muslim fear of Congress majoritarianism but Nehru simply couldn’t understand. Was Nehru insensitive to this?

No, he wasn’t. Jawaharlal Nehru was a deeply sensitive man.

But why couldn’t he understand?

He was deeply influenced by Western and European socialist thought of those days. Nehru believed in a highly centralised polity. That’s what he wanted India to be. Jinnah wanted a federal polity.

Because that would give Muslims the space?

That even Gandhi understood.

You conclude that if Congress could have accepted a decentralised federal India, then a united India, as you put it, “was clearly ours to attain”. Do you see Nehru at least as responsible for partition as Jinnah?

He says it himself. He recognised it and his correspondence, for example with the late Nawab Sahab of Bhopal, his official biographer and others. His letters to the late Nawab Sahab of Bhopal are very moving.

(via ‘We needed to make a demon of Jinnah… Let’s learn from our mistakes’).

A ‘victorious’ Congress, ruling for most of the 60 years of post-colonial India, had three clear propaganda imperatives.

The Masters Glee - Confusion of Indian Independence

The Masters Glee - Confusion of Indian Independence

1 – TINA, There is no alternative

They needed to prove that it was only the Congress which could ‘take on’ and  ‘defeat’ the ‘glorious and the mighty’ British Empire on which the sun never set. The logic went, “what could India(ns) have done without the Congress”. This thinking went deeper and dirtier, when a certain Deb Kant Barooah, declared “India is Indira and Indira is India.”

Similarly, Congress decided to re-write history and take all credit for the departure of the British colonialists. Contributions of leaders like SC Bose was ignored or the importance of the February 1946 joint action by the Indian Armed Forces against the colonial forces, was minimized to the ‘Naval Ratings Mutiny.’ Leaders like VD Savarkar (the first to write a non-colonial history of the War of 1857), or Shyama Prasad Mukherjee (the founder of the Jana Sangh-BJP) was dismissed as fascism.

Fact is, that Britain was bankrupt and could not hold onto India. Fact is, that for a 150 years – from 1797-1947, many rebellions, wars, individual hits were made against the colonial British Government. The myth of non-violent Indian freedom movement, served both colonial and Congress interests. It showed the British as ‘civilized’ colonialists – and the Congress as ‘enlightened’ leadership. Just like most Western literature caricatures African-American characters as hard-working, humble, docile, placid, obedient, gentle!

2 – If you don’t have an enemy, create one!

The Congress needed to create an enemy. A demon, who they could blame, use, abuse – and Pakistan fitted the bill perfectly. A failed state (!), a hotbed of terrorism – and to top it all, an Islamic State. What more could the West-Congress combine ask for?

Easily slipping into colonial legacy of ‘divide et impera’, the Congress went onto a disastrous foreign policy trail of Hindi-Chini bhai bhai. A solid realtionship with Pakistan would have,  arguably, saved Tibet from the Chinese maws – which Nehru’s foreign policy predicated.

Basking in the glory of Western approval

Basking in the 'glory' of Western approval

3 – Craven desires

To gain Western approval, acceptance, favours, privileges et al.

Consider the English language policy of the post-colonial Congress Government. It has massively subsidized English education in India so that the children of the elite could ‘escape’ to the West. The demeaning ‘population control theory’, the English language education – all, a result of this need of the Congress Party.

The deliberate colonial distortion of Indian history continues unchecked and unhindered. You only have to read Congress Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh’s speech at Oxford, praising the Raj,  while receiving his honorary doctrate, or Chidambaram’s decision to end “abject poverty” in India that he seems to “have known for 5,000 years.”

Coming to the BJP

When Advani goes to Pakistan and praises Jinnah, it cannot be an accident, or a slip of the tongue. It had to be a deeply thought out, well considered move – one can say, after watching Advani for nearly 30 years now. The man does not go out and missteps so wrongly. The ‘Advani-Jinnah-comments-fracas’ was for media consumption – and BJP party workers. If Advani wanted to re-write history (about time too), that was one way!

And if there were any doubts, then Jaswant Singh’s book, seals the argument.

PS –

  1. Dutifully, within 48 hours, the BJP decided to ‘expel’ Jaswant Singh from the party, for his pro-Jinnah book on 19th August, 2009.
  2. Gujarat Chief Minister, Narendra Modi, promptly banned the book, in Gujarat. I see good sales for Jaswant’s book – and rehabilitation of Jinnah in India, BJP willing.
  3. On 23rd August Arun Shourie, ‘tore’ into the BJP leadership on the subject of Jaswant’s Singh’s book. India Today reported that he said, “Jaswant Singh’s book is a scholarly work. It deserves to be read,”, criticising the party for pulling the Jinnah remark out of context of the entire book.
  4. One day later, on 24th August,  KS Sudarshan, the former head of RSS weighed in on Jaswant Singh’s side. It was reported that
  5. “Jinnah had many facets. If you read history then you will come to know that Jinnah was with Lok Manya Tilak and was totally dedicated to the nation. And when Gandhi started the Khilafat movement, with the idea that currently we are opposing the British and if Muslims join in then their support will help gain independence. But at that time Jinnah opposed it saying that if the Caliph in Turkey has been dethroned, what has India got to do with it. That time nobody listened to him, which saddened him. So he quit the Congress and left for England and only returned in 1927,” Sudarshan said.
  6. On August 26th, 2009, newspapers reported that in response to BJP’s Jinnah-offensive the “Cong threatens protests against attack on Nehru”. Additional reports, stated that the “Cong(ress) plans defend-Nehru movement”. Manish Tiwari, the Congress spokesman rationalized that, “approval of Jinnah could easily come from the BJP-RSS leadership because “they had no role in the freedom struggle”.
  7. On 30th August, 2009, a former general secretary and vice-president, Pyarelal Khandelwal, wrote a letter suggesting that
  8. “Jaswant Singh’s expulsion should be taken back and the matter should be discussed with him in a respectable manner to resolve the problem,” the letter states. “The case gives the impression that while acting against the senior leader some party leaders had a well-planned intent to corner him and they showed too much haste,” Khandelwal says in the letter. It would have been proper and in keeping with the party’s image if the controversial portions of the book had been seriously discussed before taking action, as was done “in the case of Arun Shourie where a lot of patience was exercised”. Khandelwal also suggests that had Jaswant Singh himself kept the party view in mind and sent in writing details of the book before its release or discussed the issue with the appropriate people in the party, this situation could have been avoided. “The discipline of the party could also have been kept intact,” Khandelwal said.
  9. On 5th September, that “though BJP has expelled Jaswant Singh from the party, its parent organisation, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), has invited his son Manvendra Singh to its national meeting in Mumbai.”

The Indian Voter does it – again

May 17, 2009 9 comments
Complacent Congress was jolted by the Left VoteThe Indian Voter does it – again

March 18th 1957 Cartoon by RK Laxman - Complacent Congress jolted by the Left Vote

The Indian Voter has again shown that he has a mind of his own – an independent mind. In spite of various allegations, which come in very superior sounding tones, the Indian Voter has displayed a few common patterns.

1. Risk Taking

The Indian Voter has not stepped back from electing new parties and leaders. The 1956 election, saw the Indian Voter challenge Nehru himself. The Left gained nearly 20% of the popular vote – and became the first Communist Government to be elected to power in the State of Kerala. Leaders like Ram Manohar Lohia, JB Kripalani and Jaya Prakash Narayan became legends in their own life time – in many ways, with greater regard and respect than Nehru himself.

These worked outside the system’ – and pioneered land reform, proved to be a check on the Nehruvian onslaught on Indian languages (along with the Dravidian parties) and sensitized the indifferent colonial-cadre bureaucrats to be more responsive and caring. To many this looked like Western Socialism (including the practitioners themselves), but it was nation building at a different level.

This election verdict is again a risk – that a victorious Manmohan Singh and hard working Rahul Gandhi may revert to the imperial ways of the old Congress Party. Earlier, the Indian Voter cured this imperiousness by underwriting the rise and use of regional parties. Purpose served, these regional parties have been sent back to the drawing board – to reinvent themselves.

Jayaprakash Narayan gave up electoral politics

Jaya Prakash Narayan gives up electoral politics

2. Power and hubris

Time and again, the Indian Voter has chastened political leaders – whose hubris and power overwhelmed them. Nehru in 1956, Indira Gandhi in 1977, Rajiv Gandhi in 1989, BJP in 2004 at a national level and many at the state level.

In this election also, the hubris of the regional parties was broken. Sharad Pawar with a few MPs projected himself as Prime Ministerial candidate, as did some other bit players. Film stars like Chiranjeevi thought they could make a power grab by just announcing their candidature.  In Maharashtra the Shiv Sena /MNS goons also got their comeuppance. To all these players, went out a clear message, from the Indian Voter.

The national alliance of BJP /NDA did not do too badly! It was the ‘Third + Fourth” Front that has been decimated. Possibly, this election was also about BJP hubris – with LK Advani appearing at every website. Similarly, the use of Varun Gandhi was also in bad taste – if not bad strategy.

3. No sops and no bones

To many, brought up on the Western schools of political understanding, the Indian Voter will vote for cash, sops, caste and allurements. This displays a profound disrespect for the Indian Voter – and greater ignorance.

The Indian State has been gradually and steadily retreating – and the Indian Voter has been at the forefront of this retreat. For all practical purposes health care in India has been privatized over the last 70 years. The vestigial State support for health care can also go, if the State cuts away its exclusive dependence on Western medical systems – and the complete collapse of Indian medical systems. The Western Voter will not let go of the subsidized health care system – while the Indian Voter has been gradually shifting the the private sector.

Similarly, the dependence on subsidized grain has been steadily decreasing. Inflation may give a false impression of increasing food subsidy bills. However, fact is that from about 75% of the population in the 1960-1970 decades, the dependence on subsidized food grains has reduced to 30%-40%.

Similarly, in other sectors too, the reduction of the role of the State is becoming apparent and welcomed – by the Indian Voter. The resistance is from the bureaucracy and the vested interests of Big Business.

In this election, Chandrababu Naidu in AP promised a cash transfer scheme to all families – even middle class families. His welfare stat-ism has been soundly rejected.

NTRs Chaitanya Ratham

NTR's Chaitanya Ratham

4. Hard Work

Similar to Gandhiji’s Dandi march, which galvanised the nation, NTR Rama Rao’s epochal ‘Chaitanya Ratham’ rewrote politics in India. His 180 day campaign,  in 1982, covering an estimated 75,000 km, across Andhra re-wrote Indian politics. For the first time, a political party of a few months, unseated a century old party.

It provided the inspiration for LK Advani’s ‘rath yatra’ in 1989 – which saw BJP gain a national following. YS Rajasekhara Reddy, the Andhra Chief Minister’s padayatra, which was ignored and ridiculed by the then TDP leader Chandrababu Naidu, (‘as Budabukkalodu, a village jester who wears outlandish clothes and asks for alms during Sankranti festival’) was patterned along similar lines. Covering 1500 km in 60 days, YSR’s padayatra saw Congress re-capture power in Andhra Pradesh after 20 years.

Rahul’ Gandhi’s 2009 campaign was no less. With limited use of helicopter’s and low media  coverage, it was  a combination of courage and the sheer drudgery that saw Congress come out on top – winning in 60 constituencies out of the 106 in which Rahul campaigned”.

5. Negative campaigns

The 1967 election came closest to breaking the Congress rule in the pre-1977 India. In 1969, further, a significant group of senior leaders, split from the Congress, and formed the Congress (O). A highly negative campaign, saw Indira Gandhi come back with a stunning victory in the 1971 election.

Her party program was summed up in the simple but highly appealing slogan, “Garibi hatao” (Remove Poverty). The old Congress, led by Desai, responded with the unimaginative, inane campaign slogan, “Indira Hatao “ (Remove Indira). (from The making of India By Ranbir Vohra)

The opposition to Indira – the ‘Grand Alliance’ consisting of the Congress (O), the Jan Sangh, Swatantra and Samyukta socialist parties – all knew that she was the issue in 1971, and they made the mistake of choosing a personalized campaign slogan to reflect this: ‘Indira Hatao’ (Remove Indira). Indira retaliated with the simplistic but effective battle cry of ‘Garibi hatao’. (from Indira By Katherine Frank).

Her speeches had simple logic. “Main kehtin hoon garibi hatao. Voh kehten hain Indira hatao. Ab faisla aap keejiye.”

LK Advani’s anti-Manmohan Singh campaign made the same mistake that Congress (O) made 40 years ago. PM Singh, who is seen as a well meaning, honest, ‘politician’ started looking better – after Advani’s attacks. Rahul Gandhi’s riposte, “have you ever seen a weak Sardar?’ killed this line of campaigning.

The legal processes against Indira Gandhi, by the 1977 Janata Party Government, was again seen as a vindictive and negative campaign, which started off Indira Gandhi’s comeback campaign.

Indira Gandhi’s own negative campaign and ouster of NT Rama Rao, by engineering the split in TDP with Nadendla Bhasker Rao, ensured that Congress was out. The tidal wave of Voter solidarity with Rajiv Gandhi, in post-Indira Gandhi’s assassination elections of 1984, still saw the angry Andhra Voter shun the Congress Party. Varun Gandhi’s abrasive campaign, in contrast to Rahul Gandhi’s inclusive agenda, was albatross around the BJP neck.

The Indian Voter will simply not accept negative campaigning.

Fractured Verdicts ...

Fractured Verdicts ...

Cause for optimism

LK Advani (?) and Manmohan Singh are possibly going to be the last colonial-era Prime Ministers of India. The next generation of political leaders will be Indians who have grown in the post colonial India. This vote is vote for consolidation – for the national parties and for performing administrations.

Colonialism is hearsay, propaganda, exaggerations – a second hand experience, to most young post-colonial Indians. Brought up on a diet of nation building, socialism, (opportunistic) English education, limited exposure to the rest of the world, they have seen rapid change. From an India, which was a ship-to-mouth basket case, to an emerging power, seems to be have been a facile and an easy experience – with little credit being given to Indian political leadership for managing the post-colonial Indian system.

India’s successes have been built on Indic elements retrofitted on Western models. Renewing an Indian model – how will India’s young leader’s face up to this challenge? Will they ‘fall into the trap’ of copying successful countries or take the (really) easier path of renewing the Indic model, which may initially, seem difficult.

The continuity will be provided by the Indian Voter, who has seamlessly handed over political power – to tested and untested, to the imperious Indira Gandhi and the humble LB Shastri.

Similar to Gandhiji’s Dandi march, which galvanised the nation,

Scenarios and Outcomes – Indian Elections 2009

May 14, 2009 5 comments
Only if it was that easy!

Only if it was that easy!

Opinion Polls and India

The 2004 elections in India was a watershed – for opinion poll industry. After 20 years of work, the opinion poll industry thought that they had the models, the tricks, questionnaires and had the Indian Voter all figured out. 2004 changed that.

What looked like a certain victory for the BJP, turned out to be victory for the ‘no hope’ Congress Party – a surprise front runner. It was not just one opinion poll – but nearly half a dozen opinion polls that got it wrong. No wonder, this time around they, the opinion pollsters, were subdued when the Election Commission decided to finally implement the ‘no-opinion-polls-during-elections’ diktat.

Congress has its troubles!

Congress has its troubles!

That said, a post in India’s Times of India writes about how the diplomatic “grapevine will tell you, the entire diplomatic corps in New Delhi called the 2004 election results wrong — except the Russians.” I would like to know what methodology the Russians knew – and the rest of the world does not know about. Or was it just a fluke?

Unlike most Westernized ‘readers’ and ‘experts’, 2ndlook believes that the Indian Voter has been a smart voter – who has taken risks with ‘unknown’ parties and given opportunities to ‘risky’ elements. This has ensured that the Indian Voter has a large electoral choice – compared to the typical two-horse towns that passes of as elections in other countries.

This elections seems to centre around four scenarios.

Scenario 1

Congress wins between 170-200 seats. Their allies win another 70-100 seats. At the higher end of the spectrum, the combine will easily form the Government. At the lower end, the UPA combine will fall short of about 30 seats. This may not pose a significant problem. This is of course subject to who the winners of the 70-100 seats in the Congress are. That  will be the crucial factor.

Cricket and politics - whatta mix!

Cricket and politics - whatta mix!

  1. If Mamta Banerjee wins 15-20 seats, getting additional 30 seats from the Left Parties will be difficult.
  2. That may leave the Congress to look at the ADMK – if the DMK does not do well.
  3. If the DMK also does well, then Andhra Pradesh will hold the key. Will TRS /TDP combine break up and TRS will join the Congress? Will Chiranjeevi upset the apple cart? Or is that the Congress will make these Andhra parties irrelevant.
  4. NCP, Mulayam, Lalu and Paswan will possibly go quietly with the Congress in this scenario.
  5. If Mamta does badly and so does DMK, then Congress will have easy time – as the Left and the Third Front may simply fall in line and negotiate a good deal for themselves.

Scenario 2

BJP wins 170-200 seats. Their allies win another 70-100  seats.

  1. The biggest worry for BJP will be the President. Who will the President give the first opportunity to – in case of a close result?
  2. BJP will have a tougher time – as the Congress will try for the same allies.
  3. BJP has an advantage with an inside track with TRS, BJD, ADMK. Unlike the Congress.
  4. Will Shiv Sena rope in Sharad Pawar to join an NDA Government? Possible!
  5. How much of a chance does BJP have with Mayawati? Considerable!
  6. In this specific scenario, the big thing for the BJP will be the number of seats that the allies win.

Emosianal atyachaar!

Emosianal atyachaar!

Scenario 3

Congress and BJP get less than 150 seats each. One gets 130 – and the other gets 150! The Third and the Fourth Front get around 250 seats by themselves.

  1. BJP has said that it may partner with Congress to form a ‘stable Government! A BJP leader has gone on record saying the same!
  2. NCP leader PA Sangma has independently suggested that since there is “not much difference between the economic and foreign policies of these two parties and that their coming together could make India a “different country”.”
  3. The other thing will be a Third Front Government – which is seeming improbable as the two main forces for a Third Front, the Left and Telugu Desam’s Chandra Babu Naidu both seem to be doing badly. “Better a junior partner in a stable alliance like the UPA or NDA than a unstable Third Front” kind of thinking may win the day – and kill the Third Front.
  4. The Third Front may gravitate around Mayawati – whosesarvjan’ ideology is very Indic – and unique. Unlike others, who are talking about reservations, only Mayawati talks about everyone’s welfare. Her bit abouttilak, taraazu aur talwar … teeno ko maar jootey chaar’ is again something that is a very Indic and  a welcome development.

    This stereotype hides an interesting fact

    This stereotype hides an interesting fact

Scenario 4

The most uncertain outcome.

Congress and BJP get between 140-165 seats each – leaving just about 220-260 seats for all others. None of the three Blocs are close to a majority. The Third and the Fourth Front get seats in the 2:1 ratio. BJP /Congress  are not in a position to form the Government and neither do others!

Two possibilities – a rump party will form a Government depending on support from Congress or the BJP – a la Chandrasekhar, Charan Singh, Deve Gowda, IK Gujral et al. Or the BJP or Congress will cobble up a weak alliance – a Government that will bleed to death by a thousand cuts.

Getmo’ …

  1. Nitish seeks special status for Bihar
  2. Naveen Patnaik to back Cong govt at Centre
  3. Mayawati stands by Third Front
  4. Left ready to back Nitish as PM
  5. Cong indicates willingness for Nitish’s package formula

    Post poll alliances

    Post poll 'alliances'

  6. Did Maya ride to secret LK meet in M-800?
  7. DMK or AIADMK? Cong plays it safe, waits for 16th
  8. BJP eyes Naveen Patnaik & Chandrababu Naidu
  9. Will Ms. Mayawati be PM, wonders India’s Dalit capital
  10. Less seats for Left won’t make it drive hard bargain: Cong
  11. Meeting with Rajnath was not political, says Amar Singh
  12. Mad Woman Theory of Politics in India
  13. No 2007 repeat, but Maya tally to rise
  14. AGP wants Advani as next Prime Minister
  15. Congress to emerge as single largest party: Rajasthan bookies
  16. Congress may dump DMK, may not need Maya
  17. The Kingmakers
  18. Third Front a fractured front: Praja Rajyam
  19. Marandi’s party to maintain equidistance from NDA, UPA

PS – This post continued getting interested readers well after the result came out! Was it possibly because that as one reviewer put it,

Nostradamus

To begin with albeit a little late, is poll scenario analysis by Quick Tale. I call the post Nostradamus like because from the 4scenarios laid out in the post, the very first assumption became the election result. Comprehensive thoughts at: Scenarios and Outcomes – Indian Elections 2009

Scenario 2
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