Tuesday, October 04, 2022

India

Embracing Icons, not ideology: Indian Politics Touching New Low

March 29, 2022 06:46 PM
Statute of Unity: Ironman Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel
Chanchal Manohar Singh

 With the multi-party system gaining momentum in Indian politics, novel and innovative methods are invoked by the political parties to attract the attention of the gullible voters. In the latest trend, political parties are trying to show that they belong to the ideological lineage of freedom fighters and they are portraying leaders of the past as their vanguard, thus twisting the narrative in their favour, to misguide the young generation that they (parties) have contributed in the national struggle for independence.

In the rat race to put their leader at front, the political parties are evidently resorting to demolishing the image and ideology of the leaders of the opposition/rivals. For instance, the Rashtriya Swayam Sewak (RSS) -controlled Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) was the first in this league, as they chose Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel as its icon. Prime Minister Narendra Modi built the Statue of Unity, which is believed to be the world's tallest statue, with a height of 182 meters (597 feet) and was built at the cost of Rs 3600 crores. The Statue of Unity has been dedicated to Ironman Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, as Patel in the capacity of India’s first Home Minister was instrumental in uniting the princely states and merging them with the union of India. The BJP did not have much to claim from its past as a 90-year old RSS came into existence in 1935 and has been accused of siding with the British during the freedom movement. History is also rude to the ideologue of BJP, by claiming that those arrested during the British rule had submitted their written apologies to seek release from the jails.

But Ideologically BJP/RSS stand totally opposite to the religious philosophy and ideology of Guru Gobind Singh. Since children's day has been changed to four Sahibzada’s, Congress leadership has remained indifferent to this new development. Though, some Sikh organisations were critical of naming it after the Guru’s Sahibzada’s, as despite having historical fact it raises certain unsavory emotions as Sahibzada’s were martyred by Muslim rulers of the time. Their names suit PM Modi’s anti-Muslim tirade in India. In my view, the Sikh community should not allow the use of pious Sahibzada’s names for government programs

It was only after Modi took over as PM in 2014 that the RSS-BJP started hunting for some national icons, as they lacked any big name, who had contributed to the freedom struggle. Sardar Patel suited them the most. He is a Gujarati and has allowed the RSS cadre to join the Indian National Congress (INC), when he became president of the INC. However, Nehru was against the entry of the RSS cadre into the INC.

The BJP Prime Minister Narendra Modi leaves no occasion to attack Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru for having damaged the social fiber of the country by adopting “fake” secularism of western ideas. Nehru is also accused of taking the Kashmir dispute to the United Nations, without any purpose. Because of Nehru’s blunder, India is paying the heavy costs to maintain peace and tranquility in Kashmir and crushing the terrorist-made movement. India’s first PM Jawahar Lal Nehru thought of the non-aligned movement and made it one of the prime ingredients of India’s foreign policy. It benefits India a lot world over and attracts applause. But Modi’s India jumps into the USA-Israel alliance, appearing anti-Muslims that suits Israelis interests more than India's. The move behind this shift is to demolish the Nehru legacy to replace it with RSS-BJP political and religious ideology.

Bhagat Singh kept in Kotwali at Lahore

Children's Day had been celebrated on Nehru’s birthday for more than six decades, and children used to call him “Chacha Nehru ''. Now, this has been changed to Bal Diwas in the name of four martyred Sahibzada’s of Guru Gobind Singh, the tenth master /guru of the Sikhs.

But Ideologically BJP/RSS stand totally opposite to the religious philosophy and ideology of Guru Gobind Singh. Since children's day has been changed to four Sahibzada’s, Congress leadership has remained indifferent to this new development. Though, some Sikh organisations were critical of naming it after the Guru’s Sahibzada’s, as despite having historical fact it raises certain unsavory emotions as Sahibzada’s were martyred by Muslim rulers of the time. Their names suit PM Modi’s anti-Muslim tirade in India. In my view, the Sikh community should not allow the use of pious Sahibzada’s names for government programs.

Similarly, the Aam Adami Party’s (AAP) Punjab Unit has adopted Shaheed Bhagat Singh as its role model and a political icon after Bhagwant Singh Mann took over as Chief Minister of Punjab. The pictures of Shaheed Bhagat Singh have been placed in all Punjab government offices along with that of Ambedkar, a national Dalit icon of the highest status. Punjab has also announced a holiday on 23rd March as Shaheed Bhagat Singh’s death anniversary.

The AAP has been ruling Delhi for the last seven years but it did not care to make Bhagat Singh its icon nor 23rd March was declared a holiday in Delhi.

Leaders from Delhi including Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and his Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia and many others who were present in Katkar Kalan, Bhagat Singh’s memorial built at his ancestral house, on Bhagwant Mann’s oath-taking ceremony were wearing Basanti turbans. Never before did Delhi AAP followers wear Basanti turbans or highlight Bhagat Singh’s sacrifices.

Former Congress Punjab Minister Maninderjit Singh Bitta, who is accused of acting on the advice of certain agencies, has also been using the name of Bhagat Singh. He has established his NGO called Anti-Terrorism Front (ATF) whose members occasionally raise protests against Pakistan outside the High Commission of Pakistan (HCP) in Delhi. Bitta and his followers have been occasionally wearing “Basanti” colour turbans and Gandhi caps to identify with national Icon Shaheed Bhagat Singh. He had some followers in Chandigarh who would wear Basanti turbans and take out a small procession on cars and jeeps raising slogans in the name of Bhagat Singh.

Under special quota, Maninderjit Singh Bitta has got one petrol Pump (Chandigarh), and one LPG gas agency in Amritsar, and lives in a high-security free government house, generally allotted to a union Cabinet minister in Delhi, whose rent may be more than Rs five lakh. He also gets an MLA pension from the Punjab government to the tune of Rs 75, 000.

This has been generally observed that the politicians do have not much faith in the ideology, and way of life observed by the icons, who sacrificed their lives for a much bigger cause to protect great human values of life and save humanity from tyrants. However, the politicians search for such icons from history to use their names for political interests and it has been made the fashion of the day.

Senior Journalist

cmsingh.india@gmail.com

Have something to say? Post your comment