There has been a universal belief among the modern historians and political scientists that history does not repeat ever. But recent happenings in the ‘largest’ democracy, India and the ‘greatest’ democracy, USA seem to have presented a challenge to the above dictum. It was in the mid-20th Century that world witnessed the rise of totalitarian ideologies like Nazism and Fascism in Germany and Italy. Generally, we know how these two debased ideologies under the leadership of Hitler and Mussolini came to power leading to the World War II which caused unparalleled death, devastation and misery to the world. But another fact not much known is that both Hitler in Germany and Mussolini in Italy came to power through prevalent constitutional system in their respective countries. They were able to use weaknesses of the constitutional systems in their countries and turned the polities into unbridled dictatorships, themselves becoming cults.
India and USA seem to have gone through the same process and towards the same end. Narendra Bhai Modi, a seasoned pracharak (whole-timer)of the RSSwho was described decades back as ‘fascist-in-making’ by a renowned Indian sociologist, and criticized even by the Supreme Court of India for his handling of the Gujarat Genocide of 2002, became Prime Minister of India in 2014 with only 30% of the polled votes. Donald Trump, a self-declared dictator who vowed to cleanse US of all Muslims, ban entry of Muslims in US, throw all Hispanics specially Mexicans (mostly poor Christians) in jails, shut down United nations and shut inconvenient media is soon to be sworn as the 45th President of USA. Incidentally, his defeated Democratic contender, Hillary Clinton secured 65,316,724 popular votes while the victor, Donald Trump could get only 62,719,568 votes. Both the leaders became rulers of their respective countries due to in-built infirmities in the electoral process of both the countries.
The similarity between Modi and Trump is not confined to the faulty process through which they have been elected. Both of them love unbridled power and hate even an iota of dissent. However, it is being observed that Trump after election as President has mellowed down a bit. US will not be cleansed of all Muslims, their entry not barred, only criminals out of Hispanics will be put behind barsand independence of media will be honoured.
However, the ‘largest’ democracy, India under Modi is traversing a different path. Modi a seasoned RSS cadre was moulded into a political leader by the 2nd boss of the RSS and most important ideologue of it, MS Golwalkar, described by renowned historian, RamachandraGuha, as Guru of Hate. Modi remained committed to the Hindutva politics and to the cause of replacing democratic-secular Constitution of India with the Manusmriti which decrees sub-human status to Sudras (Dalits) and Hindu women.He played highly partisan role during Gujarat violence of 2002. Interestingly, when he was the chief minister of Gujarat in 2013, while talking to the Reuters correspondents in July 2013, identified himself as ‘Hindu nationalist’ thus disowning the tag of Indian nationalist.
When Modi became PM of India it was hoped that as PM of a democratic-secular polity he would put under check his extra-constitutional love for Hindutva political designs and try to get rid of his Hindu nationalist tag. In fact, he had promised in his election addresses that he would not be a ‘raja’ but ‘servant’ of the Indian people, there would be minimum government and motto of his government would be ‘sab ka saath-sab ka vikas’ (with everybody for everybody’s development). Before entering Parliament House after elevation as PM he kissed the floor describing the former as temple of democracy. It was hoped by political analyst that working in the framework of 7 decade old democratic-secular Indian constitutional system Modi and his team would get democratized and secularized.
Unfortunately, all these hopes have been totally belied. In the history of post-independence India, we had only one example when cult around a personality was built. It was during the rule of Indira Gandhi that India was equated with Indira Gandhi and vice versa. How much damaged it did to Indian polity and her own party Congress are still fresh in our memories. Presently, the ‘servant’ of Indian people, Modi has become India and India is Modi. The issue is not confined to the fact that all powers of governance have been centralized in the office of PM Modi. Under a planned strategy there is no walk of life where PM Modi is not present. Highways, bus stands, educational institutions, railway stations, airports, government/corporate offices and every other public place one finds PM Modi peeping at you. Media print or electronic have one face only; of our PM (Baba Ramdev seems to be the only one in competition).
The Modi cult builders are devising newer methods to make his face all pervasive. The advertisements of every ministry or government department are displaying only one frame, that is of our PM’s photo, even visuals of the concerned ministers havedisappeared. Onestartling fact about Modi’s omnipresence through photos is that he is never seen in the same attire. It can be observed in his daily appearances that he never duplicates a dress. The Indian State must be running a unit of dress fabrication for its PM (as was the case during the times of native rulers during the British rule), surely for the first time in post-independence history. If we are not short of memory, half a million+ rupees worth dress of his which he wore after becoming PM did create ripples. But later developments proved that it was no aberration but a pattern to be followed religiously.
The whole issue should not be confused with what our PM puts on as dress. In a poor country where multitude of Indians remain deprived of proper basic clothing, we the Indians may have the solace that at least our PM is dressed in the finest multiple attiresand will soon get global recognition as the ‘Best dressed PM of the world’. The far more serious issue is that it starts with our PM and ends with him.
In order to understand the real issue, we need to take note of two recent examples. The government of India comes out with a national calendar on each new year. 2017 calendar has 12 visuals with dates of each month. In all the 12 pages, it is PM Modi who is omnipresent. His presence in the visuals is shown in the crudest manner and is to be seen and believed. In one visual PM is working on charkha with a group of women. He is not sitting with other women spinners but for him is a raised platform is put in front where a spot light focusses on him only. The ugliest part is that women in the background are shown not spinning but in the posture of namaste. When in the Indian history, a leader sat on a pedestal, light focussing on him only, while doing collective spinning is a matter of serious research.
All this has had its effect and there are hordes of sycophants which have elevated our PM to a status higher than Father of the Nation, MK Gandhi. A senior RSS cadre who happens to be the health minister of Haryana has demanded replacement of Gandhi portrait on Indian currency with the portrait of PM Modi. In a more shocking revelation this semi-literate (a far more dangerous status than being illiterate) RSS/BJP leader declared: “Such is the name of Gandhi, the moment his picture was printed on the currency note, Indian currency has undergone devaluation.”It will not be surprising if in next few monthsthe present Reserve Bank Governor decides to print a series of Indian currency notes with Mahatma Modi’s photo, each note having Modi’s photo in a different attire.
It is sure that all this is not happening without the green signal from our PM himself as he keeps track of minutest details, nothing escapes his attention. Some analyst of human psychology has explained this cult building as a neurological disorder and a feeling of insecurity. This may not be the whole truth. The reality is that Modi was groomed into a political leader by Guru Golwalkarand this Guru as an ideologue of RSS despised democracy and sharing of power. What kind of political system the RSS wanted to run was made clear from the following words of MS Golwalkar’s speech which he delivered before the 1350 top level cadres of the RSS at Resham Bagh, the RSS headquarters at Nagpur in 1940:“RSS inspired by one flag, one leader and one ideology is lighting the flame of Hindutva in each and every corner of this great land.” Modi as loyal cadre of RSS and an obedient pupil of his Guru is only trying to make ithappen. It may be a matter of immense pleasure to our PM Modi and his team that this dictum of one flag, one leader and one ideology was directly borrowed from the programmes of Nazi and Fascist parties of Europe which RSS wants to execute in India in order to get rid of minorities. The only problem is that they are oblivious of the fact that omnipotent-omnipresent ‘Super Leaders’ with absolute power at their disposal, intending to be ‘vishwa guru’ cause irreparable damage to the humanity. One wishes that history does not repeat in this case.
Shamsul Islam is a retired Professor of University of Delhi.Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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