If Nehru could see this, he would probably not be as blind to the religion and caste-based ugliness of his constituents as he was when he refused to recognize that there was some logic to Muslim grievances. If the scion of the supposedly secular Nehru-Gandhi family could use such language what should one say of others?
Varun Gandhi reminds one of our own Mr. Aamir Liaqat Hussain. One suspects that both had sheltered upbringing as is obvious from the copious amounts of baby fat on their faces and one also suspects that there might be greater issues pyschologically, mentally and indeed self image that are at play.
Here is an excerpt from a brilliant article by Javed Naqvi in Dawn :
Varun Gandhi is Rahul Gandhi’s younger first cousin, both being grandsons of Indira Gandhi, and great grandsons of Jawaharlal Nehru himself. Indian newspapers found it particularly scandalous that the scion of the house of Nehru, the erudite, liberal and secular founder leader of Indian democracy could indulge in dirty street slang. For a knockout blow he even abused Mahatma Gandhi, who though unrelated to India’s ruling Gandhi clan, has served as an ageless mascot for a host of parties.
It would make sense to berate a young first-time candidate in the fray for straying from the line. But that is putting it mildly. What the Indian media will not discuss is that the young Gandhi is a product of decades of the communalisation that has given India many a popular government both at the centre and in the states. Their coyness is nothing but a sleight of hand, for it fortifies the very tendencies that the media and indeed a section of the middle classes appear to want to reject.
For months if not years Varun Gandhi has been spewing communal venom in his columns through the rightwing journal, Organiser. Every significant Hindu leader has patronised the journal, which is treated with reverence reserved for a party mouthpiece.
Of course, that is where the sleight of hand comes in. The question that will not be asked is whether and why Atal Behari Vajpayee, before India’s opinion makers anointed him as a moderate leader and before he began to compare himself with Nehru, gave exactly the same speech as his younger party colleague did the other day.
When did Vajpayee, whose Enoch Powell-like “rivers of blood” speech in Assam led to the infamous Nellie massacre of Muslim women and children by enraged Hindus in 1983, become a moderate leader?
Indira Gandhi had to personally throw out copies of the India Today magazine from the Delhi’s Vigyan Bhavan where the Non Aligned Movement was holding a summit conference. She was naturally embarrassed that the world would see the cover, which showed piles of dead bodies of Nellie victims. That was the contribution of Vajpayee to his heir Varun Gandhi’s upbringing. The supposedly moderate Vajpayee made another contribution to India’s communal cauldron. He revived in one stroke the foundation of Muslim zealots in Assam. Today, they have gained worrying electoral clout in the sensitive state.
Again that may have been the precise purpose of the rightwing BJP and it could partly explain the vested interest that exists in creating the communal Muslim genie. It is hardly a coincidence that the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, rightwing Hinduism’s ideological fountainhead, issued an appeal the other day — even as Varun Gandhi was laying into the Muslims in his constituency in the Himalayan foothills — to increase the salaries of the muezzins of thousands of Indian mosques. The Muslim clergy is both a necessary counterpoint and a potential ally of majority communalism in India.
How true! And this started in 1919 with “Mahatma” Gandhi’s encouragement of the the Mullahs and Moplahs in the Khilafat Movement. Achyuth Patwardhan, one of the Socialist stalwarts in the Congress, has given a remarkably candid and self critical analysis of the Congress Party vis-a-vis Khilafat:
It is, however, useful to recognise our share of this error of misdirection. To begin with, I am convinced that looking back upon the course of development of the freedom movement, THE ‘HIMALAYAN ERROR’ of Gandhiji’s leadership was the support he extended on behalf of the Congress and the Indian people to the Khilafat Movement at the end of the World War I. This has proved to be a disastrous error which has brought in its wake a series of harmful consequences. On merits, it was a thoroughly reactionary step. The Khilafat was totally unworthy of support of the Progressive Muslims. Kemel Pasha established this solid fact by abolition of the Khilafat. The abolition of the Khilafat was widely welcomed by enlightened Muslim opinion the world over and Kemel was an undoubted hero of all young Muslims straining against Imperialist domination. But apart from the fact that Khilafat was an unworthy reactionary cause, Mahatma Gandhi had to align himself with a sectarian revivalist Muslim Leadership of clerics and maulvis. He was thus unwittingly responsible for jettisoning sane, secular, modernist leadership among the Muslims of India and foisting upon the Indian Muslims a theocratic orthodoxy of the Maulvis. Maulana Mohammed Ali’s speeches read today appear strangely incoherent and out of tune with the spirit of secular political freedom. The Congress Movement which released the forces of religious liberalism and reform among the Hindus, and evoked a rational scientific outlook, placed the Muslims of India under the spell of orthodoxy and religious superstition by their support to the Khilafat leadership. Rationalist leaders like Jinnah were rebuffed by this attitude of Congress and Gandhi. This is the background of the psychological rift between Congress and the Muslim League’.
Now both of Gandhi’s allies – the Hindu revivalists and the Islamic fundamentalists are calling for their pound of flesh from both India and Pakistan- the successor states of British India.