Getting personal, taking snarky swipes, hitting its old bugbear, the Rashtriya Swayam Sevak Sangh (RSS), below the belt is an old Congress disease which has only gotten worse after 2014.
Among the few unafflicted by the ailment is Madhya Pradesh chief minister Kamal Nath. Hurling slanderous insults, casting aspersions, much less unleashing a volley of vicious invective at political rivals generally has no place in his comportment. Nath’s demeanor is fully in keeping with his public image of being a consummate deal maker and a reliable friend to Big Business. The years spent running key ministries like Commerce and Industry and Urban Development during the UPA’s tenure gave him the chance of rubbing shoulders with top corporate honchos across the globe. That his style of functioning is more akin to that of a chief executive officer than a career politician who thinks, dreams, and sleeps politics 24/7 is fully in keeping with his carriage and countenance.
Which is why his loose remarks at a 10-day Sewa Dal training camp recently hosted at Bhopal surprised many. Repeated for the nth time was the old chestnut that the Congress needed no sermons from the BJP on nationalism since its mentor, the RSS, had no role in the Freedom movement. How many times has anyone heard Modi ji talk about farmers and women’s issues? he asked. And then came the punch. “If he was not there himself, can Modi ji name any relation who fought for the country’s independence.” Pat came the response from state Opposition leader Gopal Bhargava, “Were Nath and his father freedom fighters?” which exposed the utter crassness of the argument.
Nath’s diatribe, mercifully, did not extend to raising the prime minister’s filial matters pertaining to his “wife”, mother or brothers who continue to lead humdrum lives despite Modi ji’s comeuppance. Other busybodies in the Opposition have not been averse to making the non-issue their concern.
The Sewa Dal’s confabulations aroused some interest in sections of the local media for another reason. Distributed was a booklet titled, “Veer Savarkar Kitne Veer” (How brave was Savarkar) which alleged that the Hindutva icon had physical relations with his sometime disciple Nathuram Godse, the Congress’ favorite whipping boy. The charge, said the booklet, was based on “evidence”. And what was that? Page 423 of the 1975 best seller, Freedom at Midnight, authored by the credulous duo of Dominique Lapierre and Larry Collins. But the two-penny handout did not stop at that. It went on to claim that Savarkar goaded his backers to rape Muslim women and pelt stones at mosques.
Predictably enough, the origins of this provocative piece of history was not shared or discussed by the ‘learned’ writers of the defamatory tract. Equally devoid of evidence was the sleazy counter from the leader of the Akhil Bhartiya Hindu Mahasabha, Swami Chakrapani, that Rahul Gandhi had a similar equation with Jyotiraditya Scindia.
But then it is difficult to empathize with the scion of the Nehru-Gandhi clan given his own liberal use of expletives for both the prime minister (pradhan mantri chor hai) and the Sangh. His latest slur in response to the PM’s assertion at a public rally in Delhi denying any new detention camps in Assam was parceled in a tweet which read: “RSS ka pradhan mantri Bharat mata se jhoot bolta hai”.
No less reprehensible and evidence of his poor upbringing were the shehzada’s remarks at the Congress’ Foundation Day celebrations. Here he swore that the “chaddiwalas” of Nagpur would not be allowed to run the country. Mind you this is the man who delivers glib speeches in Parliament on winning over his enemies with love. Not that anyone in his sense takes his “hug and wink” politics seriously anymore.
That the Sangh towers over the Congress in stature and character is evident from its refusal to react to the slimiest imputations from enemies when it could just as easily have got back with twice the vitriol. The spicy memoirs of Nehru’s long-time private secretary, M O Mathai, Reminiscences of the Nehru Age (1978) and My Days With Nehru (1979) have been in the public domain for decades. The more scandalous portions of its gossipy pages are periodically circulated on social media, especially around general elections. But not once has any Sangh leader or pracharak been known to broach its contents or suggest that the dossier be put under a microscope. There is much that can be written on the private lives of the Nehru clan. Just that nothing ever has been subjected to scrutiny. Such is the innate respect the country’s denizens have for their national leaders – a sentiment lost on the Congress.
What the Grand Old Party’s elders — difficult as it may be to decipher anyone deserving of that description in the truest sense — have never realized is that the Congress of today resembles the party of Independence only in name. Its leaders have the scantest regard for the national interest, preferring to pursue instead the most perverse form of secularism handed down by the nation’s first prime minister. But even he had the good sense not to push that much misused and derided political notion into the pages of the Constitution, much less its Preamble. That was left to his daughter.
More’s the pity because Nehru had developed a grudging respect for the Sangh after the humiliation suffered in the 1962 war with China. History will necessarily trace the beginning of the Congress’ decline to the Emergency. The constant harping by party leaders that its national credentials are beyond reproach have a hollow ring.
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