I have been wanting to write about this for some time, but in today’s newspaper I came upon this article by Ramchandra Guha a noted Historian and author, on the same subject. And he explains it much better than I could. An excerpt from his article quoting Dr. Ambedkar:
there is nothing wrong in being grateful to great men who have rendered life-long services to the country. But there are limits to gratefulness. As has been well said by the Irish patriot Daniel O’Connell, no man can be grateful at the cost of his honour, no women can be grateful at the cost of her chastity and no nation can be grateful at the cost of its liberty
This caution is far more necessary in the case of India than in the case of any other country. For in India, Bhakti or what may be called the path of devotion or hero-worship, plays a part in its politics unequalled in magnitude by the part it plays in the politics of any other country in the world. Bhakti in religion may be a road to the salvation of the soul. But in politics, Bhakti or hero-worship is a sure road to degradation and to eventual dictatorship.
And the way the Narendra Modi campaign is happening, it is a very good fit for this. Historians will remember that in the past Indira Gandhi has also evoked similar sentiments and emotions. To quote about her from the article:
Because she had abolished the princely order and nationalized the banks, and because she had led India to a famous military victory against Pakistan, she demanded that citizens venerate her. And many of them did. The devotion of the aam admi was compounded and consolidated by the devotion of writers and artists. M.F. Husain portrayed her as Durga. Deva Kanta Barooah, a poet of considerable distinction in his native Assamese, famously said that “India is Indira and Indira is India”. Less well known is a verse he composed, which ran: Indira teri subah ki jai, tere sham ki jai/ Tere kam hi jai tere naam ki jai.
The conduct of Indira Gandhi —and of her admirers — was a paradigm case of the dangers of Bhakti in politics. It led — as Ambedkar had warned, “to degradation and to eventual dictatorship”, as manifest in the jailing of her political opponents and the promulgation of the Emergency.
But people have a short memory, and they tend to forget.
Let us no all get mad, and mindlessly join the Modi mania. He may be the best option out of all, but he is no Messiah!
Here is the link to the full article: