January 24, 2018

OF DEMOCRACY AND THE TRUTH

“Truth is meritorious.

There is nothing higher than the truth.

Everything is held together by truth and everything rests upon the Truth.

 – Mahabharata, Shanti Parva

Truth is bitter and brutal. That is the nature of truth. The sharpness of knife, while lethal, defines its purpose. You can have a knife with blunt edge and curved corner but then you will have to call it a spoon. To expect truth to be kind and considerate is to expect a lion to behave like a lamb. It won’t. And if it does, it goes against the cause of its existence.  Lao Tzu wrote in Tao Te Ching –

“The Truth is not always beautiful, nor beautiful words the truth.”

Gujarat Elections are around the corner. Decibels have risen to shrill, the debate has sunk into the depth of darkness. Rahul Gandhi had initiated the discourse on mendacious propaganda. Now the truth has come back to haunt him. The gloves are off and the masks are down. What we now see is getting uglier by the day. I have mostly kept a safe distance from taking sides openly. I have not been much of a journalist. Journalism is about incidents and literature is about the philosophy behind the incidents. I have kept my writing more leaning towards the literature part of it. But then, there comes a time.

This post, I have decided, will be different. I will not wrap the truth in fine fabric of ideology. My position is clear, concrete and open. Things have come to a head. Stupidity beyond a point becomes cunning. Those who wrote political essays based on cute dimples of the middle-aged prince of Congress, would have us believe that naiveties of Rahul Gandhi and the sudden arrogance of his discourse denotes his coming of age. They seem to have taken some clue out of Bertrand Russell’s quote below, where he contended that-

“Our great democracies tend to think that a stupid man is more likely to be honest than a clever man, and our politicians take advantage of this prejudice by pretending to be even more stupid than nature made them.”

– Bertrand Russell, New Hope for Changing World.

I have been struggling with an inner dilemma whether I should so openly declare my leanings publically, or do I let people be confused with my ideological writing levitating over the current incidents. But then I believe there comes a time when one needs to lean to one side or the other. If the religious leader like the Arch-Bishop of Gujarat, who for all reason must follow the democratic and secular principle of separation of the Church and State pursued elsewhere, can call for his followers to vote in one direction, what is there to stop me as an independent individual from declaring my position about Gujarat elections?

                The Congress and Aam Aadmi Party began work on Gujarat long time back through the proxies. They went with pre-established Dalit-Muslim equation which worked well in Bihar for them. It feels odd to mention Congress and AAP together, but the way the politics of our time works, ideologies have become redundant. AAP came into existence on the plank of anti-corruption and feeding on the widespread discontent of the people against the party then in power, Congress, became a force to reckon with. However, with ever-ambitious Arvind Kejriwal having staged the coup and taking the controls, things unraveled quickly. From being a David challenging the Goliath of a Mother-ship of corruption, Arvind Kejriwal quickly found that its national ambitions will not come true unless BJP is conquered, and shamelessly converted himself into an adopted child of Congress. Public affection is heady, especially if one gains it quickly, undeservedly. From swearing on his children’s heads about neither taking help from nor giving help to Congress for political reasons, he has come to the point of sending out the message supporting Congress. AAP has not only offered support to the Congress, it has also offered a disarray state unit the supply of leaders like Jignesh Mevani and Hardik Patel. However, the fact that AAP which took support from Khalistani extremists during Punjab elections makes it quite fine that in Gujarat they aligned with Congress. The man who began his political career (for all practical purpose, if one ignores NAC stint under Sonia Gandhi) as Anti-corruption crusader was earlier seen embracing RJD chief Laloo Prasad Yadav, who is charged and barred from political process on account of corruption charges in Bihar. Thus, his alignment with the Congress in Gujarat should come as no surprise.

                Rahul Gandhi began his Gujarat Journey in the earnest. In a school-boyish endeavor to win Gujarat, Rahul Gandhi gave away game much early. Those who are old enough to know about the burning of the Dalit houses in Laloo Yadav’s Bihar and Bhupinder Hooda’s Haryana, know how the media was put to service creating a huge uproar over the Dalits being beaten up in Una in Gujarat. Rahul, when thrown out of power in Delhi, swore to come back by learning from AAP. He turned into an aggressive politician thriving on negativity. He attacked the government on GST and demonetization, both initiated by the Congress. He tried to become Arvind Kejriwal with every day attacks on the Government. All his attacks focused on the ill-preparedness of India to handle well-intentioned moves like GST, Demonetization. What his advisor who advised him to copy Kejriwal did not tell him that Kejriwal’s drastically negative positions were free of the shadows of his own political past. His was a party without legacy. Not so in case of Rahul Gandhi. Every time Rahul attacked the PM for lack of development as the reason to justify and make a case for inaction on black money, financial transparency, it boomeranged on him with almost uninterrupted Seventy years of Congress rule in which large masses of Indian population was not a part of development plan of the nation. When Kejriwal attacked the present government for the current action citing the lack of readiness due to inaction in the past, he could get away with it. The case with Rahul Gandhi was different; the onus of the very reasons which Rahul articulated to push for reversals on GST and demonetization fell squarely on the Congress. The more he attacks Modi on the unready state of India for reforms; the more he brings focus on the long Congress regime since independence which was used for only creating a Welfare-state plagued with poverty.

                After losing UP in a massive defeat, Rahul Gandhi vowed to learn from BJP, and to counter the Sanghi forces by, well, reading Gita. This was only few months back. Rahul and Modi are cases of contrast. Modi is well-acknowledged workaholic, Rahul needs foreign vacation after every two months of work. Also the sense of entitlement in the Middle-aged prince of the Congress is so deep that he does not even wait for things he himself had initiated to reach any logical conclusion as we have seen in case of Mandsaur farmer agitation. As his party instigated riots in the Madhya Pradesh, farmers died in the Police action responding to widespread arson. Once they were gearing up for the next bout, the Prince missed the foreign land and abruptly was out of India. If this was not betrayal of those fighting from the front, facing opposition without the safety and protection of a big family name, I would not know what is. Rahul does not have any idea of loyalty, all he understands if silent slavery from those under him. Rahul Gandhi has a dispassionate, unaffectionate view of India which allowed him to go the University of Berkeley and spoke brazenly defending what he considered as his dynastic right to rule.

                For Rahul Gandhi and his crony intellectuals, India is an equation which needs to be solved. There is no room for emotions. It is purely numbers and electorate equations. KHAM (Kshatriya, Adivasis and Muslims) of seventies is replaced by the new equations of Twenty-first century. Just as Rahul Gandhi’s hair-brained response to AAP was to become more AAP; his answer to the BJP and Sangh’s cultural revivalism is to become more Hindu than Modi. The problem with such strategy-making is that it ignores the most important ingredient of grass-root politics- the intellect of the common people. The deriding view that the left and Congress has held for the masses for long, is evident in the way they consider the electorate as pawns to be played with. These are the people, the unwashed masses as the British would call them, who are clear both on fundamentals and faith. The educated are unfortunately swayed by rhetoric, the less-educated are steadfast in their beliefs and measure things on merit. You cannot have your state unit in Kerala slaughter a mute, harmless calf in protest against Beef ban imposed by your own grandmother, decades back and then go on Temple-visiting spree in Gujarat, claiming to be a Shiv-Bhakt, the God who is also known as Pashupati, or the protector of animals.

                The problem with lies is that they grow like a hydra and clamp around you like an octopus. If you make a web of lies, you end up being entangled in it. It is not about actions. Hinduism is not a five-times a day kind of Militaristic religion. It plays at a very spiritual level. It hangs on aphorism and symbolism. You cannot go around the temples and have your senior leader go to the court and oppose the construction of one of the most revered centre of Hindu faith in Ayodhya. Even the most fundamentalist of Muslims would grant to Ayodhya the same significance for the Hindus as Mecca has for the Muslims and Vatican has for the Christians. When you have your senior leader opposing Hindu faith in the highest court, it takes special kind of stupidity to approach the people of the state which lost seventy of the faithful on the way back from Ayodhya in Godhara precipitating worst of the riots and still claim to be a devout Hindu. Some secular insanity which has become bulwark of modern day Congress will tell you that faith has nothing to do with Ayodhya. But then would the Congress say that faith has nothing to do with the Ram Setu, which UPA had almost dredged or that Ram is a myth as proposed by senior Congress Leader Kapil Sibal in the court? How ridiculous a claim it is to make that faith has nothing to do with faith?

                There are so many contradictions in Congress today that the real face is lost in the conundrum. There are divergent faces they hold in and out of Gujarat and their falsehoods need to be called out. How is it that the Congress which claims in these elections to stand with the Dalits in their search for social equality, boast about the Brahminism of Rahul Gandhi? The Congress which celebrates Tipu Sultan in Karnataka takes offence to Rahul Gandhi being equated to Mughal King. The Congress is caught in its own contradictions and is therefore in desperation now trying to take a high moral ground, hiding behind decency when caught.

This is not the time to fool oneself. This election is not about Narendra Modi. This election is about what stands between what India means and what India had almost become in a decade of UPA rule where a terrorist honored by LeT was a college-girl, where honest patriots like Col. Purohit were incarcerated in the prison for years without trial, where we had a PM sneaking in the clauses on the sly in the Nuclear deal with the US, was conspiring to give away Siachin for which many soldiers laid down their lives. We have survived a government which had no love for the country. We have to ensure that 2014 was not an aberration, not a brief interlude in their break-India plan. This election is about India. We do need a strong opposition in India. Today we have Narendra Modi at the helm of the affairs in BJP. When they do wrong and we shout, he makes sure that the Government listens. Tomorrow, there could be someone else. We sure do need a strong opposition. But we also need that the opposition ought to have love for India. We cannot have an opposition which is formed of pretenders intending to be in power merely to obliterate India’s future and erase India’s past.

                As Narendra Modi does some plain-speaking mentioning the dalliance of the Congress with Pakistan, the so-called neutral journalists are up in arms. They want Modi to apologize. Initially, when Congress denied such a meeting to ever have happened, they wanted Modi to apologize terming his charge a lie. Once the truth tumbled out, they want Modi to back off in the name of decency and grace. It is funny that those who call Mr. Modi fascist and mass-murderer who currently holds a constitutional post, do not want him to speak the truth about those who held such posts previously. But why should the truth be hidden? If it was a track-2 peace-building exercise, why was it not done with Ministry of External affairs in loop? It was not some lower-level ex-Government functionaries meeting up. The meeting was formal one with Ex-Vice-president and Ex-PM in the attendance, not to mention and ex- Army Chief whose name had come up in Kargil-for-Profit Adarsh scam. After initial denials by Congress Spokespersons (who went to the extent claiming that if at all such a meeting had taken place, it would be treachery), came a rebuttal by Manmohan Singh (with admission of the meeting) citing his own exemplary record of Public service. He of course, did not refer to his Public service tenure where he presided over the worst kind of corruption ever seen in the Indian history, where he personally oversaw regularization of inefficient dishonesty like fake residence proof of Assam, sneaking of clauses in Nuclear deal with the US, sneaking in the Balochistan in Sharm-al-Sheikh, Hindu terror theory to exonerate Pakistan and the absolute nadir of Indian democracy in Cash-for-Vote.  The Congress legitimized and institutionalized public lying. We have seen this in the case of meeting of Rahul Gandhi with Chinese ambassador in the backdrop of Doklam and now in this case of meeting with the Pakistanis in the backdrop of Gujarat election. They not only lie, they lie with absolutely shameless arrogance. When they are called out, media stooges come out calling for decency in public discourse. Truth, ladies and gentlemen, is not for negotiation. The ugly truth, the uncomfortable truth, the sad truth, the beautiful truth- the brutal and the kind truth- we will have all of it. This is what democracy thrives on. As Mahabharata says, this is what holds the things together. Let us have more of it, learned intellectuals, not less. Those who have patronizing view of the masses, believing the people cannot handle the truth should pay heed to what Abraham Lincoln said. He said, and I quote,

“I am a firm believer of people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The great point is to bring them the real facts, and beer.”

For Gujarat, We can leave the Beer out of it, but Truth- it is non-negotiable necessity for a healthy democracy, truth and transparency. Bring it on, Dear Editor Sahab, we can handle it and as Flannery O`Connor said – “The truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it”. And remember, this election is not about Modi, this election is about how much of truth and how much of lie, we as a nation can handle.

 

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About Saket Suryesh 5 Articles
Saket is an engineer from NIT Raipur and Master in International Business. He works with a large IT MNC. He writes on literature, history and poetry on his blog, www.saketsuryesh.net. Saket has published collection of poems, a book of short stories and English translation of Autobiography of Bismil.