Making his opening 50-minute speech immediately after being declared Chairman of the BJP National Campaign Committee Mr. Narendra Modi gave a clarion call to his party workers. He said India should be developed by liberating the nation from the Congress. He sought a Congress-mukt nirmaan. This was like music to my ears.
Readers would recall that this writer has repeatedly said that the Congress as an institution should be buried even though Congress leaders may continue to rule the nation.
This demand is made because the Congress acted as Imperial Britain’s political instrument for partitioning India. To undo the spirit of Partition it is necessary to discard Britain’s instrument used for achieving it. My demand echoes the last wish expressed by Mahatma Gandhi in his Will released on the day of his assassination. He wanted the Congress as a political party to be dissolved.
Burying the Congress implies discarding much of its political and cultural legacy that has overwhelmed India’s entire political and elite class. It implies a ruthless reappraisal of the political icons of the so-called freedom struggle worshipped by all sections of Indian society. It implies a searching probe into the respective roles of these icons in dividing Punjab and Bengal and their impotence to anticipate or prevent the horrendous bloodbath that followed the Partition. It implies a critical appraisal of whether the two lawyers from Gujarat, Gandhi and Jinnah, or the two feudal lords from Uttar Pradesh, Nehru and Liaquat Ali, were at all acquainted with the ground realities of the provinces they tore apart.
It implies the ability to acknowledge that our former icons were not Gods but human; even if they were great humans, it is human to err and they erred grievously. It implies that the popular myth that Jinnah was responsible for the Partition be rubbished. It implies that Britain’s central role in achieving Partition by successfully manipulating Gandhi, Jinnah, Nehru, Liaquat and Sardar Patel is recognized and acknowledge on the basis of the irrefutable evidence available. It implies that to rid the nation of the Congress legacy nothing less than a peaceful, democratic, cultural revolution is required.
Ridding India of the Congress implies all this and more.
Does Mr. Narendra Modi imply all this when he seeks Congress-mukt nirmaan? Or is that all he seeks is to defeat the Congress led by Mrs. Sonia Gandhi in a general election? That is what seems to be likely. If he were really committed against the Congress culture and legacy he would not make haste to erect the tallest statue of Sardar Patel whose role in allowing the Partition and colluding with the shameful betrayal of the secular Muslims of Punjab and Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan in NWFP cannot be glossed over.
There is considerable historical evidence that has yet to attain public attention. Undoubtedly the truth and the whole truth will come out. Undoubtedly the people of Punjab and Bengal will fight to propagate this truth and reclaim their cultural identities across national frontiers. Undoubtedly such a movement for transparency and truth will prevail.
Mr. Modi’s party went berserk over Mr. Advani’s opportunistic remarks during his visit to Pakistan extolling Jinnah who was Winston Churchill’s puppet. Mr. Advani deserves no praise for his praise of Jinnah. But do not the leaders of Mr. Modi’s party deserve censure for continuing to distort history and propagate falsehood?
For a start let them endorse the demand of the Central Information Commission (CIC) that the government should release and make public the speeches delivered by Jinnah over All India Radio prior to Independence. The CIC head Mr. Satyananda Mishra said that the time has come when all information relating to the pre-Independence period should be made public. He said: “It is easy for any public authority to take the stand that everything relating to Pakistan or the leaders who went over to Pakistan should be kept secret or confidential and invoke the provisions of Section 8(1)(a) and not disclose the details. This will be a regressive stand.” He added that history students and the general public have the right to know.
The question is: Do Mr. Modi and his colleagues want to know?