Guha gives it Left, Right and Centre

Guha gives it Left, Right and Centre
Thrusting his incisive sword deep into the Left, Right and Centre's past, historian Ramachandra Guha was at his neutral best on Saturday. As the curtains went up with a decidedly political flourish on the Bangalore Litfest here, the battlelines between jingoism and patriotism were drawn with marked ferocity.

But the radical anger that defined the opening of Litfests of yesteryears was missing this time. Guha's diatribe against a 'hypocritical, unpatriotic' Left, a Congress bogged down by one family, and the right wing's questionable nationalism, went unchallenged.

Constitutional patriotism was what he wanted to go back to, the ideal that had lost its ground to a vehement, borrowed, foreign model of nationalism propagated by the right wing. Foreign, because the nationalism of BJP and RSS was borrowed from Europe and ironically, the Middle-East.

Guha explained, "The BJP and RSS claim to be authentically Indian, while the rest are all foreigners. But Hindutva is in equal parts, European and Middle-Eastern."

European nationalism was defined by one language, one faith and one culture. "In the medievel Middle-East between 11th and 16th century, Muslims were first-class citizens, Jews and Christians came next. This is the RSS model on how to build politics in India today. It is a perverted, curious mixture of outdated ideas destined to destroy India," opined Guha.

In 2009, Guha had articulated a vision of a BJP without RSS, Congress without the family and a modernised Left. But his lament that it was not to be, was in effect, a preparation for his unbridled critique of the corruption and cronyism of the Congress, and a tongue-in-cheek take on the Left.

For Guha, it was tragic that the Congress, associated so deeply with the freedom struggle, had to be reduced to one family. It disowned leaders from outside, helping Hindutva gain ground. "Congress disowned Patel and BJP misowned Patel." What ruled was the corrupt, the 'chamchagiri.'

The Indian Left, he recalled, had always loved another country more than India. He meant the erstwhile Soviet Union and China, Vietnam and Cuba. "Though Chavez destroyed the Venezuelan economy, the Left worshipped him. Chavez was Modi on steroids," he said, while admitting that the Left was otherwise credible.

To prove his point, Guha only had to mention the CPI(M)'s annual conference. "They had these huge posters, all of them were men, all foreigners. Two were Germans, Marx and Engels, and two were Russians, Lenin and Stalin. They could have at least put up a poster of Bhagat Singh."


DH Newsletter Privacy Policy Get top news in your inbox daily
Comments (+)