Guha: BJP ‘misowned’ Patel because Cong disowned him

Guha: BJP ‘misowned’ Patel because Cong disowned him

The well-known writer took issue with Marxists for not developing an indigenous brand of communism

A discussion with writer and scholar Ramachandra Guha at St Joseph’s college (Autonomous) on Tuesday touched on how governments around the world, including ours, are going with the ‘might is right’ approach.

Guha, who has been a part of the anti-CAA protests, said that Mahatma Gandhi and B R Ambedkar believed that Indians should interrogate themselves.

This spirit of introspection, the writer said, does not exist within the brand of nationalism touted by the ruling party at the Centre.

That nationalism, Guha said, is built on the notion “We are greater than anyone else, we have not committed any error, let alone against our own people.”

Taking the example of Gandhi, he said that the man who had fought English imperialism was introspective enough to understand that the while the British treated their household help as humans, while Indians treated them as serfs and slaves.

He said such a lack of self-awareness leads to the dangerous belief that “My country is always right, and my leader is always right”.

The writer seemed skeptical of people who want unquestioning loyalty, saying that there is a young man who doesn’t forgive him for not speaking Kannada, as he is a resident of Bengaluru city, although he has written about many eminent Kannadigas, including Shivaram Karanth.

Guha was also skeptical of Hindi imperialism, saying, “If you go to the passport office in Bengaluru, they are promoting Hindi there”. He did not explain the comment further.

The historian also expressed reservations with the way Marxism is practised in India. Calling the Indian Marxist a “curious animal”, he said that Marxist party events always have four people’s pictures, “Two Germans from the 19th century and two Russians from the 20th century”, referring to Karl Marx, Freidrich Engels, Vladimir Lenin and Joseph Stalin.

“Never Bhagat Singh’s,” he added.

Guha said that while Marx is an important political scientist, he detested Lenin for creating the one-party system and a cult of personality.

However, he appreciated Indian communist leaders for “leading lives which are the simplest of any political party leaders in the country” and for raising the quality of education and healthcare wherever they rule. Guha said they should make sure to develop a fully indigenous brand of communism.

The writer, who was recently in the news for criticising dynasty politics in the Congress, slammed the party again over the legacy of former Home Minister Sardar Vallabhai Patel.

“It’s because the Congress disowned Patel that the BJP ‘misowned’ him. I don’t think in her 20 years as Congress president, Sonia Gandhi ever spoke about Patel. Indira never spoke about Patel, Rajiv never spoke about Patel.”

Although Guha has been a part of anti-CAA protests, he has distanced himself from some others who are part of the movement who referred to CAA as “fascist”.

He echoed this at the interaction at St Joseph’s, saying it is wrong to liken CAA to the Nazi regime’s Nuremberg laws. The comparison, he said, was just “hyperbolic talk”.

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