Random Recollection

Dividing the society, country

Yatindra Bhatnagar

Politics does make an ordinary person, some kind of extra-ordinary one. That doesn’t always mean that the person becomes better. He or she may become bitter, cynic, liar, rabble-rouser, narrow-minded, selfish, anti-this and anti that with a one-track mind – how to get votes and power.

Of course, that one and only aim sometimes fails them, they get beaten, defeated, frustrated and so on. Still what we say in Hindi, Rassi jal gayee par bal - or aithan -  naheen gayee (even after being burnt the rope doesn’t lose its twisted form).

The same is amply demonstrated by politicians, especially now in India even after the elections are over and the much-maligned leader, Narendra Modi, has re-emerged as the most admired and popular leader. Modi has taken his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), and its coalition partners in the NDA, a landslide victory.

However, the opposition, the vanquished, the losers, and the frustrated politicians, did not shed their ‘twisting’ nature. Among those ‘twisters’ are the ‘reluctant’ Congress President Rahul Gandhi (who said he would resign after the debacle, but didn’t) and the West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee (who lost a big chunk of seats to BJP), remain as bitter and divisive as before. They seem to be more bitter, unrepentant and as divisive and disruptive as ever, despite their political habit of blaming all others, especially the victors, BJP and Modi.

Rahul Gandhi, the other day harped on his familiar tune that Modi is “using the poison of hatred to divide the country.”

[And Modi on his visit to Kerala, dressed like the locals, declared in no uncertain terms that he loves Kerala as he loves Varanasi, his constituency in Uttar Pradesh. He also said that those who voted for him are his people; those who did not are also his people. He favors regional aspirations but also national ambitions. Rahul would not know the history but the facts remain that Kerala and the deep south have produced saints, scholars, high priests, writers, poets, researchers and freedom fighters whom the whole country reveres and praises.]

Mr. fake Gandhi, where did you find the poison, apart from your own speeches and conduct? Had Modi divided the society, his party would not have won this massive mandate from the people. You tried, and continue, to divide the society and country on the basis of Hindus and Muslims, upper class and lower class Dalits and sub groups like Jats, Patidars, Lingayats and others – but failed miserably. You often don the mask of a staunch Hindu, a Muslim-loving secular, and can also lay claim on Christianity (Roman Catholic). You also conveniently became a lover of Kerala to get a safe seat.

Your sudden love for a southern state was also the result of your fear of losing in Amethi (which you did to Smriti Irani) and you followed your grandmother Indira Gandhi and mother Sonia also who choose safe seats in the South. Indira, defeated in Rae Bareilly in 1977, found a safe seat in Chikmaglur in Karnataka and then Medak in Andhra Pradesh. Sonia had chosen Bellary (now Ballary), also in Karnataka. Their Northern seats weren’t safe then and South became their savior. 

Post-elections this May, Mamata’s party, Trinamool Congress (TMC) continues to misuse the Police and other civil servants, and unleash a reign of terror and rioting and killing. Even earlier, Mamata had played extremely biased and partisan political game of pampering Muslims and punishing Hindus. Who could ever imagine Durga Puja festival under severe restrictions in Bengal where it’s a super festival and immersion of goddess Durga is an extremely popular event. Mamata even sat for a dharna (protest) along with the Police chief when he was asked to appear before the federal authorities for questioning in some scandals.

Mamata is also allergic to chants of Jai Shree Ram but has no problem with loud Azaan from the mosques. She doesn’t believe in ‘we all prosper together’ – sabka saath, sabka vikas (as Modi has said.) She should be shocked at the results of her bankrupt policies but sometimes politicians remain stubborn, thick-skin, defend their policies and blame others for their blunders and consequent disasters.

Talking about blaming games, Rajasthan’s Congress Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot is making news – of course for wrong reasons. He has blamed his own Deputy Chief Minister, Sachin Pilot, for not doing enough to see his son, Vaibhav Gehlot win a seat. Pilot had confidently declared that Congress will get all the 25 seats - it drew a blank.  BJP bagged 24; one went to a small group RLP, still an ally.   

Mr. Ashok Gehlot, you are the CM, and you should take the blame for the debacle in Rajasthan, just like your supreme leader Rahul Gandhi did, and offered to resign. You should also have at least offered to resign but no, you started blaming others – not for the total defeat in the state but of your own son’s loss. You took Vaibhav’s defeat as a much bigger disaster than losing all the 25 seats in the state. Wow!  

You had won the same Jodhpur seat five times and have been Rajasthan’s CM three times and don’t accept your own recent failure. There must be something very wrong that brought the big defeat to Congress, again, and also of your own son, but you are blaming others. Probably, this habit comes naturally to career politicians, who are also getting old – Gehlot is nearing 70, though not very old, but some people age faster, become senile and also grumpy.

Please retire and live healthy and happily ever after!

Political characters come in all sizes, shapes, colors and habits, including those telling lies and scaring people with ghost stories.

These traits are more evident with Tamil Nadu politics and political dynasties. The current leader of this scene is Stalin, strangely named after the dictator-leader of the Soviet Union (Now Russia) though THAT Stalin had only politically and theoretically influenced this family. [Incidentally, the word Stalin means a Man of Steel; the Soviet leader Stalin has been described both as a great leader and a cold-blooded murderer, depending on your own perception and reading of history.]

I don’t know what quality OUR Stalin has inherited.

MK Stalin, the third son of the veteran Tamil politician, M Karunanidhi, (five times Chief Minister – though not continuously) is now the ‘King’ of Tamil Nadu and has continued with the policy of ‘hate Hindi and hate Hindi belt.’ That ‘Belt’ has given a landslide victory to Modi’s BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) and allies. So keep hating, he keeps winning.  

Stalin, the leader of DMK, turncoat of a politician, has been in-and-out with Congress camp. But now with a hodge podge of groups/parties/sub-groups he got a big majority in Tamil Nadu.

In any case, this Tamil Stalin has continued with the dynasty’s hate campaign and declared soon after the Lok Sabha elections in May that he would not allow Hindi and BJP to enter Tamil Nadu.

One could excuse Stalin to say anything but saying that he would not allow BJP to enter his state is pure arrogance. Stalin has showed his dictatorial streak thinking that he is really The King of Tamil Nadu and can behave like a spoilt brat, forgetting that politics is a strange game of victories and defeats. It can happen to anyone, any time for any reason.

That’s natural – and also inevitable - in politics.

However, opposing Hindi, the Official Language of India, as described and included in the Constitution of India, is suicidal. Hindi is the most widely used language of the country with around 400 million people speaking-knowing the language. Hindi is also widely spoken in many more countries in the world; made more popular by the huge film industry of the country. Even South Indian filmmakers produce Hindi movies that have become very popular and money-making ventures. They are also widely popular in scores of countries all over the world.

Hindi is also the third most-spoken language in the world after Mandarin and English.

And Stalin, in the tradition of the first anti-Hindi agitator and Chief Minister CN Annadurai, has also frowned upon teaching of Hindi in his state specifically, and in the southern states, generally. Hindi, as the Official Language of India, should be learned by all Indians to promote social and cultural unity and national integration.

But people like Stalin play a political card – they have to have some issue, any issue, to scare and get voters. He thinks that the call for National Unity only benefits Modi. But his narrow regionalism will confine him to his state only and that too is doubtful in the long run.

I remember the earlier agitation against Hindi when the local fake news media and narrow-minded political leaders like the DMK party’s bosses, campaigned against Hindi and scared the voters with ghost stories that the federal government would shoot down anyone who didn’t learn Hindi. That sowed the seeds of hatred and they continue it.

There are two important facts about Hindi that the narrow-minded and opportunistic politicians like Stalin and his group totally forget. One is, that the South (particularly Tamil Nadu – that used to be the Madras State) was an important center of Hindi studies. The Dakshin Bharat Hindi Prachar Sabha (South India Hindi Promotion Organization) was founded in 1918 by none other Mahatma Gandhi.

Moreover, a top Tamil, Chakravarthi Rajagopalachari (later the First Indian Governor General of India, after Independence, and also a Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu (Madras, now Chennai) was one of the first to introduce Hindi in all schools of the then Madras Presidency, larger than the current Tamil Nadu state. Top leaders of Madras (Tamil) and also of Andhra Pradesh (Telugu), Karnataka (Kannada) and Kerala (Malayalam) were actively involved in spreading Hindi.

[Stalin was not yet born but he should know that the celebrated Tamil poet, Subramania Bharathi, one of the greatest Tamil literary figures of all time, and also a great freedom fighter, was the first to set up a group in Madras, as early as 1905, to promote and popularize Hindi in the entire South India for ‘national unity and cultural integration.’]

In the beginning Sabha was a part of the freedom struggle in India. After a few years, it assumed a separate status with own organization and teachers (Pracharaks.) The first Pracharak was Mahatma Gandhi’s own son, Devdas Gandhi, who worked in Madras for years and then the whole Southern India to propagate and promote Hindi.

Devdas later married Rajaji’s daughter, Lakshmi, and moved to New Delhi where he took charge of the nationalist newspaper The Hindustan Times as its Managing Editor/Director.

[I had the unique privilege to be interviewed by Devdas Ji for an editorial position with the Hindi counterpart, Hindustan, in 1952, and am proud of getting the appointment letter signed by him.]

There is a long and impressive record of the spread of Hindi and support for the movement from several prominent leaders of the South. With this effort millions of young and old learnt Hindi and spread it far and wide in the non-Hindi areas of India.

Hundreds of thousands of students passed Hindi examinations every year and became well versed in the language which was the foremost tool for national integration and cultural unity of India.

Sabha was given the special status of Institute of National Importance by the Parliament of India in 1964 as a full-fledged teaching university with five branches in the South. Huge numbers that graduate every year from Sabha-run schools and colleges have an additional asset that benefitted them in All India Services, and business expansion all over India.  

I want to recall an interesting incident when M. Karunanidhi was Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu and visited New Delhi. He also met Raj Bahadur, the Minister of Information and Broadcasting and Telecommunications. The federal government had then the monopoly for Radio broadcasting. TV was in its infancy with very limited areas and that also was a government monopoly.

One of the most popular channels on Radio then was Vividh Bharati, a widely acclaimed program of Hindi songs. Since I was a senior reporter, I was frequently meeting the Minister. He told me about the meeting with  Karunanidhi who requested for more time on Vividh Bharati for advertising products from his state.

Raj Bahadur had responded by asking why he wanted a Hindi program to promote Tamil products since he hates Hindi.

Karunanidhi’s reply was that he wanted a wider forum to popularize products from his state and that forum is a Hindi channel.

So, that’s business!

There is another very valuable point in not hating, but accepting Hindi. It should not be missed by any political leader or any state government – though narrow regional politics may not allow it – that for all All India Civil Services, knowledge of Hindi is an added advantage, even if it is not strictly compulsory. Those selected serve anywhere in the vast country of India and the language known widely gives advantage in smooth functioning anywhere. People totally ignorant of  Hindi might find difficulty in effectively serving in a Hindi area that comprises large parts of North, East, West and Central India.

But politics is politics, it doesn’t have any rationale for its scope and campaign style, sloganeering and fooling the people, as and when circumstances demand, and whatever can get votes – but losses also.

So be it, and be ready for the long-term consequences of narrow views and closing your eyes to reality!