Congress must be Grateful to BJP for Promoting Nehru by Default

By degenerating Nehru day in and day out and not highlighting his achievements even on the occasion of the completion of 75 years of independence, the BJP has done a great disservice to itself, observes Soroor Ahmed, adding that the saffron brigade needs to understand that every action has equal and opposite reaction.

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By degenerating Nehru day in and day out and not highlighting his achievements even on the occasion of the completion of 75 years of independence, the BJP has done a great disservice to itself, observes Soroor Ahmed, adding that the saffron brigade needs to understand that every action has equal and opposite reaction.

When the Left Front was in power in West Bengal for 34 long years and used to get more than 40 per cent votes in eight Assembly and 10 parliamentary elections held between 1977 and 2011, the percentage of real Communists in the state were hardly between 10 and 15. Even in the 2011 Assembly poll it got more than 41 per cent votes though it was ousted from power by the Trinamool Congress which secured 7-8 per cent more votes.

Something similar is the situation with Bharatiya Janata Party in several north and west Indian states now. The number of those espousing the cause of Moditva may be less than half of those who actually vote for the party in elections.

Voting for a particular party does not mean that all the electorate are necessarily endorsing all its actions. There are several factors which motivate a voter to vote for a particular party.

On one count at least the BJP should be a bit cautious before it is too late. That is, its over-aggressiveness against the first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru is not going down well among a large section of its voters. Not to speak of general voters, even a sizeable number of BJP leaders accept his contributions. This includes former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

So, by unnecessarily dragging the name of Nehru for no valid reason and that too about six decades after his death the BJP top brass is, by default, promoting him. The irony is that they are not aware of what they are doing. The whole exercise has the potential to prove counter-productive or even backfire.

The decision of the civil society groups to support “Bharat Jodo Yatra” of the Indian National Congress from September 7 should be seen in this light as many of the organisations were, till recently, extremely critical of the 137-year-old party. The saffron brigade has forced them to join hands with the main opposition party. These outfits may not have mass following but it should not be forgotten that in 2011 it is they who created an atmosphere against the then ruling United Progressive Alliance by launching India Against Corruption campaign.

The Sangh Parivar bigwigs should understand the difference between crude propaganda and subtle and scientific way of sending the message. By degenerating Nehru day in and day out and not highlighting his achievements even on the occasion of the completion of 75 years of independence, the BJP has done a great disservice to itself.

The truth is that in the last five decades we have not been discussing the achievements of Nehru so much as now. None else but the BJP is directly responsible for renewing a fresh debate on the feats of the first PM of India.

True, Nehru’s daughter, Indira Gandhi, and grandson, Rajiv Gandhi, during their tenures named many educational institutions, stadiums, roads, etc. after him but they had been in general more busy in promoting their own accomplishments. The media then – both government and private – were more busy in highlighting their works or their misdeeds, rather than debating Nehru.

Those who have lived through those years are well aware as to how Indira Gandhi was hailed for bringing about the Green Revolution, bank nationalisation, victory in Bangladesh over Pakistan, nuclear test in 1974, etc. She came under strong criticism for imposing Emergency and handling of the Sikh militancy in Punjab which ultimately took her life. But it cannot be ignored that a single bench of Allahabad High Court had on June 12, 1975 dared to disqualify the election of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi from Rae Bareli parliamentary seat in 1971. A fortnight later she imposed Emergency.

Rajiv Gandhi’s five-year term is remembered for accords in Punjab, Assam, and Mizoram and telecom revolution. Like mother, he too was busier highlighting his own government’s deeds than recalling that of Nehru. The print media – there was no private electronic channel then – would occasionally discuss what Nehru had achieved. They were confined to his birth or death anniversaries.

In the later years, Rajiv came under fire for alleged Bofors kickback, not handling the Babri Masjid-Ram Janmabhoomi movement in a proper way and disadventure in Sri Lanka, which ultimately cost him dearly – he was killed by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Elam, though he had sent army in Sri Lanka to protect them.

When the Narasimha Rao government introduced Liberalisation, Privatisation and Globalisation in 1991, the policies adopted by Jawaharlal Nehru came under heavy fire; even though the fact is that whatever steps the latter took in the earlier years were, to much extent, appropriate as state promotion was necessary for laying the foundation of country. All these criticisms of Nehru came when the truth is that Rao’s government was of the Congress party.

In contrast, never had the media paid so much attention towards Nehru as in the last eight years. No doubt, most of the times the television channels would carry speeches of the BJP stalwarts in which they would be heard lambasting Nehru for whatever problems India is facing today – be it his foreign and economic policies, loss of territory to China in 1962, Kashmir crisis, etc.

But the non-stop campaign against him opened a gate for objective debates on his achievements. A section of media started it. He had undoubtedly failed on several fronts, but that was quite natural for a man who ruled the country for 17 long years and that too just after two centuries of loot by the British imperialist.

The relentless propaganda against him did attract some people in the initial years, especially those who were already the hardcore supporters of the BJP. But when the counter argument started coming in his favour, it opened the eyes of many in the country, who may have voted for the BJP yet do not agree with all what is being said.

In TV debates held recently many of the apologists of the BJP appeared defensive and conceded that Nehru deserves his due and has certainly done much for India. It would be dishonest if one does not recognise his works.

Eight years later even a sizeable section of the BJP voters want to listen as to what the present government had achieved on economic fronts. The intrusion of Chinese forces in Ladakh and Arunachal Pradesh have silenced many of those who would never waste time to highlight the 1962 debacle.

The saffron brigade needs to understand that every action has equal and opposite reaction.

By degenerating Nehru day in and day out and not highlighting his achievements even on the occasion of the completion of 75 years of independence, the BJP has done a great disservice to itself. The saffron brigade needs to understand that every action has equal and opposite reaction.