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Mainstream, VOL LVII No 46 New Delhi November 2, 2019

Weakening the Bonds

Tuesday 5 November 2019, by SC


Today is October 31, 2019. It is being observed as the ‘National Unity Day’ as per the decision of the Union Government to mark the 144th birth anniversary of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, the first Home Minister of independent India—a person who played a seminal role in unifying the country by the integration of as many as 562 princely states.

Today also happens to be the 35th anniversary of the martyrdom of Indira Gandhi, one of the most outstanding Prime Ministers of India after Jawaharlal Nehru, the first PM of the country after independence. She was instrumental in assisting the brith of Bangladesh at the culmination of the  India-Pakistan war of 1971. Even though the present dispensation in power in New Delhi does not give due credit to Nehru or her daughter for anything positive that India has achieved in the post-independence period, the fact is that Nehru was indeed the “architect of modern India” for which the nation is eternally grateful to him while his daughter consolidated the country by resolutely fighting the fissiparous trends; there is no gainsaying that she fell a victim of one such trend on October 31, 1984 and thus gave her life to the cause of consolidation of the Indian people.

Now what is the role of our present-day leaders in strengthening national unity? Both Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi, besides all the other leaders like Lal Bahadur Shastri, did their utmost to preserve, protect and enrich our diversity and thus strengthen the roots of national cohesion and integration. But the present-day leaders, Narendra Modi and Amit Shah in particular, did hardly anything towards consolidating our diversity; if at all their actions went a long way towards nullifying it—they did practically nothing to tackle the phenomenon of lynching of Muslims in the real sense, pro forma public statements apart. This exposed their single-minded dedication to transform India into a Hindu Rashtra thereby trampling underfeet the principles of secularism the foundations of which were laid by Nehru with the full blessings of Mahatma Gandhi. This secularism was thereafter strengthened during the Prime Ministership of Indira Gandhi through her active involvement.

Apart from the present PM’s role in the lynchings as mentioned above, what he with his Home Minister did on August 5, 2019 clearly showed their authoritarian proclivities. On that day Article 370 of the Constitution was  abrogated and the decision to that affect was passed by the two Houses of Parliament before getting the President’s assent to it. There was no effort by the Modi dispensation to seek the J&K leaders’ opinion on this as well as on the move to convert the State of J&K into two Union Territories—one of J&K and the other of Ladakh. No doubt this has definitely hurt the sentiments of the people of J&K and that is why the citizens there have resorted to Gandhian non-violence and non-coope-ration with the Centre as a token of their protest. The significance of this step cannot be overestimated.

The Centre’s moves in that region have not only enhanced the alienation of the people J&K but also weakened their bonds or ties with India painstakingly built over the years by the past leaderships of the country in spite of all their follies and limitations.

Hence for Modi and Shah to claim that they are the true inheritors of Sardar Patel’s legacy is nothing short of a hoax, to say the least. They have actually substantially weakened the bonds among the peoples of the country. That is becoming increasingly transparent with every passing day.

October 31 S.C.

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