The fact of the matter is that Nehru is being called Muslim not to humiliate him personally, but an entire community
Rashaé K | Clarion India
While calling out the rightwing Hindutva forces for the propaganda they have unleashed against the country’s first Prime Minister Jawahar Lal Nehru at Khushwant Singh Litfest in Kasauli, Rajmohan Gandhi drew the attention of the audience towards the absurdity of a particular lie being spread about him – that his father Motilal was a Muslim.
The author and historian said though it’s not true that Nehru was a Muslim, even if it he was, how does it matter. “Many white Americans believe that Barack Obama was not born in America… crores of Indians started believing that Motilal Nehru was a Muslim. This lie has been spread for years and years. Even if Nehru was a Muslim, which is not the case, that is not a crime. You can’t kill, punish, or accuse a person because your ancestor was this or that,” he said.
He rightly pointed out that one can’t be killed, punished, or accused because his/her ancestor was this or that… But what about punishing, killing and accusing an entire community for the purported wrongs committed by one’s ancestors? Neither the speaker, nor the audience must have been keen to find an answer to this vital question as it applies to neither. However, the fact of the matter is that Nehru is being called Muslim not to humiliate him personally, but an entire community.
Breaking down while talking about the way Nehru has been subjected to character assassination on social media by vested interest groups, he said that there were “false stories about good man, great man, brilliant man” and “the Himalayas would protest and the earth would protest too. You can criticise the policies of Nehru, but don’t stoop low by spreading filthy lies about a nobleman.”
To expect the rightwing groups to judge people on merit is too farfetched. But it seems our so-called secular intellectuals have no insight into the mindset of the Hindutva brigade.
Highlighting Nehru’s 14-year incarceration during the freedom struggle, Rajmohan Gandhi said, “Fourteen years in prison is a very long time, then his wife dies shortly after he is released. And then all these false stories about good man, great man, brilliant man. Nehru loved the Himalayas. The Himalayas would protest and the earth would protest too. You can criticise his policies but what right do you have to spread utter falsehood? I feel deeply about this.”
During the freedom struggle, many people were jailed for varying time periods. Many embraced gallows but didn’t surrender before the might of the British. Only those who value freedom value their sacrifices. Where is the need to selectively highlight the contribution of one person to the freedom movement at this point in time? What about the sacrifices made by innumerable freedom fighters who lost everything for the freedom of the country including their lives yet remained obscure?
Referring to his grandfather Mahatma Gandhi, Rajmohan Gandhi, said: “Nothing will happen to Gandhi now, the fact that Gandhi is safe comes from my knowledge that he is no longer living. Gandhi is safe”.
True, Gandhi is safe because he is no longer alive. But he lives on in the collective memory of the country as the Father of the Nation. What about those who are meeting ignominious end just because they belong to a particular group which is unduly demonised. Death is an ultimate reality, what about those condemned to a life of ignominy? What about the Ignominy of being called outsiders in your own country? Worse still being called traitors despite the innumerable sacrifices made by their forefathers for the cause of the country and their own contribution to nation building?
He further said, “I remember the words of Sarojini Naidu that do not allow us to rest. The amazing thing about Gandhi and many people in India is we blame him for not solving the problems of his life, we also blame him for not solving the problems of our time. This is injustice. After all, he was a human being, some problems were left for us to resolve.”
He is right! Gandhi and his contemporaries left many problems of their generation for our generation. If only they had resolved the issues arising during their times, today we would have been better off without them, for we wouldn’t have been carrying the baggage of the past.
He said, “They (Gandhi, Nehru, et al) wanted to create an India for everyone from every background….Many terrible incidents are happening, and the saddest part is staying silent over it. Silence is a wonderful virtue but not when you are an influential person.”
The answer for the query posed by the speaker is not far to seek. Our past determines our present. If our forefathers had used their discretion by taking timely action against the lurching danger to society, we would not have been facing it today.