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Another Binary

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‘ Political Strategist’ Prashant Kishor has declared that ‘the ideologies of Gandhi and Godse cannot go together’. He is stating the obvious and India certainly did not need him to understand that. However, as is being done greatly nowadays, a binary is created, especially over social media, to get people to make choices – borrowed from advertising strategies. In real life, however, choices are not simply made. For instance, once Godse is rejected, does it mean what is left is Gandhi? At the time when Godse was kept out of the public consciousness, was India run along Gandhian lines? Quite obviously, it is a tactic to paint all those who favour the BJP as Godse followers because fringe elements in the Hindutva brigade support his actions. Of course, if such a generality were to be made in the case of terrorism and the Muslims, it would be vociferously condemned by the Kishors of the world as Islamophobia.

The result of the recent Delhi election has revived the hopes of ideologues that have long influenced decision making through arrangements like the National Advisory Council. They are maneuvering hard to be seen on the side of whoever can score a win against the BJP. They have the ability to present their support for even the most regressive forces in ideologically whitewashed terms. They hope to be accepted by such parties for the validation they can provide for basically casteist or communal appeals. While Mahatma Gandhi worked hard to eliminate hate as a motivating force in his politics by giving basic respect to the adversary, the politics of these ‘strategists’ is to justify hate against those whom they identify as ‘oppressors’, ‘patriarchs’, ‘communal’, etc. Unlike Gandhi, they allow the ends to justify the means.

Post the Delhi elections, many such ideologues have made it a point to be photographed with Arvind Kejriwal, appropriating some of his victory for themselves, sending a subliminal message to ordinary people on who actually crafted the victory. In actual fact, it must not be forgotten that Kishor is reported to have advised Kejriwal to avoid the binary by not targeting PM Modi in his speeches and to steer clear of Shaheen Bagh.

If choices were as simple as the advertising folk and their cousins would have the people believe, there would be no problem in life and also no progress. Gandhi believed in politics and economic activity rising up from the grassroots. It is Nehru’s top-down socialism that replaced it. Godse has remained a footnote in history. What needs to be decided, however, is what that history actually is before passing any kind of judgement.