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Be Victorious!

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SP leader (no longer Supremo) Mulayam Singh Yadav’s statement in the Lok Sabha wishing Prime Minister Modi a second stint in office has naturally upset those working to set up alternative fronts to the NDA. The Samajwadi Party is the most discomfited and has responded to the BJP’s glee by urging that party to take note of other, not so flattering, exhortations made by Mulayam Singh.
The ‘aashirvad’ bestowed upon Modi is more in the ancient tradition under which elders used to bless even their adversaries in battle, so evocatively described in sagas such as the Mahabharata. This being above the immediate dualities and seeing everything as part of an objective process is what places one in the status of an ‘elder’ like Bhishm Pitamah or Dronacharya. They remained loyal to their party in a conflict, but were aware of the deficiencies in their cause and the merits in that of others. As such, they commanded the respect of even their enemies.
This may or may not be the spirit behind Mulayam’s display of generosity, and might just be a sidelined leader’s angst, but there are many in India today who are respected by the people as national icons. The people often are disappointed when they seem to be taking partisan positions merely because of community or political loyalties. This is what happens when a Naseeruddin Shah or Amir Khan makes statements that identify them as ‘Muslims’ and not as the role models they are to all Indians. On the other hand, other Bollywood personalities such as Javed Akhtar or Salim Khan are far more nuanced in their understanding of issues and emerge as non-partisan elders.
The same is expected of intellectuals, academics, writers, those who hold constitutional positions, journalists, etc. Unfortunately, owing to recently introduced ideological belief systems that have a totalitarian approach to the ‘other’, this magnanimity of spirit has been greatly diminished. The Indian philosophical system sees beyond the material world and the mere exercise of power to the individual’s spiritual growth. Without having the courage to look beyond one’s personal interests and having the detachment to understand underlying causes, this growth becomes difficult to achieve. This is why there are so many frustrated old people (mostly men), today, exerting to command the power they exercised earlier, when they should be rising above to influence society at a different level. Maybe, Mulayam Singh is undergoing the process that would transform him from a politician to an elder statesman, revered by all sections of political opinion. In the meanwhile, time will tell how powerful his aashirvad can be.