The debate over the ‘celebration’ of 125th birth anniversary of Jawaharlal Nehru has proved to be a stale affair. The reason was simple. Even in past so many years, it was being ‘celebrated’ as a ritual to be performed, with almost zero or negligible people’s participation. Those who shade crocodile tears on electronic media about Modi Government not celebrating it did nothing in last so many years than giving cosmetic smiles and speeches on Television in remembrance of Nehru and ritual photo-ops in parliament hall and in and around lutyen’s Delhi. The birth day celebrations of Pt. Nehru were for many years limited to these rituals and some programs in schools owing to circulars of education departments of various states.
People of India do love to celebrate anniversaries, martyr days, remembrances in abundance. The 186th anniversary of queen of Jhansi was celebrated on 19th of this month. Without any Government participation, the number of programs around India will surely be in hundreds. Despite intentional negligence by Congress regime, people still remember Subhash Chandra Bose. The annual mela at Bhagat Singh’s memoir never fails to attract people in thousands.
The inconvenient truth
Those who demand that BJP Government should celebrate Nehru anniversary say in the same breath that they have no right to celebrate it as BJP is actually an antithesis of whatever Nehru stood for in his life, and is out to destroy his legacy. History is witness to exactly opposite facts. It was the so called democratic Nehru who was not willing to concede legitimate space to the RSS and the then Janasangh. It was at the instance of Nehru that Congress had to decide that one cannot be a member of Congress and RSS at the same time. RSS members had to fight and win Court cases in order to continue in Government service, as Congress Governments decided that one cannot be a member of RSS while in Government service, a decision which failed to stand the test of legal validity. It was Nehru who said to Shyamaprasad Mukharjee that “I will crush you”. Mukharjee’s reply was much more democratic, “I will crush your crushing mentality”.
Surprisingly, RSS, the favourite whipping target of all the self claimed Nehruvians, has set an example which is quite unprecedented in Indian history. The founder of RSS, Dr. Hedgewar was born in the same year as Pt. Nehru. The Centenary celebrations of both these leaders were in 1989. While RSS created a record of mammoth meetings, house to house contact in that year, even in 1989, Nehru Centenary was a lacklustre affair in spite of Congress Government ruling the nation for the better part of the year 1989. [V P Singh was sworn in as prime minister at the end of year on 2nd December and even he cannot be termed as ‘anti Nehru’.]
The RSS Style
The Hedgewar centenary was celebrated globally with many dignitaries like Margaret Thatcher attending the programs.
But at the same time, the RSS declared that except the Centenary of Golwalkar Guruji in 2006, the RSS will not celebrate any other RSS leaders’ anniversary. Instead, the then RSS chief Balasaheb Deoras announced a massive ‘social thrust’ to the organisation and declared that 5000 social service projects will be started in the centenary year. Through the relentless efforts of RSS volunteers, the number of social service projects has now crossed the figure of 1 lakh in almost 50000 places in India. The Centenary year of Balasaheb Deoras himself is coming next year, but the RSS seems to be firm on its stand of no more anniversaries. Instead, they are on an unprecedented expansion drive of organisational activity.
That is why the contrast seems pathetic. On one end of the spectrum, there is Congress ‘celebration’ of Nehru anniversary, where Sonia Gandhi, Manmohan Singh, Anand Sharma, Mukul Wasnik and Mani Shankar Aiyar were seated on the dais along with international guests. Sonia being the family member who also claims the legacy and Manmohan Singh as ex-prime minister were unavoidable. What locus standee Anand Sharma, Mukul Wasnik and Mani Shankar Aiyar had either in Nehru legacy or in public is hard to guess.
Tarun Gogoi of Assam was the only Congress Chief Minister to attend the event. Then there were Mamata Banarjee sitting with JD(U) chief Sharad Yadav and Sitaram Yechury of the Left. Sonia Gandhi did not even acknowledged there presence in her speech.
The Congress website still claims ‘the story of Congress party is story of India’. The [email protected] link on the website is empty except the one and only program of this international conference with handful attendees and two subject sessions. If this is the only ‘celebration’, it can be said that the Congress party has either lost the capacity to work when not in power or they are not celebrating it at all.
Too busy to celebrate? :The RSS rescue work at Idukki in August 2013
On the other end there is RSS movement, where thousands of volunteers appeared in every nook and corner of country in last year’s election responding to the call of ‘100 % voting’ given by RSS chief Dr. Mohan Bhagwat. The social service projects are increasing by hundreds each year.
The ‘join RSS’ feature on their website is attracting thousands of youth every month. But they are not celebrating the 125th anniversary of Dr. Hedgewar. Or are they truly celebrating it?