Many leaders have walked on the soil: some followers, some tyrants, some dictators, some democrats, and republicans, too. However, there is one thing that has remained common- their falling legacies and their crumbling empires of dogma.
I remember this beautiful line by Jenner, “Maybe theories are meant to be doctrines one day but real revolution shall occur when a doctrine is revised to a mere theory and what shall follow, is change.” Humanity has been blessed with instincts and it was the need for the expression of these instincts that we ventured into the new, leaving behind the decaying but the glorified old. If you have not guessed it as yet, this time, I write on the fall and rise of a nation, a leader, and his legacy.
The Rise of the Elephant in the East
Blood has never been so sweet so as to be bought at the price of slavery. India, once the Golden Bird, was standing at a juncture where it had been robbed of its pride. That day, we had two options: either to rise under the genius of dictatorships or fall with the scum of democracy. We made a decision which can probably not be called diplomatically correct but surely one that laid the foundation of a strong India. Atal Bihari Vajpayee. Socialist, Indian, genius, poet, Hindutva, fascist. Before we start listing how Vajpayee sahab was all of the above, let us understand some simple logic. Imagine two spheres- or metaphorically speaking, two worlds: A and B, and a stimulus X. On the application of stimulus X to world A, conditions deteriorated and the sphere was harmed but somehow, the stimulus X had positive effects on sphere B. In the entire objectivity of the argument, we have to consider that whatever benefit was done to B, the fact that A was harmed, cannot be negated. The two worlds cannot be equated, it is certainly not addition and subtraction because the values were not in the same unit in the first place.
Vajpayee ji’s work can be summed under the following heads.
Apart from leading India to decimate Pakistan in Kargil 1999, it was he, who led India to the centre stage, where finally the USA started to recognize us. Also, the continuous threat that China was to us, now subsided due to brilliant negotiations by Vajpayee. He was the man who started ‘Aman Ki Asha’ and Samjhauta Express, as he very aptly put it in words: “It was a war of governments and not of people.”
Telecom Policy and Economy
A supporter of disinvestment but not blind privatization, Vajpayee ji contained inflation and brought the rate from 4.84% in 1999 to 3.77% in 2004. Under his rule, the GDP showed a marked rise from 1999 to 2003 despite multiple crises. In a time in 1999 when only 3% of India was enjoying telecom, Atal sahab, with his policy of March 3, laid the foundation for the figure to become a whopping 70% in October 2012. We owe Atal sahab a portion of the convenience of our age, if not all of it.
Ideals of Good Governance and Development
Vajpayee sahab was a person who advocated that governments are responsible to their people and in his six years in office, he proved how good governance was the base for development even in political, economic and social isolation as happened with India post-1998. A government is not a caretaker of the nation- it is its leader; a government does not aim to shirk from the risk of failure but intends to carry it. Vajpayee ji, therefore, advocated pro-active governance.
Roads to the Future
Vajpayee ji was a leader who started the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojna and the National Highway Development Project. He made it his motto that no part of India shall be unapproachable in any aspect, whether it be opening of a ministry for North-Eastern affairs or an aid distribution scheme where food and medicine was to be distributed in every part of the nation. His ‘Right to Education’ concept made education an exercisable right of ant child who breathes his first breath in India. The father of the Chandrayan One space mission and a visionary, who predicted that the world would soon be leaving the weapons race to enter into an energy race, this man made roads to the future, infinity and beyond.
Atal sahab’s greatest achievement was that he made India a nuclear state in 1999. He was the mastermind behind the Pokhran 2 nuclear tests. He violated the Non-Proliferation Treaty and took a bold step against the self proclaimed brokers of international peace. He was of the view that nuclear weapons are a temporary but urgent national security need that cannot be ignored.
An Accomplished Poet
He wrote a multiple poems such as ‘Mastak Nahi Jhukega’ and ‘Hindu Tan Man Jeevan’. His true feelings on nuclear weapons are better expressed in his poem, ‘Hiroshima ki Peeda’, which he wrote after visiting Ground 0 in Japan. He was aware of the fact that one day, India would have to join the movement to deactivate all nuclear powered weapons along with all other nuclear powered nations.
Vajpayee was indeed a great visionary but it was his views on Sangh, minorities, Hindutva and fascism that have truly made him feature in this article.
Time has turned Vajpayee into a moderate but was certainly no time turner. In an article titled ‘Sangh is My Soul’, Vajpayee had written, “We don’t want to destroy this diversity. The other task is to assimilate the non-Hindus Muslims and Christians in the mainstream. They can follow the religion of their own conviction. No one can object to it. We have hundreds of ways of worshipping god. They can go where they want. But this country must be looked upon as the motherland. They must have a feeling of patriotism for this country. But the Islamic division of Darul Harb and Darul Islam comes in the way.” Vajpayee would always view the patriotism of minorities with suspicion. He was a person who would believe in the RSS interpretation of Hindutva that meant hegemony of Hindus and occurrence of the Hindu way of life for the masses. Vajpayee possessed certain notions of fascism except capitalism, and I believe that the biggest mistake that he made was this: he would make everything convenient but not without tampering the pristine form of it.
Communal Views Inspired by Sangh
Vajpayee stated, “Islam has yet to learn the art of existing and flourishing in a country where Muslims are in a minority. They cannot convert the whole of India to Islam. After all, they have to live here. So they have to recognize this fact. And today, it has become a matter of grave concern and deep thinking in the Muslim countries. Because the Quran offers no guidance in this regard, it only talks of killing kafirs or converting them to Islam. But they cannot do it always and everywhere. How can they do it where they are in a minority? If they try to do it, a major clash will take place and only the members of the minority will be killed.” Moreover, Vajpayee made certain highly misleading remarks about the Quran. The Quran speaks of religious freedom in numerous verses (2:256 & 109:6), wherein it states that “There is no compulsion in religion” and “To you, your religion and to me, mine” but Vajpayee sought to make hysterical remarks like the Quran sanctioning the murder of non-Muslims. Vajpayee’s tone seemed to be similar to that of AIMIM leader Akbaruddin Owaisi as he spoke of a “major clash” between Hindus and Muslims. Vajpayee maintains false ground as he talks only of minor casualties.
Disrespect for the Law
The law is above everyone. Respect of it talks about maintenance of respect for the sovereign in the society. On December 5, 1992 (a day before the Babri Masjid demolition), at Jhandewalan Park in Lucknow, Vajpayee had said, “There is no question of stopping. By doing ‘kar seva’ in Ayodhya, we will not be disrespecting any court order, by doing ‘kar seva’, we will be respecting and obeying the Supreme Court order.”
Vajpayee went on to state that the court had allowed them to conduct “bhajan, kirtan programmes” at Ayodhya but they could not be done by “one person” nor could they be done solely by “standing”. He argued that there was a need for “even more people for kirtan”, which was a clear nod for mobilization of large number of Hindus before marching to Ayodhya.
Thereafter, through appropriate use of codified signs and language, Vajpayee gave the ‘yes’ for the demolition of the Babri Mosque by saying, “There were sharp stones that came out, no one can sit there, the ground has to be leveled, it has to be made fit for sitting.”
The Liberhan Commission set up by the Government of India to investigate into the demolition of the Babri Mosque even pointed out that Vajpayee was a pseudo-moderate and found him guilty of being an integral part of the conspiracy.
Planting the Seeds
Of all that we can pass there is probably some that we should not pass. Vajpayee passed the sangh ‘id’ to everyone in his close political affiliation, expression of which was seen in Gujarat in 2002. All in all, he was a visionary who knew the right things at the wrong time.
Time has this unique feature- it does not change but everything dependent on it, changes. The social construct passes but in all its modest privileges, it has one, which is that of consistency. The situation is abused, the circumstances are cursed and time walks off merrily. So yes, time changed, so did principles; we opened our gates to capitalism, friends fell, they were offered a hand, trade and ties improved, old files were revisited, the morality of the masses advanced, and we rose. The harm done to the social fabric by the gardener and his blooming lotuses was recognized and, I do not stand in support, I stand in defense:
“Decisions taken in offices of turmoil shall never be questioned in minds of tranquility.”
New greats shall arise, new doctrines are to be made and another legacy is to fall.
Many leaders have walked on the soil: some followers, some tyrants, some dictators, some democrats and republicans too. However, there is one thing that has remained common- their falling legacies and their crumbling empires of dogma.