Rediff describes Ashis Nandy–who has been suitably psychoanalyzed on this blog earlier–in glowing adjectives: thinker, political analyst, but above all, he is India’s most famous liberal thinker, in this five-part interview where Nandy shares his expert views on Sonia Gandhi’s performance as the chairman of the UPA. Having read the entire interview–much against the counsel of my inner voice (bless Mata Maino)–I feel compelled to add another adjective to Nandy: Sonia’s personal psephologist.
Nandy defends Sonia almost venomously throughout the interview. When he does not defend, he stops short of idolizing her: the living Saint of Vatican. Okay, I’m
not exaggerating. In some eerie way, he criticizes everybody that Sonia prefers to keep at bay but has nary a good word about anybody except her. He calls Arjun Singh a control freak, Ramadoss inefficient, and so on. He calls out UPA failures but justifies them on the grounds of “compulsion of coalition politics.”
To his eternal discredit, Nandy bares his ugliest side when he talks about Manmohan Singh and the office of the Prime Minister per se. The relevant portions below should be self-explanatory.
Are you comfortable with this arrangement? Doesn’t it degrade the post of prime minister? Should the people and the prime minister of the country not have a direct connection? Have you seen a single photograph of Dr Singh with ordinary Indians on the front pages of our daily newspapers?
All prime ministers are not the same. It is a coalition of structures in India, in any case. Even in the BJP it is a coalition of structures. You need not pursue that line of analysis.
What about the status and stature of the post of prime minister?
I am not bothered about it. It is not my job to ensure that the prime minister has a stature. He doesn’t deserve the stature because he doesn’t have political clout. He has got more than most could have fought for. I think he has got more than he might have bargained for in his life. He should be happy. He is happy, it seems.
You are talking about Dr Singh. I am talking about the post of the prime minister. Don’t you think that the Indian people should have a direct rapport with the prime minister?
Why should people only be in touch with the prime minister? What was Mr (H D) Deve Gowda’s touch with the aam aadmi outside Karnataka? You tell me? We had these kinds of coalition structures. Just because he has a base in Karnataka it doesn’t mean he has a base outside it.
What was Inder Gujral’s political base? The only thing is that Inder Gujral’s political power was not concentrated in one person, it was more fractured. That was also a coalition where there was Inder Gujral and a number of power centres outside the Prime Minister’s Office.
I think multiple power centres are a boon to a fragmented, divided and diverse society like India.
The prime minister has the prerogative to form his Cabinet. In this case Sonia Gandhi decides who should be in or out of the Cabinet. Is it okay?
Sonia Gandhi doesn’t decide it either. Can Sonia Gandhi dare to throw out Ambumani Ramadoss who has made a mess of so many things?
The coalition of structure is such that nobody has the power. Those days are gone when the prime minister could select his Cabinet. Sonia Gandhi could not shut up the Left Front. She cannot shut up the Left Front.
His perception of the UPA’s successes (!) and failures are expectedly on obvious, biased lines.
They have done well on some issues. It was a humane regime. There has been no large scale bloodshed or riots. There was no major mishap as far as human rights issue goes, perhaps.
Humane regime is an acceptable response but in Nandy’s case, he needs to define “humane” first. If
shielding postponing Afzal Guru’s hanging interminably qualifies for humane, we sound the first alarm. If the nth incident of terrorism on this soil is explained away and pretended India’s security is fine, we sound a bigger, second alarm. If the army, for doing its duty, is blindly chastised on the unchallengeable grounds of human rights at every turn, we sound the next alarm. If issues like the state-sponsored massacre at Nandigram suddenly evades Nandy’s memory, we sound the biggest alarm. And it looks to Nandy that the UPA has met all these conditions.
Needless to say, he doesn’t bother to display a semblance of objectivity (okay, strong word but let it be) towards the BJP. I had to single out BJP instead of saying non-Congress because Nandy won’t dare say anything even perceptibly negative about the likes of Mayawati or her party.
Ashis Nandy represents the doddery nadir, which the nature of our public discourse has reached. In their blind hatred for the dreaded “Hindu Right,” they have stooped to justify, rationalize, support, and encourage the worst sort of scum at the helm of power. In its turn, their knowledge of the aims and ideology of the “Hindu Right” is mostly based on flawed (if not absolute lack of) understanding, and increasingly, outright falsehood. Beats me why these professional analysts, keen observers and veteran op-ed writers lack the basic commonsense a “non-professional” like this person has. In a line, he sums it all up.
Most critics of Hindu nationalism tend to focus on the â€œHinduâ€ aspect, neglecting the fact that the movement, at its core, is an attempt at nationalism, rather than an attempt to establish a Hindu theocracy.