Ramachandra Guha never learns, does he? There’s a limit to how many times his bluff has been called. Or is there? Wait…there is a limit to the number of times his bluff has been called but given his record, his capacity to bluff is infinite. When I searched for “Ramachandra Guha” on my blog, it returned forty nine results. The piece you’re now reading happens to be the fiftieth time I’ve called Guha’s bluff. And this is just by me, one individual. Do your own research on the number of folks who have called his bluff.
Ramachandra Guha’s metamorphosis is interesting. From being a media-anointed “historian,”—eminent or otherwise…oh wait! His “history” is a little more than volumes upon volumes of textual slavering over Jawaharlal Nehru. Because humans don’t live forever, his Nehru-slavering was exhausted and he took it upon himself to slaver over Mahatma Gandhi. Simultaneously, he steadily metamorphosed into a crude kind of Narendra Modi-baiter. As it stands, he is one of the very few in the public glare who continues to engage in a vile witch-hunt of the Gujarat Chief Minister. As a consequence, he’s become the Teesta Setalvad equivalent of the Indian intellectual class.
But Guha’s Modi-baiting is nothing new. While former Modi-baiters have wizened up to and revised their views on Modi, Ramachandra Guha seems to have launched an unending war against commonsense, facts, and truth in his quest to bash Modi.
The latest exhibit is a ridiculously hilarious piece in the Hindu. Even a cursory perusal of the piece makes it clear that Guha has run out things he can use to criticize Narendra Modi. The byline to Guha’s piece reads thus:
Like Indira Gandhi once did, Narendra Modi seeks to make his party,his government, his administration and his country into an extension of his personality.
But look how he ends his piece:
On the other hand, his presumed rival, Rahul Gandhi, shirks responsibility entirely…Indian democracy must, and shall in time, see off both.
This is a clear pointer that this lapsed Marxist is aware of two things: the mood of the nation, which is overwhelmingly in favour of Narendra Modi, and two, that Guha can no longer abuse Modi with impunity, something he did barely a year ago. Sure, let’s grant Rahul his 0.3289473298473289473 seconds of fame but if Guha was really courageous, he would have criticized Modi alone instead of dragging the Crown Prince’s name in. Poor Guha is dangerously losing his touch. But he is alleged as a historian and an intellectual so let’s examine his claims again. One by one.
With Mr. Modi in power in New Delhi, says or suggests Mr. Modi, India will be placed smoothly on the 8 per cent to 10 per cent growth trajectory, bureaucrats will clear files overnight, there will be no administrative and political corruption, poverty levels will sink rapidly towards zero and — lest we forget — trains and aeroplanes shall run on time.
Really? Guha needs to show us exactly one piece of evidence where Modi has claimed or suggested all this. Indeed, if anything, Modi has time and again simply spoken about what he has actually accomplished in Gujarat. And he has consistently, repeatedly spoken only about Gujarat. And this accomplishment is visible; they’re not accomplishments on paper, the Congress party’s favourite form of accomplishment. Besides, Modi hasn’t ever stated that he will do all these if he becomes Prime Minister—indeed, he hasn’t expressed his desire to even run for that office. Modi’s discourse throughout, has been two fold: his singleminded focus on Gujarat’s development and his vocal critique of the Congress party, which has run India to the ground, a fact that’s verifiable. Despite this, we have Guha who sets up an imaginary antagonist and proceeds to take him down.
And then Guha lets out a highly revealing point when he talks about “unreconstructed Nehruvians,” meaning people like himself. As someone who has followed Guha’s writings closely, I can say with confidence that he’s been honest for once. The phrase “unreconstructed Nehruvians” is synonymous with “blind Nehru worshippers” and “people like Guha.” It’s a fact of nature that Nehruvians—both reconstructed and unreconstructed—have been responsible for why India continues to be a third world country. These are the same people who gave us that wretched term, “Hindu rate of growth.” These are the people who throttled India’s fabled entrepreneurial spirit. These are the people who choked the Indian genius for raising capital and creating enormous wealth by imposing statist shackles. And since Guha proudly claims membership in this ugly club, we need to congratulate his honesty because this is one of the reasons Guha and his ilk are so upset with Narendra Modi.
For the first time since Independence, here’s a leader who recognized that giving free rein to this Indian genius of entrepreneurship is one of the most vital ways to ensure economic growth and prosperity. Gujarat is the best example of the consequences of unleashing this potential that creates wealth and prosperity. There’s therefore little doubt in the fact that Modi will do the same spirit nationwide if he becomes Prime Minister. This indeed, is what my perceptive friend, Vijay observed when he told me that “tomorrow’s India is being made in Gujarat today.” And this precisely is the fear of the likes of Ramachandra Guha who would be nothing without state patronage. And further, this is why Guha riles against the “sundry CEOs, owner-capitalists, western ambassadors” who are his “admirers.” Entrepreneurs and businessmen are primarily concerned with running their business in an atmosphere free of political instability, and in an atmosphere that provides cost effectiveness and ensures wealth creation. If their files don’t get cleared on time, and if they face enormous unnecessary costs—the Tata Nano plant in West Bengal comes to mind—they will pass on these costs to the consumer: you and me. And so, they naturally veer towards a leader who provides an environment that rids them of these unnecessary headaches. Their praise of Modi therefore is entirely justified, and is equally the cause for Guha’s angst.
But Guha the Irascible Rebel against Commonsense and Facts just can’t seem to let go. He talks economics.
…the burden of the criticism against Mr. Modi has shifted — on to his own terrain of economic development. It has been shown that the development model of Gujarat is uneven, with some districts (in the south, especially) doing very well, but the dryer parts of the State (inland Saurashtra for example) languishing. Environmental degradation is rising, and educational standards are falling, with malnutrition among children abnormally high for a State at this level of GDP per capita.
“It has been shown?” Where? So can I use Guha’s own yardstick and claim that it has been shown that Ramachandra Guha failed in his Economics paper in college for 10 years and therefore, that his academic record is uneven?
Since he mentions environmental degradation, I can refer him to a detailed study carried out by Modi’s government regarding environmental and ecological issues and the initiatives his Government has taken to meet these challenges. I can additionally refer Guha to the fact that Gujarat’s mangrove cover is amongst the most extensive in the whole world. I can yet again refer this alleged historian to the fact that Gujarat’s water table has dramatically risen thanks to Modi’s initiatives. Of course, Guha makes claims to the contrary based absolutely on no proof whatsoever. Typical of lapsed and unlapsed Marxists whose greatest fear is the fear of mathematics, the Fear of Numbers. Besides, what does Guha expect of Narendra Modi? To perform magic? Why doesn’t Guha mention the fact that it was the Congress party that ruled Gujarat for over 40 years? Why doesn’t Guha realize the fact that it takes far longer to clean up dirt than it takes to put the dirt? Why doesn’t Guha mention the fact that it was under the successive rule of Congress Governments that Gujarat’s entrepreneurial spirit was strangled? Why doesn’t Guha mention the fact that this selfsame Congress party was responsible for the economic mess that Gujarat (and indeed, the whole of India) found itself in?
But now we have a Chief Minister who has tried to undo this ugly legacy, a Chief Minister who has achieved nothing short of an economic miracle, and all Guha can see is negatives? Why doesn’t Guha talk about the abyss that the Congress-NCP government has pushed neighbouring Maharashtra into in less than 15 years—a state which once had surplus power and which now goes begging for power from other states? What does this tell you about Ramachandra Guha? It’s also laughable that Guha finds lack of development in only Saurashtra in the 7th largest state of India. Of course, he typically bases his observations about Saurashtra on personal anecdotes and not on hard data. And why doesn’t he mention the amazing development that’s happened in the rest of Gujarat?
Even more ridiculously, Guha contradicts himself in the very next paragraph when he claims that
As a sociologist who treats the aggregate data of economists with scepticism, I myself do not believe that Gujarat is the best developed State in the country.
If this is true, then everything Guha spoke about Saurashtra’s backwardness is false. He cannot skeptically treat data selectively. But let’s indulge him. So, according to Guha, the “best developed” states are “Kerala, Himachal Pradesh and (despite the corruption) Tamil Nadu.” And what are the parameters he uses to arrive at this conclusion? Knowing his record, he doesn’t mention a single parameter. It is both unnecessary and superfluous to state the relative population, geographical area, natural resources, and other specifics that will instantly demolish Guha’s claims. For one, we can begin with the highly industrialized state of Kerala and proceed from there.
Again, Guha has a sudden change of heart when he asserts that
To be sure, Mr. Modi is not solely responsible for the unbalanced development.
But the real “meat” of Guha’s piece follows this in which he reveals the full extent of his hatred for Narendra Modi. Sample this despicable language:
Narendra Modi is unfit to be Prime Minister of India is that he is instinctively and aggressively authoritarian…“I would have changed the face of India.” Not ‘we,’ but ‘I’…In Mr. Modi’s Gujarat, there are no collaborators, no co-workers. He has a chappan inch chaati — a 56-inch chest…
With this, Guha has descended to a level that’s beneath even our contempt. Additionally, he needs to answer one question: how many Prime Ministers can take office at once? One? Two? Ten? Hundred? Moreover, why didn’t Guha ask the same question to Rahul Gandhi who spoke in Jaipur about waking up at 4 in the morning? That speech too, is littered with tens of the first person “I.”
When he reaches this point, Guha’s article truly goes haywire. It transforms into a continuous litany of Modi’s supposed authoritarianism, his masculinity, his aggressiveness, etc. Unless Guha is blind, deaf, dumb, and illiterate, most world leaders have exhibited these qualities. And it is precisely these qualities that have earned them respect and an everlasting place in history. Commonsense tells us that authority is vested in a leader. Besides, what kind of leader does Guha want? A guy who gets his staff and ministers on a conference call when the enemy has declared war? Oh wait! Nehru precisely did this when China fell upon the Himalayas.
And then there’s the comparison with Indira Gandhi. Let’s look at the comparative record:
- Indira Gandhi abolished the privy purses, an act of supreme betrayal and dishonesty against not just the kings but against the people of India. Guha needs to show us exactly one act of betrayal by Modi.
- Indira Gandhi nationalized banks in a brazen act of despotism, which resulted in killing these once-profitable banks. Modi has on the other hand encouraged private players in every sphere of human activity. The results are there for all to see.
- Indira Gandhi won the battle but not the war with Pakistan when her brashness dictated her to sign the Shimla accord. We’re still living with the ill-effects of that. Modi has been consistent about the need for a strong defence and security both internal and external.
- Indira Gandhi cooked her food in the blood split in the Nevile riots, which in turn was the result of her cynical politics. Gujarat under Modi hasn’t seen a single riot in more than a decade and has an impressive record of maintaining law and order.
- Indira Gandhi’s son, Sanjay thought India was his playground where he both made and broke the rules and got away with it. Modi’s family lives far away from him and has no say in matters of politics or governance.
- Indira Gandhi thought she owned the nation when she declared the Emergency. There’s simply no comparison on this count with even the vilest of Indian politicians.
- Indira Gandhi did talk about the foreign hand because it actually existed. Except that the foreign hand was the hand of the USSR as the Mitrokhin Archives revealed. As for Rome Raj, examples abound: the murderous Italian marines who walked out of India without a single scratch on their body, the truth behind the multi-billion dollar scams under UPA 2, the inner workings of the NAC, and the truth behind all those cloak-and-dagger foreign trips Sonia Gandhi takes.
The truth, as I said, is that Ramachandra Guha has simply run out of things to castigate Modi for. If we observe the tone and tenor of Guha’s piece, we find a clear mixture of apology, illogic, irrelevance, and vacuity. It’s equally clear that he can no longer write about Modi the way wrote in 2011. The nation awaits Narendra Modi and Guha in a way senses this in the same way he senses that there’s really nothing he can do about it. But the truth is elsewhere, and it has escaped Guha.
The truth is that Narendra Modi has turned the entire game upside down. He has devised a language, lexicon and grammar of his own, and as events have repeatedly shown us, he has made it inevitable for even his detractors to abide by his language, lexicon and grammar. This is the reason the likes of Rajdeep Sardesai are stumped for a response when Modi tells him, Sunna padega bhai aap ki channel ki rozi roti Modi ko gaali dene se chalti hai (You must listen, brother. Your channel earns its bread and butter by abusing Modi).
A media and an intellectual climate that’s steeped in shallowness, ignorance and sleaze simply doesn’t know how deal with a leader like this, a leader who knows his own mind, a leader who knows what their rightful place is, and a leader who knows that both his reputation and career are decided only by the people and not by the media.
Ramachandra Guha is yet to understand all these. Long years of state patronage have insulated him from the necessity of actually doing grunt work to earn a place in the hearts of people. Modi has decisively, overwhelmingly earned that place. And Guha’s aforementioned insulation prevents him from seeing this simple truth.
But even if he does see it now, it’s already too late.