By Vinod Mubayi
The undoubted champion of lying as a mode of governing is the current US President Donald Trump. The Washington Post estimates that he has uttered or tweeted more than 8 lies per day on average over the last two years largely as a means of exciting his base who seem to cheer every falsehood that emanates from him.
However, Modi and the RSS as well as the rest of the Sangh Parivar, including the members of the BJP government, are not far behind. The latest example is Modi’s pathetic attempt to (mis) appropriate the militant secular nationalist Subhash Chandra Bose to the Hindutva family. Like Trump’s desperate attempt to identify imaginary “bad Middle-Easterners” in the caravan of Hondurans heading north across Mexico, Modi’s effort to enroll Bose, an icon of anti-colonial struggle, in the ranks of Hindutva is another major lie obvious to anyone with the slightest knowledge of Indian history.
Why would Modi resort to this charade of wearing a cap of the Azad Hind Fauj (Indian National Army, INA) on the 75th anniversary of the founding of the Arzi Hukumat-e-Azad Hind (Provisional Government of Free India led by Bose) and extolling Bose whose contempt for the Hindu Mahasabha and similar organizations is well known? Two reasons suggest themselves. First, it is also well known that Hindutva crowd cannot identify any of their founding fathers who played even the slightest role in the anti-British freedom struggle. The Hindutva icon Savarkar was a militant nationalist in his youth who was arrested by the colonial rulers and sentenced for life to the Andaman Islands where he soon repented his rash behavior and began to pen groveling appeals for his release to the colonial rulers to allow him to serve the British Empire as a loyal citizen which they eventually did in the 1920s. While pledging fealty to the British he became an ardent Hindu nationalist obviously seeing no contradiction between these two affiliations and instead turned his pen against non-Hindu Indians, in particular Muslims but also Christians, with his concept of punyabhumi (holy land) and pitrabhumi (fatherland). He can rightly be considered the founder of the Two Nation theory in the Indian subcontinent long before Mohamed Ali Jinnah. When the Indian National Congress launched the Quit India movement, Savarkar issued fervent appeals to Hindu youth to join the British Indian Army (BIA) while Bose and the INA were fighting the BIA on the battlefields of Southeast Asia. So how can Bose and Savarkar coexist in the same Hindutva pantheon?
The second reason is that RSS and Modi’s attempt to enlist Bose in their cause is to throw mud at India’s first Prime Minister Jawahar Lal Nehru and the Father of the Nation Mahatma Gandhi in an attempt to delegitimize the current Congress Party one of whose leaders is Nehru’s great-grandson. It is also wellknown that while Bose was a dynamic figure in the Indian national struggle as a leader of the Congress Party he began to develop political differences on methods of struggle with Gandhi and Nehru and much of the Congress leadership. For Gandhi, belief in non-violence was at the core of his philosophy while Bose on the other hand became convinced that an armed struggle was needed to drive the British out of India and achieve the national goal of independence. Bose was prepared to ally with any anti-British power, including the Fascist Axis powers, Germany and Japan, to achieve this goal and this precipitated his differences with Nehru who was steadfast in his opposition to Fascism.
Neither RSS nor Modi care a hoot for the nuances of history. They can distort and falsify as they please to excite their base of Hindutva trolls on social media. Since distortions of established facts to serve political ends have become a routine affair in the hands of wannabe populist dictators from the US to Poland and Hungary in Europe, Modi has no compunction in adopting the same tactics. In fact, lying has paid him
dividends from the start of his election campaign in 2014 such as his claim that he would bring back all the black money stashed abroad in Swiss banks and other tax havens that would enable him to put Rs. 15 lakhs in the bank account of every Indian. Later on, his henchman Amit Shah admitted this was a mere “jumla” (fabrication or lie). Many other jumlas were perpetrated subsequently the major one being demonetization that gave a shock to the Indian economy and inflicted severe hardship on the poorest sections of society.
Lying has now reached a level that impacts constitutional governance as is gradually being revealed in the scandals surrounding the Rafale aircraft deal and the CBI affair. Whether the heretofore compliant mainstream India media will find its voice, or whether the Supreme Court will step in to curb this practice or whether the Modi regime will finally get its comeuppance in the field of public opinion in the forthcoming elections remains to be seen. However, whether in the US or in India the urgency of eliminating lying as a mode of governance cannot be doubted.