Kangana Ranaut, actor-director-producer, pronounced that India became independent and a ‘New India’ was born on May 26, 2014 when Narendra Modi became the prime minister. Srinivas Katikithala, director of the Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration, Mussoorie, said that it was Narendra Modi who took the senior civil servants (IAS and IPS) out of colonial clutches and put them on the path of nationalism and patriotism. And Sanghistan’s WhatsApp University has conferred on him the title of Vishwaguru (Global Teacher).
Responding to these, on the ninth anniversary of his ascendancy to the prime minister’s chair Narendra Modi had this to say:
“Today, as we complete nine years in service to the nation, I am filled with humility and gratitude. Every decision made, every action taken, has been guided by the desire to improve the lives of people. We will keep working even harder to build a developed India.”
An important decision made and action taken “to improve the lives of people” was to build a massive Rs 1,250 crore ‘New Parliament’ at Delhi’s Central Vista and inaugurate it on May 28, 2023. The main purpose was to usher in ‘New Democracy’ and strengthen/deepen the same!
This “Temple of Democracy” was conceived, designed, grounded and built by the Vishwaguru. For assisting him in this herculean task, his architect friend from Gujarat was rewarded with a huge fee of Rs 230 crore. No citizen, Member of Parliament or genuine expert was consulted. In fact, many had objected and some even went to court. The entire expense on this ‘temple’ was hacked away from the funds meant to battle the COVID-19 pandemic when the miserable millions in the country were struggling without food, medicine, hospital bed, oxygen, vaccination and walking hundreds of kilometres to find a place to lie down. All the protests and objections from the cultural, architectural, design, structural, environmental, archaeological and financial perspectives by top experts fell on deaf years.
Who better than the Vishwaguru himself to inaugurate the structure that was the outcome of his solo efforts to create New India to improve the lives of people? What is this Article 79 of the Constitution of India, which says that there shall be a Parliament for the Union, which shall consist of the President and two Houses, to be known respectively as the Council of States (Rajya Sabha) and the House of the People (Lok Sabha)? And what if the vice president is the chairman of the Rajya Sabha? How can they compare with the Vishwaguru, who though represents just 25% of India’s electorate (22 crores out of 91 crores) claims to represent 140 crore Indians? So, the president and vice president are to be kept out and so is the opposition which is making too much noise. If this is not the strengthening of democracy, what else it is?
And the president herself, who was humiliated, has certified Modi’s action. She heaped praise on those involved in the construction of the new parliament building (meaning Modi), saying their efforts will remain etched in the minds and hearts of the people of the country: “I am deeply satisfied that the new Parliament is being inaugurated by the prime minister, who symbolises the trust in Parliament.” Wonder where she got this ‘trust’ idea from. Does it mean she and her vice president do not enjoy any trust?
Be that as it may, the “Master of Masterstrokes” had innovative ideas to further strengthen and deepen democracy by invoking the royal sceptre called Sengol from the land of Tamils which he desperately wants to conquer in the coming election. So, a fertile mind from Chennai was charged with the responsibility of concocting and fabricating a story which was then dished out by the Vishwaguru’s Chanakya, Amit Shah. He presented a docket that described the ritual of handing over the sceptre by the pontiffs of Tamil Nadu-based Thiruvavaduthurai Adheenam mutt that actually “symbolised and sanctified” the transfer of power on India’s Independence Day.
The narration was something like this:
“Viceroy of India, Lord Mountbatten asked Nehru whether there was a ritual that would symbolise the transfer of power. Nehru, in turn, consulted C. Rajagopalachari who recommended following the Chola dynasty practice of handing over a sceptre to mark the transfer of power from one king to another. Rajaji tasked the Adheenam pontiffs to source the sceptre, following which the much-vaunted sceptre was finally flown to New Delhi on 14 August, 1947 to be handed over to Mountbatten first and eventually to Nehru.”
The reality is that Mountbatten was not in Delhi till late evening on August 14, 1947, being away in Pakistan and he knew nothing about the Sengol. All that happened was that this 5 feet long golden sceptre was given as a gift to Nehru on August 14. Since the Sengol is a symbol of monarchy and has nothing to do with democracy, into which India was entering, Nehru sent it to a museum. Within ten days of this happening i.e., August 24, 1947, C.N. Annadurai, founder of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, cautioned Nehru about the motives behind, and the socio-political implications of the ‘gift’ of the Sengol, which he characterises as a self-serving appeal for protection by the exploiters of the people. He told Nehru that the crowned king and the retinue of nobles, pontiffs and priests make the subjects around them toil, and fatten on the fruits of their labour. He also told Nehru of the historical necessity of eliminating these elements for democracy – people’s rule – to flourish.
But after 75 years, Modi is reviving these ‘elements’ of monarchy by celebrating the Sengol and installing it in parliament as the icon of democracy. And he did it with grandeur and religious fervour. Loads of pontiffs and seers from Tamil Nadu were carted in by special aircraft and the parliament resounded with chants of mantras as Modi in his regalia carried the Sengol as a king would do and planted it behind the chair of the speaker after making a grand spectacle. With a single stroke, he removed “We the People who gave ourselves the Constitution” as sovereigns and replaced them with the sceptre of royalty. And he did it with all the trappings of Hindu Rashtra in the New Parliament adorned with tableaux of Indian Hindu mythology, Lord Krishna, Ayodhya and other temples, the Ramayana and Akhand Bharat. This is Modi’s idea of strengthening and deepening democracy!
What kind of democracy?
And pray, what kind of democracy is it? It is not the Gandhi-Nehru brand reflected in the ‘Objectives Resolution’ moved by Jawaharlal Nehru in the Constituent Assembly in 1948, seeking a Republic “wherein all power and authority of the Sovereign Independent India, its constituent parts and organs of government, are derived from the people.” As early as 1922, Mahatma Gandhi had described Swaraj as merely a “courteous ratification of the declared wish of the people of India”. The visions of these two founding fathers had envisaged people-based governance with a bottom-up decision-making process that would give everyone ‘a place in the sun.’
Modi’s ‘New Democracy’ is just the opposite and is rooted in the ideology of H.B. Hedgewar, the founder of the RSS who openly opposed the movement for independence and had declared the yavana-snakes (Muslims), as the real enemies. His lieutenant M.S. Golwalkar, who since June 1940 had been the sarsanghchalak of the RSS, went a step further and wrote:
“The non-Hindu people in Hindustan must adopt the Hindu culture and language, must learn to respect and hold in reverence Hindu religion, must entertain no idea but those of the glorification of Hindu race and culture… They may stay in the country wholly subordinate to the Hindu nation, claim nothing, deserve no privileges far less any preferential treatment, not even citizen’s rights.” [Craig Baxter, “The Jana Sangh: A Biography of an Indian Political Party]
These were the mentors of Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, former president of the Hindu Mahasabha, who had conspired with Nathuram Vinayak Godse and others to assassinate Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru and Jayaprakash Narayan (JP). Among his peers and predecessors, Savarkar was the most fundamentalist. This is what, Jeyamohan, the Tamil writer and critic, wites about this fanatic:
“Savarkar is the culprit who stained our hands with Gandhi’s blood. Every right-thinking person with a conscience ought to reject Savarkar outright, with all the words at their command. Among all the personalities that emerged as leaders in India, Savarkar is the only one who deserves to be hated and shunned as much as the world shuns Hitler. He is not worthy of respect by anybody anywhere for any reason. Even the slightest shred of acknowledgement that this nation may afford Savarkar is anti-Gandhi, anti-democracy and anti-humanity as a whole.”
And the New Parliament building was deliberately inaugurated on the 140th birth anniversary of Savarkar to herald the Nazi-Fascist breed of ‘New Democracy’. In a speech before a 20,000-strong audience at Pune on August 1, 1938, Savarkar stood by Germany’s right to Nazism and Italy’s to Fascism; their achievement of “unprecedent glory in the world stage” and a successful inculcation of national solidarity justified those choices. Savarkar criticised Nehru for denouncing Germany and Italy and proclaimed his support for the German occupation of Czechoslovakia in the same breath. And, on January 15, 1961 he had spoken favourably of Hitler’s Nazism against Nehru’s “cowardly democracy.”
Here is Amrit Kaal’s New India, New Parliament and New Democracy!
M.G. Devasahayam is a former Army and IAS officer and coordinator of the Citizen’s Commission on Elections.