Going Deeper

Celebrity Deaths

Asis Ranjan Sengupta

Three deaths in a row, occupied the centre stage of National politics for last one month. Deaths of past political stalwarts, create ample scope of political manoeuvres, affecting the course of party politics, though the sad demise of true fighters for democratic rights of the common people, never find space in any public forum.

Somnath Chattopadhay, the ex-Speaker of Lok Sabha, and long time minister, of Left cabinet in West Bengal, put an end, by his death, to a long time controversy, within and outside his own Party (CPM), from where he was unceremoniously ousted, by his trusted aides, when he finally refused to abide by the dictates of the Polit Bureau, and for which he faced a series of ugly attacks in and outside Parliament and even after the end of tenure. But he refused to either relent or bend. Leaders like Somnath Chatterji, belonged to that generation of, comfort communism, that had no or little link with real mass aspirations. But posterity will remember him for his refusal to dance to the tune of masters, and exposing those who were engaged in hob nob with communal forces inside the Parliament, but misled the people outside and in the state, by their false tirade against such communal politics, as also for his fake 'development' agenda, implemented under his auspices, as a mentor of Santiniketan-Sriniketan Development Board. It heralded the start of the draconian promoter and extortionist raj (Promoter Raj), in the Bolpur town, by destroying the nature, and erection of multi-storeyed apartments and resorts, in the historical "Khoai". He never cared for the opinions and comments of Bengali intellectual stalwarts or men of letters, like Mahasweta Debi, Budhadeb Guha, or other old Asramites. That virus, along with another Jyoti Babu loyalist follower, Subhas Chakaravorty, operating in Baguihati, Rajarhat, area, has now affected the length and breadth of West Benagal, bearing the tag of "Unnayan", a formidable development trap. The legacy of left development model, after him, devolved on Hanubrata, and saffron brigade swearing in the name of "Jayy Si Raam". In one sense he was the Father of present 'Syndicate Raj'. Late Somnath Chattopadhay, after death joined the club of outcast CPM stawarts like Late Ahok Mitra, sans his scholarship, and Nripen Chakravorty (Tripura), or Late Haradhan Roy (Asansol), without their valued past or organising ability.

The next comes the departure of Karunanidhi, the Champion of Tamil politics. Like all political luminaries of Tamil politics, he also was a Tamil movie, Screenplay writer, and a writer beyond movie screen play. The Tamil politics gained a different dimension from that of the rest of India, in so far as, it embraces anti-Brahmin, Dravid or non Aryan ideology of political rights of Dalit Tamils. E V Ramaswamy Perriyar was the father of this separate Dravid Nadu ideology, from him the baton was snatched by Late Annadurai, another Tamil and anti Hindi, political ideologue, who shifted from Drvid Kazagam, to Dravid Munnetra Kazagam. Then again the power balance shifted to Karunanidhi, who held the post of CM for long period. His rival within the party, was M G Ramchandran, another movie Hero turned politician, founder of Anna DMK, and his Lady partner, Jaylalitha, became the 'Amma', to be a CM, alternatively with, Karunanidhi. This Karunanidhi was also a figure in Tamil literature, as a writer and poet. This so-called Dravid politics, completely, made the all India Parties like Congress, totally irrelevant in Chennai (Madras). Both Karunanidhi and Jaylalitha, were ideologically opposed to Hindi imposition, and organised even riotous protests against Hindi. This Tamilnadu for the Tamil politics soon found parallels, in Assam, and Maharashtra. Assam for the Assamese, or Maratha 'Asmita' are also similar regional political agenda, but the difference is, DMK or ADMK, neither promoted hatred against non-Tamils, or raised issue on their existence in Tamilnadu. But, though theoretically, the Dravid Kazagham ideology may sound fine, but in practice, these leaders just cashed in on the Dalit- Dravid issue, to capture power, and make money, nothing else. In this respect, it resembles the Kanshiram-Mayavati politics of UP, who just cashed in on the Ambedkar image, to accumulate personal and coterie wealth. And Karunanidhi, was allegedly the Godfather of that Tamil black money Empire, amassing fabulous wealth, and leaving a whole dynasty to devour the fruits of plunder. This treacherous, corrupt model of political activism, found favour with other players in South Indian political arena, like M G Ramachndran, succeeded by Chandra Babu Naidu in Telegu identity of Andhra. The latest rise is of C R Rao of Telengana state. All round Mafia Raj in linguistic or ethnic identity politics mask. All these leaders are but traitors to the section or class of people or race whom they are supposed to represent. Karunanidhi was an epitome of that organised mass treachery. But one thing is clear, the successive deaths of Jaylalitha, and Karunanidhi, have created a vacuum in Tamil politics and Chennai. Both factions are now torn by internal strife, and the leadership gap may prove volatile, as saffron evil politics is casting its dark shadow in round about, vile ways to fish in troubled water, and making serpentine inroads, but Karunanidhi presence could have resisted that North Indian Hindi Brahmanical cultural aggression. His absence will be felt in this vital aspect, and therein lies the importance of personalities like Karunanidhi, who will be remembered by posterity, for his role as the last wall that saved Tamil people and culture, from the invasion of North Indian invasion, both political and civilisational.

The most important is the demise of A B Vajpayee, who was a long-retired personality, and literally dead in brain for a long period. As he was a Cabinet Minister, in Morarji Desai government, and three times PM, one full term, among them, his departure threw open, a scope for a large-scale grief shedding and legacy claiming, or disowning. The first thing was that Vajpayee was a staunch RSS man from the beginning, a founder member of Janasangha, the political wing of RSS, later turning into BJP, but RSS never considered him the right man for their communal hate politics. This is because, he was a close associate of Shyama Prasad Mukherji, who was no doubt a Hindu Mahasabha activist, the organisation that ideologically believe in communalism, but not even the bitter critic of Shyamaprasad ever branded him as Muslim hater. But this HM, and followers like Vajpayee, Shyamaprasd and their organisation never took part in any anti-British, Nationalist movements either violent or non-violent, on the contrary collaborated with administration, in all possible ways, Vajpayee never had any problem, like his ideological Guru, Savarkar, to beg clemency or furnish Muchleka to save himself. Still he was in the National politics, unlike any of his counterparts in his organisation, and had ample opportunity to, watch and interact with luminaries of National politics, in the initial days of post independence. So, he had no problem to pay tribute to Nehru, after his demise. Nehru also made no mistake in sending him as Indian emissary to UNO, in time of need. Indira sent him abroad as delegate to represent the cause of India during Bangladesh–Pakistan war, as international opinion was impacted adversely against India by US sponsored pro-Pakistan propaganda machine. After victory in the war, Vjpayee eulogised her as Debi Durga. He also never hesitated to express his gratitude to Rajeev Gandhi, who sent him to US for medical treatment, for his Kidney ailment, and saved his life. During the short-lived governments under his leadership, he refused to indulge in 'donkey trading' like his present counterparts, to form Governments, and Nation reposed trust on him, although to be breached shortly.

RSS and orthodox Janasangha BJP always felt discomfort with Vajpayee, mainly for his lifestyle and political ambitions. Deen Dayal Upadhaya, an orthodox champion of Hindutwa ideology, and chief of Janasangha, was killed, and his assassinated body was found in the Railway siding of Mughalsarai Station. That is the sole qualification of Mughalsarai being converted to DDU Junction. Otherwise Upadhaya had no particular connection with Mughalsarai. Another, RSS leader and ex-Janasangha chief, Late Balraj Madhok, wrote an autobiography, after his retirement from active politics, namely, "Zindagi Ek Safarnama", in that book he made a number of sensational expositions. The most debatable was on the mysterious death of DDU. And he expressed in unambiguous language that, DDU was killed, not by Congress or Communists, or any other political adversary, but assassinated by secret hired killers, and needle of suspicion was to A B Vajpayee and Nanaji Deshmukh, two stalwarts of RSS organisation, whose political ambitions were obstructed by DDU. Late Madhok, went further to pass very nasty comments on Vajpayee, for his habits of drinking and womanising. He stated to have raised the issue with Balasab Deoras, the RSS chief, but of no avail. Interestingly, Subrahmaniam Swamy, who failed to secure favour from Vajpayee, during his five-year term of PMship, spew venoms on the lecherous habits of Vajpayee in open forum. But Vjpayee never resorted to policy of vengeance, and remained silent, never reacted. That crook Swamy is now a close associate of Modi-Amit duo. Further, Vajpayee, though a North Indian Brahmin, was not a vegetarian, had no problem with Beef or Pork, he did not believe in food or dress Nationalism. He had no hesitation, to be involved in a life long 'Live in' relation, with another family, and the Lady after the death of her legal husband, and to adopt her daughter. So this radical lifestyle was anathema to the 'purist' orthodox Hindutwa ideologues, for them, he was not a role model, as Fascists always need hypocritical mask to build up ideal 'Hindu Rasthra, free from the 'vices' of Islamic and Christian society. So, RSS was always 'ill at ease' with him.

But up to this point, things appear so positive, but this was a mask, not his real face. He appropriated the virtues of liberalism, and used that soft attitude to promote hardcore Hindutwa model. A shrewd politician, he always covered his evil motive by external show of tolerance, modern phrases, slow but calculated oratory and imbecile poetry. Janasangha never cut any success in Electoral field, Vajpayee led the RSS team to defraud Jayprakash Narayan, during Emergency, by purely political gimmicks. Taking advantage of the anti-Indira wave, he and Advani, dissolved Janasangha and joined newly formed Janta Party, joined hands with socialist leaders. All of them had reservations about the inclusion of Communal party into Democratic front. But this clever Vajpayee, assured Jayprakash, that once Government is formed, they would sever ties with RSS. But that never happened. Experts find the secret role of RSS in disintegration of Janata Dal after the fall of Morarji led Janata government.After that this Vajpayee group rallied under Bharatiya Janata Dal, and presented itself as if it were the true flag bearer of dissolved Janata Dal. With political foresight, he stepped down from government formation twice, by a fake display of devotion to value added politics, and finally gathered coalition majority in 1999. All these were but tricksterism. Vajpayee just exploited the legacy of Nehruvian politics to make a foundation for RSS through BJP platform, nothing else. What was the performance of his Government? Again, double dealing. He stressed infrastructure building, but at the same time attacked existing structure. In his time first attack came on Nationalised Banks, as he lowered interest rate to benefit the business class. He first created the much condemned 'Disinvestment' ministry, to sell out National assets to unscrupulous private players at throw away prices. The first success came, when Arun Shourie, the Disinvestment Minister could sell out highly performing and profit generating VSNL to the Tatas at a nominal price. Vajpayee on the one hand-initiated peace talks with Pakistan, and on the other, fought Kargil war. He effectively tried to ease out the tension in Kashmir, and during his tenure, first and last time, peaceful poll was held in Kashmir valley. He undertook the Bus Diplomacy, in Pakistan and Kashmir, but failed to make any substantial progress. Actually, he never wanted any progress, his sole objective was to divert public attention from core issues, and incite false Nationalist pride. With this motive, he organised Atomic explosion at Pokhran, thus incited Pakistan to retaliate with illegal experiment, at the same time invited US sanctions unnecessarily, much to the disadvantage of the successor government. Thus, he laid the foundation stone of present Modi regime, based on the ideology of falsehood and double dealing.

Under his auspices, the Babri Mosque demolition followed by bloody riots occurred, he remained a passive spectator, though he was evidently elated over that demolition. When, as a Minister, he was asked, he passed a short diplomatic comment: "it was unfortunate". This is an ample proof of his hypocrisy. During his tenure, the notorious Gujarat massacre took place. Initially he took a strong stand, and vowed to sack Modi, but that was a show, he had under the table understanding with Modi and his men. Openly, he asked Modi to observe 'Rajadharma' but in practice, he indulged in such heinous practice. The value-added policy, the model he displayed by quitting governments for failure to prove majority, and refusal to resort to 'Donkey Trading', now disappeared, simply because, such display of value-based action, was no longer needed, not in that situation. So, he was a hard-core Fascist face with a moderate mask. His duplicity was displayed at the height, when he chose, A P J Kalam, a low profile Science Research Scholar, as the President. Thus he killed two birds with one stone. On one side appeasing the Muslim anger, post Babri bloody riot, Gujarat pogrom, as Abdul Kalam was picked up more for his Muslim identity, than his role in Science Research administration. On the other he kept the RSS elements at bay, for his benefit. This treacherous balancing acts were so fine. It was very difficult to follow, which one was his face, and which one was his mask. The border line was so thin as to evade even a careful watch. Sometimes the switch over was so rapid and baffling, that even his ardent admirers, at times, got confused.

But, in spite of all this, he was not an RSS yes man. Partly because of his personal life, which may give an impression that, he was as odd man out in RSS, but, again, that was his opportunism, not faith. And mainly because, Vajpayee never allowed RSS to dictate or take part in running the ministry, did not accommodate a single RSS guy to occupy any important post in public life, simply because, as an RSS man, he knew very well that he was not their right choice, so if he accommodated them, they would just sabotage and destroy, just as one sees in present day situation. That is why, unlike Modi, he refused to be a puppet in the hands of RSS, or dance to their tune, as neither trusted each other. So, after successful completion of five-year term of coalition government, he was defeated in LS polls of 2004. He never expected that, with high hopes he had declared early poll. But no less surprised was Sonia and her Congress. They were found totally unprepared for the results. Why this happened? The reason was simple, RSS knew Vajpayee would not be a suitable medium to translate their cherished dream of 'Hindu Rasthra'. But the foundation stone laying was done by Vajpayee, so RSS did not want him any more. They went all out for his defeat. With the results came, Vajpayee, realised that his days were over. He fell victim to the same mean power game, as he was a champion player of, in his party activity days. As a prudent guy, he accepted it, and went in to gracious retirement. But the existence of the personalities like Vajpayee, was all but party and politics, when stripped of that, slowly his mono-dimensional brain started malfunctioning, and faculty died a slow death, only the body functioned. And that ended now. So Vajpayee, a shrewd, opportunist, double dealer, stands glorified only by his death, that too for political purpose of vested interest groups. His excellence is felt only when his regime is compared with present crude authoritarian, intolerant and violent regime under Modi. Maybe this Modi will be glorified in future, as moderate, in comparison with the rule of Yogi Aditya, the next RSS nominee for the post of PM.

Vol. 51, No.10, Sep 9 - 15, 2018