Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Charlatans Of Gandhi Maidan

By Manuwant Choudhary

A walk on Gandhi Maidan is not as great as London’s Hyde Park but in a place like Patna for many it’s the only place for recreation.

Besides, its historic..from Mahatma Gandhi to Jaiprakash Narayan to the great stalwarts in the freedom struggle have spoken to India from this very place.

For our post-independent politicians holding a rally here is a high point in their careers !

And some who did so are in prison now !

From the gareeb (Poor)  rally, to the lathi (Stick) Vikas (Development) to Parivartan…its all in a name.

Like this time the BJPs PM candidate Narendra Modi is to hold a rally here…its called Hunkar…which basically is a sanskritised word for a `war cry’.

So I took a walk around Gandhi Maidan to reflect on the two Gujaratis.

I wondered what Mahatma Gandhi would have thought of Narendra Modi?

A man under whose rule thousands were killed in Gujarat and who sees winning elections as confirmation of his innocence or people’s forgiveness or even affirmation of his `Iron’ rule.

Or that people don’t mind being killed as long as there is high growth!

In fact Narendra Modi proudly claims to belong to the RSS, the RSS openly supports this man and it is an RSS man Nathuram Godse who killed Gandhi.

Of course, Narendrabhai will come here and talk about Gandhiji and the links Bihar has had with Gujarat.

And he will promise the moon.

Modi the Supermodi!

But Gandhi Maidan even on an ordinary day is full of charlatans.

Like I saw this man holding mushrooms and claiming to cure all the worlds diseases from cancer to you name it.

He knows the names of all the top doctors and narrates how they all failed and told him to go to Bombay.

But can a poor man afford a ticket to Bombay?

So he found a way to cure himself.

His captive audience were two persons who listened to him in rapt attention.

So far the only thing Narendra Modi has said is “Pehle Shauchalaya, Phir Devalaya.” (First Toilets, Then Temples.)

And at Gandhi maidan he has kept this promise at least 250 toilets being constructed for 5 lakh people !

But I write this not just because Narendra Modi is shit.

I don’t like the way India is being ruled since independence.

Democracy itself is losing its meaning.

There is far too much symbolism and the slogans just jam the airwaves.

Modi does not talk about Liberty or Property or about None Of The Above (NOTA), Modi is also not just about toilets, he is about the temple, he is about making voting mandatory, he wants criminals to be allowed to contest elections (on the criminal ordinance he was on the side of the Prime Minister), he is for compulsory singing of the national anthem at cinema houses….he wears patriotism on his half-sleeve.

A majoritarian democracy is no democracy.

A Hindu India is no different from a Muslim Pakistan.

India should just be India..where the minorities and majorities live together in peace.

But I guess every politician has their own idea of India and Gandhi.

Like even the Gandhi statues here tell a story…the one by Laloo is bare-bodied with ribs showing, a Gandhi stooping with a stick….in  a loin cloth.

The Gandhi statue built under Nitish Kumar’s `Sushashan’ (Good governance) is a `prosperous’ Gandhi…a richer Gandhi…covered in a  fine shawl, looking healthy and with two smiling girls holding books on either side!
                                                                           Photos: Manuwant Choudhary

Just then I see this girl sitting at the bottom…she did not look like the girls in the Gandhi statue…or the girls who get their MID day meals at school..,or the girls who could even get Nitish Kumar’s bicycle.

She just had this look on her face as if she doesn’t think about her future because she is just too scared of the present.

And she definitely won’t be on the giant LEDs at Hunkar Rally….

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