I have come across a few individuals who unequivocally believe Gandhi was the preeminent Indian leader whose efforts got us self governance. I have lived in Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal and interacted with people from Rajasthan, Bihar, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh. My observations will only be about people of these states.
I find three types of Gandhi haters and all of them have two things in common,
- They want their own leader, who they believe was the prominent reason for Independence of India, to get the respect and credit that MK Gandhi gets.
- They all invent and propagate fake theories about Gandhi to undermine him.
I will talk briefly about each one of them.
These are people who believe themselves to be the flag bearers of ‘Hindutva’ ideology. They believe Gandhi to be a “weak man”, who was involved in appeasement politics and his love for Nehru was the reason for partition of India. They hate Gandhi for allowing Muslims to stay in India even after the Partition. This theory is most prevalent amongst ‘hindi belt’ states like Uttar Pradesh.
The Netaji brigade
This group believes that Netaji won us independence and Gandhi conspired with Pt. Nehru to get all the credit. They believe Netaji’s violent methods were more effective than Gandhi’s non-violence. They believe Gandhi had “ulterior motives” and “vested interests”. They propagate unsubstantiated and ridiculous theories that Gandhi was a womanizer who had extra-marital affairs with many women, this is how low they stoop in their bid to defame the great man. This theory however, is also common among savarkarites of hindi speaking states and other groups. What is most annoying and hypocritical about this is the fact that some of the most articulate propagators of “womanizer Gandhi” theory are people who claim to be liberal and feminist and who claim to believe and defend the idea of free choice for individuals to choose their partner(s). The only thing I have heard in my life which is more hypocritical was The Muslim world claiming “9/11 was a Mosaad and CIA operation, Al-Qaeda was framed” while maintaining that “Osama Bin Laden is a hero for teaching the arrogant Americans a lesson by killing ‘Kafirs’ on 9/11.”
They believe B R Ambedkar should be called the “father of the nation”, they acknowledge Gandhi’s role in our independence movement but hate him for reasons which I find least illogical among Gandhi haters such as giving Nehru his blessings to be the leader, “not trying” to stop Bhagat Singh’s execution.
The 1983 cricket world cup team of India had many heroes. We had bowlers like Madan Lal, all-rounders like Mohinder Amarnath and Roger Binny, batsmen like Dilip Vengsarkar and Sunil Gavaskar (the greatest of them all), they all played key roles in India’s victory, they are all loved, but the man who made it all happen, the man who made his teammates believe that they can compete at that level and win, the man who inspired not one but several generations of Indians was the captain of that Indian team, Kapil Dev.
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was the Kapil Dev of India’s freedom struggle who united fellow Indians, put prominent Indian leaders under one common banner of Congress, who made these leaders believe in the unattractive but efficient idea of non-violence and fought a long, tiring, unattractive war against the mighty British Empire and won while others were fighting small, attractive battles and losing.
We as young Indians should stop fighting over which state or which ethnic group was the main reason the freedom struggle was successful and start acknowledging the efforts of everyone who fought and fought and fought and eventually won.
Baba Saheb, Netaji and Mahatma are leaders who are born once in several generations. We should stop maligning their image to further our agenda.