Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi’s hugely successful Swami Vivekananda Yuva Vikas Yatra has expectedly generated criticism from the expected quarters on expected grounds. That, however, didn’t dent his reputation or track record of being a massive crowd puller and a popular leader. As the vituperative voices have grown feebler and feebler, their desperation has soared higher and higher.
The latest evidence of said desperation: They’re upset with the fact that he has used Swami Vivekananda in his campaign. The ‘logic’ behind this criticism revolves around two major themes:
It’s actually amusing that these professional Modi-baiters don’t recall that Modi’s reverence for Swami Vivekananda isn’t new. For as long as anybody can remember, Modi has always invoked Swami Vivekananda as a source of his strength and inspiration. But then we’re speaking to an audience that has convenient, impromptu memory lapses.
But what’s really surprising is that none of these worthies have thought it fit to abuse Swami Vivekananda himself—that’s an ISO standard that every Secular script must adhere to. Recall those highly charged days of the Ramjanmabhoomi movement—all sorts of abuse of Rama went around masquerading as scholarly research into Rama’s historicity, divinity, and the rest. So why haven’t they pulled a similar stunt in Swami Vivekananda’s case? After all, the Swami was unequivocal in endorsing Rama as a role model for Indian men.
There are some national icons that simply cannot be touched for whatever reasons. Swami Vivekananda stands right on top in that list. He represents a living strain of cultural consciousness, a strain so powerful that those who have tried to sully it have been badly singed. Ask the Indian Left. When their initial attempts to brand him as a dangerous Hindu communalist failed, they tried the opposite: they attempted to appropriate him. They began churning out ‘evidence’ after ‘evidence’ which ‘proved’ how he was one of the earliest pioneers whose life epitomised Marxism. This gambit fared worse than the earlier one: Intellectuals like Arun Shourie demolished these fake claims quite easily. Ever since, they have left Swami Vivekananda alone.
Indeed, Swami Vivekananda was truly fortunate that he wasn’t born in our own times. If he was, he would have been one of the top targets for the ceaseless abuse, calumny and hounding that Narendra Modi now faces. To eyes that turn red at the sight of saffron, it wouldn’t really matter if he was a true ascetic or a Sadhu of the highest order.
But we underestimate the guile of the self-proclaimed secularists across the board. Two main categories of people express a strong dislike for the Swami: our self-proclaimed secular politicians (some of whom privately revere him but put out hypocritical postures in public), and the chatterati who’ve been completely divorced from their roots. And so, because they don’t dare brand the Swami openly, they do it on the sly. In innocuous turns of phrases and by applying the guilt-by-association technique, and lo! Modi still is a Hindutva leader because he reveres Swami Vivekananda.
It doesn’t matter whether Swami Vivekananda was a political figure. Even if he was, it still doesn’t matter—Gandhi was a political figure but he still became a Mahatma, a Noble Soul, a saint. Bhim Rao Ambedkar was a political figure but do we respect him any less? What matters only is the kind of lives they led, the ideals they personified, and the lasting inspiration they provided.
But the world appears yellow to jaundiced eyes. If Narendra Modi had chosen some other figure to derive inspiration from, these worthies would have invented an on-the-spot logic to vilify that figure. Thankfully, the voters of Gujarat who have elected Modi thrice in succession are far more sensible.
The article is orginally published on Niti Central
Stay Tuned For Live Events
We appreciate any and all feedback about our site; praise, ideas, suggestions, bug reports you name it! Your feedback will help us do better.