Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been quiet on the anti-CAA protests and the targeting of JNU students and teachers. Several BJP ministers and leaders have tried to paint the young protesters in a bad light for going against ‘opposing a law passed by a democratically elected government.’
But there was a time when Narendra Modi was a youth leader too and had written about how Gujarat resisted Indira Gandhi’s Emergency in his first Gujarati book ‘Sangharshmaan Gujarat’ (Gujarat in Struggle; Sadhana Pustak Prakashan, Ahmedabad) in 1978. As a 20-something youth leader, Modi wrote about his active involvement.
“Itihaas gavah hai, rajmahalon aur sansadon nein itihaas nahi banaya hai; sansad par dastak dene walon nein sansad bhi banaya hai, itihaas bhi banaya hai.” (History is witness to the fact that history was not made by palaces and parliaments. But those who knock on the doors of parliament have made parliaments and history too.) That is how Modi’s book, about underground and over-ground activities, opens.
Praising the intellectuals
A chapter applauds the role of ‘baudhiko’ (intellectuals) — the tribe Modi loved to mock and hate as Gujarat’s chief minister and continues to do so as India’s Prime Minister. In a letter, he appealed his fellow youth ‘to rebel’.
The occasion was a meeting of youth convened at Ahmedabad on 21 November 1976. Former chief minister and a Gandhian Babubhai J. Patel was going to attend the meeting along with Piloo Mody, a Swatantra Party MP. Narendra Modi was underground at the time. But he drafted a message for the youth meeting, noting that the gathering was not allowed to be held in Ahmedabad and had to be shifted to Barejadi, a town 20 km away from Ahmedabad. As per Modi, ‘the message given by the author of this book was read aloud in the meeting’ and Jana Sangh members shared the message ‘in the presence of hundreds of policemen’.
Today, when Modi tells protesters to ‘introspect’ or asks others to identify them by their clothes, he should consider revisiting his letter in Gujarati back then.
You are the dear ones of Bharat Mata, a ray of hope for the future of Bharat. O children of victorious Bharat Mata, think! In which direction we are being pushed today? And if you won’t make yourself aware now, just think about who and what kind of situation you will face tomorrow.
You will helm the future of India. Because the youth are the leader of society today and the country tomorrow… Whose responsibility is it, then, to solve today’s problems and make the country shining? The answer is clear — yours.
The country has been silenced by frauds. Who will be forced to live in such servitude tomorrow? Of course, it’s you. To whom will today’s poverty, unemployment, lack of education, immorality, corruption, and height of oppression harass tomorrow? You. The way democracy has been destroyed and autocracy has been promoted today, who will walk on that road sheepishly tomorrow? You. If you don’t make the sacrifice in the second battle of independence that is taking place in the country today, whom will the history curse tomorrow? You, by all means. Whose names will the historians write in the list of those who failed to appreciate the blood of martyrs? Yours.
Youngsters! Always remember, your role is not merely of a writer or a reader of the history, but to be the creators of the history. The Time God (Kaalpurush) inscribes writings of history every day on the fabric of time (Kaalpat). Whose duty is it to provide material to it? Yours.
How should the history of this country be written? With dry ink and pen? Or with the blood from the hearts of youth, with the piousness of sisters’ rakhi and vermillion of the Satis? Who will decide? You.
There is just one step left between democracy’s victory and autocracy’s defeat. Whose job is it to take that one step towards victory? Yours.
Whose duty is it to free the imprisoned ones who have become helpless like feeble Bharat Mata? Yours. O sons of Bharat Mata, who stand amid the call for such a great duty, such a great challenge, (to fight) such widespread and intolerable atrocities, so much unrest and helplessness! You are the artists of a golden future.
From where will you begin your movement? After identifying the opponent, you must pick up the appropriate weapon. Youngsters, if you will not come forward, then the Indian revolution will deviate from its path. If you do not accept the challenge, the future will not accept you as the youth (of today). Because the real youth have fought against tyranny for ages. They have never bowed to tyranny and injustice; they have neither stopped nor got tired.
So why are you silent today? A historical moment to add a golden link to the bright tradition of youth is knocking at your door. Arise, awake and jump in the second battle of Bharat Mata’s independence!
Doston! Hum sab azadi ke baad ki paidaish hain. Ghulami mein dum todna hamein manzoor nahin. Dum lagakar ghulami todna hamara kaam hai… Yahi Yauvan hai! (Friends, we are all born after Independence. We won’t die in slavery. It is our job to break free from slavery with full might…That’s what being a youth is all about.
Young underground companion
(Yuva Bhugarbh Saathi)
The author is a senior columnist and writer based in Ahmedabad. Views are personal.