Monday, 28 November, 2022
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Nobody owns Swami Vivekananda, stop playing politics over him

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By blocking of PM’s speech on Swami Vivekananda, West Bengal and Karnataka played with the delicate balance of power between states and the centre.

The recent refusal by West Bengal and Karnataka state governments to broadcast PM Narendra Modi’s lecture to the youth on 9 September is not merely a show of political oneupmanship. The implications go deeper than the TV studio debates.

There are three aspects of this episode:

The socio-cultural aspect: Swami Vivekananda is the most inspiring icon for the Indian youth even after 150 years. Social workers in India, irrespective of caste, creed or faith, would have read Vivekananda. He was the person who took Hindu Vedic knowledge to the world and attracted new respect for India at a time when it was looked upon as a backward, ignorant and uncivilised country because of British propaganda.

By the time he died at 39, he had powered the imagination and self-respect of Indians. Even today, he is an inspirational story for the youth. He coined the idea of ‘Nar seva hi Narayan seva hai’, meaning ‘serving human beings is truly serving the Supreme being’.

By being petty about celebrating 125th year of his historic Chicago address, Mamata Banerjee and Siddaramaiah have shown their utter ignorance about Swami Vivekananda’s work. He showcased the tolerance of Indian culture but our politicians showed intolerance to his idea. In an effort to insult PM Modi, they ended up demeaning a national icon.

Nobody owns Swami Vivekananda, he is a national asset. By linking him narrowly to BJP/RSS, the Congress-led secular brigade has continued its practice of making people forget many of our national heroes at the cost of a few chosen leaders that fit into the Left-vision of Independent India.

There is also a political aspect to this: In their effort to not let BJP score any political point, they have mixed the role of a PM and a prominent leader of the BJP.

Any political observer knows that PM Modi plays hard politics when he is fighting an election, but is apolitical and objective when he dons the PM’s cap.

In their hatred toward a popular PM and their signal to their vote banks that they can stand up to Modi, they chose the wrong symbol. A national icon was turned into a political punching bag. Swami Vivekananda is not just a Hindu monk, not just a Bengali celebrity but a national hero of cultural awakening.

Siddaramaiah has of late been playing reckless politics. This act of stopping Modi’s speech on Vivekananda will damage him. It is not the first time he has played such cynical politics. His party will pay the price for his political expediency.

Mamata’s obsession with communal politics, and playing the Muslim card may not immediately affect her. But the nation now knows about her inaction in the riots of Malda and Dulagarh. They know that she has stopped the age old immersion ritual of Durga on 30 Sept and 1 Oct. The message is not lost. This is an ugly, divisive face of the so-called secular politics.

Finally, and most worryingly, there is the constitutional aspect to this act too: India is a democratic country in which we let people have their say. By blocking the Prime Minister for a totally non-political programme, these chief minsters have crossed the fine line of federalism.

Will states behave like individual republics? Was this ever the vision of founding fathers of the Indian Constitution? Inspite of political fights, people in power have carefully avoided breaching constitutional boundaries.

Is it necessary to test the resilience of the Constitution and the relations between the Centre and the states? Modi has been strengthening states from the day he became PM, while there were subtle and not-so-subtle efforts all these years to keep the states beholden to the Centre through budgets and the Planning Commission.

By blocking the PM, they played with the delicate balance of power between states and the Centre. As long as political parties gamble with their future, it is their own funeral, but to gamble with the Indian Constitution must be questioned.

Also Read: The only thing PM Modi & Swami Vivekananda share is their first name

The author has written a book titled “Secrets of RSS: Demystifying The Sangh”, and writes for the Organiser weekly, Times of India and Newsbharati.com

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2 COMMENTS

  1. I don’t believe that the state govts that banned was because of Swami Vivekananda but because of the person who boasts himself that he is the heir of Swami Vivekananda. There are lakhs of followers of Swami Vivekananda like me, but we cannot boast ourselves that I follow all his principles, but our honourable PM does through hypocrisy. I too believe that nobody owns Swami Vivekananda but I fear that Swami Vivekananda’s image is reduced to propagate the divisive politics instead of Universal Brotherhood.

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