Prime Minister Narendra Modi is on an official visit to Bangladesh. He delivered a speech in Dhaka, Bangladesh where he recalled the Satyagraha he participated in with his friends, for which he was arrested. It was Narendra Modi’s first visit to a foreign country since the pandemic began.
“I was 20-22 years old when I, along with my friends, did Satyagrah for the freedom of Bangladesh. I had even been arrested for the same”: Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Dhaka, Bangladesh pic.twitter.com/gKESaMrsRZ— NDTV (@ndtv) March 26, 2021
The Prime Minister appeared to refer to the Gana Satyagrah organised by the Jana Sangh, the ideological predecessor of the BJP, in August 1971. However, ’eminent intellectuals’ have taken offense at Narendra Modi recalling the same in his speech.
Maya Mirchandani, Assistant Professor of Broadcast Journalism and Media Studies at Ashoka University, said that there is a consensus in India that Indira Gandhi played an instrumental role in the liberation of Bangladesh. She said, “It was hard strategy that led to Bangladesh’s independence 50 years ago, not satyagraha.”
In spite of many political differences we have at home, there is a general, national consensus on the instrumental role Indira Gandhi played in the creation of Bangladesh. It was hard strategy that led to Bangladesh’s independence 50 years ago, not satyagraha. #Bangladesh50 https://t.co/3rrzE9kXrQ— Maya Mirchandani (@maya206) March 26, 2021
Quite clearly, Narendra Modi never said that it was Satyagraha that won Bangladesh its freedom. But Mirchandani, nonetheless, deliberately twisted his comments in order to cast aspersions on his motives. As it turns out, an award to former Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee by the Government of Bangladesh in 2015 mentioned the said rally by Jana Sangh.
The citation of the award said, “To press the demand for India Government’s expedited support to Bangladesh’s Liberation War, Jana Sangh held a Gana Satyagraha during 1-11 August and their volunteers organised a huge rally in front of the Indian Parliament House on 12 August 1971.”
Vajpayee was also lauded for his “firm stand at national and international levels for the cause of Bangladesh and its striving people.” “The people of Bangladesh would always remember the significant contributions made by Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee towards supporting the cause of Bangladesh’s Liberation War and consolidating friendship between Bangladesh and India,” it said.
Despite Bangladesh’s own acknowledgment of the role played by the Jana Sangh, liberals in India appear deeply offended by the Prime Minister’s remarks. They have resorted to passing snide jibes and mocking Narendra Modi for his comments.
Modi was a freedom fighter 😉 https://t.co/31dIpcoqCW— SonaliRanade (@sonaliranade) March 26, 2021
Can we see a photograph of this Satyagrah? https://t.co/YpDDZmqUEr— nikhil wagle (@waglenikhil) March 26, 2021
The claim that ANYONE did satyagraha for the freedom of Bangladesh and were arrested is too ridiculous to require refutation. https://t.co/yCDH20MtmG— Srinath Raghavan (@srinathraghava3) March 26, 2021
It is apparent that liberals have quite a hard time believing authentic history. It seems that they are unable to come to terms with the fact that leaders from a wide ranging section of the Indian political spectrum campaigned for the liberation of Bangladesh. It is remarkably similar to the narrative that is peddled regarding the Indian Independence Movement itself where all credit is placed at the feet of Jawaharlal Nehru and Mahatma Gandhi and the contributions of all others are sidelined.
Liberals appear to believe that just because they are themselves not aware of a certain event or a certain contribution, it means that it did not happen. But history does not work that way and truth has a way of coming out despite monumental efforts to suppress it.
These are the same ‘intellectuals’ who fall over themselves to hail Rahul Gandhi as a youth leader at the age of 50. These are the same people who believe Priyanka Gandhi has the credentials to lead India just because her face bears a resemblance with Indira Gandhi’s, which is perfectly ordinary given that she is her grand daughter.
The intellectuals fawn over incredulous stories involving Priyanka Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi regarding their parents or grandparents and yet, when it comes to a relevant aspect of India history, they feign ignorance to cast aspersions of factual statements.
None of them bothered to point fingers at Priyanka Gandhi when she came up with unbelievable stories about how Jawaharlal Nehru found his bodyguard sleeping on his bed one night or her tale about Indira Gandhi telling her stories about Joan of Arc.
These stories do not ring true at all and appeared tailor made to humanize themselves in the eyes of the public and yet, it only made them more worthy in the eyes of the ‘intellectuals’. The same intellectuals now have a problem when Prime Minister Modi recalled his participation in a Satyagraha for the liberation of Bangladesh.
All of this, of course, is par for the course for an ‘intellectual’ elite that is unwilling to come to terms with the fact that there is more to the history of post-independent India than the Nehru-Gandhi family. But despite their staunch efforts to the contrary, the history they have tried to bury for so long will resurface.