BENGALURU: Historian Ramachandra Guha said Prime Minister Narendra Modi has dictatorial qualities, and urged people to support leaders who do not have such traits. Guha was speaking on the topic “Jingoism versus Patriotism” at the Bangalore Literature Festival here on Saturday. In a strongly-worded speech laced with some witty observations, Guha attacked both the Indian Left and the Right, squarely blaming them both for the rise of jingoism in the country. He also did not shy away from taking potshots at national leaders and political parties.
The historian said both patriotism and jingoism were derived from a 19th century European model of nationalism, which proclaimed one religion, language and culture to be superior to others. He termed Mohammed Ali Jinnah’s model of Pakistan as an example.
“The greatness of Indian leaders was that they refused to identify Indian nationalism with any religion or language, and even refused to hate the British,” he said. Guha said the Indian model of nationalism was based on a set of values that were enshrined in the Constitution.
To make a point on the negatives of “worshipping” a political figure, he quoted from Dr B R Ambedkar’s final speech to the Constituent Assembly. “Bhakti in religion is the route to God, bhakti in politics is the route to dictatorship. Mamata Banerjee and Narendra Modi have that (dictatorial qualities), make sure your leader doesn’t have them,” he said to rousing applause.