A critique of Nehruvian Consensus

In a country where public discourse is still hugely influenced by Left-liberals, it takes guts to come out with a narrative antithetical to the one peddled by them. Therefore, Anushree Mukherjee’s The Great Deceit at Dawn (published by Kautilya, Rs 299) is indeed a courageous endeavor.

She has lucidly described Jawaharlal Nehru’s blunders and bungling, the contours and kinds of nationalism, the rise of the saffron movement, the baneful influence of communists in our country, and the perfidy of the Aam Aadmi Party in this slim volume (pages 168). She is critical of both Gandhi and Nehru: “It was Gandhi who hand-picked Nehru over the popular choice of Sardar Patel for reasons best known to him at that point of time. It was Gandhi who rubbished people’s mandate and instead favored his personal choice.”

The result, she writes, was that “India embarked on its journey as an independent sovereign national with an undemocratic choice as its Prime Minister. At the very foundation of Indian democracy lies an undemocratic decision, a personal choice of Gandhi…”

The author does not conceal her predilection for the Bharatiya Janata Party’s ideology of cultural nationalism. “Cultural nationalism is an idea which binds the inhabitants of the cultural area of the said national in one cultural threat, without the need of subjugating them politically or bringing them under a centralized political yoke.” This, according to her, is most appropriate for our country: “India is a land of cultural nationalism because of its peculiar geography which makes it very easy to bind the inhabitants the region in the one cultural whole. India if full of bountiful perennial rivers which makes it a prime agricultural country in the world.”

Mukherjee has devoted chapters to the Left-Islamist alliance and the APP. Needless to say, she is extremely critical of the not only the AAP but also the Manmohan Singh government and the lionization of Kanhaiya Kumar. She writes that “what is really dangerous in AAP and Arvind Kejriwal is the violent and intolerant strain that every party leader shows. They believe in an extreme ideology which is intolerant of every other point of view and which is ready to eradicate all opposition at the slightest behest.”

She rightly criticizes Nehru, the Congress, the AAP, and the Left; but she is uncritical of the saffron party. Indeed, she lauds the BJP in no uncertain terms: “The BJP… comes from a tradition of nation-builders who have worked selflessly from generations for the betterment of the nation and who have build massive organizations all across Indian and the India community abroad.” This can still be accepted with a pinch of salt. But what follows is an unabashed admiration of, rather than a slight tilt towards, the ruling party: “This massive base of volunteers makes sure that the constant process of churning will keep producing good leaders. Their commitment to social service also makes sure that the leaders will the benefit of the national somewhere in their heart.”

The biggest problem with the book is this: the author has accepted the BJP’s version hook, line, and sinker. How, one may ask, does she explain the fact that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is still following the core principles of socialism and non-alignment that were propounded by Nehru? How does the party with “commitment to social service” be so apathetic to the concerns of millions of traders and shopkeepers over the GST?

Mukherjee’s effort is valiant, but an objective assessment would have made the account better.