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Pulling down of Lenin's statue not just an attack on Left, it's an assault on plurality of ideas and diversity of thought

The pulling down of Lenin's statues in Tripura is not just an attack on left ideology. It is an assault on the plurality of ideas and diversity of thought that has been a characteristic of Indian civilization. This is evident from the fact that a BJP leader in Tamil Nadu declared that Periyar's statues would face a similar fate.

The culture of intolerance goes contrary to the argumentative Indian tradition and tantamounts to Talibanisation of Indian society and polity. Left or Right, none have a right to derail constitutional values and rule of law by indulging in politics of violence and revenge.

While claiming that the BJP workers had nothing to do with the vandalism, the party spokespersons are seen busy defending the act on national television. The obvious defence of the saffron brigade is that such acts of revenge are a reaction to the political violence allegedly perpetuated by the Left in Tripura. But, how do we see the outbursts of Tamil Nadu BJP leader on none other than Periyar, the widely acclaimed social reformer and the pioneer of Dravidian movement?

Lenin statue being razed in Tripura. PTI

Lenin statue being razed in Tripura. PTI

"Lenin's statues were destroyed in Tripura, tomorrow, in Tamil Nadu, casteist Periyar's (EV Ramasamy or EVR) statues will be destroyed," BJP general secretary H Raja posted on his Facebook page. Raja subsequently deleted the post.

Several other party members, as vice-president of the BJP's youth wing SG Suryah, echoed Raja's remarks. He wrote in a tweet (now deleted): "BJP successfully completed the fall of Lenin in Tripura! Can't wait for the fall of EV Ramasamy statues in Tamil Nadu."

BJP spokesperson Narayanan Tirupathi told News18: "More than 99.9 percent of the people in Tamil Nadu are spiritual. EVR’s statue carries the message that whoever worships God are barbarians, whoever preaches God are rascals and whosoever keep faith in God are fools. Hindu outfits have for long demanded the removal of these statues but this has not been done till date. Hence, H Raja’s outburst. The words may have been harsh but the intention is keeping in mind the majority of the population."

Therefore, the wild threats to pull down Periyar's statues are not angry outbursts of an individual leader. It is an orchestrated campaign of the BJP pariwar.

If the alleged political violence by the CPM is the justification for the obnoxious behaviour of BJP activists in Tripura, how should one understand the comments to pull down the statues of Periyar, the man who fought against untouchability and caste oppression?

There were no incidents of any such political violence by the DMK or any other Dravidian groups on BJP or RSS activists in Tamil Nadu. Thus, the unprovoked statements by a number of BJP functionaries only indicate that the deplorable behaviour in Tripura has nothing to do with the political violence of the past and will not stop with Lenin only.

Such acts of vandalism reflect the extreme levels of intolerance and are contrary to the argumentative tradition embedded in the Indian civilizational values.

Conflicting philosophical thoughts thrived in this ancient land only enriching Indian philosophical tradition. Several great texts like Sarva-Darsana-Samgraha of Madhavacharya, document this glorious tradition of Indian culture.

BJP MP Subramanian Swamy, defending pulling down of the statue of the communist icon, said that the late Russian leader was "a terrorist". Similarly, speaking on Republic TV, Shubrastha, a BJP strategist likened Lenin to Afzal Guru, an accused in the Parliament attack case. Such remarks by BJP leaders do not just reflect their antipathy towards communist ideology but demonstrate an utter lack of understanding of history.

Several leaders of the Indian freedom struggle got inspired by Lenin and his thoughts though they did not associate with the communist movement. "The devotion of such titans of spirit as Lenin to an Ideal must bear fruit. The nobility of his selflessness will be an example through centuries to come, and his Ideal will reach perfection," Mahatma Gandhi had said.

The All India Forward Bloc (AIFB) founded by Subhas Chandra Bose still remains a part of the Left Front. He was deeply influenced by the teachings of Lenin. Jayaprakash Narayan, who led the historic anti-Emergency struggle in which the previous incarnation of BJP, the Jan Sangh, was also part, said that he learnt lessons from Gandhiji and Lenin.

The BJP leaders, by calling Lenin a terrorist and comparing him with Afzal Guru, have only insulted the leaders of the Indian national movement.

Indian revolutionaries like Bhagat Singh and Chandra Shekhar Azad believed in the teachings of Lenin. Dr Deol, the biographer of Bhagat, refers to the great Indian revolutionary studying the life of Lenin. Gopal Tagore, another biographer, retells that a few days before his death, when asked what was his last wish, Bhagat replied that he was studying the life of Lenin and wanted to finish it before his death.

In one of his letters written to his friend Joydeb, Bhagat requested him to send books like Civil War in France by Karl Marx and Left Wing Communism and Collapse of the Second International by Lenin. Incidentally, the British colonial rulers also described Bhagat and his associates as terrorists.

The iconic Left thinker has much wider acceptability across the political spectrum. This is evident from how West Bengal chief minister and the most bitter critic of CPM, Mamata Banerjee responded to the issue. She said, the kind of "divisive politics" that is vandalising Lenin's statue today, will soon target those of Gandhi, Bose and Swami Vivekananda.

Yet another justification given for such acts of defacement is that Lenin was a foreigner. Raja had further said,"Who is Lenin? What relevance he holds for India?"

Indians celebrated Britain installing the statue of Gandhiji in Parliament Square. Indians felt proud of it. Gandhiji is a foreigner to the British. Symbols of colonial rule still exist in our country. Should we also repudiate great inventions by scientists from abroad?

Defending the pulling down of the statue on the ground that Lenin is a foreigner goes against the Indian philosophical doctrine of "Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam".

Violence of any kind has no place in a democracy. Democratic societies thrive and advance on the basis of conflict of ideas. Indian Constitution itself borrows constructs from constitutions worldwide. Should we dismantle the Constitution for having these so-called foreign ideas?

Opposing any ideology is different from any physical assault on individuals who espouse it or symbols which reflects it. Such assaults are unacceptable in any civilized society.

Updated Date: Mar 07, 2018 14:34 PM

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