Arun Shourie, seemingly reconciled to LK Advani never becoming Prime Minister, touts Narendra Modi as a replacement candidate. Arun Jaitley seconds the motion.
It’s time to recall what one of India’s leading intellectuals, clinical psychologist and social scientist, Ashis Nandy, had to say after meeting Modi 17 years ago.
Almost nothing reveals the decline and degeneration of Gujarati middle class culture more than its present Chief Minister, Narendra Modi. Not only has he shamelessly presided over the riots and acted as the chief patron of rioting gangs, the vulgarities of his utterances have been a slur on civilised public life. His justifications of the riots, too, sound uncannily like that of Slobodan Milosevic, the Serbian president and mass murderer who is now facing trial for his crimes against humanity. I often wonder these days why those active in human rights groups in India and abroad have not yet tried to get international summons issued against Modi for colluding with the murder of hundreds and for attempted ethnic cleansing. If Modi’s behaviour till now is not a crime against humanity, what is?
More than a decade ago, when Narendra Modi was a nobody, a small-time RSS pracharak trying to make it as a small-time BJP functionary, I had the privilege of interviewing him along with Achyut Yagnik, whom Modi could not fortunately recognise. (Fortunately because he knew Yagnik by name and was to later make some snide comments about his activities and columns.) It was a long, rambling interview, but it left me in no doubt that here was a classic, clinical case of a fascist. I never use the term ‘fascist’ as a term of abuse; to me it is a diagnostic category comprising not only one’s ideological posture but also the personality traits and motivational patterns contextualising the ideology.
Modi, it gives me no pleasure to tell the readers, met virtually all the criteria that psychiatrists, psycho-analysts and psychologists had set up after years of empirical work on the authoritarian personality. He had the same mix of puritanical rigidity, narrowing of emotional life, massive use of the ego defence of projection, denial and fear of his own passions combined with fantasies of violence – all set within the matrix of clear paranoid and obsessive personality traits. I still remember the cool, measured tone in which he elaborated a theory of cosmic conspiracy against India that painted every Muslim as a suspected traitor and a potential terrorist. I came out of the interview shaken and told Yagnik that, for the first time, I had met a textbook case of a fascist and a prospective killer, perhaps even a future mass murderer.
The very fact that he has wormed his way to the post of the chief minister of Gujarat tells you something about our political process and the trajectory our democracy has traversed in the last fifty years. I am afraid I cannot look at the future of the country with anything but great foreboding.
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