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The violent environment in the country today certainly calls for a new father

The principles on which turned the life, deeds and death of the man hitherto known as the Father of the Nation seem passé

  • Published 20.09.19, 2:27 AM
  • Updated 20.09.19, 2:27 AM
  • 2 mins read
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Prime Minister Narendra Modi looks on during the Vijay Sankalp Rally in Nashik on Thursday, September 19, 2019. (PTI)

If the paternal propensities of the prime minister were ever in doubt, Amruta Fadnavis, the wife of the Maharashtra chief minister, Devendra Fadnavis, has demolished them with one tweet. On Narendra Modi’s birthday, Ms Fadnavis’s overflowing admiration for him led to her tweeting — twittering? — her birthday wishes to the “Father of the Country”. This fatherhood could not have come from the making of a nation, but from inspiring countrymen to work “relentlessly” towards the betterment of society. To work relentlessly is not to relent to something or someone. Clearly, Ms Fadnavis is envisaging, or describing, a better society that is based on not relenting to some people perhaps, or towards certain issues. The principles of non-violence and of service to all people on which turned the life, deeds and death of the man hitherto known to Indians as the Father of the Nation seem to be passé now. That is not surprising; the violent environment in the country at present certainly calls for a new father. Aggression is now a virtue, even in rhetoric; surgical strikes and warlike postures matter for triumphalist hoardings; lawless vigilantism and bloodshed widely supported and emulated. Rather distant from what the Father of the Nation thought he was trying to create.

Mr Modi has been assiduous in creating the necessary imagery of new fatherhood replacing the old. He got himself photographed at the charkha for the calendar and diary of the Khadi Udyog, for instance, and made sure to be splashed all over the media washing the feet of five manual scavengers at the Kumbh Mela at Allahabad. This second stint in government, returned with even a bigger majority than in 2014, must seem to be the most auspicious for naming and claiming. True, Ms Fadnavis’s tweet cannot a new father make, but juxtaposed with the Union home minister’s recent harping on ‘one’ — one language, one nation, one party — it does seem to throb with birth pangs. The home minister’s recent comments were almost an elegy for multi-party democracy, as though it was over and done with and Indians knew it to be so. In its place, he called for one-party rule, according to the vision of — no surprises here — Mr Modi. Too bad if some people had not noticed that this was coming.

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