Ramachandra Guha: Hollow cry of the dispossessed elite – Sandhya Jain

Ramachandra Guha

Sandhya Jain is the editor of Vijayvaani.Ramachandra Guha’s blaming the Sangh Parivar for Gauri Lankesh’s murder suggests that the run-up to the 2019 elections is going to be vicious, perhaps even bloody. – Sandhya Jain

Blessed with an inflated sense of impunity, the all-India Lutyens brigade’s oracular intellectual, Ramachandra Guha, pompously declared after Kannada journalist Gauri Lankesh was shot that, “It is very likely that her murderers came from the same Sangh Parivar from which the murderers of Dabholkar, Pansare and Kalburgi came”. Guha imparted this deep wisdom in an interview to the website, Scroll.in, on 6 September 2017, the day after Lankesh’s death.

The statement is clearly defamatory. Guha’s contention is that the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and its affiliates (Sangh Parivar) indulge in serial killings of persons who differ with their nationalist ideology, and that the Parivar is behind the premeditated murder of Gauri Lankesh, Narendra Dabholkar, Govind Pansare and M.M. Kalburgi.

All these persons shot to national fame only after they were murdered by unknown assailants for unknown reasons. It is said that they were “rationalists” (whatever that means) who virulently opposed the RSS. If so, the grassroots impact of their ideological affiliation seems to have been negligible on the growth of the RSS and its associated Bharatiya Janata Party; there seems no reason for the Parivar to connive to eliminate them. Murders generally have more personal motives.

What is notable is that their ideological fellow travellers have tried to derive political mileage from the tragedies. Guha’s blaming the Sangh Parivar suggests that the run-up to the 2019 elections is going to be vicious, perhaps even bloody.

Karunakar Khasale, secretary of the BJP Yuva Morcha, Karnataka, has rightly sent Guha a legal notice asking him to apologise or face defamation proceedings. As the deadline for the apology expired without response, Guha has obviously decided to take his chances in court. But he runs the danger of meeting the same fate as ideological comrade Gauri Lankesh, who could not substantiate the allegations she made against BJP MLA, Prahlad Joshi, and was sentenced to six months imprisonment. She was out on bail at the time of her murder.

Yet it is impressive that following the murder, the Left-dominated Lutyens elite, displaced and dispossessed after the verdict of May 2014, instantly composed a narrative of hate and used its media dominance to blame its ideological opponents for the crime. That too, when the police had barely processed the crime scene or examined the footage from the CCTV cameras at Lankesh’s residence. To neutral observers, this smacks of a classic red herring.

Undeterred by such niceties, Guha continued to develop his plot (The Hindustan Times, Sept. 9, 2017) and observed that Gauri Lankesh was unhappy that her home town, Bengaluru, was losing “its progressive and emancipatory ethos”, as women could no longer move freely in “public spaces without fear of lecherous goons, fundamentalist fanatics and brainless men in power.…” Surely she knew that Congress was ruling the State since 2013?

Guha argued that Lankesh was murdered six months after writing these views, because “fundamentalist fanatics had long targeted her for her fearless criticisms of the hateful and divisive politics that were threatening to tear her state and her country apart”.

He applauded Lankesh for writing fearlessly in Kannada, but did not mention the minuscule circulation of her weekly tabloid, nor the fact that she seemed to be having serious financial difficulties in running it. He said “right-wing politicians brought an array of cases against her in the lower courts”, but conspicuously failed to mention that she lost the defamation suit filed against her (mentioned earlier). Instead, he posed the rhetorical question, “So she had to be killed?”, and linked her death with the murders of independent-minded writers “detested by right-wing Hindu fundamentalists”.

Guha lambasted Union Minister Nitin Gadkari for denying any BJP-Parivar link with Lankesh’s murder, “How, so soon after the event, can he be so sure?” Surely the question applies equally to Guha who explicitly accused the Sangh of not one, but four, murders. In fact, he went further, “Even if the BJP or the RSS is not directly involved in this and similar murders, there is little question that the ruling dispensation has enabled a climate of hate and suspicion that makes such targeted killings of writers and scholars possible”.

The same day, senior advocate Soli J. Sorabjee (Indian Express, Sept. 9) deplored Lankesh’s murder, “apparently not for any personal enmity or monetary gain”. However, Karnataka police are reportedly investigating her provocative articles (not just against the RSS-BJP), personal issues, property and sibling issues (including division of father P. Lankesh’s estate and magazine), and Naxalite and right-wing angles.

Sorabjee asserted that dissenters must be free to express their views vigorously, without any lurking fear of incarceration, provided only that there is “no incitement to violence”. This is odd coming from a former Attorney General of India (Atal Bihari Vajpayee regime), as Gauri Lankesh was sentenced to six months imprisonment by a court of law, for willful defamation of an elected representative. As for her views, social media has highlighted some of her tweets, which are crude and uncultured, to say the least. Significantly, one of her last tweets bemoaned the infighting amongst fellow travellers.

Like Guha, Sorabjee vented his bias that the fact that the killers of Lankesh, Dabholkar, Pansare and Kalburgi were unknown, “points to a war between fundamentalism and rationalism, with the former showing its virulence”. The question may legitimately be asked, how in the absence of any corroborative evidence, did the legal luminary come to this conclusion? Why did he point fingers in one direction only?

Sorabjee concluded with the homily, “Let politics not be injected into the matter”. It’s too late for that. The morning after Lankesh’s murder (Sept. 6), journalists who gathered for a condolence meet at the capital’s Press Club of India, were shocked to find the dais occupied by Communist Party of India (Marxist) general secretary, Sitaram Yechury; D Raja of the Communist Party of India; CPI poster boy Kanhaiya Kumar, all of whom addressed the gathering even as many senior journalists could not speak. Fledgling leader Umar Khalid was firmly dissuaded from speaking as tempers rose.

The highlight of the event was Shehla Rashid of Jawaharlal Nehru University berating a journalist from a television channel and not allowing him to enter the Press Club premises to cover the event. This leftist hijack exposed the politicisation of the event. The media fraternity was outraged, but a card-holding comrade applauded Rashid, which proves that the lamentations were part of a carefully choreographed political narrative. Truth and facts are for bourgeois fixations. – Vijayvaani, 19 September 2017

» Sandhya Jain is an author, independent researcher, and writer of political and contemporary affairs. She writes a fortnightly column for The Pioneer, New Delhi, and edits an online opinions forum, www.vijayvaani.com.

The body of senior journalist Gauri Lankesh, who was shot dead by unidentified men at her residence, Rajarajeshwari Nagar in Bengaluru on Sept 5, 2017. (Photo: IANS)

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2 Responses

  1. Mohan Bhagwat & Suresh Bhaiyyaji Joshi

    RSS leaders pay tributes to slain journalist Gauri Lankesh – PTI – Oct 12, 2017

    Bhopal: Journalist Gauri Lankesh, who was shot dead last month, figured among those who were on Thursday offered tributes by the RSS for their work for the society.

    A gathering of RSS leaders drawn from across the country, including its chief Mohan Bhagwat, paid homage to Lankesh, former ISRO chairperson UR Rao and other eminent personalities from various walks of life at the Sangh’s annual ‘Diwali Baithak’.

    Yakshagana artiste Chittani Ramachandra Hegade was among those remembered at the Rashtriya
    Swayamsevak Sangh’s Akhil Bharatiya Karyakarini Mandal meeting.

    “There is a long list of people from various walks of life who were paid tributes at the RSS meeting. It also includes the name of Gauri Lankesh,” RSS Prachar Pramukh Manmohan Vaidya told PTI.

    He did not elaborate.

    Lankesh, a vocal critic of right-wing outfits, was shot dead outside her home in Bengaluru on September 5. Her murder led to outrage and protests across the country.

    The Sangh will discuss the state of the economy and issues like the exodus of Rohingyas from Myanmar and violence by cow vigilantes at the three-day meeting which began today.

  2. All anti-Hindu Hindus should be named and shamed.

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