Historian Ramachandra Guha on Sunday admitted that it was patronising of him to chastise the people of Wayanad in Kerala for electing Congress leader Rahul Gandhi to Parliament. In a series of tweets, Guha said his much talked-about remarks were made in the broader context of “[Prime Minister Narendra] Modi, Hindutva and India”. The historian added that he would always remain an opponent of Hindutva.
“I have nothing against Rahul Gandhi personally,” Guha had said on Friday on the second day of the ongoing Kerala Literature Festival in Kozhikode city. “He is a decent fellow, very well-mannered. But young India does not want a fifth-generation dynast. If you Malayalis make the mistake of re-electing Rahul Gandhi in 2024 too, you are merely handing over an advantage to Narendra Modi.”
Congress leader Shashi Tharoor said he was sure the historian was not deeming the prime minister’s capacity for hard work more important than “its actual divisive consequences for the nation”. “Whatever you think about Rahul Gandhi, he embodies an alternative vision of India that many millions support in resisting BJP,” Tharoor added.
In response, Guha said he agreed with the Congress leader “about the divisive politics of the PM and his party and have documented the consequences in many recent articles”. However, he wondered what Gandhi’s vision of India was. The historian claimed a reporter had “cherry picked two sentences out of a one hour talk to distort its meaning”.
On Sunday, Guha wrote a detailed response of the criticism he faced for his comments. “His [Rahul Gandhi] lack of focus and administrative experience and, most importantly, his being a fifth generation dynast are a great disadvantage for Rahul when it comes to winning General Elections,” the historian tweeted.
Guha said in “presidential style” national elections, voters tend to prefer Modi to Gandhi because the prime minister is a self-made man. However, he reiterated his firm opposition to Hindutva.
“Ever since I went to Bhagalpur after the 1989 riots, I have been implacably opposed to Hindutva and all its works,” the historian tweeted. “This opposition is spelt out in articles, books, tweets, speeches. As I said on December 19, ‘I will continue to oppose Hindutva with every fiber in my being.”
The historian said the regime of Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah was the “most dangerous and divisive the Republic has ever seen”. He alleged that apart from promoting religious polarisation and making minorities feel insecure, the Modi government intimidated the media and the judiciary.
“I have been deeply inspired by the peaceful protests against the CAA [Citizenship Amendment Act] across the country,” Guha said. He added that the protests had broken the “pall of fear”. “The struggle against the Modi-Shah regime must continue with resolution, courage, and non-violence,” the historian said. He also tweeted a video of his speech at the literature festival.