New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi is riding a horse which he cannot dismount before the 2019 general elections and he would perforce have to depend on the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and its cadre, veteran journalist Kuldip Nayar, who passed away last year, had written during his last days.
The direction in which Modi wants to take the nation is clear and a diluted form of Hindutva has spread throughout the country, he wrote before urging Modi "to ask himself whether this scenario is good for the people".
These are contained in Nayar's book "On Leaders and Icons: From Jinnah to Modi", which was written during his last days.
"Modi must be planning different strategies to fight the polls and it is clear that he will be the party's candidate for another term as prime minister from 2019. It looks as if the other parties are going to come together and form some kind of a federal front. Their endeavours would be, as Congress leader Sonia Gandhi has said, to stop the return of Modi.
"At this juncture Modi would need his party the most. But how could that be possible when he himself has become the BJP," wrote the legendary journalist, who began his career as an Urdu reporter in the 1950s, and who was arrested during the Emergency years.
He noted that the "prime minister and I are on the same page when it comes to the criticism of the Emergency which Indira Gandhi imposed in 1975". He also stated that he felt "honoured" that Modi had taken note of his criticism.
Judging Modi "from his appearances on television and what he says in his speeches to the public", Nayar, who was picked for the Padama Bhushan award by the government last week, contended that Modi has a superb grasp of Hindi and "a mass following".
"Where we differ is in the shape of society we want. He belongs to the BJP, a political organ of the RSS, which wants to establish a Hindu Rashtra in the country, whereas I believe in a pluralistic society. His party divides people and I believe in what Mahatma Gandhi taught us about a multicultural nation where people of all religions can live together without fear," Nayar wrote in his characteristic tradition of journalists who, according to the publisher Speaking Tiger, were not afraid to tell it like it is.
He invoked Gandhi and mentioned that in his prayer meetings, recitations from the Quran along with the Gita and the Bible were a regular appearance and that if somebody objected to it, he would not hold the meeting.
Nayar, who was also nominated to the Rajya Sabha in 1997 by the Gujral government, maintained that "the Mahatma's philosophy of pluralism" was the "nation's ethos".
"PM Modi respects Gandhi and says 'Sab ka saath, sab ka vikas'. But his party's goal is to the contrary," he noted in the book.
He stated that Modi "disappoints many when he goes to Nagpur for exchanging views with the RSS high command," before asserting that Modi's style of functioning is different from BJP veterans like L.K. Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi, both of whom Modi has "happily" kept at a "distance from the affairs of the party and government".
"But the direction in which he wants to take the nation is clear. A diluted form of Hindutva has spread throughout the country," he writes, before urging Modi "to ask himself whether this scenario is good for the people".
Nayar, whose weekly columns and op-eds appeared in over 80 newspapers from India and abroad, maintained that a "multicultural society like India" has to stay pluralistic.
"I find the minorities feeling insecure. They constitute one-fourth of the nation," he added.
The book carries a foreword by former BBC broadcaster Mark Tully, and reveals hitherto unknown aspects of several key personalities, including Indira Gandhi, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, Jawaharlal Nehru, Faiz Ahmad Faiz and Modi's two predecessors, Manmohan Singh and Atal Bihari Vajpayee, among others.
Nayar, in his illustrious career, had authored 15 books, including "Beyond the Lines: An Autobiography".
(Saket Suman can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)