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Opinion: Gandhi is India’s most successful politician

Opinion: Gandhi is India’s most successful politician

Mahatma Gandhi is remembered in our country on many occasions, but two days are special—his birth and death anniversaries (October 2 and January 30). Countless people have said countless things about him, but few, if any, have discussed a curious phenomenon: he remains India’s most successful politician in a century. Even curiouser is the fact that he never held any office for a single day.

In our country, politicians as well as commentators have convinced themselves that success is synonymous with greatness, that rank and station are the only yardsticks of success in politics, that the solitary measure of success is holding office (parliamentarian, minister of state, cabinet, etc.), and that success is directly proportional to one’s rank and the importance of office they occupy.

In this calculus, means and morality don’t play any role. The so-called secular leaders go for the kill to stave off ‘communal forces’; the sanskaris, on their part, indulge in any impropriety—and block any criticism just by citing something as esoteric and nebulous as ‘Chanakya niti.’ Ends justify means. Politics = realpolitik. Period.

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But this is all hogwash. The correct equation is: politics – morality = realpolitik. Any political odyssey without a moral compass, or a malfunctioning moral compass, inevitably leads to Auschwitz and the Gulag, to massacres and genocide. Nazism and communism are immoral ideologies, hence the killings of over a million people under these regimes.

Gandhi was not great because he was a great thinker; he was not even a systematic thinker; anybody who reads his seminal work, Hind Swaraj, knows this fact. For the book is a hodgepodge of medievalist ideas, Luddite mindset, and wishful thinking.

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Gandhi was great because he never hankered for power; everybody, including the illiterate, knew it; that was the reason that they respected him, called him a ‘mahatma.’

As we mentioned earlier, few realize that he is the most successful politician India has had in the last century.

Politicians, public figures, etc., lobby for roads, places, institutes, etc., be named after them or their family members. They use power and pelf to achieve their purposes; once achieved, they are seen as successful.

Gandhi never did any such thing. Yet, every currency note carries his picture; innumerable places and roads have been named after him; a number of government institutes and schemes carry his name; there are awards instituted in his name. For each of these feats, any mainstream politician would give his right arm. The politicians who are considered successful—having held the cabinet rank for years, having enjoyed headed ‘plum’ ministries and departments, having minted money by hook or by crook.

Owing to the moral turpitude and intellectual bankruptcy of our political analysts, crooked politicians are often regarded as successful. But despite their Swiss bank accounts and stupendous clout, in terms of success, they can’t compete with the man who wore the loincloth and owned nothing. He died 72 years ago, and there is a national holiday on his birthday.

Would our political masters aspire to attain such ever-lasting success?.