Kolkata, Jan 29: The BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi is a “bully” and an “absolute authoritarian”, historian Ramchandra Guha said Wednesday.
Guha said the Gujarat chief minister could “damage” the Indian democracy, but not “destroy” it.
“He is a bully and a bigot, and I detest him. Unlike others, I don’t believe he will change, because at 62 you cannot have a personality transformation,” Guha said at a session at the Kolkata Literary Meet.
Alleging that intellectual freedom was suppressed in Gujarat, Guha hoped the country would not succumb to “fascism” if the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader comes to power.
“If you look at his behaviour in Gujarat, where intellectual freedom is suppressed, when he talks he says ‘Main, mujhe, mera, maine’ (I, me and myself), he takes credit for everything,” Guha noted.
“He is an absolute authoritarian, a bully, indulges only in ‘I, me and myself’, but he can only damage the Indian democracy but cannot destroy it.”
“Unlike many others, I have a greater hope that fascism will not happen if he comes to power. Unlike the Emergency period, there are non-BJP governments in many states across the country,” he said.
Echoing Guha, veteran journalist Mark Tully said anyone who aspired to take absolute power in the country will fall flat on his face.
“I have much faith in democracy and I think, without going into elaborate diagnosis, there will be restraints on him (Modi). If he takes things too far, there will be upsets, protests,” Tully said.
“I don’t want to say whether I want to see him or not see him as the prime minister, but I don’t think it will be the disaster that some people believe,” said Tully.
“As regards to be an authoritarian, if he (Modi) continues to be one, things will go wrong for him. The emergence and flourishing of Indian democracy after the Emergency is a proof of its strength,” Tully said.
“Anyone who tries to take absolute power in this country will fall flat on his face,” he said, describing Indira Gandhi’s regime of 1975 as the worst phase of Indian democracy.
Speaking on the topic “How elections have changed between 1951 and 2014″, Guha and Tully expressed concern over the prevalence of animosity and suspicion among rival political parties and rued the lack of argumentative politics.
“It is sad to see political leaders taking rigid stands and shouting and fighting on TV. There is no dialogue, no arguments, it is sad to see parliament getting disrupted more often than it is in session,” Tully said, adding that advent of such disruptions happened from the days of Emergency.
“However, the good thing about India is that the opposition always accepts the popular mandate. Many a country have gone into crisis when the opposition has refused to accept defeat and questioned the popular mandate,” he said.
Tully, who has been covering elections in India since 1967, said rural voters are influenced by only two things.
“We journalists may talk about Left wing and right wing politics and other issues, but rural voters are guided by only two factors – ‘ye mera aadmi hai’ (the candidate is my man) and ‘ye mera kaam karega’ (he will do my job),” Tully said.