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   On Gandhi Jayanti Day... (February 10, 1990)

On Gandhi Jayanti Day, I have been wondering if there are any genuineGandhians left in the country.

At one stage, I thought, V.P. Singh was one. Here was a man who did not want power or office, who believed in truth and personal sacrifice and honour, who left that there was a right way and a wrong way. As I said, that was at one stage. He is not a Gandhian any more, if he ever was one, that is.

Rajiv Gandhi is a Gandhi only in name and the name is inherited from his father. He is not a Gandhian by any stretch of imagination.

There was a time when I though all Congressmen were Gandhians; at least, they all wore Gandhi caps and dhotis, and went on hunger satyagrahas (not half-day fasts like V.P. Sathe), and turned the other cheek. But I later found that most of these people, so dressed, were sugar barons of Maharastra. And, in any case, who wears a Gandhi cap and dhoti any more. The last person who wore these was Y.B. Chavan and he is dead and even more forgotten than Gandhiji. Mr. V.P. Singh, in fact, wears a Pakistani fur cap, and, ever since Girilal Jain has made certain comparisons with Jinnah, all kinds of deep psychologocal meanings are being read into that innocent cap.

Vinoba Bhave was for a long time though to be a direct heir of Gandhiji. But reading some of the things that have been published.about his after his death, you realise that he was just an ineffective do-gooder…and little more. Jayaprakash Narayan was much closer to Gandhiji. The Janata Party failed him as the Congress party faile Gandhiji. After that he was heartbroken, and he died as much of a broken heart as failed kidneys.

Jawaharlal Nehru, above all others, was the chosen heir of Gandhiji, chosen by Gandhiji himself. He was not a Gandhian, but he understood and appreaciated Gandhiji more than anybody else. The only other person, I think, who understands Gandhiji is Richard Attenborough. His film is a lasting tribute to the man, and he has done more to make present-day Indian aware of Gandhiji than all the speeches of the politicians put together. Can you imagine what B.R. Chopra would have done with the film!

But we are talking about our own contemporary politicians. Are there any Gandhians among them? Chandra Shekhar, perhaps, had the makings of one. He is not interested in the plums of office, lives in rustic simplicity in a hut on his farm, grows things with his own hands, acts as the consciencekeeper of the country. His trouble is that he lacks Gandhiji's charisma. People used to listen to Gandhiji, nobody would ever listen to Chandra Shekhar.

 
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