Our leaders seem fascinated by the phrase ‘surgical strike’,like a child with a new toy playing with it any number of times.The suddenness that takes the target by surprise,the abruptness and the concentrated force that overwhelms resistance,all combine to put the party using it under a spell.
The detoxification of Congress heritage in the state is the field where the present regime seems to derive the most satisfaction.Press reports indicate that it is now the images on the currency notes that are the latest targets.Mahatma Gandhi,they say,is getting replaced or supplemented by Tagore and President APJ Abdul Kalam.
It is as if American currency notes so long imprinted with founding fathers of the United States and eminent presidents like Lincoln are from now on to be blessed by the images of such new icons like Ronald Reagan and Nixon.
Now Kalam was a technological wizard,a simple affable man,and author of many inspirational books for aspiring youths,but hardly a person on the same league as Gandhi.While Tagore is worth all our honour,one is puzzled what new honour he can win with his image on currency notes.Gandhi however is the sole national leader who had through his energy and vision,sacrifice and dedication, set in motion vast popular movements that with increasing commitment united the country,gathered strength to endure brutal repression and mount unrelenting pressure on the colonial power.It has now become fashionable to quip that it was not his movements but this or that freakish incident that forced the hands of the British.Even if partly true that would not have that effect without Gandhijee’s monumental contributions.
So it was quite proper and fitting that his image has put its stamp on our national currency.But by edging him out to make way for others of much less consequence seems uncalled for and motivated.
One has a creepy feeling that this may well be the thin edge of the wedge.It could well be a ploy to accommodate later other controversial figures like Dr Hedgewar and Savarkar,and one hopes not,Nathuram Godse.
The systematic and relentless nature of such ‘surgical strikes’ appears designed to alter the very character of the state and give it a decidedly saffron look as well as spirit.Hence,even though symbolic,such moves must be resisted as auguring an ideological reversal of the greatest moment to our constitution and democratic heritage.
Hiren Gohain is a political commentator