Lenin statues razed in Tripura: Liberals must unite against ideology of vandalism and revenge, India's image at stake

Sandipan Sharma

Goons and vandals of the world unite. You have nothing to lose but your sense of history. Join hands in Tripura, get together in West Bengal, swamp Uttar Pradesh, invade Tamil Nadu, and once your ranks grow, march on Ayodhya, and turn India, as peace hawk Sri Sri Ravishankar said, into Syria.

BJP workers shout victory slogans during 'Vijay' rally to celebrate their party's success in North East Assembly elections, outside state party headquarter in Kolkata on Sunday. PTI

BJP workers shout victory slogans during 'Vijay' rally to celebrate their party's success in North East Assembly elections, outside state party headquarter in Kolkata on Sunday. PTI

Unite because hell hath no fury like majoritarian triumphalism, or the revenge of the victorious. When the Taliban had the numbers, they demolished the Bamiyan Buddhas. When Nadir Shah had power, he ravaged Delhi. When the kar sevaks had the spades, they demolished a mosque. Now, may the force be with you, you despicable, atavistic, medieval goons.

Fortunately for you, there is a lot to demolish and destroy in India. We are an ancient civilisation that has thrived on multiculturalism, syncretism and tolerance. Here, every ideology, every faith, every phase of history has found adequate space to thrive for hundreds of years. We have monuments to Buddhism, Jainism, Sikkhism, Islamism, communism, capitalism, socialism, secularism, colonialism, Dravadianism, Gandhianism, Ambedkarism, Nehruvianism... There is so much history to destroy and demolish. There are so many icons to be felled. So, unite and go to war. For additional help, invite the Taliban.

But, before you turn India into a battleground for maniacs shedding blood for statues and ideologies they don't understand, think about that old saying: Sometimes you are the bird, sometimes you are the statue. (Apt, no?) One day, you will be the statue again. Also, ponder the real lesson of the Tripura election: The sun always sets on every empire. What is saffron in the morning, always turns red or some other colour. So, beware. The arc of history spares nobody.

The other problem with this vandalism, of course, is that the goons may believe they are bringing glory to India. They might think pulling down Lenin and Periyar statues is a cue for the world to chant Bharat mata ki jai. In truth, it's Bharat mata ki shame. The statues could be rebuilt one day. But the real victim of this vandalism is the image of Bharat mata, which suffers great damage. The argument that Lenin has no place in India is an encore of the Taliban question: What is Buddha doing in Bamiyan?

Countries with a large heart, with liberal ethos have a culture of respecting their history, and that of the world around them. They retain monuments as a reminder of the past, both to learn from and cherish. Go, for instance, to Malaysia, to see how a Muslim country showcases its Buddhist culture and its Indian roots in the heart of capitalism, Genting Highlands near Kuala Lumpur: Here, in the den of vice and pleasure, when you climb the hills, you find nestled the Chin Swee Caves Temple. The temple not just revers Buddha but also his Indian disciples (Bhardwaj the Brahmin) with gigantic statues and colourful tableaux.

Just a few kilometres away are the Batu Caves that house the Hindu shrine dedicated to Lord Murugan. So, what are Buddha, Bhardwaj and Murugan doing in Muslim Malaysia? What's Gandhi doing in several other countries, including South Africa? Why do our prime ministers compete with each other for more foreign investments?

Lenin asked for the unity of the working class across the world. He supported India's freedom struggle against British colonisers. Communism inspired Indian revolutionaries like Bhagat Singh. But, perhaps the goons running amok in Tripura do not know this. Those controlling the strings of these mad puppets do not seem to know either. The competitive culling of history and its icons would lead to nothing but chaos and conflict, further divisions and hatred. We can already see it happen. First they came as gau rakshaks, then they came as slayers of communism, then as enemies of Dravadianism. Soon, they will come for everything that doesn't agree with their world view.