Divide and unite

Oct 28 2013, 00:27 IST
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SummaryRahul Gandhi recently articulated his primal fear a premature violent death by assassination.

Sachin will retire after a lifetime of giving the nation his best and there is no doubt about how much he is loved. Manna Dey has died after a lifetime of entertaining us with his beautiful voice. I first heard him when I was six years old, in Vijay Bhatt’s classic film Ram Rajya, singing the final song Gayee Tu Gayee as Sita was swallowed by mother Earth. His life will be remembered and mourned by many, even those who never met him in flesh.

Rahul Gandhi recently articulated his primal fear — which is also his family’s fear — a premature violent death by assassination. At a public meeting in Rajasthan, he recalled how his father and grandmother died a violent death and how he fears for his own life. He then went on to blame the BJP for spreading hatred. But he needs to admit that both his father and grandmother did not die at the hands of any saffron or even jehadist fanatic. Rajiv Gandhi died at the hands of Tamil Eelam terrorists. Though Hindu, they were not Hindutva followers. In the Sri Lankan context, it was the Sinhala majority which tried to impose a single majoritarian rule by declaring Sinhala to be the official language and Buddhism the state religion. The LTTE was against this; perhaps they were asserting Tamilatva. His grandmother died at the hands of Khalistan supporters pursuing a much more strident nationalism which was incompatible with any idea of India — secular or Hindu.

Indians find a variety of reasons for killing their political leaders. And not just Indians. All of South Asia is beset by political violence. Buddhists are supposed to be non-violent, but in Sri Lanka Solomon Bandaranaike died at the hands of a Buddhist monk. Sri Lanka declared itself a Buddhist republic but has been the most violent in South Asia. President Ranasinghe Premadasa was assassinated and President Chandrika Kumaratunga was blinded in one eye by an attack at an election rally. In Pakistan, Liaqat Ali Khan, the first prime minister, was assassinated and Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto hanged. Benazir Bhutto was assassinated. Bangladesh saw the grisly murder of founder Mujibur Rahman.

Politics divides while sports and cinema unite. Even though cricket is accompanied by ferocious competition, it still unites India and Pakistan. Mughal-e-Azam and Pakeeza unite our two countries as does the singing of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. Jayalalithaa threw a tantrum

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