Kozhikode: A "fifth-generation dynast" Rahul Gandhi has no chance in Indian politics against a "hard-working and self-made" Narendra Modi, and Kerala did a disastrous thing by electing the Congress leader to Parliament, historian Ramachandra Guha said here on Friday.
Guha said the reduction of the Congress from a "great party" during the freedom movement to a "pathetic family firm" now is one of the reasons for the ascendency of Hindutva and jingoism in India.
"I have nothing against Rahul Gandhi personally. He is a decent fellow, very well-mannered. But young India does not want a fifth-generation dynast. If you Malayalis make the mistake of re-electing Rahul Gandhi in 2024 too, you are merely handing over an advantage to Narendra Modi," said Guha on the second day of the ongoing Kerala Literature Festival (KLF) during his talk, "Patriotism Vs Jingoism".
Gandhi, who in 2019 general elections lost from his family bastion of Amethi in Uttar Pradesh, had won from the Wayanad seat in Kerala.
"Narendra Modi's great advantage is that he is not Rahul Gandhi. He is self-made. He has run a state for 15 years, he has administrative experience, he is incredibly hard-working and he never takes holidays in Europe. Believe me, I am saying all this in all seriousness," he said.
But, even if Rahul Gandhi was "much more intelligent, more hard-working, never took a holiday in Europe, as a fifth-generation dynast he still will be at a disadvantage against a self-made person", the 61-year-old author said.
He took on Congress president Sonia Gandhi too who, he said, reminded him of the "late Mughal dynasty" and how aloof they were of the state of their kingdom.
"India is becoming more democratic and less feudal, and the Gandhis just don't realize this. You (Sonia) are in Delhi, your kingdom is shrinking more and more but still, your chamchas (sycophants) are telling you that you are still the badshah," he said.
Further, he quoted his teacher and noted Indian sociologist Andre Beteille to describe the story of Nehru-Gandhi family as a classic "reversal of the famous Biblical injunction": the sins of the father will be visited upon seven successive generations.
"In the Nehru's case, it is the sins of the seven successive generations have been re-visited upon Nehru... look at the national debate today. Why is Nehru evoked every time? ... because Rahul Gandhi is there.
"Now if Rahul Gandhi disappears, Modi has to talk about his own policies and why they failed," he said.
According to Guha, "Hypocrisy of the Indian Left -- the fact that they loved other nations more than India", "rise of aggressive nationalism worldwide" and "the rise of Islamic fundamentalism in neighbouring countries" are some other reasons behind the evident leap of Hindutva in India in the recent times.
The eminent historian has also been critical of Narendra Modi and the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the past. After the Centre passed the contentious citizenship law, Guha was among the many who took to the streets in protest.
The 61-year-old, holding up a poster of Dr BR Ambedkar and Mahatma Gandhi, had lashed out at BJP for its divisive politics and demanded the immediate withdrawal of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the National Register of Citizens (NRC).
He was later detained by the Bangalore police and forcefully dragged to the police van.
In a column for the Hindustan Times, Guha gives two reasons for the Modi government's unseemly haste in passing the CAA – bigotry and hubris. He explains how it has dealt a big blow to India's image in the world, and perhaps to the Prime Minister's own image and legacy too.
Guha was also among the many personalities on whom a sedition case was charged after he wrote an open letter to Narendra Modi over the growing incidents of mob lynching in the country.
The Gandhi's biographer was speaking at one of the sessions of the KLF 2020 here. Historian William Dalrymple, novelists like Benyamin, Namita Gokhale, Chetan Bhagat and journalists Karan Thapar and Rajdeep Sardesai are among the many other writers who will be attending the four-day festival. The focus theme of KLF 2020 is environment and climate change.
(With inputs from PTI)