Why is the BJP so insecure? Or rather, if I were to frame that correctly, I should ask why is Modi so insecure?
Everyone knows that BJP is Modi and Modi is BJP and possibly therein lies his insecurity because from Godhra to Delhi, in his tumultuous journey of 12 years, Modi has not been able to do what Indira Gandhi did. The once infamous quote - India is Indira and Indira is India, has geographically been limited, in the case of Modi, to Gujarat is Modi and Modi is Gujarat. In terms of concept he has certainly trounced Messer's Advani and Vajpayee and even Shyama Prasad Mukherjee in becoming synonymous with Hindutva and the Bharatiya Janata Party but now he possibly needs to rise above that.
But in his insecurity and his party’s current desire to create a one and only fresh icon for future generations to deify, Narendra Modi it seems has decided to appropriate identities to add the requisite glister to his own. The first and obvious choice had to be Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel.
Sardar fitted the bill perfectly – Gujarati to begin with, fervently Hindu in his personal life and with a history of supposed acrimony with the doyen of the Nehru-Gandhi clan - Jawaharlal himself. Sardar Patel united the country… Sardar Patel was decisive… Sardar Patel could take hard decisions… Sardar Patel was everything that Modi wants to be. The only thing that Sardar Patel had, that Modi does not want, is the Congress tag and so began a movement to wean the Sardar away from Congress.
The strategy was well thought out - begin building a huge statue, get iron bars from all over the country… keep chanting that Sardar stood for unity… put in a mention here and there that Sardar was a Gujarati as also that only an iron man can pay tribute to an iron man. It apparently does not matter, to the chief architect of a new India and an aspirant Sardar, that the greatest disfavour that history could do to Patel’s legacy would be to detach it from that of the Congress.
If Sardar Patel was what he is being made out to be, then he would have broken with Gandhi and Nehru and he would have teamed up with the likes of SP Mukherjee. Vallabhbhai Patel did not do that and whatever might have been his differences with the other leaders he vehemently remained a Congressman to the end.
Even today, propagate a new understanding that Sardar Patel was a reluctant "Congressi" does a disservice to those very principles that the original Iron man stood for. To try and appropriate everything that Patel stood for, to foster something that he stood against, does a greater disservice to the memory of the man who symbolises unity. Sardar Patel did not condone the idea of a political demigod running the affairs of a country… that was not the pumice on which his iron will was polished. Yet the insecurity of Modi, in being capable of carving out his own unique legacy, drives him to appropriate those that are already proven.
Sardar’s iron will, Gandhi’s clean image, even Nehru’s children… the new prime minister of India still needs to come up with something original that he can be remembered by… something that might make future generations say Modi is India… India is Modi.
Right now all we can hear are Congressmen shouting "Stop thief!"