In a controversial move, Gujarat governor OP Kohli on the Gandhi Jayanti Day unveiled a book which claims to highlight "ideological parallels” between Mahatma Gandhi and Prime Minister Narendra Modi on “key themes” of non-violence, nationalism, poverty and inclusive development.
Titled ‘Mahatma Gandhi to Modi’, the book has been authored by Rajeshkumar Acharya, a specialist in pharmaceutical chemistry and a practicing lawyer with focus on intellectual property rights, and Girishchandra Tanna, a retired government official. The book was being offered a 30% concession in order to “promote” it.
During the book launch ceremony, neither Kohli, nor the two authors, once recalled Modi's role – positive or negative – in the 2002 Gujarat riots, in which more than 1000 people died, nor did they refer to his other controversial decisions, such as refusal to provide scholarship to minority students, calling it “appeasement.”
Without also referring to criticism on Modi, under attack within the country and abroad for “stifling” dissenting voices and civil society, and remaining silent on “increasing” attacks on minorities and the marginalized, one of the authors, Acharya, said the Prime Minister has set “new precedents for people striving for liberty and equality across the globe.”
Acharya also talked of how Modi's ideas included the idea of “a single unified nation, non-violent struggle, self-reliance and inclusivity” – something that Gandhi stood for. It is not known whether the book as a special chapter of violence that occurred during the 2002 riots and its aftermath, leading to thousands of minority community people becoming displaced.
Claiming that there has been a vacuum so far on Gandhi's thoughts and ideologies about “education, health, rural development, employment, female development, and industrial development”, which have remained “untouched” in the intellectual sphere, the authors suggest, this is one reason why they had decided to come up with a book on Modi's quest to follow the Mahatma.
Charactering the book as "thought-provoking”, Kohli, launching it at a Raj Bhavan ceremony, praised the authors for having "narrated the convictions and commitments" of Modi, adding, "They have highlighted the accomplishments of Modi, deeply inspired by Mahatma Gandhi, Sardar Patel and Swami Vivekanand."
The authors believe the proof of Modi being inspired by Gandhi lies in his admiration of the Mahatma Gandhi in his “speeches”, adding, the development model Modi has chosen from Gandhi's ideology are – Swachh Bharat, or Clean India, Mission on October 2nd, 2014, the birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.
However, they did not refer to the critics' contention that the Swacch Bharat Mission is singularly silent on the plight of manual scavengers, for whom Gandhi stood all this life.
Other “Gandhian” steps of Modi, he authors believe, are the Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojna for financial inclusion, and the Make in India campaign as a replica of the Swadeshi doctrine of Mahatma Gandhi.
The book has been published by Nanoland Publishers, a division of little-known Nanoland Group, which claims to be a “knowledge pool of rising talents" working on the role of nanotechnology in “the advancement of space technology and demystify the unexplored universe.”