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Ashutosh Varshney likens Modi to Indira Gandhi; Yogendra Yadav agrees

Varshney said populist leaders such as Modi, Gandhi and the US president Donald Trump don't like constitutional restrains

Sahil Makkar  |  New Delhi 

WEF India, WEF, Yogendra Yadav, Kamal Nath
Congress leader Kamal Nath (left) with Swaraj India party's national president, Yogendra Yadav, at the World Economic forum in New Delhi. Photo: Sanjay K Sharma

Yogendra Yadav, the president of the Swaraj party, and political scientist on Friday drew parallels between Prime Minister and former prime minister They believed that is culturally a “right-winger” but his economic policies are more “Left-leaning”, whereas Gandhi was more Left of Centre.

Varshney said populist leaders such as Modi, Gandhi and the US president don’t like constitutional restrains.

“All populist leaders don’t like any constitutional restraints. The populists try to reject and undermine oversight institutions like judiciary, press and independent intelligence agencies,” said Varshney while speaking at a panel discussion on ‘The Populist World’- being jointly organised by the World Economic Forum and the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) in New Delhi.

and her imposition of emergency was serious left-wing Her argument was that she represented the people and she didn’t like any constitutional restrains of any kind. is saying the same thing that he represents the authentic will of the people,” Varshney said, drawing a distinction between the left-wing and right-wing

“Left-wing is re-distribution of things in nature but believes that nation belongs to the majority community. can be categorised under this- Right populism. He believes that the nation belongs to white community primarily, whereas Hispanic and Blacks are subsidiary nationals. The Hindu community owns the nation according to Hindu nationalists whereas Muslims and others are subsidiaries communities,” Varshney said, while adding that Modi is “culturally right and economically Left.”

Yadav, who was part of the panel discussion along with leader and parliamentarian Swapan Dasgupta, said the Left or the Right has not made any difference at any point in Indian history for a reason, which is the political Right has always deployed the vocabulary of economic Left.

“The BJP started as a Gandhian socialist party, they might have forgotten about it. But it is still in their documents. Modi is currently pushing the economic agenda of the Right and he cleverly picks up the elements from the economic rhetoric of the Left to push the agenda of economic and political right. What we are witnessing is the brute naked majoritarianism of the worst kind. For the first time in the country, minorities have been reduced to de facto second-rate citizenship. The parallel between Modi and is much stronger,” Yadav said, quoting an example how demonetisation was perceived by the poor as an attack on the rich.

leader Kamal Nath, however, disagreed to the notion of Left and Right ideologies.

“In left or right is now history. People are concerned about what is being delivered on the ground. has become localised at the constituency, state or level. This will decide the results of the next elections. We (Congress) won against the most loved prime minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, in 2004. In 2009, we went to people telling them about the loan waiver and won the elections”. He, however, accepted that nationalism has captured the political landscape.

"It was because of the failure of English-speaking elite in the country," Yadav argued.

First Published: Sat, October 07 2017. 02:27 IST