Rahul Gandhi has come of age, says Nayantara Sehgal

Sehgal, who’s been outspoken in her criticism of the Narendra Modi Government’s Hindutva agenda, does not think the opposition lacks an able leader.

india Updated: Nov 11, 2017 09:22 IST
Manraj Grewal Sharma
Manraj Grewal Sharma
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
Rahul Gandhi,Nayantara Sehgal,Hindutva
A well-known writer, Nayantara Sehgal is the second of the three daughters of Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit, the sister of first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru.(HT Photo)

“Rahul is at the right place, at the right time. And if he says he is ready to lead the Congress, he must be.”

That was the irrepressible Nayantara Sehgal on Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi. Ageless in black, the 90-year-old appeared to see hope in her grand-nephew and his belief that he was finally ready for a bigger role.

“He’s been making strong statements about government policies. If he thinks he has it in him to lead, he has it in him. It’s all about your confidence in yourself,” Sehgal said, adding Rahul was not in touch with her, but Sonia Gandhi was.

A well-known writer, Sehgal is the second of the three daughters of Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit, the sister of first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru.

Unlike many, Sehgal, who’s been outspoken in her criticism of the Narendra Modi Government’s Hindutva agenda, does not think the opposition lacks an able leader. “The opposition has many leaders, there is a very young man called Kanhaiya Kumar who is spreading his message among the many campuses, I call that leadership. There is Akhilesh Yadav in UP,” she trailed on.

Sehgal, who was happy to see a large number of schoolchildren at the inaugural function of the Chandigarh Literary Festival, said her advice to youngsters would be to reject intolerance. “Reject a Hindu rashtra. Reject the people who are destroying our secular fabric. Keep art and literature alive. Focus on science, for the present dispensation is treating myth as science.”

The prolific writer has set up an online writers’ forum to counter intolerance. Speaking about the role of the media, she said while electronic channels had lost their voice to corporate interests, “much of the print media is still maintaining its integrity”.

A REAL HINDU

Asked about the charge that right-wing resurgence was a reaction to the appeasement of minorities since Partition, she said, “It’s rubbish. We are a secular, democratic republic. This Hindu ideology is destroying modern India, it is taking us back to the middle ages.”

Sehgal was quick to clarify that she is a practising Hindu. “I was born a Hindu, I am a real Hindu, that is why I reject Hindutva,” she declared, adding, “My religion is important to me. I draw sustenance from it. It is central to my life and thought. Sanatan Dharma teaches that the world is our family.”

NEW BOOK

The novelist, who was here to discuss her book, ‘When the Moon Shines by the Day’, said she has already begun work on a new novel that will hit the shelves next month. “It is a work of fiction set in the present times.”

Interestingly, in 1969, Sehgal wrote a novel set in Chandigarh, titled ‘Storm in Chandigarh’. She said it was during the days she used to visit the city with her husband to build their house in Sector 5. And no, she doesn’t think the city is getting worse with age. “I’ve heard from people living here that they are seeing changes that shouldn’t be taking place, but there has been no change in the area I live in.”

First Published: Nov 11, 2017 09:10 IST