Historian Ramachandra Guha on Thursday delved deep into his repository of historical assertions and shared a quote on Twitter which he attributed to British writer and intellectual Philip Spratt. In the quote, Spratt, a 20th-century British writer, had a dig at the Gujarati community:
"Gujarat, though economically advanced, is culturally a backward province.... Bengal in contrast is economically backward but culturally advanced."
It was not immediately clear what was the provocation for Guha to share such an observation, which does not have much anecdotal value. But by doing so, he played into hands of Gujarat CM Vijay Rupani who lost no time in giving a fitting retort. Rupani took to twitter and said that earlier it was the British who tried to divide and rule and now it is a group of elites who want to divide Indians.
"Indians won’t fall for such tricks. Gujarat is great, Bengal is great...India is united. Our cultural foundations are strong, our economic aspirations are high." Soon there was an avalanche on social media with likes of actor and former BJP MP Paresh Rawal dubbing the historian as "Gutless Guha" and "Chuha Guha" on Twitter.
"After distorting History books Gutless Guha opens up a new avenue of Gujarati/Bengali! Looks like he is getting a free ride on somebody's Tail...! This Chuha Guha is not tired of being punchline of everyone's jokes," the 'Hungama' actor tweeted.
After facing a barrage of criticism for his controversial tweet, Guha issued a clarification. He contended that he had posted the quote because he found it striking. Guha further underscored that he may or may not necessarily endorse the quotes posted by him. Thereafter, he urged everyone to direct their anger or praise towards the "ghost" of the person being quoted.
"Statutory warning; when I post quotes by others found in the course of my research, I do so because I find them arresting in some way. I may (or may not) endorse, in part or in whole, what I am quoting. Reserve your praise or your anger for the ghost of the person being quoted."
Of late, Guha, a known detractor of the BJP, has been full of surprises. Recently, he had showered praise on PM Modi in a literary event at Kozhikode. Guha had remarked, "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."
Guha further said that the people of Kerala had committed a huge mistake by electing a “fifth-generation dynast” like Rahul Gandhi. Later, the historian had attempted to backtrack from his position and claimed that the essence of his talk at the Literature Festival was distorted by cherry-picking a few sentences.