Thumbs down!



When there are no choices to make – or it is impossible to choose between two unsustainable options – I always prefer to root for the underdog.

But in the run up to these elections, the underdog is increasingly beginning to seem to me like the bulldog and the privileged, the poor thing. I am quite tired of Narendra Modi’s abusive discourse and I think the Congress and particularly the Nehru-Gandhis are beginning to behave more and more like the simpering long sufferrng bahus of TV serials – bear up with all of the saas’s nonsense, have no gumption to snap back and always have a lump of sugar in the mouth. Can anyone draw blood even if they are cut with a knife? It might be part of their political strategy but sometimes I like to see some spunk in dealing with their opponents. But I guess that is the very purpose — to drive the opponent crazy with silence. So be it.

However, at the LitLive Fest underway at Bombay’s National Centre For Performing Arts, in a session on dynastic democracy, writer and psychoanalyst Sudhir Kakkar made an interesting observation – when Modi calls Rahul Gandhi a ‘shehzada’ he is not necessarily doing him any harm because we have family in our DNA as Indians and to have a privileged family is an asset rather than a liability. But Modi is only bringing up his Eklavya complex by continually emphasising on the privileged family. To which moderator Farrokh Dhondy replied, “Let’s just hope Modi keeps his thumbs!’’

But I am beginning to wonder. I concede that Modi might be the Eklavya in this race, but is he really in the race? For someone who is so very sure of himself would not have to stoop so low to conquer, as to now rake up the physical disabilities and illnesses of his opponents. So what if Ajit Jogi is in a wheel chair? So what if Sonia Gandhi is ill? Was Atal Behari Vajpayee not severely handicapped because of his knees? Did anyone in the Congress then make fun of that or ask him to quit and make way for LK Advani?

I am not a camp follower of the Congress but the manner in which Modi and his innumerable supporters are unleashing an unrefined, uncultured, base and despicable campaign against all their opponents, including Nitish Kumar and Mulayam Singh, somehow raises in me sympathy for those on the receiving end who can only go so far as to describe him as a tea boy (the fact was correct, the context was very wrong), and have the world come down on them like a tonne of bricks for that slip of good behaviour.

The entire campaign is acquiring an aura of the unreal for me (Gujarati papers this morning have reported that even Sushma Swaraj has objected to Modi’s language and terminology) but I would go beyond that to ask how can a man aspiring to become Prime Minister not just mix up historical truths and not know that Taxila is in Pakistan while Alexander never even managed to cross the Punjab, let alone reach the shores of the Ganga, but also this: how can you not know who the founder of your own party is and how can you confuse Shyama Prasad Mookherjee with Shyamji Kishan Verma?

That is quite unforgivable from even the BJP and RSS point of view and I quite agree with Jairam Ramesh when he says that it is like a Congressman confusing Jawaharlal Nehru with Arun Nehru and saying that Panditji was selling paint before he became Prime Minister!

There are apologists for Modi galore not just among his spokespersons – who I can see are increasingly finding it difficult to sustain the defence of his daily faux pas – but also vast among his supporters, and if this is the quality of leadership they want for this country, then all I can say is, well, they deserve it!

Still, I have an unshakeable faith in Bharat Mata and my hope now is for a dark horse to emerge in this race from both the BJP and the Congress, someone we can all feel good about and someone who will not make us hang our heads in shame for being Indians led by such fools and braggarts with no substance to their matter except for a naked ambition for power.

I know that Bharat Mata will never let her people down – she never has and she never will. For why else when it looked all but certain that LK Advani would become Prime Minister of this country not once but twice, he was stopped in his tracks – the first time by the Jain havala scam and the second time by an electoral defeat for his party – such an unexpected one that he could not speak for days on end!

There was one BJP leader in Gujarat who was certain Modi would lose the December 2012 elections in the state and was shocked out of his wits when he won, “I do not know why God has done this to us!’’ he lamented.

Now I know why – so that we understand and see Modi in his full baseness and come to terms with the fact that such unrefinement can also be part of a party which prides itself on Indian, nay, Hindu culture and tradition. What Modi is exhibiting is neither Indian, nor Hindu nor culture – I am sure it is an Americans-driven version of the Indian pipe dream, but I guess he is entitled to that, though he must somehow hire a better educated person to feed him his historical facts.

In the meantime, I really do hope he does not lose his thumbs before the Lok Sabha elections of 2014. That would be an injustice – to Eklavya!

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