Election 2014 Special
Heirs of Antiquity
First 2G, Now Jijaji
Heirs of Antiquity
We as a nation indeed have a penchant to convert any event into a celebration. So, I wasn’t at all surprised when Banaras turned into a sea of saffron as Modi filed his Lok Sabha nomination on the last day for the last lap of the 2014 election, which in all likelihood will go down in our history as a crucial turning point. Even Modi’s worst critics – and there is no dearth of them – will concede that the man is a master strategist – something alien to our culture. He has remarkably converted himself into a cult figure.
Unique in my opinion is the man’s capacity to establish an emotional connect with his audience. There must be something magnetic about him and his message if hundreds of thousands are ever ready to become a part of the moment. If you look at Modi’s face intently, he stands out as a loner. His ability therefore to establish an almost instant rapport with his audience tells us loud and clear that the man means what he says.
If Modi is elected both from Banaras and Vadodra as he is very likely to, he should resign his Gujarat seat. Banaras, one of the oldest cities in the world is quintessentially India – steeped in an ancient civilization and struggling today to strike terms with modernity.
Mumbaikars are the ones who seem to have taught P C Sarkar the vanishing trick at least on the day of voting. No wonder, therefore, though higher than 2009, the voter turnover on the 24th was, dismal compared to the national average so far.
And all this despite the holy intervention of Father Frazer Mascarenhas, Principal of the city’s prestigious St Xavier's College. In an Email which is a hymn of praise for the flagship schemes of Congress-led UPA government, he pooh-poohed Narendra Modi’s Gujarat model of economic development. It is another story that in his enthusiasm to wean his wards from the clutches of Modivad, Father Mascarenhas conveniently forgot all about the Election Commission’s model code of conduct which forbids government-funded institutions from influencing voters. Of course, it doesn’t matter because it has neither ecclesiastical sanction nor a seal of approval from Rome.
Hopefully, however, you and I as voters know the difference between what Swami Ranganathanda tellingly distinguished between Christianity and Churchianity. The first that we all cherish, died the day they crucified Jesus. The second is thriving.
And you know that Christian missionaries didn’t arrive in India to establish educational institutions. It was to spread Churchianity – don’t forget 75% of 2.4 million Christians in India are Catholics – and all its rationally unacceptable mythology – Immaculate Conception et al and all this to strengthen the stranglehold of Papal imperialism. No wonder the basic kernel of Jesus’ teachings has disappeared even from the Gospels.
Christian expansion was a handmaiden of Western imperialism. While a secular empire captured colonies, missionaries were busy harvesting the souls of the people of enslaved colonies for intellectual slavery.
Both used deceit to achieve their objectives. If you’ve any lingering doubts, read Arun Shourie’s Harvesting Our Souls. Gandhi led a powerful independence movement to dismantle the yoke of imperialism but despite an occasional fulmination by leaders like Swami Vivekananda and even Gandhi, we basically left the missionaries alone. (Have you forgotten Gandhi’s jibe that most of Indian Christians are rice Christians?)
Christian educational institutions have been successful in brainwashing our elite which even today is only too ready to gulp down unthinkingly any tall claim in the name of so-called secularism.
Have you forgotten the way Christian converts in East Timor were helped by powerful Christian governments to gain independence from Indonesia?
Irrespective of what claims missionaries may publicly claim, all of them are basically committed to convert poor, illiterate tribals and Dalits by deceiving them in various ways. Even Graham Staines, the unfortunate victim of tribal anger at the cultural disruption caused by conversions, was engaged in conversion-related activities.
Even though the law of the land allows all religious proponents to preach and propagate their faith, if conversion activities are allowed unhampered, this will ignite a mighty reaction from Hindus. That is the fear that missionaries have from BJP coming to power. And it is precisely to prevent it that the likes of Father Mascarenhas are afraid of. Hence, his indirect attack on the Modi model of economic development.
If Principal Mascarenhas was really interested in discussing the models of growth, he could have organized a full-fledged debate on the subject and let different points of view to be discussed and debated. Surely, he would agree his students do know how to make up their minds.
Knowingly or unknowingly, every political party carries an albatross around its neck. And that is its lunatic fringe. The Republicans in the US have had Joe McCarthy of House Committee on Un-American Activities fame (and his fanatic followers searching a commie in every closet of the Capitol Hill and today, their Tea Party crazies out of touch with the century in which they live and operate.
How can the Indian political landscape be any different? The Congress Party has its family loyalists and sycophants reminiscent of the ji-hazoors of the Mughal durbar. The BJP has its own albatross around its neck – the self-styled Hindutva proponents who are eminently successful in embarrassing Narendra Modi by downright stupid pronouncements. Party establishments suffer them for occasional use and they are always around to beat the drum in the hope of picking up a crumb or two from the high table.
Take the latest salvo from Vishwa Hindu Parishad leader Pravin Togadia after his bid to drive a Muslim out of an area in Rajkot where he bought a house to live. Once caught red-handed, the likes of Togadia always go in a denial mode. Or, take Giriraj Singh who said those who do not vote for Mr Modi would be considered traitors and should go to Pakistan. He could have performed the job of dispatching Muslims out in 1947. Now the Indian Republic has to treat all its citizens as equally entitled to their rights, including personal safety.
What rankles most Indians is why over the years members of the Muslim community have been given the feeling that they are more equal than others and hence entitled to special treatment.
First 2G, Now Jijaji
Unless she is a perfect dunce – God forbid the thought! – Priyanka Vadra should have known that once she jumps into the electoral fray, inevitably, her husband and his business exploits would be talked about. And since rhyme and rhythm run in our national blood stream, the talk of the town is: First 2G, now Jijaji.
In the current political scenario, the Congress party has many too many Achilles’ heels. However, Robert Vadra seems to be the most vulnerable. And just like Morarji shielded Kantibhai, Priyanka Gandhi claimed that her husband is ‘being targeted and used for political attacks.’ If calling into question the unrealistic growth of an obscure, semi-literate businessperson is attacking, then he eminently deserves it.
A story done in 2012 by The Hindu – by no means favorably inclined to Modi - brought out the far-from-above-board way in which Vadra has gone about his business. He married into the royal family in 1997. After Congress came to power in 2004, Vadra’s business activities took off. Within a year, he founded five other ventures, spanning the real estate, hospitality and trading sectors. The story showed that from just Rs. 7.95 crore in financial year 2008, Vadra’s fixed assets and investments grew to Rs 17.18 crore in 2009, and then in a single year to Rs 60.53 crore in 2010. The listed assets of Vadra have a breath-taking market value.
The worst charge against Vadra is of taking an interest-free loan of 65 crores and cushy bargains on land from DLF Limited in exchange for political favors. Numerous reports have doubted the authenticity of balance sheets of companies owned by Vadra.
And now a word about the yuvraj. As BJP leader Arun Jaitley recently said, “Rahul Gandhi has reflected his immaturity and desperation by making the ‘Modi marriage’ as a political issue.” However, the cherry on the Rahul-bashing cake came from the deeply imaginative VS Achutanandan, former CM of Kerala who came up with the name that would soon become part of history: Amul Baby. Anyone, imagined Gandhi in a pair of polka dotted pyajamas, much like the Amul girl’s frock.
Narendra Modi’s preferred line of attack, too, has been built around Rahul’s immaturity, inability to move away from and rise above his mother. The word ‘shehzada’, in popular parlance, immediately conjures images of a spoilt brat, brought up in the lap of luxury and hence completely removed from reality.
Congress talks of how Adani’s business has ballooned unrealistically. Adani is no relation of Modi and, most of all; the public at large is no longer ready to accept the Gandhis’ version.
Since the sharp-tongued opposition can’t blame Rahul for UPA’s misdeeds, the next best option is to take aim at his ‘immaturity’. And trust Narendra Modi to lead the put-Rahul-back-in-kindergarten campaign. After the junior Gandhi accused the government of giving away land to industrialists at the price of a toffee, Modi hit back at Gandhi accusing him of, what else, being too young: “But on the other side, there is a player whose mind doesn’t move away from childishness. Such an important election about the country’s future but for ten days, a word that gripped him was ‘balloon’. For ten days he kept repeating it. However, children don’t stick to a toy for too long and now he has caught the word ‘toffee’. Now you tell me what to do. I am not of an age where I can play with balloons.”
This is just the latest in a long series of jibes about Rahul’s lack of, um, years.
Most wedding invitations among Delhi-ites end with RSVP. I had once the temerity to ask my dear Sikh friend who invited me over on the occasion of the apple of his eyes – meaning his dear daughter –getting married, what the abbreviation RSVP meant.
He had a hearty laugh and said: It’s simple. “It stands for Reply Soon Via Post. Of course you needn’t reply. You know you have to come.”
But I got confused when Modi used the abbreviation in an election speech. Was the bloke thinking of getting remarried? I thought his was a case of once bitten twice shy. Then it turned out what he meant was Rahul, Sonia, Vadra, Priyanka.
The pundits tell me that the high society of England assimilated French etiquette in the late 18th century when it looked up to the Continent and adopted répondez s’il vous plaît, meaning “please respond”. Did either the French or the English ever envision it being traded as a political slogan in India’s 2014 election?