Modi Antsy-sm

A e-mail response to an article by Shekhar Gupta (Editor-in-Chief, Indian Express). Have re-presented the mail as is here:


For quite some time now, I have been giving a very serious thought to an often unexpressed fact – a morbid reluctance to Modi (hatred comes across to me as a very strong word and hence the word ‘morbid reluctance’). These are some observations on my part. I am a complete outsider sitting pretty far away from the humdrum of politics in Delhi (am in Mumbai) and just an avid follower and reader of the Indian political scene. Hence I am not privy to any information so what I put across might come across as just a bit fictional and over the top but nevertheless here it goes.

  1. Congress and BJP have been at each other for quite some time (since BJP emerged as a force to reckon with post Ayodhya Ram Temple strategy) and rightly so since they are opposing parties and also since they represent opposing thought processes (wont use the word ideologies since I sincerely feel Congress doesn’t have one and BJP has its moorings in one but does vacillate). But never ever have we seen the narrative between the two so sharp and acrid. Somehow I get a feeling that the mere mention and sight of Modi makes the Congress absolutely antsy
  2. Moreover, I feel is that antsy-ness (if I may use the term) is specifically related to the family and somehow the family has been able to percolate and distill it down to its close and loyal associates who then flow it much further down the rank. Additionally, if that antsy-ness is not displayed by all and sundry in full force then lo and behold the political career of the defaulting Congressman would careen downhill and hence the sharp tirade from all quarters towards Modi. The more vituperative the comments the deeper the loyalty ‘expressed’ towards the family
  3. Why then such antsy-ness towards Modi? I feel Modi as an idea is what makes the family squirm. He has a strong perception of being a no-nonsense getter, brutally incorruptible, breaking old shackles and old cozy relationships to get the job done, rustic, being abnormally nationalistic and so supremely confident that he has the gall to show a middle-finger to anybody (Indian or otherwise) who doubts his vision. Perhaps, Modi represents the complete anti-thesis of the dynasty, the perfect anti-thesis of what the family stands for. Modi stands for self-made whereas the family stands for a silver-spooned lineage on a platter, he stands for a rustic, grass-roots person where as the family is perceived to be ensconced in its high citadel, he is seen as once poor yet driven who had to strive at every step of his life whereas the family generally had it pretty easy where in it didn’t even have to move a muscle to get things done. There is a clear, striking distinction between the two – a distinction of entitlement – one deserved the other inherited. Moreover, the kind of support, allegiance and favor Modi is receiving from the country – urban, rural alike, the family might just be afraid to look at the writing on the wall and sulking at the change of guard. Modi in a way is not just talking about ‘Congress-mukt Bharat’ but about ‘Gandhi-mukt Bharat’ where the family is rendered irrelevant and ineffective not only in the country but more importantly in the Congress
  4. Another aspect that I observe is that there have been innumerous riots that have happened in India (am not even for a moment condoning it and asking for business as usual), a number of them under Congress’ watch, most notably 1984. A simple Wikipedia page would tell us that there have been innumerable such communal conflagration across the country since 1947 – useless to get in to that. Why is then Congress fixated on Godhra 2002? Is it then that there are no issues that they can rake up against Modi? Or are they trying to make the Muslims ‘understand’ the fear of Modi and thus make them vote en-bloc for Congress? Isn’t a counter-polarization a counter-strategy? At the outset the handicap is only 15%, but the advantage a whopping 85%. Or is the Congress trying to belittle and morally assault Modi by reminding him about Godhra over and over again? Perhaps they feel that the person can be broken down by a persistent and stinging moral assault day in day out
  5. There is the behavior of one more group I find very intriguing. The intelligentsia. They are going completely gung-ho about the country’s non-communal status, its secular fabric the ‘Indian-ness’ etc going the Ganges way i.e. in dirt, if Modi becomes the PM. I feel Swapan Dasgupta made a brilliant point in his article in TOI (6th April edition) when he said that maybe the intelligentsia is a bit afraid that the ‘outsider’ tag that Modi brings along with him would seriously alter the relationships in Delhi. The cozy clique that the babudom, editors, newsmen and the legislators had created and nurtured for so long is in for a rude shock. The ‘I-scratch-your-back-you-scratch-mine’ syndrome is going to meet an abrupt end when Modi unveils his sharp claws
  6. Also, I really would like to understand as a fly-on-the-wall as to what exactly the Muslim voter is thinking. It is a foregone conclusion that theirs is a negative vote rather than a positive one i.e. s/he votes to defeat the BJP rather than look to win a SP/Congress candidate. So whoever is supposedly best placed to defeat the BJP candidate would be voted for. The sad part of this is that a negative vote is necessarily never going to make things better. I guess it started out as a positive vote for SP, BSP, RJD, Congress but then later converted in to a negative one post the ‘promised backlash’ if BJP was voted in to power. It is imperative for the community to understand that even after 60 years and voting (positive or a negative one) primarily for an anti-BJP party why are they still lacking in most social parameters i.e. education, enrolment, jobs, security, overall well-being etc. This fear and supposed protection vote that the anti-BJP party claim precludes them from feverishly acting on the social parameters of the community and assimilating them in the mainstream. It is obvious that if the mind is pre-occupied with security fears and existential issues where then would be the mental space and bandwidth to focus on the day-to-day travails of roti-rozgaar-kapda-makaan-shiksha. Why is the narrative arranged for them always on the brink of a morbid and unnatural fear related to their religion and the idea of joining the mainstream never arises? I believe the onus squarely would lie on the liberal, educated and sentient people in the community. The community needs to understand and inherently believe that this is nothing but the path of diminishing returns. It is turning in to a self-fulfilling prophecy where in the community claims of being socially outcast is being re-asserted time and again by the un-willingness of the community to assimilate itself in to the mainstream much to the delight and glee of the anti-BJP party
  7. Lastly, I feel Modi is a very smart chap. There is no hope in hell that he believes that he can continue with the majoritarian view-point, if he has any. This is but likely the view that ‘khaane ke daat kuch aur dikhane ke kuch aur’. BJP might push for counter-polarization as a strategy but surely that wouldn’t be the game going forward. It is just not possible for the country to clock 8-10% GDP growth with the 15% handicap being ghettoized. At this point of time he has plucked on the mantra of ‘hope’. A hope for development, a hope for jobs, security, water, electricity, infrastructure etc. A narrative which is definitely going to energize and enthuse the voters. A narrative which necessarily has a corollary of the misrule of the UPA and the scam-a-day Government that has reined upon us

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