Guest post by BHAWNI MEHROTRA
I’m glad you spoke. Even though it was devoid of any personal remorse and limited to calling the Dadri lynching an “unfortunate and unwarranted” incident at Sasaram. Even though it was to cash in on ‘communal harmony’ during an election rally in Bihar. Even though it was a mere paraphrasing of the President’s quote once before at Nawada (we know of your limited vocabulary beyond acronyms and your “may-the-force-be-with-you” love for quoting). Still, I’m glad that you managed something! However, the one thing that you have failed miserably to manage (and let’s leave the ambling economy and your familial relations out of this) is the ‘fringe elements’ that come as part of the ‘BJP family pack’ offer. Sadly, under your ‘good governance’, the fringe has been asserting itself as the mainstream. Even sadder is that under ‘you’, the fringe is the mainstream.
The icing on the cake are your own MPs and ministers. Initially, what I thought of as verbal diarrhea on their part is actually proving to be a string of comments that are a part of a larger orchestrated communication message. Each message has a defined audience suited to their language and idioms. They all suffer from a dangerous saffron strain, exactly the kind that has fathered the ISIS, the Taliban and so on. Whether it be Yogi Adityanath’s remark, calling on Hindus to organize themselves; or Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti’s unparalleled comparison between a “Ramzaada” and a “Haramzada”; or Nitin Gadkari’s reminder of the government being one of “Rambhakts”- all seem to be competing for being the most ridiculous. Did you mean “Hindutva First” and not “India First”? I’m sorry that I was so awestruck by your gazillion rupee election campaign (the one thing that you managed brilliantly) that I didn’t read the fine print. Therefore, it is not your failure, it’s mine. Had I voted sensibly, Mohammad Akhlaq wouldn’t be dead today.
I was foolish to be duped by the reverberating slogan of “minimum government and maximum governance”, without knowing that the difference between the two words was that the latter was a tool for the former. You were smart enough not to specify how the tool would be fashioned and I fell for it. When, in the manifesto, you promised an ‘accountable government’, I didn’t understand. Did you actually mean the government’s accountability to the RSS shakhas? Never had I thought that ‘Swachh Bharat’ could also mean a sanitized India, with no freedom for public expression, a subtly gagged press and an absence of a voice for all types of minorities. I didn’t know you meant it figuratively.
I thought I had voted for change. Only, I didn’t know it was a change from bad to worse. I didn’t know communal passions could be fanned by your shakhas based on misinformation and you did nothing to stop it. All along, you and your minions knew that beef, in India, does not comprise cow’s meat but buffalo’s. You never chose to highlight this and stayed mum. Also, you conveniently forgot that your very own state of Gujarat was amongst the top ten states in terms of the number of slaughterhouses, when you were CM (FICCI data).
Unfortunately, I can’t blame it entirely on you. I always knew of your RSS history, I knew of Babri Masjid, I knew of Godhra. I just read selectively. Subconsciously, I was aware that cow urine would be sprinkled on me during Navratri, if you came to power. But, like the millions, I was swayed by your “development” rhetoric and I ignored the cost it came at. I reveled in your 2,500 kg sandalwood and Rs 25 crores’ donation to Pashupatinath Temple (Nepal) and the idea of a Ram Museum in Ayodhya, without identifying the communal undertone. All was hunky-dory until Dadri happened. Now I know, you outsmarted me. Modiji, you’re at fault at best for subterfuge, but I’m also guilty of selling off.
A citizen who fell prey to false rhetoric.
The author is a political researcher and policy professional based in Delhi