Why so serious? (12-26 August, 2022)

Monday Musing

[ Asok Pillai ]

I can tell you right now that once you come under the media’s scanner, it won’t take us long to find out almost everything about you, professional and personal. In this, we are like the police, with whom, I dare say, we have an excellent relationship.

We are good at gleaning intelligence about the person in question – in this case, the BJP’s Arunachal Pradesh general secretary (organisation) Ananta Narayan Mishra.

By now everyone who reads newspapers and thrives on social media knows the pickle he’s in. An FIR has been lodged against him at the Yingkiong police station in Upper Siang district for allegedly breaching the sanctity of harmonious coexistence between two tribes of the same district who were, until Mishra set foot in the district, abiding by certain obligations in order to keep the peace over an area of land considered holy by both the tribes, who have different religions and rituals – and you know how it is with religions.

Willingly or by mistake, Mishra crossed a line there, it looks like.

We live in strange times, gentlemen, and ladies, of course, if I may have your attention.

No one was prouder than I when I saw the photos of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, bowed, with his forehead touching the stairs of Parliament, on his first day at work, registering his high respect for the “temple of democracy.”

Today, I don’t know what to make of the man.

From the next general election onwards, I shall exercise my right to vote, my party of choice being NOTA. Could’ve been the BJP, but I have no faith in Modi’s leadership. He is not a patch on the late Atal Bihari Vajpayee, by far.

My brother, on the other hand, is a big-time Modi fan. He says that he draws inspiration from Modi and his life history. On my part, I have a natural dislike of politics and cults of personality. All said and done, who cares who is at the Centre? It’s not going to change my life in any way, shape, or manner.

That is why I don’t follow leaders. I follow the laws, by the simple method of being a modern-day hermit. A man who lives indoors cannot commit a crime, unless he is contemplating suicide. Rest assured, I plan to live for a long time. I have debts to pay, metaphorically speaking.

Today, 16 August, Mishra appeared before the crime branch superintendent of police in Itanagar. The details of their interaction/interrogation have not been made available by the police. Don’t be surprised if Mishra gets away with just a rap on the knuckles for his act of transgression, for obvious reasons. I can only visualise the man being treated like a VIP wherever he may roam in the corridors of power in the state. Add to it the fact that we have another ‘chosen’ president in the Rashtrapati Bhavan – it’s mind-boggling how democracy is being skewed. The National Democratic Alliance won plenty of praise for pitching Droupadi Murmu as their candidate in the presidential election. She was a shoo-in because nobody could question the sheer brilliance of the Modi government’s political manoeuvre. First of all, let’s give them a woman, and not just any woman, but a tribal woman. Kill two birds with one stone, in a manner of speaking.

Long story short, I think there’s a general feeling spreading slowly across the country that we are being taken for a ride; that the nation is being sold to corporates.

I don’t know much about Modi’s life and times, but my brother does. He told me a moving story about two men in a full train, who respectfully offered their booked seats to two girls who were on their way somewhere to write an exam, and themselves slept on a cloth spread on the floor of the carriage, on a long journey.

One of the men was Modi, who was then a BJP worker or something to that effect. One of the women was Leena Sarma, who later wrote that she knew from Modi’s demeanour that he was not ordinary but someone who was heading towards greatness.

Touching, I know, and it’s not like I hate Modi on a personal level. It’s his politics I find ridiculous. Today, BJP is Modi, and Modi is BJP. Another cult of personality has been born, and taken to heights of grandeur. The ‘Narendra Damodardas Modi’ pinstriped suit, reportedly worth Rs 10 lakhs; the Maybach sunglasses worth over Rs 1 lakh; having the world’s largest cricket stadium named after him; building the world’s tallest statue, a new Parliament building… I wonder how an expert, unbiased psychologist would describe the prime minister. If they dare, of course. Speaking of which, I said I wonder, and I cannot control my thoughts. Don’t let this turn into something like the ‘Rs 15 lakhs in every Indian’s bank account’ scam started and stoked by the Indian National Congress and its allies. A lot of people are still waiting for the money.

Turns out that Modi never made any such promise. He was estimating what could be done with the black money he would bring back from foreign banks if he became prime minister. Eight years have gone by and there’s still no sign of Modi making any move to bring back the money. Instead, famous criminals have fled the country lock, stock, and barrel.

My brother, naturally, once attended a Modi rally in Assam. He told me that Modi is so fair that he dazzles; that the crowd was enraptured by his presence. “It’s not the kind of fairness you get from living in air-conditioned rooms. He was born that way,” my brother said. “He literally shines.” (We converse in a mix of Arunachali Hindi and Hindi Hindi, but switch to English on WhatsApp.)

Make no mistake, Modi is going to run the country for a long time. The opposition parties are so stupid they are busy squabbling among themselves instead of forming a united front against a common enemy. The Congress is still worshipping the Nehru-Gandhi family, and as long as it goes on, the party will remain regressive until it becomes redundant. The Congress has more than leadership issues on its hands. It is, in fact, a sinking ship. For god’s sake forget about the Gandhi family for a while and start a new chapter, like making Shashi Tharoor the party’s face. The man deserves it. But who listens to the layman’s advice?…

… As time would have it, today, 26 August, veteran leader Ghulam Nabi Azad quit the Congress party, dealing it a savage body blow, using bitter words to describe the state the INC is in because of Rahul Gandhi’s behaviour. According to Azad, Rahul Gandhi lives amid a “coterie of inexperienced sycophants” who take the decisions for him regarding how to run the party.

Leave the table where respect is no longer being served, as the saying goes. My heart goes out to Azad, the old guard who finally grew a spine.

In his five-page resignation letter to Sonia Gandhi, Azad said that “important decisions are taken by Rahul Gandhi or rather worse his security guards and PAs (personal assistants).”

It came as no surprise, given that the Nehru-Gandhi family has always been surrounded by sycophants, generation after generation, from what little I know about it. I’m not into politics, but I believe Azad served the Congress party with the zeal of a sycophant till he couldn’t take it anymore. His resignation letter exposed the INC’s can of worms, with Rahul Gandhi at its centre. And they still want a Gandhi to lead the party. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Give Tharoor free rein. He will make a fine prime minister.

I am not canvassing on his behalf. I’m offering the only choice the Congress has. Tharoor has charisma to match Modi’s. No other person in the INC – or even the UPA, for that matter – stands out to be able to give Modi a good fight, and perhaps even win.

Tharoor, also, has genius-level IQ. What is so hard to understand? Tell me. It would be foolish not to pitch him as the INC’s prime ministerial candidate. High time, really.

Which brings us to the larger scenario. I repeat that I am not politically orientated, but how about giving the Communist Party of India (Marxist) a shot at running the country, even if as an experiment? As a voter, you should seriously consider this. It’s in your hands to change governments. It’s just a matter of five years. Let’s… evolve as voters and change governments at will, unless the serving government is serving well; snatch the power away from the politicians and vest it upon ourselves to decide who is best for us.

Think about it. I am going to vote for NOTA until we have a government that understands the agonies and travails of the millions of nowhere people like myself. Wishful thinking, I know. But it’s such a depthless state of mind.

You probably vote for one party or the other. So choose wisely. Rip the heart out of politics and choose the PM, or CM, because of sane, logical reasons, not for reasons of greed, or creed, or blind faith. Install a government that works for us all, not a government that makes us feel like we are being observed.

Stand up for your rights, men, women, and children. We live in a secular and democratic republic. The leaders have played their games with you; it’s high time you turned the tables. Rise and shine!

Nah. Just kidding. Nothing is going to change.

After all, this is your world. I just live in it.