Modi (not) for PM : Battling a lost cause?

In the past one year the call for Mr. Modi to become the Prime Minister and rid the country of bad governance, making it developed, has grown – and it has multiplied exponentially. People share pictures and messages comparing him and Rahul Gandhi, asking to choose development over family legacy, a family which has held on to power since decades and has ruined the country, they argue. I would agree with the latter. However, I do not see the point of this discussion. It is not an either-or situation – and nobody knows what is the lesser devil here.

Now, lets talk some ground realities. What we self-claimed intellectual classes feel about it is a minority opinion; and going by the history of this country – any minority opinion needs to struggle to death before it can even be acknowledged. Insidious propaganda is not the only thing which goes on today. Everywhere, you might have across someone who makes your blood boil by extending his/her warm support for a man you despise so much. Someone somewhere would like, comment or share something about it, and with recent privacy settings on your Facebook account, you get a glimpse of it. Sometimes you argue, sometimes you let it slide. You grin, make a mental note of the person, and gear up to have an argument someday in the future; or sometimes you just hurl abuses in your mind.

Sometimes you would have met people, friends or acquaintances, and eventually this topic would come up. Everyone seems to wanting to mirror their concerns and worries about the future of this country – it is the common obsession for the sensitive middle classes ever since the Delhi gangrape incident of December. You would not have realised when the conversation would have shifted from asking for death penalty for rapists to that of seeking support for Mr. Modi. Sometimes, you would declare that you do not agree to any of it, and no quantum of arguments would be able to convince either side. Both parties would end up citing individual choice – you would facepalm yourself, and they would laugh at your naivety and you idealism, and your humanism, and everything else that you seem to represent. You would go back to sleep thinking of newer arguments or perhaps a better way to articulate them – to convince those who did not agree, just when someone would share another photo, and it would be the same thing all over again.

So, what is the basis of these arguments. You could easily call them right-wing fundamentalists (most of them are indeed!) and move over to the next person, only to witness a somewhat sophisticated and subtle mirroring of the same thing, this time from someone you know to be quite ambivalent in their aspects of life. These men or women always treat their house-help with respect, they call their parents everyday, they do not ill-treat women travelling in buses. They even do not throw waste on the road. They do not ask the caste of people who serve their food in restaurants. In short, They are the ‘good people’. Now this set of good people agree all you have to say against Mr. Modi. But they also agree to everything that is spoken in his support. This is the most blatant (ab)use of individual choice – being apolitical or liberal openly. They are openly against ‘dirty, divisive and communal politics’. They flamboyantly treat ‘all religions equally’ and they have ‘never discriminated against any caste’. The good people will vote for Mr. Modi when the time comes – and you will be stuck with your little protest. They will move forward and make sure that continuous growth in the country is ensured – you can take your little cynicism and shove it somewhere else.

However, all the good people and the media tell us that the youth of today is discontent – and they are angry. There are scams in tune of thousands of crores out in the open and people responsible for them are never punished. The women are not safe anywhere, the economy is falling and there is rising unemployment. There is no water in the taps, petrol prices are also rising. The present government is inefficient, corrupt and indifferent to the concerns of the citizenry; it is bound to lose. It only seems fitting to put someone in charge who is said to have overcome all of this where he has worked for the past ten years. I would disagree with none of it.

There are proven reports of autocratic workings of Mr. Modi in Gujarat. Political analysts have traced his rise to power as a direct result of his shrewd and opportunist character. His resistance to democratic and regulatory institutions are out in the open for anyone who wants to see it. Bureaucracy in the state of Gujarat pays homage to him in person. Eye-witnesses compare the pomp and show of his public appearances for any public function as to any feudal landlord. I am somehow reminded of Julius Caesar. We probably did not learn enough from Shakespeare. He warned us of giving power to an authoritarian to restore democracy. But what does Shakespeare know! Notwithstanding what the courts and investigating agencies have done with Mr. Modi about the 2002 riots, the last thing his involvement can be termed is a ‘mistake’. There is a large sentiment which might not hold him responsible for it – as they believe the courts cannot be wrong – and agree to give him a chance, for the country has run out of options. Rome has indeed found his new hero.

Let us now crown him and see – does he give power, affluence and democracy back to the people or does he take them away and turn it into a dictatorship. If this was the glorious Rome, and I was fed up of constant wars – even I might choose a Hitler, a Caesar or a Modi to put things back in order. Nobody questioned the effectiveness of the Caesars or Hitlers of the world, they are very effective in what they do – and that is the biggest problem. But history is taught for a lesson – to not make the same mistakes again. And no number of good people can convince me to make this mistake. I shall not trade any kind of skewed growth and ill-development for democracy. I shall not give up my rights to speak freely for the promise of a distant and imaginary land. And I shall not accept hopelessness and fanaticism to rule the psyche of this county.