An Appeal To The ‘Modi’fied Conscience

Posted on June 18, 2013 in Politics

By Thomson Chakramakkil:

With the Lok Sabha elections just around the corner, the little birds on blogs and social networking sites have already started chirping about Narendra Modi, the Goliath of the BJP campaign and, considering the present Indian political landscape, the pack’s trump card in the great game called Indian democracy.

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Modi needs no introduction. He has been introduced way too many times. His name resonates through cyberspace like a Vedic chant as the internet priests come together and opine on his mind-boggling deeds. Wherever his reputation is due, the international PR firm APCO, hired by the devil himself, steps in and makes sure that it’s done the right way. NaMo, as the birds have lately come to call him, simply cannot be ignored.

It’s true. If you look at the big picture, it’s impossible to gloss over how the Modi debate divides the country into two neat halves. One half consists of ridiculously unrealistic “anti-development junkies” fuelled by Arundhati Roy articles and hopelessly optimistic Congress supporters guided by, well, gimmickries of the Gandhi dynasty. The other half is relatively homogeneous, being made up of “progress-friendly” citizens struggling to understand the need for reservations in this “class-free”, “caste-free” nation.

Regardless of how often I have been subjected to the entire Secular vs. Hindutva debate, I wouldn’t level it all against those of us who want Modi in India’s most powerful chair. We are all birds too old to be caught with chaff. Considering what the world’s largest democracy has turned out to be, it’s not very surprising that we’ve come to look like off-screen versions of Arnab Goswami.

Congress, with all that they’ve done in the past 10 years, pisses us off. There is not a genuine left-wing party to look up to. By far, there doesn’t seem to be another alternative. As a generation which has witnessed a colossal degree of scandals and the most corrupted politicians on the planet, we want change. And somehow, we have convinced ourselves that Modi is the change we’ve been longing for.

This is the reason why left-inclined intellectuals and Gandhi fanatics fail to convince us. They write 5 page articles on how UN development indicators of Gujarat are against the grand narrative of Gujarat development. They use words like infant-mortality rate and sex-ratio; words which don’t even remotely concern the educated, upper-middle class, city-dwelling Indians fascinated by the fancy multiplexes and shiny bowling alleys of ‘Vibrant Gujarat’. We love what has come to be known as the Gujarat Model Development. In the middle of the entire clamour, the question of whether this development paradigm is equitable has gone unanswered. All we ask, regrettably, is whether all our cities will look like Ahmedabad once Modi is in power. Thankfully for us latte liberals, the other side of the story is not on TV. Even if it was, we wouldn’t care.

Modi’s third term in Gujarat is not a mere stroke of luck. Modi could very well be the political colossus of modern India. The birds on the internet are quite right, Modi isn’t a bad administrator- he’s as clever as any Gujarati businessman. The sheer scale of writing generated for and against him proves how impressive his stature is.

All the same, the skeletons of the Modi’s past have been lost sight of in the tumult of development. History, in just around a decade, has lost its sentimental value. The voices of the ‘othered’ or, as Arundhati Roy calls them, ‘the people who creep along the edges of the society’, are conveniently ignored or tuned out. And luckily for Modi, these people- people with dissenting opinion, people untouched by the development story we have come to celebrate- can’t write in English or be on twitter.

I admit that it’s frightening. It’s frightening because NaMo takes me back to 2002. It’s frightening because he reminds me of the undiluted fascism of a certain German dictator from the 1930s.

You know where my voice is headed. From this point, this entire piece is a cliche we are sick of. There is nothing new or enlightening about it. It raises more questions than answers. To be upfront, this is nothing more than a feeble cry in the dark we’ve grown accustomed to. Nevertheless, I’m compelled by conscience to state the obvious.

I don’t think India, as the secular amalgamation we want it to be, is safe in the hands of Modi or the party he represents. I don’t see how a ‘Hindu Rashtra’ envisaged by BJP is an ideal place for everyone. Right from the time I first read about BJP’s communal agenda in my high-school social science text-book, I’ve been baffled by how a political party with such fundamentalist objectives can be allowed to contest in elections. The “post-colonial” notion that majoritarian fundamentalism is an acceptable political tendency goes completely over my head. I can’t forget the cold-blooded riots of 2002 or the witch hunt for missionaries in the hope of a developed India. I can’t put my conscience at stake for roads without potholes or roofs without leaks.

I don’t feel the need to substantiate my cause any further. There is a distinguishable layer of rust around it. The choice is out there to be devoured by the birds. But, if the BJP and their prince charming is back at the centre deciding what everybody should do with their lives, it won’t be because of my vote.

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