By Rita Banerji:
Date: The Foreseeable Future
Place: The Lion Throne
Dear Sonia Behn,
I’ve been thinking of writing this letter to you all morning, ever since my Leadership Training Team told me that the lesson for today is modesty. My Team tells me that Indians want a leader who is powerful like the lion and humble like the mule. I found this very confusing. “How is that possible? You can only be one or the other–a lion or a mule. MMSji is a mule, and I am a lion. But how can I be both?”I asked them.
They said, “Sirji, don’t look at the lions of Gir! Look at Soniaji! When the whole country voted for her to be our leader, what did she do? She smiled shyly and said she didn’t want the seat. She said she will sit in the back, in the shadow of the seat, which she so humbly gave free of cost to MMSji, and keep serving the country with all her blood and sweat. And everyone was so impressed. They said she is so humble; she is not greedy for power. But see, she became the 6th most powerful woman in the world. The whole country dances to the click of her fingers. But no one knows how. Why? Because she is so modest. Always shy. Too shy to speak. Even when she speaks to the public, which she does so very rarely, even then like a modest person she never raises her eyes and glares at her audience. She keeps her eyes down, modestly on the paper that she reads from, and then smiles sweetly, waves and disappears like a shy rabbit inside her hole. She does not thump her chest, parade around and roar like you, announcing your presence and your intentions so loudly–so loudly, baap re!–they can hear you all the way to the Red fort! But see Soniaji — she never says a word. No one knows what she thinks, what she wants, and what she has done or will do. She just whispers it to the MMSji who follows her instructions word to word. Even when she changes her mind, her instructions clash, and funds vanish, food vanishes, files vanish and even the country and constitution almost vanish, and there is chaos, confusion, and conflicts, no one knows who it is. The public thinks it is all the fault of the mule, who is being…oh so! mulish, and they say that is how the mule behaves. What can we do? See Sirji that is the true magic of power. As Soniaji’s genius baby-boy would say: Like poverty, power is also a state of mind!”
Soniaji, to be honest, I was worried and asked my Leadership Training Team, “But where will I find a mule?” They laughed and said, “Why only one mule, Sirji, you will have millions of mules! Mules who will worship you the Lion master on the throne. You have to whisper one word to them, and they will all repeat it together in one, big loud chorus, and it will drown your roar! Your wish will be the mule choir’s command. But the mules will think they are in power. And they will be happy that finally our country is a true democracy led by a lion leader. With Soniaji’s system everyone was complaining it is a monarchy where the ruler does not even listen to the public! So Sirji — not to worry. You will have your mules too, and your system will be much better!”
However, Soniaji, I also have to say how much my Training Team admires you. They hold you as the role model for my leadership training classes. There is so much I have learned from you. For example, on the issue of the pesky minorities. You and I know that periodically we need to do pest control so they don’t start thinking they are human — like us! Now your party and my party both did pest control in 1984 and 2002 respectively, but what I couldn’t understand is why all these human-rights wallahs are after my blood only? Then my Team studied your tactics and I thought really you are my Bhagwan Shri Krishna coming to guide me personally in my battle! My Team said, “Look at Soniaji. Does she ever make any comment about the ’84 pest control? She is absolutely silent. Like it never happened! But you — you keep saying this and that, that you didn’t, then you say maybe it was wrong. Why all this chatter? Why bring up things that are dead and gone? You must learn to be silent like her, and it will go away on its own. And do you see what she does with her party’s pest control-wallahs? She keeps them close to her heart! She protects them. She knows if she doesn’t they can do pest control on her! But you — you think your work is done, and throw your pest-control wallahs in jail, and think you have erased all record of the pest control! Now you are all clean! But no Sirji, angry pest-control wallahs are more dangerous than the pest! Soniaji knows that!”
So Sonia behn I listened to their advice. And recently, when some of my police pest-control wallahs who I had thrown in jail and thrown away the keys to keep their mouths shut, escaped and began to shout all over town, I was in a big crisis! But this time I listened to advice and did not open my big mouth. Like you, I kept absolutely silent. And it was a miracle — it all disappeared! My Training Team also said, “See Soniaji. Her party may have done pest control. But does she ever call the minorities a pest! Never! She tells them all, that she loves them and will give them human rights! But you, you just say this land should be ruled by us humans and all the minority pests should be kept in special boxes or thrown out. Do you understand Sirji — it is not what Soniaji does with the pests, it is what she says?”
I feel foolish to admit that I was so foolish Soniaji and you so clever. I am also am realizing that many minorities make a big majority vote bank. This of course you could see better from Delhi, than I could in from my little corner of the country. But my Training Team has now educated me about the whole map of India. Oh my god! So many religions, languages and cultures besides mine! Now I am determined to capture all these vote banks! I sent out tweets in all the languages. Then I told all those other religions to attend my meeting in their religious clothes.
But what I don’t understand Soniaji is why then these human-rights wallahs are after me for my party’s pest control? Why they don’t go after you for protecting your party’s pest control wallahs? Not just in India but in America too! I know, I know, the American court just sent a letter to you about ‘84. But still you are free to come and go to America like a bird with their big, strong Intelligence protecting you! Even Kalamji didn’t get such special treatment. You remember how badly they treated him even though he was our President? As for me, even before my plane ticket is bought, they all start shouting that I am a criminal! I am worried Soniaji, if I go there, who knows what they will do to me?
My Training Team says maybe because you firangi people are all of the same biradri. You know how it is — blood is always thicker than water! So my Team has started a project to build my biradri with the firangi folks. Like you know Prince Hari of London is supposed to have relatives in my Gujarat. We just made a nice Amul advertisement celebrating our common biradari. And it is working! The British have embraced and welcomed me unlike the Americans. I know it really is about mutual grazing land. You of course understand that better than me behn. Don’t listen to what they all say Soniaji. I personally think this is the real reason there is no infighting among the members of your party! You graze outside, and they graze inside. Everyone is happy! It makes your party peaceful though I think you should put some sense into your idiot son-in-law’s head. When you say graze on land, it means graze on things that grow on the land: fodder, food, sand, coal. So many things! Why gobble up the land?
But talking about building bridges with the firangi folks, my Team says the Americans love Bapuji blindly. Bapuji is our soft power! I must say though I think it is unfair that those ignorant Americans think you are related to him, when really Bapuji is from my biradari! But we are trying other methods with the Americans. My Team says they love it when you say you want to be like them. So I am using all the phrases from their leader Obamaji — like “Yes, We Can!” and “Dream Team,” for my campaigning. Even when my Team taught me to call your Team a Dirty Team, they made me say it in American — “Get the Dirrrrrrrrty Team out!” If none of this works, then my Team has another plan. They say I should not go to America or any other country and risk jail. I should just stay in our country and tell the public that I’m a true desh-sevak, the public’s servant! I’m not wasting tax-payer’s money by frivolously flying free all over the world like your Party people — especially, don’t mind my saying, Pratibha behn, who took her whole biradri free too! I will be the first leader this country has ever had who spent his entire term on its soil, serving its people. But secretly, Soniaji, my real dream is to be a world leader like Obamaji and get the Nobel Peace Prize.
I hope you didn’t mind my calling your Party “Dirrrty?” My Team made me say that. But the truth is, for me your Party is my Dream Team! If today I am in this position, it is because of your Party. Even when my Party was fighting with me, and many were refusing to name me, your Party had full confidence in me. Even when your Party was not even sure who to name as leader for your Team, they repeatedly nominated my name as leader for my party, and were unanimous! In fact I did not even have to speak for myself. Your Team told the voters, “Narendra bhai says I will take control! He says, I will lead you! He says, I will do it all alone!” The public was so happy to hear this. If the opposition Team can say such good things about me, things they are so frantic for, imagine how good I must be? If it was not for your Team’s hard work, maybe I would have been left behind.
And finally Sonia behn, I cannot end this letter without telling you how much I admire you. You are not only a role model for me as a leader but also as a woman. You are a true Bharatiya Nari! After this Delhi bus rape all these women activists are after us politicians. My Team says, my behans of my biradari love me for the Lion man I am, but these other women activists–you know the ones one of your Party members called “painted and dented”–don’t like me. They keep saying the ‘sex-ratio’ in my state is so low. I thought what is this ration of sex? No, they explain, it is ration of food, and the girls are so thin, and die because they are not given enough food. And that our biradari doesn’t like girls so we also kill them. But I said, No bhai. This is a fashion among girls to be thin now. They don’t eat to be thin, and sometimes they become so thin they disappear. That’s why so many girls are “missing” in my state. This made those women activists even angrier. So my Training Team made me address this meeting of kam-karne wali behans and praise them continuously for an hour! I said, women can do this and that, and everything outside and inside the house, and like the Earth– Dharti mata, bear the burden of all us stupid men! But let me tell you a secret. While I was saying that, I thought of you! You bear the burden of all the stupid men in your party and in your house! You are like ‘Mother India’ — you know the film? Only that you would never shoot your rapist sons in the back! No you would send all your rapist Party brothers and sons riding off into the sunset on a horseback. That’s better than Mother India! You use your power to bring honour and power to your husband and son! They are the focus of your vision, your goals, your work, and your whole life! “Mere pati mahan, mera beta mahan!” Wah! All your power is for them! That is my vision of a true Indian woman! Soniaji I salute you!
But there is one question my Training Team is not able to answer for me Soniaji. So I am asking you. You are the 6th most powerful woman in the world, and still these women activists expect nothing from you. How do you manage this? You shelter rapist politicians and they don’t fight with you. You don’t even have to give the kind of speech I was made to give to the women of India. Or promise them anything or show any interest in their safety and protection. Please tell me your secret. I will eagerly await your reply.
Your student and admirer,