A Missive From Canada for India, From a Midnight's Wayward Child!
Notice: This blog is about politics in India. So, if you don't understand or aren't interested, I'd understand. Thanks.
As a wayward child of India, let me describe what I see and feel about Mother India--from across the oceans. There have been state elections in Mother India. Many are celebrating full throttle the 'decisiveness' of the country's strongman, the Centerman, in anointing another strongman, the Stateman, the head of the most populous state in the motherland. The opinion in the land is divided. Democracy is good--a potential and actual source of much good. Though, if not constantly tended to with care, sweat and tears by all its aficionados, it too can spawn evil. Something--is afoot in the Motherland.
And there are the Fourth Estate and the Fifth Estate. In them are the believers, the relativists, the proponents of the better than the last bunch or the makers of the glass is at least half full arguments on the one hand, and on the other stand the sceptics, the worriers and the critics who see the Mother's democracy in the stranglehold, nay chokehold, of strongmen--the Centerman, the Stateman and mini men in the service of "the cause".
Looking at the glass of politics in the country, one can't disagree with the claim that it is half full. But the question is: full with what? Not with any good the politics can do. Any humane, not human, only humane, eye discerns the glass full, half full that is, with the dastardly communal politics--with the blood and corpses of the countless victims of the near countless riots, large and small as well as the pain, anguish and suffocation of the brutally "othered"-- made to feel aliens in their own Mother's bosom.
Even the glass half full types concede that the Cennterman's promised economic development hasn't materialised. The corruption hasn't been dented. The citizens in the land began to brand the Centerman a juggler of jumlas and a political trickster, a salesman par excellence--tricking people into believing the truth of whatever lies or less than truths he was vending at the moment. Demonetisation descended upon the Mother along with the demonization of the unbelievers and different believers. Banning the old currency was defended in the name of the Mother when it had nothing to do with her needs. Billed and hawked as a decorruptor, it didn't decorrupt; no, not even an iota. It was a brilliant deception, a magical demon, that enriched the unscrupulous bankers, made the wealthy wealthier, increased the influence of the already influential and the power of the already powerful.
Murderous rampage of riots--the spilled and splattered blood of the children of the Mother-- was the tie that binds the Centreman and the Stateman. Fifteen years ago the Centreman had turned a blind eye to the murder of hundreds of Muslims--Muslims, yeh. Motherlad is their mother and home too--and the Centerman neglected to ensure their safety--the most sacred duty owed to the residents in the state of which he was then chief minister. Since his accession to Centermanship he has rarely spoken in defence of people's equality, civil rights and their right to live in peace unmolested and uninterrupted by the vigilantes of any narrow nationalism or other isms. In the election that catapulted him to the top of the political heap in the Motherland he wouldn't tire of telling the citizens of his vow to ensure discrimination against none and economic development for all. But all along his allusions to his narrow perch of an even narrower religious nationalism bared their ugly glare blinding the adherents of the majority religion and even some others, of his venomous designs that would forever strain, stain and almost slay the delicate and intricately woven centuries old multicultural and multiethnic fabric, ethos and embrace of the Mother.
Then along came an election in the most populous state of the Union. The Centreman and his deputies decided to be snake oil salesmen selling, of all things, more shamshan ghats to the majority because the minority had been given 'too many graveyards', more electricity to Diwali because Ramzan was getting too much more already. The Centerman also adopted the Stateman as a buddy campaigner. Though Soulless, they had been Soul Buddies. The massacre of a minority in the Centreman's state 15 years earlier and the Stateman's threat to turn the most populous state into one like the one the Centerman had once 'governed' through the massacre had cemented their oneness. In the ensuing 15 years the Stateman had changed his name, donned the garb of a religious chief, incited and executed numerous riots and participated--often violently--in others. By the time they became Buddy campaigners, the Stateman had racked up a criminal record and charge sheet, the length of his arm. The long litany of his criminal actions and charges included criminal intimidation, attempted murder, rioting armed with a deadly weapon, assault, endangering life and safety of others, injuring or defiling a place of worship and many more. The goons, the mini men, associated with the organisation founded by the Stateman had engineered and incited numerous riots and violent incidents in his state over the years.
The Soulless Soul Buddy campaigners, the Centerman and the Stateman, brought together by their riot tinged souls, commandeered a whole religion in aid of their clever campaign. The election was won. The media worthies who saw the glass half full opined that the Soulless SoulBuddies' win was extraordinarily special because it didn't exploit or pander to the caste affiliations and divisions in the Motherland; in the past most political parties had been guilty of pandering to caste identity politics, some more than others, they said. But the ostriches of the Fourth and the Fifth Estates, their heads stuck deep in the sands of the storm kicked up by the Soulless Soul Buddies' romp to victory, couldn't see that the Buddies exploited the larger and more sinister cleavage of religion as well as some caste divisions they publicly derided. They hated the "politics of appeasement" they said, pretending to be above the politics of caste and religion. But the fawning opinonators of the Fourth and FifthEstates failed to notice how the castes were now woven, pulled back and subsumed into the vortex of nationalism fuelled by religion. The irony of the Soulless SoulBuddies' dangerous and heinous politics of religion was lost upon the chattering and adoring media. Brilliant though they were, the Souless Soul Buddies' election strategy and campaign were anything but the end of politics based on castes; the castes had been simply corralled into the tent of religion belittled by nationalism.
The post election calls for amity and civility on the part of all coming from the Soulless Stateman ring hollow. In the past, his goons had wreaked havoc on the state. The election has just been won by the Soulless Buddies' horrid communal rhetoric. The people of the Mother know that the Soulless Soul Buddies unleash the torrid slash and burn rhetoric one day and pretend to ride to the Mother's rescue the next; quite the chameleons-- snake oil salesmen. But children of the Mother have long memories. They know in their hearts that the leopards can never change their spots. The Centerman hasn't changed from who he was 15 years ago when he allowed a free reign to the communal butchers of innocent human beings merely for belonging to a particular faith. His choice of an extremist Soulless Soul Buddy Stateman as a chief minister is proof that the last 15 years haven't dented his exclusionary obsession. His choice of the Stateman as head of the state is anything but innocent hubris, as some pliant commentators describe it. The crowning of a criminally charged virulent sectarian partisan as chief minister is a deliberate and dangerous strategy, not just for the Stateman's state but for the entire Motherland; that the choice is deliberate and insidious is clearer now than ever before--the Stateman has been declared a star campaigner' in Centerman's erstwhile state's upcoming elections and in the civic elections in the Capital City of the Motherland.
The Motherland has been going through a strange phase for some time now; a phase where the length of one's criminal charge sheet matters: the longer the charge sheet, the more revered one is as a political asset.
The recent state elections in the Motherland were no ordinary elections; the change underway in the country no ordinary change. The Centerman maintains and his cronies in the media nauseatingly repeat that he is the bearer of new politics that will build a new India. The 'new politics' is the politics of othering millions of the Motherland's children. It is predicated on othering a minority of over 180 million people of the 'other' faith. And it is anything but new. In fact the likes of Soulless Soul Buddies, their predecessors in their politics of religion and their buddies across the country have been practicing it since much before the Motherland, no thanks to them, freed itself from colonial slavery. This 'new' politics is threatening to build an India 'dwarfed' by the Motherland's own idea and her ancient self.
The Stateman, a communal hate monger and a notorious enforcer of an exclusionary religious nationalism, being chosen to head his state is the latest attack of that much malevolet nationalism now plaguing the Motherland and threatens its cultural ethos, domestic peace and stability. Unchallenged it would be the unravelling of the Mother.
The Centerman, at the center of things, cares more for his narrow view of religion than he does for the Mother; otherwise he wouldn't have appointed a morally challenged and a toxic politician with a menacing history, his Soulless Soul Buddy, the Stateman, as the head Minister of 200 million people of the Mother, of all faiths. If the Centerman was a great Prime Minister of the country as he and his admirers maintain, he wouldn't have plumbed the depths of communal venom in the recent elections by plunging deep into dark Kabirstans and burning shamshan ghats of the Motherland, even roping in Ranmzans and Diwalis--for evil and incendiary effect. The day he uttered those calculated juxtapositions of Kabirstans and Shamshan Ghats or Ramzans and Diwalis, he lost all moral authority to be and remain the Prime Minister of the Motherland, a great Mother that deserved and expected better from him; he lost the opportunity to be a great Prime Minister of the Mother--I am afraid forever.