Picking sides

Until very recently, all pro-Modi voices scared the bejeezus out of me. I just didn’t get it. I still can’t wrap my head around what could possibly make it okay to side with a fascist, mass murderer. No matter how many bridges he’s built, how many villages he lit up, or how many Gujarati industrialists love him. If there was ever any logic behind supporting him, it escaped me completely.

And then I watched the Rahul Gandhi interview last night, after much hemming and hawing, wondering if I really wanted to watch a bully journo corner a little boy trying hard to be a politician, into taking a stand and accepting the many allegations that he piled on lavishly. But I gave in and watched it anyway. The interview didn’t really tell me anything I didn’t already know. In fact it didn’t tell me anything new at all. It didn’t change my feelings towards Modi. More importantly, it didn’t change my feelings towards the Congress either.

I’ve voted in every election I was eligible to, ever since I was 19. I don’t know if each one of those votes was the one I really wanted to make, because I can’t claim I understood the true gravity of what that right, placed in my hands, really meant. Don’t waste your vote, they said. And so I went and got myself inked, for having chosen. Just chosen, not necessarily chosen well. As always, it was a tussle — of choosing between the lesser of all evils. Until very recently, I was certain this election would be no different.

Until very recently, I have been trying to pick the lesser of two evils. But the truth is, a lot is different.
This is the first time since the time I have exercised adult franchise that I have watched, read and tried to understand the mechanism of a General Election.
This is the first time I have read, heard, participated and engaged in so much every day, household discussion about the election. I don’t know about you, but around here, we’re talking about it all the time. With my folks, with our friends, with people we meet, with my neighbour.
This is the first I have realised the real dismal state of affairs we are in, and how dreadful it is going to be to have to choose.
This is also the first time that in trying to pick a side — the one that seems less disastrous, as usual — I’ve failed every single time.
I’ve been trying to stick logic, carefully construct reasoning, and just pick a side. Any side. But I cannot seem to justify choosing either the thugs, or the mass murder.
I’ve been trying to psyche myself into the vote-because-you-mustn’t-waste-it way of thinking. But I’m beginning to feel that it is not enough.

Until very recently, I was under the impression that my choices are limited to two large segments of our political make-up, each with their fair share of evil. But yesterday’s interview changed a lot for me. I no longer want to settle for either of just the two. No longer want to exercise my vote just to pick the seemingly less troublesome side. Because that is not good enough.

Until very recently, being anti-BJP automatically meant that you were a Congress stooge. And if you had any brickbats to throw Congress’ way, it automatically meant that you were a BJP follower. Yesterday’s interview changed that for me. Yesterday’s interview showed me how utterly leaderless we are, and how this election isn’t going to just be hard, its going to be bloody painful. I’m looking for the option that really shows promise, not of big outlandish things like empowerment, justice and progress, because we all know those things don’t happen in a day, week or month. Heck they don’t even happen in one term. I want to wait and pick the side that promises accountability. Because I no longer want to keep adding to my own chalta hai attitude that has motivated me to choose in every election prior to this. I cannot make myself justify choosing between power-hungry looters, and power-hungry fascists. So I’ll wait.

Until very recently there were just two sides to choose from — pro-Modi and anti-Modi. There seemed to be some twisted sense of sanity in choosing the anti-Modi, because you know anything is better than bringing a uni-dimensional tyrant to rule a nation as diverse as ours. So, when I encountered the pro-Modi half of us loudly lauding the vast strides of “progress” he has made in the past and promised for the future, as good enough reason to pick him, I was scared. Very, very scared. These are people I know at close quarters, some friends I meet regularly, some I share meals with, invite into my home and assume we have a lot in common with. Suddenly, their opinions scared me. Until recently, they were the only one to be afraid of. But yesterday’s interview changed everything. Now, the pro-Congress half of us scare me just as much.


20 thoughts on “Picking sides

  1. Pingback: Reading now | hAAthi

    1. Yep, it seemed to have been hacked and some mass spam message was sent out to more than one person. Please ignore it, sorry for the inconvenience. I have changed my password now :)


  2. I’ve read your post and all the comments, so don’t really have anything new to add.
    From a personally perspective, I will finally get my voter’s card this year (finger crossed, coz the red tape crap prevented me from getting it for the last 9 years!). And now that I have the ‘power to vote’ I don’t know which way to go. So am back the question, will my vote help the wrong people, or am I doing the right thing by not voting?!


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  4. What actually terrifies me is the fact that senior congress leaders (people who I thought were actually sensible and reasonably competent) are coming out in defence of this interview and are agreeable to this man being their prime ministerial candidate.

    On the unlikely chance that the Congress wins the election and Rahul baba becomes PM – what kind of a picture would he present on the international platform? He couldn’t handle Arnab (and a very polite Arnab at that!) – how would India be portrayed internationally? Diplomatic and policy decisions?

    The one thing I like about the BJP campaign so far is that they haven’t been playing the Hindutva card as much as in previous elections. The focus now seems to be development and I’m feeling better with that.


    1. They havent spelt out the Hindutva agenda as they used to tend to, but some of the other very regressive things theyve said have been bad enough. MOst recently, NaMo was heard saying something to the effect of, when you have a daughter plant a few timber trees and by the time shes grown up enough to be married, the trees will be ready to be chopped and sold :|


  5. this sums up everything i felt after i watched it!! i have never been pro/anti Modi, because i had both groups of people around me, equally convincing. But yaar, pappu ithna bada pappu niklega, kabhi bhi nahi socha that!!! what a pathetic state (country) of affairs! :(


  6. babe, I cringed so much watching the interview last night and was writing a post about how I am so confused… I am stumped at the timing :D very little choice is so scary, devil and the deep blue sea story this is turning out to be… and my entire family is pro modi. i seem to be the only voice which is actually looking at it from the non hindutva angle… say what you want, but the truth is that the minorities are going to hell in a hand basket (the words of my friend N) very soon if Modi is the only choice we have… and that is something that I cannot ignore…


    1. Most blind pro modi people are actuallt anti congress. Their stand is usually anti congress and they are left with modi as the only option me thinks. Ten yrs ago i might have seen sense in that approach — to pick the lesser evil (oh but at least he gave gujarat such immense prosperity!) but not any more. Tragedy is the other option is equally dismal. For my choosing raga is as horrific as choosing namo. Cannot able to tell the difference anymore.


      1. it was like a muff who learnt a few answers by heart and rehearsed and repeated them for every question asked. I feel sad for this country, that we have either bulldozers or reluctant leaders


      2. No difference between Rahul Gandhi and Narendra Modi?

        Hard to argue with people who make up imaginary arguments in their head and don’t care much about statistics (mind you, not from the Government but from third parties associated with the UN).

        For starters, here is something worth reading to understand the Gujarat story: http://www.amazon.com/Why-Growth-Matters-Developing-Countries-ebook/dp/B00BAH8HJS

        And, Modi is a ‘fascist, mass murderer’? Let me try to explain this one last time:

        Starting from 2004 till today, Congress has been in power at the centre. CBI has been controlled by the Congress since then. Despite many convictions in Gujarat, they have not been able to find a single shred of evidence against Modi. Most importantly, this is the case, despite the prosecution is strongly against Modi. That should say something! And now, you claim to know better.

        For dreamy idealists, NOTA is always an option. For a practical realist, there is only one obvious choice in 2014 elections.


        1. Im not anti-growth, I just think what Gujarat has seen is one sided unidimensional growth. I wish I had saved link that talk to the thousands of displaced farmers who lost their homes, villages and livelihoods thanks to this kind of “development”. Ask them how they benefited from it.

          As for how innocent Modi is, I think there is enough material in the news that talks about how the Modi government and the SIT destroyed/suppressed evidence, going so far as to allege that the SIT in fact did not carry out a thorough investigation. Unfortunately we live in a country where such things never get closure. Heck people are still angry and awaiting justice over 1984, so Godhra is likely to be on our angry minds for a long time to come.

          I wouldnt call myself a dreamy idealist, and NOTA is probably not he option I am going to choose, thanks for presuming. This was a post about being caught between a rock and a hard place — and that opinion is entirely MINE. I know several people who share your opinion, its great that we can exchange them here, but it would be nice if you didn’t come out here to “explain one last time”. Everyones entitled to their opinion, even the greys in between. But I guess for the practical realists, its only black or white.


  7. It is really scary when people who one always thought were intelligent, rational and open-minded start displaying complete blindness towards the obvious faults in the people or parties they support.

    Unfortunately, almost all people who are members or supporters of any party (Congress, BJP, AAP and ALL parties) display this blindness. Any person who displays genuine, well-meaning dissent is branded a ‘traitor’.

    All of us must understand that we are Indians first, and our loyalty to our parties and our leaders is a very distant second to our loyalty to our nation.


    1. Exactly why the post is titled “picking sides” and the post is about how I cant, because it isnt about picking the less disastrous, most convenient, most capable of the lot.. If there is not a single one that is accountable, then maybe I wont have a valid choice — so be it. After all things didnt get this way just miraculously on their own, we are paying for our own actions thus far, and we will pay the consequences fully before a revolution of kinds wipes the system out and makes way for a new one..


  8. Modi has had a good tenure here in Gujarat. The problem with Modi coming to power in centre however is all the self-righteous, pro-hindutva baggage of RSS,BJP, and such coming with him. Yes, riots did take place during his tenure and so many lives were lost. Riots also took places during the tenure of many congressmen. No, it doesn’t justify or excuse the Gujarat riots in any manner.. but the question that leads is if all leaders available have an equally horrendous past, who is the best bet of the lot?

    Of the lot, as of now it seems Modi is.

    I guess this is one of the reasons why AAP was able to come into tenure in Delhi.


    1. Yes, the most obviously irking factor of all the things I am uncomfortable with, about Modi is the Hindutva baggage (and thats just putting it subtly), but I have other issues as well — but these are applicable to most leaders of this nation — unilateral progress that doesn’t look out for all kinds of people, most often the “progress” and “development” is at the cost/expense of a weaker section of society, and benefits only the upper elite. So no, the choice isn’t that simple for me this time.


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