I really didn’t want to share any more feelings about the sad, sad day that was 16 May, and I promised myself I wouldn’t discuss this anymore, but when I boarded the flight back to Goa yesterday, and noticed it was 70% filled with BJP party workers something snapped. Again. The entire aircraft was filled with them, noisy, boorish men dressed in saffron scarves, some with lotus badges; and the atmosphere was obviously celebratory. They were loud and uncouth, blatantly filming everything from the overhead baggage space, to the AC vents, fellow passengers and unsuspecting airhostesses too. From time to time they burst into loud guffaws disturbing the remaining passengers who were clearly in a minority, left to the mercy of this rude and overbearing crowd. Quite like the situation after 16 May. A tiny miniscule minority silenced by the chest-thumping, sweeping victory of the saffron brigade.
Clearly they were being flown down (some for the very first time in their lives, as was apparent) for a massive celebratory BJP orgy of some sort. And I couldn’t help but wonder if this whole scenario of chaos at the hands of a noisy majority, while a meek few suffer silently, was a fitting metaphor for the way things might pan out going forward.
And then I asked myself why should we be silenced? Why should I stop showing my discontent? My disappointment? Truth be told, I can’t say I was disappointed at the results, because I didn’t expect anything different. But, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t feel massively let down and disappointed that a little glimmer of hope had been shunted out for many years to come. You see what scares me isn’t just that the Human Butcher is now the most powerful man in the country, and that he has shown every sign in the textbook of being the megalomaniac that he is, but the number of people that I regarded as sane, intelligent, sound-thinking individuals have fallen prey to this development hooplah.
What was horrifying, were the staggering figures, the sweeping numbers with which victory went their way. And with every growing number in their favour, I saw the bleak hopes of a coalition (because that was our only hope!) fly away. Have the people of our country just plain forgotten what happened in 2002? And in that context, what happened in 1984 (because this isn’t about choosing the Congress over the BJP)? Have we forgotten what happens when that kind of authority is concentrated in the hands of one power-hungry, crazy autocrat? Our collective memory as a country has always been weak, but I didn’t think so many thousands and hundreds of us could get so desperate, that we convince ourselves that choosing a monster amongst devils is actually good for us. I didn’t expect this widespread, blind sycophancy.
I was 16 when I was exposed to the downside of Modi’s development model. I heard Medha Patkar speak at a Narmada Bachao Andolan march that I participated in, and have never believed that it is the healthy and truly properous kind of development. Where the lowest rung of all social and economic order always stand to lose. Are we so brainwashed by this PR machine that we are willing to shut our eyes to the inherent inequality and disparity that it breeds? Are we going to sit back and be okay with our choice of development over human rights?
Is development (largely designed to benefit big industries and corporations) really all we need? What about corruption? What about poverty? What about taking the Right to Education from a mere bill to reality in every nook and corner of the country? What about organised healthcare? How come we’re okay with not having answers to any of these real issues? The issues that stare us in the face from the moment we step out of home to go to work every day?
How is it okay for us to sit back as a nation and let a fascist who once had a clearly communal agenda, take power just because he replaced the C word with the D work? It’s Development, in case you didn’t guess already? What about the many higher-ups in his party who have been slapped with charges of corruption? What about the stifled mismanaged investigation into his role in the riots? What about the farce that is the clean-chit he has been granted? What about the fact that a single man has the power and machinery to set on a path that wipes out every conceivable piece of media that he is the butcher that he is? There’s a whole documentary about it, including these horrific clips that tell a truth that didn’t make it into the film. As for some of the written evidence, someone was wise enough to dig it up and compile some of it neatly for us to see. Look here. How can we ignore his all-consuming fetish for power that has let him get away with everything from religious pogrom to snooping on women and real-estate scams?
Ab ki baar, we’re so fucked yaar!
In the run up to 16 May, I found hope in the voices on facebook and twitter that echoed my feelings. Every post I read that exposed this, made me feel better. Every tweet about how wrong it would be to bring to power a man responsible for such horror, made me feel like all was not lost. And then he won. With a sweeping majority, at that.
Most disappointing of it all, as I’ve said here before, is the revelation of several of my own friends being Modi bhakts. I’ll admit there are those who seem to have their own twisted logic (for lack of a better word. It’s illogical every way I look at it) to back it up and then there are those who have made statements like “These Muslims need to be shown their place” and “Christians don’t belong here, they need to be killed” in my presence. It has made me cut them out of my life for sheer inability to deal with such sentiments at face value. Over the last few days I have blocked four people on whatsapp for incessantly spamming me with veiled praises for Modi which actually just amount to communal sentiments.
If anything, this election has set a few facts straight in my head. The huge numbers and giant social media noise we talk about is but a blip in the noise and chaos that is this country. A million retweets of one sensible tweet is no sign that we can fight a force so strong. When I heard Modi’s victory speech in Ahmedabad, it was a cringe-fest in my head. The blatant self-obsession and blowing-of-his-own trumpet, so much so that consistently refers to himself in third person, reminded me of the speeches of Adolf Hitler we watched in my 12th grade history class. It makes me fear what is to come. It makes me afraid of where we are headed. And it makes me feel so helpless, as a tiny smidgen of a minority that feels this way, but cannot do a thing about it.
Now that we are here, and there is no way out, I want to believe the lot that tells me he is a shrewd man not so foolish to become PM and unleash communalism. But really, can we trust the man? Try as I might, the skepticism refuses to wash away and make way for hope. One can only pray that things do not go the Holocaust way. Or the 1984 way. Or the 2002 way, because somehow no amount of development justifies that to my mind. And if by some miracle things don’t pan out that way, I’ll be happy to admit I was wrong. But right now, don’t try and tell me this was the best thing that could have happened to us. Several people, including friends and family, have tried and failed. I cannot get beyond the violence to even consider it. Never before have the words of Yeats been truer,
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
Somewhere in that speech he spoke of how reforming the country is a process that he will carry on for the next 10, 15, 20 years. And right then it dawned on me, we really get the kind of leaders we deserve. And now we’re so effing stuck.
We chose the monster. We deserve this monster.
Fellow Indians, what have we done?