Some relief from Modi, at last!
Meem Afzal is a Congress spokesperson. He told a TV news channel how relieved he was that the election campaign was over. ‘At least now, our ears will be free of Modi’s speeches.’ Afzal could not be alone. The constant bombardment by you, Narendra Modi, from every corner of the nation at least five times a day added to the more than hour long TV interviews had turned all other voices into murmurs from hidden corners. Some relief came in the form of a photogenic and giggling Priyanka Gandhi or Arvind Kejriwal taking a dip in the Ganges with forehead smeared in sandal paste and vermilion, a welcome relief from the regular slapping he was getting accustomed to. Honestly Modi, your presence in our drawing room, morning walk, office gossip, SMS, Facebook, Twitter – nearly anything that we touch, had been overwhelming. You never let us alone, always firing us with your inimitable comments that could not be missed. We are also happy that now we have some respite and meanwhile you may recover your voice to use for a larger audience on 17 May. Even your detractors must be secretly appreciating your superhuman efforts and wishing you a week’s rest.
You had been a man possessed. In none of your speeches, actions, interviews you did anything that was not unscripted. Or to put it differently that did not help the BJP campaign 2014. There are several instances. Let us take the one on the 30 April. After casting your vote, in an uncharacteristic move you took the kamal from your vest, held it in your figure, positioned it along with the ink mark of voting and then took a selfie. You also responded to media queries but if one heard your responses in isolation, outside the surroundings, there was not much difference between how you address a rally and your TV bites. What was more interesting, while responding to media you ‘forgot’ to clip back the kamal on your vest. All these were natural acts of an excited senior karyakarta of a political party no doubt but Narendra Modi getting so excited was unexpected. The Election Commission, three former bureaucrats appointed by the Congress government, took umbrage, rather strongly. Out came the knives, FIR was filed, messages were splashed all over media that you were in serious trouble. Some excited media persons kept flashing that you would be behind the bars for two years. Oh how relieved many were, finally Modi would be jailed!
When the entire nation had been queuing up to buy tickets for Ahmedabad to see you being taken in, you had been busy campaigning. We came to know from your admittance to TV channels that you were blissfully unaware of what had been happening in Ahmedabad. You have a 56-inch chest but not all your fans are blessed with the same. Many were concerned of the consequences.
Even before the ripple effect of the controversy subsided you criticised the way of poll handling by the Election Commission in West Bengal. For many of us accustomed to seeing booth capturing, intimidation by party cadres, false voting in West Bengal the polling of 30 April in the state was routine. What if many did not have to go for casting their votes. Their votes were cast any way with democratic responsibility discharged. Complaints from the opposition Left for instance did not disturb our peace. Weren’t the Left responsible for conducting election in the same way year after year till Mamata Banerjee showed them the door? But you decided to take up the cudgel. How can one attack the holy cow of Indian democracy? The three wise men are the three final adjudicators of fairness of an election. How can you criticize the Election Commission? Media concluded that it was because of the FIR lodged in Ahmedabad, you made a mountain out of a molehill.
Then came the stage decoration at Ayodhya. Did we not see a portrait of Rama as backdrop? Isn’t Rama a god according to communal Hindus? You did not stop at the display. While speaking you mentioned that it was in the land of Lord Rama you were asking for votes so as to establish Ram-rajya in the country. Even we the fools of India did not need any media person to tell us that you had breached the laksman-rekha and used religion in election campaign. We were shocked when the Election Commission did not act with alacrity but merely served a notice on the candidate for the backdrop. Many of our sincere wishes to silence you again was belied.
Thus when you were denied the permission for a rally in Varanasi, we, the secular Hindus, expressed our heartfelt gratitude to the impartial Roorkee graduate who was the Returning Officer. Many newspapers displayed prominently over several pages in addition to nearly one full page dedicated on the issue of the fairness of the decision. While defending the officer media also pointed out that the officer had to stay put in UP even after election. Predictably he was not keen to emulate the illustrious career of the Haryana cadre IAS officer Ashok Khemka. Even if this meant denying permission to some Narendra Modi to hold rally in the constituency he was contesting from, nobody cared. Mr. Modi the free thought had its last laugh by gagging you. Now we are all happy – Meem Afzal, my friends in media with a responsibility to save the plurality of the Indian society, the do-gooders of the society, Indians of all hues the informed, not informed, argumentative, Nobel laureates, famous writers, had been actresses, all of us in sum.
We may now open our eyes, unplug our ears and clear our thoughts of you. Well even if it means just for a week or so but one week is a welcome relief since we do not know for how long thereafter it will be only you in Indian governance.
The author is a communication consultant