I am like most other urban Indians. Apolitical. Or non-political. A novice. An outsider. But a well-wisher. Because I love my India.
Other than election time, when we dutifully went and cast our vote silently, politics had no impact on our lives. Yes we gasped over scams and purported stories, but just as quickly dusted the sand off our feet and moved on. Politics never entered our homes -- certainly not our bedrooms and kitchens. Yes, we cursed much when the Shiv Sena changed our beloved Bombay's name to Mumbai when they came to power in 1995, but quickly saw the rationale behind the move. Desi euphoria and jingoism bloomed. With the luxury of life, consumed with a silver spoon, it was easy to see the virtue behind a Shivaji statue.
"We desperately needed hope again. It came in the form of Narendra Modi. Brilliantly packaged. Karmachari. Brahmachari. Sanskaari."
Even when vehicles were set ablaze due to Marathi Manoos prejudice and Biharis asked to return to their home state, we ignored them with the hope that sense would soon prevail. It didn't. Sadly. Hindutva ideology had started to seep in. To even the most neutral amongst us, it was unacceptable.
Never mind the disappointment. Manmohan Singh is a brilliant economist and will herald a new India we were told. After all, as India's finance minister in the 90s he had introduced to us the concept of India shining. But his failure as prime minister, a position he was ushered into in 2004, was soon apparent -- what was the power Sonia Gandhi wielded over him? OMG and why? What on earth for? Why did he look like a deer trapped in the headlights?
Sycophancy was the giant ogre in this Congress Government -- everybody was getting swallowed and the whole country was dying. An Italian accent became the most despised sound in the Indian psyche -- even senior leaders like Digvijaya Singh had fallen into the Gandhi scion brainwash. Rahul Gandhi? Really? But Pappu can't dance saala. Oh and not to forget that Vadra boy. What did Priyanka see in him ya? Looks like a total goonda and how did his whole family die so mysteriously ya? OMG? What? Forbes[sic] has listed Sonia Gandhi as the third richest woman in the world? Baapre! And she still wears those cheap cotton saris? What an actress ya. Better than Shabana Azmi!
Uff, India and its Bollywood fixation. Anyway to cut a long story short, when it was time to re-elect a new Government in 2014, I, like most other urban Indians reeling under the corruption of dynastic politics and a failed Congress Government was filled with hope. Hope for a new India. Hope for change. Hope that things will finally get better.
Arvind Kejriwal and his Gandhi delusion -- remember how he went on a fast every time and for anything, and tried to project that he is Mahatma Gandhi reincarnate while trying to hide the fact that he is CIA- ( Ford Foundation) funded? Of course his "common man" phony-ism gave away his own opportunistic game way too soon and he fell by the wayside. Phew! He was India's first anti-corruption hope dashed. Who could we turn to?
India was desperate. We needed a leader. Badly. We needed progress. We needed a semblance of honesty. We desperately needed hope again. It came in the form of Narendra Modi. Brilliantly packaged. Karmachari. Brahmachari. Sanskaari.
So well was the Gujarat model marketed that Modi became the one man capable of delivering us - India -- into the future. A future built on the foundation of tradition. Indian tradition. As anti-Italian as one could get.
"Did you say sedition charges should be slapped against those who dare to speak up? I mean really? I dare you - seriously."
Never mind that the the major prior perception the public had of BJP as a party was its Karnataka ministers -- C C Patil and Laxman Savadi -- watching porn in Assembly in 2012, or the ban on women wearing jeans at work in the state and being beaten for consuming alcohol. All this was soon obliterated by Modi's own 5-star charisma and his PR machinery. If anybody deserves an Oscar for PR, it is indeed Sri Narendra Modi's team.
So, swayed by a desperate hope as we were, longing, pleading and begging for a better India as we were, I, like every other urban Indian, even went out on a limb urging my friends and family to vote for Narendra Modi. Stated on social media that Narendra Modi's greatest ally was Rahul Gandhi. And I wasn't wrong.
The BJP Government won because we Indians had become so soooo Gandhi family intolerant -- any alternative seemed like manna from heaven in comparison.
Had the Congress propped some other leader of calibre other than gora chitta Rahul Gandhi or his Maa, the votes would have been divided. But Rahul Gandhi sealed it. The BJP owes him a lot for their victory.
But what have they done with their victory? It's been disappointing to say the least. Not just disappointing. Annoying. Frightening, Unacceptable. Totally. Totally totally unacceptable. Despicable really.
I remember whilst urging my friends to vote for Narendra Modi that a Muslim friend had joked that if the BJP comes to power he will have to get on a boat to Karachi. So real loomed the spectre of the Godhra riots in everyone's head, and so real the feeling of Muslim persecution. Was he wrong?
At that point I had reprimanded my Muslim friend that his fear arose from the fact that his allegiance was with the Islamic state in the first place, so he shouldn't use the minority card to gain undeserved rights and privileges. If Karachi is emotionally a boat ride away surely it's where he belonged? "You don't understand SK," he sighed. In retrospect I think he may have been right.
Reservation and minority status for Muslims in my view was nothing but vote bank politics. The Congress policy of divide and rule. But hey... I admit I don't really understand everything. Like I said I'm a novice. But hey... I'm also an artist enough to understand that even a novice is entitled to her world view and I'm common enough to understand that I express what a large number of people feel but are unable to elucidate so... here goes...
It's been barely over a year of the BJP Government and how disappointed are we? God OMG -- more than disappointed, I believe we are shocked and hoping it's still all a mistake. Did we ever imagine we are voting for a despotic fascist regime? What exactly is going on? WTF!
Beef Ban: Dear BJP. Can you please explain what wrong did the chicken or the goat do that they deserve to be killed and not the cow? Yes, yes the Congress imposed it before you, but how come they didn't bombard it on us as much as you did? Why am I suddenly feeling embarrassed about being a Hindu?
Meat Ban: Yes, you want revenge and one-upmanship on your Congress counterparts and detract from the fact that you are failing completely in governance. Farmer suicides, rape, children dying by falling into potholes, Gajendra Chauhan... need I say more?
Did you say sedition charges should be slapped against those who dare to speak up? I mean really? I dare you - seriously.
And what was that about eliminating western culture and reclaiming Indian culture?
What exactly do you mean by that dear education/HRD minister Smriti Irani (who is not sure of what education degree she has acquired herself or in which language)? Someone who herself doesn't know if she is a BA by correspondence or a B.Com by imagination, is not likely to know the difference between Hinduism and Hindutva is she?
"If you do not understand that tolerance, or exercise that compassion so intrinsic to our religion, you do not deserve to call yourself Hindu."
Hinduism is a philosophy. A way of life. The doctrine of which allows me the choice of acceptance or rejection. Rama or Ganpati or atheism too. The Upanishads or Gita or tantra or mantra. Hindutva, on the other hand, is a militant imposition of wrongly interpreted tenets of Hinduism. Hindutva is a political tool -- nothing to do with the religion itself.
I'm not showing off or being patronising I promise you. My grandfather and my ancestors were temple priests -- my father still recites the Vedas verbatim. My sister recites them without having ever studied them -- it is so in my bloodline. That's how Hindu my lineage is.
So do not teach me about my own religion, dear BJP. Don't tell me how I should think. Who I should worship. How I should dress or what I should eat.
I am a Hindu -- by definition, a purer and higher form than you can ever be -- and I reject your Hindutva. Just as Islam must reject the Taliban or Isis.
To be a Hindu is to be tolerant. It's why we have survived as a race in spite of invasion, conversion and unimaginable attempted destruction. If you do not understand that tolerance, or exercise that compassion so intrinsic to our religion, you do not deserve to call yourself Hindu. Or a leader of a democratic nation.
So dear BJP, I reject your Hindutva. I reject your fascism. I reject your despotism.
Dare me if you will. For I speak for all of India.
This post was first published on Suchitra Krishnamoorthi's official blog page.