On News

The Ambiguous Indian

A friend recently mentioned how she’d rather relocate to Bangladesh than live in a country with Rahul Gandhi as PM, notwithstanding the fact that the other contenders aren’t jewels either. I agree. I would be scared if he was PM. You don’t want someone who would disappear for days, say things he didn’t seem to understand, be pathetically predictable and wait for the support of his family to redeem his stuttering political career.

But, while we have been used to the current PM’s

  • overtly visible foreign trips burning a black hole in the hearts of his opposition and the health of the country’s finance;
  • denial to speak when his ministers and grassroot goons chose to be racist, sexist, food-puritans and outright violent;
  • unpredictable overnight decisions and impenetrable leadership disallowing anyone but his immediate henchman for advice…

Rahul does seem like a lesser evil, albeit with a huge mound of salt. The only fact that doesn’t work in his favour as it does for youknowho is that his whining works zilch against youknowho’s marketable successes in foreign direct investment, international support in foreign and economic policies and Bollywood.

Take for instance, Vivek Oberoi’s comeback film, PM Narendra Modi or Anupam Kher-starrer The Accidental Prime Minister. Or the current batch of Akshay Kumar films. Or even whole news channels of breast-beating hosts wringing necks of anyone who speaks against the government. It is one thing to use media for influence and another to own it. One must, after all, give credit where it’s due. For all the chaiwallah-chowkidar common man shoes that the PMO wears, it is its meticulously strategized marketing style that seems to steal the show every time. What Anil Kapoor couldn’t manage in Nayak, youknowho and malicious Malfoy rustled up alright — an office of media friendly millenials who know which hashtags will catch on and who do not get bothered if the likes of Kunal Kamra make fun of them. That Kamra gets twitter death threats every other day is a different matter. The PMO knows better than to directly go after them. They have an ideologically chauvinist brand of supporters doing their threatening for them, both NRI and Indian. I will not point fingers now (not too pointedly at least), because that is how post-postmodern democracy seems to be working, thanks to Trump. You call it a democracy, vow on every podium to make your country great again; then, do what your xenophobic heart tells you, care two hoots about media trolling and believe in propaganda. Bingo. New age democracy!

The saddest part about this whole ballgame is that nobody can actually cross their heart and choose anyone they hope to be the next best choice. There isn’t any. The Family wouldn’t think of a dynamic opposite of Rahul outside its backyard and the rest of the projected leaders keep naysaying others more than proving themselves. In such circumstances, it seems the ambiguous Indian will close her/his eyes, vote for youknowho and bring back another five years of a tested, fascist but fancy-looking rule. If not for anything else, then to encourage a generation of writers (both behind and before the camera) to shed their inhibitions and exercise a freedom of speech, while getting threatened right below the stage.