How a Centrist became a Rightist
I count myself amongst the scores of Indians who used to be neutral or what we call ‘centrist’ today. Until a few years ago I actively disliked the saffron agenda folks as epitomized by LK Advani, MM Joshi, Sushma Swaraj and the rest of the so called Hindutva Gang. I believed in an “India Shining” and felt that India would prevail irrespective of whether the Congress or BJP were in power (after all, didn’t the congress have much more experience running the country and things weren’t so bad).
Infact I was one of those who believed that the seemingly educated and distinguished Rahul and Priyanka Gandhi, who so obviously had the whole world at their feet would one day step in to take control of this mess called India and whip it back to shape. With their refined looks, elite background and proverbial golden spoon (Come on !! They had everything. Why wouldn’t they want to help the teeming masses) they seemed like the right people to do the job. Just like their father Rajiv Gandhi attempted to do before he was derailed by the likes of VP Singh (Castist loony), IK Gujral (Never knew what he did), HD Deve Gowda (holy cow, can he just be struck off the list please), Chandrashekar (Again, don’t even remember him?)
Let the Gandhi’s take care of India. They have years and generations of expertise. All I wanted was to get a decent education, go to work , buy a house and have a comfortable life with my friends and family. There were noises about this mass murderer Modi and what he did in Gujrat (Unacceptable but effective I thought) and about how the Saffron brigade was meddling in the IITs and NCERT by changing the syllabus to accommodate more and more Hindu bullcrap. I had an opinion, but frankly it wasn’t worth any effort discussing. After all decent people don’t follow politics. We are above all of that nonsense. The local Malls had all the American stuff you could want, eateries had very possible kind of cuisine, the latest Hollywood movies released within a week in India and our real estate investments looked real good. Meanwhile the government changed to Congress with a coalition. Democracy at its most democratic with virtually everyone a part of the Govt. Heck, even Laloo Prasad Yadav looked good with his Harvard speeches about the Indian Railways. All was well in India and I was confident we made the right move by deciding to stay in India and not go abroad like many of our friends.
And then slowly the economy started taking a nose dive. All the good stuff, including new companies entering India everyday and creating opportunities for people like me, started slowing down. The day was fraught with traffic jams and really bad roads. Basics became a problem, vegetable prices went crazy every now and then and getting anything done in any govt office became a nightmare.
Crooks lost all fear of the system and offenses right from mini ones like traffic offenses to petty thefts were conducted with impunity. After all if the Fooder Scam, 3G and Coal scam biggies could get away why not these petty offenders. The Jails were crowded and the police understaffed and demotivated.
We tolerated this and went on with our daily life. It became the in thing to make jokes about India. After all we were beaten and disrespected everywhere. Afraid of Pakistan and China, afraid of the terrorists, beaten up in literally every sport (except for an occasional saving grace with Cricket, Long Live Sachin). Why would it matter if our non-Indian co-workers make the odd jibe about india. After all the truth is the truth no matter how bitter
And then the scam floodgates opened. It seemed like there was a scam a day. If a scam wasn’t over a few thousand crores it barely got mentioned on the news. Possibly in the Scammer’s elite social circuits they had a minimum entry criteria. If you hadn’t scammed over a few thousand crores, you weren’t invited to the party. Why the heck were we paying taxes? It was an echo across the country and everyone looked for a way to evade taxes. Hey afterall everyone knows that Indian are essentially corrupt.
And then more stuff happened. Nirbhaya! The Common Wealth games! Indians getting beaten up in other parts of the world! The List was endless. People were dispensable and life was cheap in India. As an Indian, we really had no right to expect any respect. We didnt deserve it. Our so called spiritual leaders were despicable sex maniacs. Weren’t we lucky that we were occupied by the British for a 100 years. We wish they never left but atleast we got the Indian Railways and English when the British left. But things still hadn’t touched us personally until the piece of land we bought with painfully high monthly EMIs was encroached upon by someone. “Don’t try to fight it”, people told us, “They have political connections. The courts don’t work anyway. Try to settle with the encroachers. It’s just standard Goondagiri ”
We had lost all faith in the system. ‘Was it time to leave India and find a job outside?’ We asked ourselves a countless times à la Amir Khan? At least we could disassociate ourselves from the shame of being an Indian. But the answer was always a No… This is our land, our home. India is our Mother. The national anthem does bring a tear into my eyes when I hear it. But each time our conviction was less and less and we felt like idiotic saps hanging on to a sentimental love for a country that no one loved or respected anymore.
Then a few things happened. A movie called Rang De Basanti made the rounds with its decidedly inspiring theme of fighting the establishment. A few months later a whole group of people gathered besides Anna Hazare to fight corruption. We sat for a few hours at Freedom park and went back to work convinced that we did our bit to reform the country. Nothing really changed except for a few heated newsroom debates. And then the 2014 elections loomed in sight.
What’s the point? It’s the same old bunch? One party is the same as another. How is LK Advani different from Manmohan Singh. Both are equally likely to fall asleep at a state dinner. At least Manmohan Singh doesn’t spout vitriolic bile on Ram Mandir. But new voices were being heard over the rest. Arvind Kejriwal with his very appealing revolutionary pitch. And wait a moment. There was another. We had been reading small posts of him in Magazines. About how he transformed a small state called Gujrat. How there was peace and prosperity in Gujrat (even through the media told us that the minorities were being oppressed into silence). About how the VHP hated him because he smashed temples as indiscrimately as mosques to make way for wider roads.
We took notice. We read more about him. We now had two people who could change the country. Modi and Kejriwal. Maybe there could be more. Possibly India would shine again. And then Kejri dumped his Delhi CM Post and started spouting bile in Varanasi. Back to one, Just Modi. He better be our man or it was time to pack those bags. We listened to his speeches and his plans for development, marveled at his hologram appearances and felt inspired that finally here was a person who believed that India could be great again. The best part id he didnt speak a word of anything Hindutva despite all the noise around him. Hooray!! Maybe we could still stay on and give this country a chance even if he did a fraction of what he promised. After all we are a tolerant nation.
And he didn’t let us down. He brought in untainted people to head his cabinet. We don’t expect him to clean up all of BJP immediately (although we would like him to eventually). We saw that he made the right moves. Bringing in efficiency in the beauraucracy, not starting a witch hunt (despite cries to the contrary), Improving Economic reforms, focusing on Indian foreign policy, strengthening the Army and above all instilling a sense of pride in Indians. Imagine he actually evacuated a bunch of Indians in Yemen who were too stupid to leave in the first place and were probably best left behind. He showed he cared about what happened to Indians. Who has ever done that. He appealed to our better nature. Overnight he asked the nation to give up their gas subsidies and the nation responded. We are a NOT waste of space. We can be a great nation if we work towards it. Our past is a matter of pride and the future is for us to conquer. We will build a better India, a cleaner India and a stronger India. He gave us a glimpse of what may be and showed us that it wasn’t a pipe dream. The country bought it again. BJP won Haryana, Jharkhand, Maharastra (even with an unholy Shiv Sena alliance). Things were looking up again. India once again seemed that it would start shining. India and China were talked about in the same breath again. All would be well and Modi would take care of us.
And then the media attacks started. National and international press. Along with the so called Intellectuals and Elitists with cries of intolerance. Supported tacitly by the people who had disassociated themselves emotionally from the mess that was once upon a time India.
They were not talking the truth. It was distorted. We lived in India and we didn’t see intolerance, we didn’t see communal violence, and we thought the Govt was doing a good job.
‘We don’t believe you’ the disassociated others said. Down with the Hindutva inspired RSS mass murderer called Modi. Down with the suppressors of freedom of speech. Don’t believe in the meaningless rhetoric of the RSS. India was, has been and will be a mess of a nation that has no right to exist.
We protested mildly on Facebook, got shouted down and as always gave up thr fight and got busy with our lives. Modi will take care of it. And then the voices grew louder and BJPs electoral carnage at Delhi happened and then Bihar.
Now things are looking bleak. The land bill will not get passed. GST which we were looking forward to wouldn’t happen. Reforms would slow. Sonia and gang would have the last laugh.
It has gotten worse. There is open talk of dividing India. Anti-nationalism is becoming a word of sophistication and being a Patriot is a now a thing of shame. After all the dreaded RSS call themselves patriots and if you aren’t against the RSS sympathetic government you don’t stand for truth, liberty and tolerance.
It is time to wakeup. Modi is not a magician. He needs help. The forces that hate India are stronger than ever. And united like never before. If enemies like Laloo and Nitesh could join hands, the Maoists and Jihadists are not very far behind. And this time the stakes are higher. It’s a matter of survival. For those of us who still love the country and want to live here in peace and prosperity, its time to take sides.
Its time for the Centrist to move to the Right side of the debate!! India’s side of the debate !!