First when I met him, he seemed like a normal person. Courteous, compassionate and professional in his demeanor. As long as the interaction was limited to the cubicle-side office chatter, everything looked fine. Then one day, he accompanied me for a coffee. That was the beginning. The first question he asked, ‘Do you follow politics?’, put me on high alert. ‘Yes, I do,’ I replied. ‘Do you like Modi?’ he asked. I watched his expression for two seconds and said, ‘Yes, I do. I appreciate all the good work he does. He’s a great leader’. Then for two minutes, without even space for breathing, he hurled countless abuses at the Prime Minister of India. It wasn’t the first time I had encountered someone who hates Modi but I knew it was going to be a fun ride.
Then came the post-lunch walks in the huge office campus during summer. We discussed organized religion, politics-religion nexus, oil corporations, Illuminati, Zakir Naik, dictatorships, communism and somehow, all discussions ended up with this man abusing Modi. The ability to spin any story into an anti-Modi jibe is a truly remarkable talent. I protested, once or twice and told him that he was way off the mark and even by a long shot, it didn’t make sense for him to drag Modi into everything. He wouldn’t budge. That was the time I decided to carry out an experiment and find out if his aversion is genuine or just a fixation. I decided to turn the tables and instead of letting him ask the questions, I started asking him. The interaction went like this.
Me: Which party should be in power?
He: BJP should be burned to ashes and even those ashes shouldn’t be kept in India
Me: Who do you think should be the PM?
He: Anyone else is fine. Not Modi.
Me: So you have no specific reason?
Hypocrisy Score – 1
Me: Which is your favorite country?
He: No answer (note: We both work in USA, have been born and brought up in India)
Me: Do you recognize national borders?
He: Of Course, who am I to not recognize them? (we both laugh)
Me: What do you think of Kashmir?
He: People are dying, there needs to be peace.
Me: True. It’s a diplomatic nightmare. What do you think is the solution?
He: I think we should…..(as expected, he said it. I was enraged.)
Me: How can you say that?
He: I don’t believe in Nationalism.
Me: Why? Is it wrong to love your country?
He: No, but people should not be forced to love their country.
Me: You have a 2-bedroom home. If I come and occupy one of the bedrooms and start throwing things into the other rooms and you’re getting hurt, what will you do?
He: It is my house, how can you occupy my bedroom?
Me: That’s exactly what’s happening in Kashmir.
He: This and that are different.
Hypocrisy Score – 2
He: This is personal, it is political.
Me: You’re Telugu, right. You might have heard of Gurajada Apparao. In his poem, he says, ‘Desamante Mattikaadoi, Desamante Manushuloi’ (mud/land is not what makes a country, it is the people’). So basically, it’s the people. What do you think?
He: Poets say anything they want. We don’t have to agree with everything they say.
Me: Who is your favorite politician?
He: I don’t have a favorite.
Me: Then why do you have a least favorite?
He: Because he’s a bad guy.
Hypocrisy Score – 3
Me: Why is he a bad guy?
He: I don’t like the ideology.
Me: What is a good ideology?
Me: What do you like about Liberalism?
He: Everyone’s free to do what they like.
Me: Do you support gay marriage?
He: I find it disgusting.
Me: How come? You’re a liberal, aren’t you?
He: When I was growing up, if someone is a homosexual, he was ostracized, and was frowned upon. So maybe those values stuck with me.
Hypocrisy Score – 4
Me: So you’re conditionally liberal?
He: Everyone is conditionally liberal.
He: Ideology is a matter of convenience.
Me: So you agree?
He: ha ha.
Hypocrisy Score – 5
A few days passed. One morning, as soon as I was in office, I saw the announcement about demonetization. Over the next few days, the buzz, the chaos, the ATM queues, the inconveniences and the notifications from RBI followed. All of these received sharp criticism and scrutiny from several sections of the society. Among them, was my friend. He used choicest words to criticize and abuse the government. He was convinced that demonetization has hardly any effect on black money and ‘Digital India’ is a bogus spin to evade the criticism about the failure in implementation. Then, we went for another walk.
He: Demonetization is utter-flop.
Me: Okay. What do you think happened?
He: Modi helped his friends.
Me: Do you have evidence?
He: No, but I didn’t see any MPs or MLAs in ATM queues.
Me: May be because they sent someone else to stand in the queue instead?
He: May be, but they had their own way of exchanging cash, I am sure.
Me: Do you think Modi is corrupt?
He: No. That I can tell you, he is power hungry, but he is definitely not corrupt. He may have people in his party who are corrupt, but personally, I don’t think he is a corrupt person.
Me: You agree he’s an honest person?
He: Honest, yes. But a good person? I am not sure.
Me: Isn’t that enough?
Me: Then why do you abuse him?
He: Anyone, but Modi.
Hypocrisy Score – 6
He: Do you know that according to a new law, it is mandatory that everyone stands up for national anthem every time you watch a movie?
Me: Yeah, I heard. It’s a stupid rule.
He: How can they force? This is why I hate Modi.
Me: But it was the Supreme Court, it has nothing to do with Modi.
He: I am sure there was influence.
Me: You think PM influences judiciary?
He: May be.
Me: So, you’re not sure.
He: They’re all the same.
Me: But you hate only Modi. Not the court.
He: In this case, I….
Hypocrisy Score – 7
After multiple such interactions, I almost concluded that hatred is an emotion that is driven by impulse. Logic doesn’t play any role and facts don’t matter. There were multiple mentions of the 2002 riots and each time, I explained to him that the courts didn’t find anything wrong with what Narendra Modi did to curb them. He went to the extent of saying that the courts were bought out.
So, to summarize my friend, ‘Narendra Modi is bad, BJP is bad, poetry is bad, courts are bad, army is bad, homosexuality is conditionally good, demonetization is bad, RBI is bad but somehow, Narendra Modi is not corrupt but I still hate him’.