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Why can’t we humiliate Dr. Manmohan Singh?

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Abhishek Banerjee
Abhishek Banerjee
Abhishek Banerjee is a columnist and author.  

The Congress, as a rule, is used to demanding respect without giving any.


There is something significant in the way the Congress reacted to Narendra Modi’s “raincoat” jibe. Taunts and jibes fly all the time in politics. Every politician needs a thick skin. But the Congress did not counter Modi with jibes. Instead, their response essentially was:

“How dare you?”

It is only the latest symptom of the sense of entitlement of the Congress party. They refuse to internalize the fact that the Congress enjoys no preferred position in Indian politics. They are not royalty and they haven’t fully understood that yet.

No party enjoys criticism of its leaders. But the Congress has a slightly different approach. When criticized, they don’t react with anger, but with a sense of disbelief. Because the Congress party conflates its own icons with the nation itself. They are still stuck in the mindset of “Indira is India and India is Indira”.

Of course, this has something to do with the lag effect of being the ruling party for over 55 of the 67 years since India became a republic. But it also has to do with a certain class bias. “Doctor Saab” is the England educated Prime Minister. His ministry was full of people who went to Doon school and Welham boys and St. Stephen’s College and enjoyed whisky with the British in their ballrooms. They lived lives that were (only slightly) modern adaptations of Jane Austen novels. These people actually wake up each morning and turn on the BBC, believe it or not!


On the other hand, there is the tea seller and his government (who can forget how Mani Shankar Aiyar attacked him for that?) There’s Smriti Irani, who dropped out of college and got a job cleaning floors at McDonald’s to support her family. There’s Rajnath Singh and Nitin Gadkari, born into humble farmer families. When Modi speaks English, it is with much difficulty, with little eloquence, often ungrammatical and with an accent that Queen Elizabeth II would never admit to understanding. A lot of BJP leaders are like that.

It is this class bias that plays both in the minds of the Congress and the elite media. The BJP leaders with their “servant/driver type accents” can be humiliated without a second thought. It matters little that the BJP now has 282 Lok Sabha seats or that Gadkari is a super rich man today. It’s not always about power and money you have. In the minds of the Lutyens classes, there is something funny about being the first in your family to achieve money and fame, like watching a village bumpkin step onto an aeroplane for the very first time. As Rajdeep would have said, “You have money but no class“.

Class. It matters.

This is why the Congress party feels at liberty to call Narendra Modi as “Maut ka Saudagar”, “Khoon ka dalal”, “Gangu Teli”, “Hitler”, “Bhasmasur”, monkey, frog and pretty much anything that came to mind. But should Modi make fun of “Doctor saab”, it is intolerable. How dare a servant/driver type person speak like this?

That is why disrespect towards BJP leaders is taken as a matter of course. Someone called Smriti Irani a “kaamwali bai”? Of course, what else are they supposed to call her? So Smriti Irani showed Tehseen Poonawalla’s horribly crass and sexist tweet on CNN News 18.

 The reaction? This:


You have to understand what Rohini is really saying here. What is “unbelievable” here is not what Tehseen did, but the fact that someone dared to call him a sexist for it. Did a “kaamwali bai” really dare to talk back?

But dear Rohini, dear Tehseen and dear Congress, times are changing. We will not shy away from humiliating Manmohan Singh for what he was: a PM who presided over the most humongous corruption scams in Indian history (and possibly world history). If Dr. Singh feels he was only a figurehead whose good name should not be insulted, he should take up the issue with his boss at 10 Janpath. Not with the man who won 170 million votes to occupy 7 Lok Kalyan Marg. On a side note, can you believe they changed the name of  Race Course Road to something in a desi bumpkin language? How will this new name ever roll off the royal tongues of the Queen and her courtiers in India?

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Abhishek Banerjee
Abhishek Banerjee
Abhishek Banerjee is a columnist and author.  
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