The results of the assembly elections have made India’s mainstream media clink glasses and knock back hefty pegs of Kaala Kutta whisky. Why, some of them were far more intoxicated than the permanently inebriated retired army officers they frequently host on their shows—the absolutely silly things they said, gosh!
The Uttar Pradesh election results in particular warmed the cockles of their hard little hearts.
They are thrilled that voters in UP would much rather have bigotry than jobs and medical oxygen, thank you very much, because (ugh) “Keeping Muslims in their place” is fantastic.
You’ve probably heard those idiotic panellists on news channels air their idiotic views on every angle, so I’m not going to bore you. In short, the Indian media has squealed that this is a sign that the BJP will win the General Elections in 2024, Jai Shri Ram—Santa Claus must go to hell, and all that!
Where does that leave people like me who yearn for the old India? A country where, before 2014, most bigots were ashamed to publicly admit that they were bigots (including those in the mainstream media who now wear their bigotry like a badge of honour), so all of us muddled along together and lived vaguely happily ever after apart from horrific pogroms every now and then.
That vaguely happy place disappeared when the Dear Leader appeared. Can we ever get it back?
We have repeatedly heard allegedly secular Opposition parties swear on their mummies to put up a united front against the bigoted BJP, but I see no hope there.
Take the TMC’s Mamata Banerjee, for instance. At 67, she’s not ancient by Indian political standards, but she has started becoming a forgetful old dear. Look at her foray into Goa: She told us she was going there to fight the BJP, but she kept forgetting the party’s name and attacked the INC, a prospective opposition partner, instead.
Her party didn’t win a single seat, but succeeded in splitting the secular vote. For all we know, she’s possibly cheering madly that the BJP won, because the old dear has forgotten (yet again, tsk) that the BJP is the enemy.
What strikes me as odd is that even in her occasional confused phases, she never forgets that she wants to be prime minister when she grows up. Not once has she said that she wants to be an engine driver, ballet dancer or concert pianist, for example.
Perhaps her nephew and political heir, Abhishek Banerjee, has written a note with the terse message “Ambition: Prime Minister” and pinned it to her saree. He seems to be in a tearing hurry to occupy her CM seat in West Bengal, after all.
Following in the footsteps of the Dear Leader, Mamata-di is also getting hagiographies of herself published, while gearing up for the 2024 elections. One of the latest books is Jayanta Ghoshal’s ‘Mamata: Beyond 2021’, translated by Arunava Sinha.
My eyebrows shot up and my lips twitched when I came across this earnest bit in an excerpt: “She has earned her place to be the antidote to the toxic hyper-nationalist, hegemonistic and authoritarian politics of the BJP led by Modi and Shah.” Erm, is Ghoshal talking about the same Mamata-di I know—the one who throws people in jail for forwarding jokes on her?
People who have followed her political career are bound to agree with stand-up comic Varun Grover who said something like, “Mamata Banerjee is just Modi in a cotton saree”.
So, while I do hope Opposition parties unite, nothing positive will come of it unless they crush their egos and personal ambitions first.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine has taught me to expect no help from Western democratic nations either if those chilling calls for genocide from the Hindu Right are acted upon. Now that the UK has said bye bye to Russian oligarchs, there’s a chance that the money-hungry Tories will woo Mukeshbhai and he may become Lord Ambani sooner than we thought! We know how enthusiastically his news channels push the bigoted agenda of the Hindu Right, don’t we?
All I’m saying is, keep your fingers crossed for a more inclusive India, but don’t be surprised if you see BoJo singing bhajans and petting cows at Ambani’s London mansion with more fervour than the CM of UP.
(Any resemblance to real people or events is a coincidence)