The PM hugs Bush. Bush hugs the PM. People of India deeply love Bush, the PM whispers. He is so transparently happy, proud in the warm company of the wisest, the most humane and sagacious, the finest specimen of nuanced diplomacy and human intelligence, the state-of-the-art statesman, the most powerful peacenik in the world. True, Bush has left the world in such great shape. What a fine piece (peace) of world he has left for all of us. Forget the hundreds of thousands dead in Iraq for no deep love, rhyme or reason. Forget Guantanamo Bay, etc.
And the PM is an honest economist. Pure as Bush. Amartya Sen, the argumentative humanist, too, deeply loves him. Sen's prophetic insights on ‘globalisation with a human face' will one day reveal that history will remember the PM for his great legacy. The legacy of SEZs, for instance. Or how the fat cats flourished in his neo-liberal India, and how the poor were systematically crushed. Or how he chose silence on Nandigram but became so eloquent on the nuke deal. From Right to Left to neo-con Right.
Sonia Gandhi goes for an Iftar to Rai Bareilly. Great signal. Fasting is always fascinating for the clogged mind cells of wisdom, humanism and compassion. But she should also go to Jamia Nagar near the old secular liberal university of Jamia Millia Islamia. She can go early, because the fear, the phobia, begins at dawn, stays all night. 24x7. At Jamia, she will find a striking chord of symphony with Ehsan Jaffrey's ravaged home in Gulbarga Society. Gujarat 2002.
We know the beginning, we know the end. But we never really know what Shivraj Patil thinks, in his immaculate misconception. No one knows what the PM or Sonia Gandhi are thinking. Between them, the country drifts in a terrible, tragic dilemma. Almost exploding with angst and insecurity. Hiding simmering wounds. Suffering in silence. Angry and restless.
Will the Centre hold? Or will anarchy be let loose?
In the UPA's dubious silence, lies the story of crushed hope. And betrayal. The Congress came back, surprisingly, because the Indian people chose a secular, egalitarian moment of hope, against the communal fascism of BJP and its India Shining model - of, by and for the rich. Against the daily indecency and xenophobia of their pumped up Hindutva rhetoric - abusing ‘pseudo secularists', including Sonia Gandhi, in the vilest of language, flexing their POTA muscles, spewing venom on the minorities as in Gujarat.
So, almost five years later, why is the Congress doing a vicious circle repeat? They pamper the rich and kick the poor. They pamper the fundamentalists and kick the secularists. They pamper Bush and kick the Left. They pamper the Hindutva Right and allow Christians and Muslims to be ravaged. Why?
You can't condemn an entire community. We are all, and will be one day - victims of this mindless madness. SMS survivors of bomb blasts and State terror. Think of it. I can die in a bomb blast, so can that female student in Jamia, holding a banner: Yes, we are masterminds. Not terrorists.
Great leaders go back to the people when they are in doubt or crisis. Go again to the people ravaged by the bomb blasts, attacks on prayer halls, tortured by police, across the religious or class spectrum, touch their hand, listen to their story of resilience, suffering, injustice. Go to the hate lab of Gujarat inside the ghettos where Indian Muslims have been effectively condemned as second class citizens in the Hindu Rashtra - the ultimate RSS utopia. And for god's sake, go to Jamia Nagar and the inner lanes of Shaheen Bagh. And inside the campus of Jamia, where young faces full of magical curiosities and wonder have shrunk into despair and fear. The white fear of the Special Cell of the ‘secular' UPA regime. While the media blindly toes the police line.
So what are Sonia Gandhi and the PM thinking? How the Indian people are in deep love with Bush?
Let's face it. If the State can't give security to people on the streets against vicious bomber barbarians, it can't find redemption by demonising an entire community. Entire communities can't be hijacked by extremists - we have to protect the middle spaces, the mainstream, the margins. If you treat the Muslims and Christians as the ‘Other' then you are actually feeding hatred in the majority community. India can't become an Israel. No. We don't ‘deeply love' the Taliban or Hindutva fanatics, blinded by barbarism. And no, we don't love Narendra Modi. We can't. In this lifetime.
As for Bush, he is perhaps the most hated American politician in history. And not only for his high IQ. Check his ratings in his own country and in Europe. Check his love graph: in Iraq, Syria, Iran, Palestine. Ask Chavez and Morales. Ask Putin.
No, Mr PM. We don't love George W Bush. We can't. We are still human. All too human.