People Can Change
Three and a half years after Narendra Modi’s virtual coronation as Emperor of the Monogrammed Suit, the only ‘vikas’ I’ve seen is my neighbour Vikas Gupta. I bump into him occasionally in the elevator and he always flinches when I cheerfully holler, “Hey, Vikas—the entire nation has been looking for you!” His expression clearly tells me that poor Vikas voted for ‘vikas’.
We’ve been through a lot since 2014: lynchings, the demolition of solid institutions like the RBI, jingoism, hypernationalism, patriarchy, demonetisation, lies, and other godawful things. We’ve also started seeing a few people differently. Mainly unpleasant surprises but a few rather pleasant ones. I’ve listed them in random order:
Sushma Swaraj has reinvented herself from haranguing fishwife and melodrama queen (as Opposition Leader) to Our Lady of Perpetual Succour (as External Affairs Minister). Call her with a sob story from wherever in the world you may be and she will hold your hand and try to help you. The lyrics of Let it Be (the Beatles) should be rewritten for her and the song absolutely must play in every NRI home across the world. They should stand to attention while it plays, of course. Here are a few lines of the rewrite:
“When I find myself in times of trouble, Sushma Swaraj tweets to me, Clucking like a Mother Hen, She swears to rescue me.”
Smriti Irani is the new haranguing fishwife and melodrama queen. While Swaraj threatened to shave her head, sleep on the floor and eat channa (and only channa) if Sonia Gandhi ever became Prime Minister, Irani goes many steps further by offering to cut off her head and other gory things. Sonia Gandhi is not her target, though. She is far more interested in Rahul Gandhi. In fact, she’s obsessed with him—not a second goes by when she doesn’t passionately utter his name.
Rahul Gandhi, incidentally, has found his voice and a sense of humour to go with it. His recent speeches and tweets have been enjoyable. Calling the greedily planned and badly implemented GST ‘Gabbar Singh Tax’ has struck a chord with most people. Whether it will translate into votes remains to be seen. One thing, however, is clear: he is not as stupid as the BJP IT cell makes him out to be.
Meanwhile, Gabbar Singh aka Narendra Modi is not perceived as a megalomaniac messiah anymore but a megalomaniac messer-upper. Demonetisation and GST conclusively proved that he is not terribly bright. Wily: yes, intelligent: no! The verdict is out: bad governance is what he delivers. Elections are won thanks to his ruthless Man Friday, Amit Shah.
Even ruthless people can have a heart, though. And if Swaraj can play mummy to every Indian, Shah does an excellent job of playing daddy to one special Indian: his son, Jay. It was so heartwarming to see an allegedly heartless man rush to his son’s rescue when details of his shady business activities were revealed. Daddy has spoken, and now nobody is allowed to say bad things about Jay beta—or else! An Ahmedabad court has informed evil journalists (only the few who refuse to be BJP cheerleaders, of course) to shut up and let poor Jay live with dignity. Robert Vadra, however, has no right to live with dignity because he’s not Amit Shah’s son. Remember that always, okay?
While Nitish Kumar has literally gone to the cows, Mamata Banerjee, West Bengal’s chief minister, is in her element again. She was always a superb opposition voice and the entire nation (apart from the RSS-BJP and its supporters) can thank her for her fight against creepy Aadhaar. For me, her most memorable words will be, “Under no circumstances will I link my Aadhaar with my telephone number. If the authorities disconnect my phone, let them do it.” Hooray for t