Monday, December 23, 2013

With Mumbai rally, Modi evolves from #feku to #compulsiveliar

Modi is a good orator. In fact, many would argue that that’s probably all he is. In the early days, when he made mistakes with historical facts, he earned himself the twitter hashtag of #feku. But now with his mistakes continuing, and with the intention behind those mistakes becoming clearer, it looks like he has earned himself the #compulsiveliar title.

Lets be clear here. Modi doesn’t give any interviews. He doesn’t respond to any questions from the audience. He simply shoots and scoots. He says whatever he wants to say and goes away. Its much like a movie – where an audience has no chance to participate, and has to stay contented with a one-sided delivery (If I could have, I would have stopped Aamir from the trash he dished out in Dhoom3!). And just like a movie is made after many “takes”, one has to assume that Modi’s speeches are written and re-written and practiced and re-practiced many times. So when mistakes still remain, one has to conclude that they are intentional. And the habit of lying is compulsive.

Take the really silly mistake about how many CMs Maharashtra has had since 1960 and how many Gujarat has had. Modi said Maharashtra has had 26 CMs while Gujarat has had only 14. Now the truth is remarkably different. In reality, Maharashtra has had 17 “unique” individuals as CMs, spread over some 22 tenures. In contrast, Gujarat has had 14 CMs spread over some 23 tenures. So how did he get his 14/26 numbers for Guj/Maha? Clearly, he chose to use “uniques” for Gujarat and “total tenures” for Maharashtra! Why did he lie like this? A clue to this is in the message he was trying to drive home. That in Maharashtra, the Congress government has been useless (what else!)…..and every time a CM takes charge, there is another neta waiting to oust him. It was with this political intention that Modi made that mistake. A mistake that has to qualify as a knowing lie. BTW, Modi probably didn’t realize but his alliance partner Shiv Sena wouldn’t be too happy with this – in its little more than 4 year rule in Maharashtra, the Shiv Sena had two CMs (Manohar Joshi & Narayan Rane)!

Take the motor vehicles tax issue where Modi said something about Maharashtra earning some Rs 400 odd crores while Gujarat – using technology – earned more than a thousand. Impressive right? Except that Modi was lying again. Not with the figures this time, but with the interpretation. The NCP quickly rebutted Modi’s argument. As per “Several vehicles from Maharashtra carry goods to northern parts of India. All of these go through Gujarat. Therefore the Motor Vehicle Tax that Gujarat collects is higher. On the other hand, lesser number of vehicles come from Gujarat in Maharashtra. Modi has wrongly interpreted this fact to present Gujarat positively”. Wrongly interpreted…..yes….but mistakenly or intentionally?

Then this assertion that the Central government, led by the Congress, had not given permission to create some “big gates” on the Sardar Sarovar project for so many years…..and that if it had done so, it would help Maharashtra get electricity worth some Rs 400 crores. Again, the NCP quickly rebutted this: “Modi's allegation about not getting permission to place the gates of Sardar Sarovar Project holds no ground. Since Madhya Pradesh has failed to rehabilitate affected people, the permission for the gates is pending. Therefore even we are deprived of electricity”. Again, does this look like an innocent mistake…..or an intentional lie???

The same story played out with respect to Local body Tax (LBT)….which Modi branded (in his unique style!) as “Loot Baantne ki Technique”. Catchy yes, but factual???? Hell, no! Here’s what the rebuttal issued by the NCP is “The local body tax (LBT), whose implementation in Maharashtra Modi opposed today, is not an exclusive feature of this state. All the states with no octroi have LBT”. This is what Wiki reports about LBT and Gujarat “LBT is not levied upon in the state of Gujarat. The octroi was cancelled in 2007 and to compensate that, Value Added Tax (VAT) was increased. However, as of April 2013, Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) was planning to add on a separate LBT apart from the current VAT structure”. Again, a big fat lie.

So why is Modi resorting to such big lies? In my mind, there is a simple explanation. Beneath the clever exterior – PR driven no doubt –of the BJP’s PM candidate lies a very very dumb interior. An interior that is largely illiterate, and very ignorant of facts. Knowledge – or rather information – about subjects is shallow. This is why Modi doesn’t engage in a dialogue, only a monologue. This is why Modi walked out of an interview with Karan Thapar – the going got too tough and his ignorance was getting exposed.

As always happens with shallow ignorant people, the external façade is fragile and needs to be protected at all costs; else the interior would get exposed. Modi knows his strength is his oratory, not his intelligence. He uses this fact to the hilt. He thus utters complete lies with an absolute straight face, knowing his audience will lap it up in complete trust. By the time the world gets to the truth, he and his audience would have split, the political goal achieved. That is why the other hashtag Modi has rightly earned for himself is #shamemodi.

The real truth is that Modi has evolved from #feku to #compulsiveliar, the way a small time crook evolves from petty theft to daylight robbery to assault to much worse. Modi’s lies are compulsive, which means that even he cannot control them. The reasons for these lies are a) strategic & intentional (political rhetoric), b) ignorance (we have enough evidence of that!) and c) in a large measure just an uncontrollable penchant for lies. Vote for Modi. Vote for the compulsive liar!

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