There was a joke going around on twitter yesterday which captures all of Narendra Modi’s speeches very effectively: Congress talks about Congress, Congress, Congress. Modi talks about Congress, Congress, Congress! And indeed, hidden in this innocuous banter, is the very real truth about Modi’s Congress phobia. The Congress phobia manifests itself in the form of “virulent attacks” on the party, just like inferiority complex often presents itself as superiority complex. The fact that this is a phobia is borne out by the continuing refusal of Modi to be interviewed by journalists – who could expose it.
Just look at just a few of Modi’s Congress-phobic utterances yesterday:
· Congress did not name in PM candidate because…..(a plethora of pitiable reasons)
· The Nehru-Gandhi family is anti-OBC. It suffers from “feudal mindset, casteist prejudices and sense of uniqueness”
· Idea of India no one’s monopoly (in reference to Rahul’s assertion that Congress is an Idea genetically coded into India).
· (Congress) cannot deign to compete with a tea hawker
· They feel ashamed because while they have pedigree, I can only boast of my achievements
All the above statements are just from today’s TOI. There were countless other references in his speech yesterday. Obviously, thanks to all these Congress-phobic jabs, there was no time left for anything that would tell us what Modi’s vision for the country is. What eventually came out looked second grade, and mostly a continuance of what Congress has been practicing for a full decade now. Sample the following:
· Rainbow model of governance. Focus on culture, agriculture, women, natural resources, youth, democracy, knowledge (I mean seriously, this banal statement is all Modi could make?)
· Black money stashed abroad to be brought back and used for poor (Ya, but how? Does Modi support the idea that all currency notes above Rs 50 should be scrapped? All cash transactions above Rs 2000 should be banned? How will he do more than what Chidambaram has done with Swiss and other governments?)
· Shift healthcare focus from curative to preventive. Health assurance needed, not just health insurance (But this is exactly what the Congress’s National Health Missions are, no? Besides Modi hasn’t been able to deliver even the most basic of healthcare in his state – as borne out by the pathetic HDI figures; so how will he do so nationally?)
· Price stabilization fund for inflation (Very little is known of this idea which is a problem by itself, but isn’t monetary policy the turf of the RBI? Or does Modi not know that?)
· 100 smart cities to be created (A continuation of Congress’s idea. Remember a large number of cities are being created under the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor. Ditto under the Mum-Bangalore, Bangalore-Chennai and now Delhi-Kolkata corridors as well).
· IITs, IIMs and AIIMS in every state (Again, a continuation of Congress’s vision – it has already created several new IITs/IIMs).
Yesterday, the papers carried the story that the BJP was going to continue with MNREGA and FSB as well. So really, where is the difference between the BJP’s vision from the Congress’s?
There isn’t. At least not in Modi’s tiny mind. What is in abundant supply in his mind however is rhetoric and there was plenty on display yesterday, like in all speeches
· Govt dole, dole, dole ki baat karti hai, per govt bhi dol rahi hai (completely senseless; just a play of words; besides, how many people understand the word “dole” to mean subsidies?)
· Since defeat looks inevitable, Sonia Gandhi decided to protect her son. No mother would like to sacrifice her son at the altar of politics (Arre, but Rahul is the one who will face the flak anyways. Besides, he has the guts to campaign in difficult states. Modi on the other hand refused to go to Karnataka).
· Congressmen had come hoping they would get their PM candidate but they got three LPG cylinders instead (Honestly, the same could be said about Modi. People came hoping to hear his vision; all they got was more gas).
· And of course the rhetoric on black money. This is such a bogey now, no one believes it. Its one of those issues that the BJP rakes up before every election, only to forget it later).
The highlight of Modi’s speech yesterday however was his retort to Mani Shanker Aiyer’s “tea boy” comment. Senseless and silly as that comment was, for that kind of personalized attack is really the BJP’s style, not the Congress’s, Modi’s retort was equally senseless and silly. He painted the Congress as being casteist. Now the BJP, which is a party of Brahmins – one that has grudgingly appointed an OBC as its PM candidate – shouldn’t call others casteist. Aakar Patel once wrote on how the entire top leadership of the RSS, BJP, and other Sangh outlets is comprised of Brahmins. If there is one party that is truly casteist, it has to be the BJP. But for Modi, who has earned the #feku tag, truth is an easily dispensable commodity. This is also borne out by his advice that “Non violence is the top dharma”. Really, Mr. Modi, you are saying this? And “all spiritual paths are the same”, but then Mr. Modi, why did you just introduce a bill (Freedom of Religion (amendment) bill) in your state that seeks to merge Jains into Hinduism? The Jains have strongly protested against this bill; even held dharnas. Why did you do this? Only to show Hindus to be a larger number than they are? Why do you have this Hindu-centric world view?
The real truth is that Modi’s comedy show yesterday was just that; a comedy show. One has to admit Modi’s speeches are always good fun to listen to. He’s a great stand-up comedian. But please let’s not make the mistake of paying too much attention to what he says. Its not the content that makes a Modi speech; it is the comic style. I too had a good laugh yesterday!