Sunday, May 12, 2019

The Imposter: Why I don’t like Narendra Modi!

Narendra Modi - Kartik Dayanand - Mind u Read

Our world is split into two – those who LOVE Modi, and those who HATE him.

You know who you are. There’s hardly anyone left in the neutral zone anymore.

I never had any serious opinion about him in the past. Was no fan of his ever, but I went ahead and voted for the BJP in 2014 in the hope that something good was coming our way.

It didn’t take me too long to realize that I made a mistake. I wouldn’t say I hate him, but I just don’t like him anymore.

My grouse with Modi arises from a very basic human level of consciousness and it’s different from most of the stories you read about the economy or other communal matters.

A laundry list of complaints against Modi is a vast subject to cover but I will be narrowing my focus in this post to only what I feel most passionate about. The rest you are anyways hearing from the opposition parties, and I hope you’ll share some stories in the comments section too.

Before I speak further, it is important to first understand the context into which Modi came into our lives. It’s only when we know the backstory that we can make sense of the disappointment with the present.

Here’s my story. Actually…it’s our story, and this is where it started.

Flashback:

Year 2010 - Common Wealth Games (CWG) and Suresh Kalmadi were the hottest topics everywhere along with the 2G scam. It was the beginning of a new India; an India that started waking up to the power of Social Media.

Facebook started its Pages option in 2009 and Twitter gained mainstream prominence in India after Shahrukh Khan joined the platform in early 2010, followed by Amitabh Bachchan, Sachin Tendulkar, Deepika Padukone, Salman Khan, and the rest of Bollywood and other Woods. The only politician who really mattered there was Shashi Tharoor.

What was a fun platform back then also showed us how we could leverage trending topics to bring to notice burning topics. News channels took notice of these new mediums and considered them as the true voice of the people.

CWG event in 2010 was the perfect start for this potent mixture of aggression that we are so used to today. We showed our concern and outrage on a daily basis online and for the first time I saw it manifest in the real world at the opening ceremony of CWG 2010.

Suresh Kalmadi was booed by everyone in the stadium. I remember a gentleman sitting next to me trying to tell folks not to boo at such a prestigious event, but no one cared. We the citizens, felt empowered, and believed we could hold accountable the powers that ran the nation. It was a new India we were waking up to.

By 2011 the momentum grew as a lot more people started getting online. India won the cricket world cup and Anna Hazare started his anshan at Jantar Mantar around the same time. The online angst against the ruling party quickly started translating into support for Anna Hazare and his movement. I remember reading editorials that said Anna Hazare is their pick for the PM because of his honesty and fight against corruption.

This momentum grew rapidly and the likes of Arvind Kejriwal, Kiran Bedi and others in the India Against Corruption team came into the limelight. Anna Hazare however was the big man – he was a great communicator and spoke a language that the common man could relate to. His concept of LokPal bill was too simplistic a solution but people lapped it up.

I remember people taking out candle light marches around our apartment complex in Delhi in support of this fight against corruption.

Then the Nirbhaya incident happened. India Gate which already turned into a symbol of protests via candle light marches, thanks to Rang De Basanti, became the focus of everyone’s attention.

It was as if the soul of India resided at India Gate!

Large scale protests erupted. Everything was the UPA government’s fault. We the people would re-write our own destiny, or so we thought.

Modi was nowhere on the national radar back then.

Our only target was Congress, and to let those protests manifest into something tangible we understood the need to have a real political alternative.

The IAC movement wasn’t a political force, and infighting within their ranks led to the eventual creation of the Aam Aadmi Party. However, they were still a Delhi centric phenomenon and new to the political game; in a way clearing the deck for others to occupy that space.

We needed a seasoned political alternative to make our voices not just heard but to matter too. That’s when he arrived.

Building the Myth:

Our knight in shining armour arrived from nowhere. With stories of his Rambo like qualities - in rescuing stranded pilgrims in Uttrakhand while the Congress was sleeping - started doing the rounds.

The Gujarat model as an ideal governance model and a symbol of progress was being peddled nonstop. I remember film star Nagarjuna giving an interview where he praised to the sky the way some model village in Gujarat was developed. He spoke as if he’s never seen internet in a village before that day. It was ironic to hear that from someone who came from Andhra where Chandrababu Naidu's e-governance was a reality much before the rest of the country caught up.

It left a lasting impression on me.

A myth was being built slowly, and we bought it hook line and sinker – the myth was Narendra Modi.

He was our alternative, our hope, while the villain was the Congress. Just try and recall those days.

Narendra Modi came into prominence with the promise of a Congress Mukt Bharat.

That’s what the people wanted. The acche din concept was an extension of our beliefs – where we thought we were finally in control of our own destiny.

Fast forward to 2014, and we elected Modi as our PM with a record number of seats.

It’s a gift that the people of India gave him, as a true representative of their voices and hopes for a better future.

But he turned out to be an imposter.

The Aftermath:

Here’s what happened once Modi came to power.

While we were united in our fight to oust the UPA government, what followed was disastrous – we started fighting each other.

Our most potent tool, Social Media, turned against us.

In the pre Modi era, when citizens questioned the government, they demanded answers and the government was at least being led to the path of accountability; there was some fear. They eventually lost power. Such was our power.

That power started slipping from right under our feet. Social media became a weaponized industry with trolls on duty 24/7. The waters of social media started getting polluted beyond repair.

This honour goes to Modi and the fake news factory that doesn’t let us point a finger at him. I am not even talking about the anti-national tags yet. I am just speaking about our ability to question the government without fear of being attacked or counter-questioned by a Modi supporter. It’s like some zombie apocalypse is upon us.

If the CWG 2010 booing incident were to repeat today with BJP in power, instead of one, you would find a few uncles in every row ready to start a fist fight with you.

We thought we won the war, but the fight is still on. 
 And we’re now fighting each other.

The ones who fight those that question the government remind me of Hiroo Onada, a Japanese soldier from World War 2.

He was fighting in the jungles of Philippines. The war got over in 1945, but isolated from the rest of the world, deep inside the jungle, Onada believed that the war was still on. He went on fighting a non-existent enemy till 1974. Yes, a full 29 years after the end of the war.

Most of those who fight online today don’t realize that the one we have to question is the government in power, not the party that we already defeated.

Cross your heart and tell me how often you’ve seen folks say “What about Rahul Gandhi / Congress?” when you are critical of Modi / BJP. These folks are the alter egos of Hiroo Onada.

There are two variations of Hiroo Onada out there.

Those that were there from the start of the war, and those that came in later, thanks to the widespread usage of WhatsApp and YouTube amongst millions of folks who came online later (thanks to Jio) with their smartphones.

The ones that were fighting continued to fight, while some of the newcomers looked at the ongoing fight and started siding with them. They turned into clueless warriors fighting a ghost from the past.

Themes of nationalism, religion, past glory of India, foreign invaders, outsiders, Pakistan, 60 years of misrule by Congress are just a few chapters in their narrative dictionary, to divert attention from the real issues of the times.

Most of them are also popularly known as Bhakts.

You’ll find many among your own family, friends, colleagues, both online and offline. There’s no escaping them. They are unknowingly doing a lot of damage to our own wellbeing.

Zero Accountability:

A natural outcome of this infighting is the zero accountability of the government. It first started coming to light during the student protests at the Pune FTII to oust Gajendra Chauhan, a BJP candidate.

Despite months and months of protests, the government was adamant to sack him. The voices were muffled. The direction of the wind was clear. BJP would never bow down to public demands.

Our PM was silent. He had no say in this matter. It was as if he was operating on a different plane. He continued doing the same, on matters that we had a beef about.

PM’s silence could only mean one thing – he is providing his tacit support to the guilty. Or maybe he doesn’t even consider them guilty. Or maybe he’s so busy that these are all just trivial matters in his eyes.

Most often we see that there’s some movement only after the Supreme Court gives a rap on the knuckles.

The FTII instance is a very minor matter, but whenever it concerned bigger issues, he always had/has an easy escape card.

It’s the Congress’ fault:

  • There’s a train crash. People die. It’s the Congress that’s at fault.
  • Kids die at a hospital due to negligence. It’s the Congress that is to be blamed.
  • 40 soldiers die in a bomb blast – who are we outraging against - Kapil Sharma and Navjot Singh Siddhu. No one questioned the government on their intelligence failure.

No taking responsibility. No resignations. It’s the fault of the Congress, or Pakistan. It’s as if we didn’t vote the UPA out of power in 2014.

He’s gone all the way up to Nehru to cover his shortcomings. It’s an outright insult of the people’s mandate when past governments are blamed for the current's shortcomings.

 It is like Virat Kohli blaming an IPL 2019 match loss on Sunil Gavaskar for getting out for a duck in a test match in 1987.

I mention IPL because the rules of the game are different from the test matches of the past. We cannot judge past governments by today's yardsticks. With social media, availability of digital tech, etc. politics and governance aren’t the same anymore.

Why should anyone care about what Congress did back then. The rules were different. The pitch was different. They made mistakes. They lost. Maybe they learnt their lessons and will not repeat them. Who knows?

By falling prey to this whataboutery, as individuals we lost not just our ability to question the current government but also something else.

We lost Arnab Goswami:

Ok…don’t laugh.

This might sound funny. But he was our mouthpiece. He was our voice. He fought for us so aggressively by outshouting the villains of the day. Given a choice we would have made him the PM; such was his impact.

And now…Arnab is a puppet of the BJP.

On any given day you can watch his TV channel, and marvel at the ingenious ways in which he manages to blame someone else for the shortcomings of the BJP. It’s an extraordinary tragi-comedy that plays out there.

While the likes of him have openly become the lapdogs of the government, those that are critical of the government have been termed as presstitutes or Lutyen’s gang (as if that’s a cuss word), and the latest I hear is the Khan Market gang.

Add to that the other tags like intolerance gang, award-wapsi gang, tukde-tukde gang, etc. and the circle is complete, or should I say, the crisis is complete.

You are branded an anti-national if you ever plan to protest at India Gate again!

We lost that space. Ask the award-wapsi and intolerance gangs and they’ll tell you what happened to them.

The critical fighting arm of our democracy, the mainstream media, is today as divided as the citizens of this country. Everyone is running their own agendas, and mostly toeing the government line. It’s a business for them at the end of the day.

While most media sleeps, it’s led Modi to unabashedly continue building on his narrative of “nothing happened in India so far, and I am fixing it for you”.

The ME, ME…ME and ME syndrome.


When things go wrong, it’s easy to blame someone, but when things go right, what does he do: It’s all because of me he says!

ISRO launches something, Modi lands there as if he’s the one who started their whole program.

Army conducts an airstrike; he’s the one who gave them strategic advise on how to use clouds as a cover to escape radar detection (the latest joke in town, but unlimited fodder for WhatsApp University).

He goes abroad, and speaks as if the digital revolution happened because of him. It’s as if the IT hubs of Bangalore, NCR, Hyderabad, etc. just came into existence once he blessed us.

It’s like nothing ever happened in India before he arrived.

It’s this megalomania that led to the catastrophic demonetization. Where he imagined himself to be a saviour putting our miserable lives in order.

We elected him to clean up corruption in the political system, where our tax money was going down the drain - but he instead pointed fingers at us, blamed us for holding black money. We became the villains.

He messed up big time, but you know the drill right? The Hiroo Onadas were out in full force defending their master.

This me, me and me nature also meant no one else should get any credit for the good work done by others.

Chief Ministers of states have called him a psychopath and a dictator for his petty ways of functioning. Sample: You inaugurate a new line for Delhi metro and don’t bother to invite the Delhi CM to the opening ceremony.

Never before have we seen this kind of megalomania and disconnect between the centre and the states. And the language they use to describe each other, it’s unthinkable in a civilized society. Modi is singularly responsible for not just unleashing this monstrous filth in India, but for normalizing it too.

You might love him for whatever reasons you have, but I don’t trust him anymore.

Modi is an IMPOSTER who hijacked our hopes, angst and dreams.

Whoever comes to power tomorrow, be it the BJP, the Congress or anyone else, always remember, no party or individual is bigger than the individual citizen of this country.

Don’t fall for imposters who claim to be chowkidars while silently setting the house on fire.

Make your voice count, not just at the voting booth, but by being vigilant citizens that don’t fall into the trap of blind hero worship or nationalism. Make sure your government is accountable to deliver on its promises.

Let’s come out of that jungle and fight the real fight, for our future,

Till then,
Cheers!!!
Kartik Dayanand Boddapati