By Sushil Kutty
Chinese President for life Xi Jinping has given thumbs up to Marxism in China. But even he will admit that if the Chinese people don’t get their individual material needs, Marx will be out the window of Chinese history. And so shall Xi be. The ‘life’ in the title apart, there isn’t much of a difference between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Xi Jinping. Or, for that matter, between Xi Jinping and B S Yedyurappa or Siddaramaiah.
For the BJP and Yedyurappa, Marx is somebody to keep distance from. For the Congress and Siddaramaiah, Marx stands but only in the shadows. That said ‘let’s stick to Marx’ for Xi Jinping is akin to ‘let’s finish poverty’ for political leaders of India. The slogan ‘Garibi Hatao’ coined by Indira Gandhi rings true like the ‘Marxian’ rhetoric that works so well for communist party mandarins in China.
The Bharatiya Janata Party on Friday finally released its Karnataka elections manifesto, eight days short of D-Day. And like Marx in Wonderland, it promised to waive off farmer loans up to the tune of Rs 1 lakh. Marx, whose 200th birth anniversary is tomorrow (Saturday, May 5, 2018), would have clapped if he were alive. Farmers killing themselves in Karnataka (and elsewhere in India) are in urgent need of the Marxian-relief, doesn’t matter if ‘practical’s in the well’.
North Indian BJP leaders, including Narendra Modi, kept their distance from the manifesto release. That is because top of the election issues is also ‘Karnataka for Kannada’ and among BJP top-wigs only Yedyurappa wears the Kannadiga hat and speaks Kannada like to the Karnataka-born. PM Modi tries his tongue in every regional language but the pidgin Kannada he’s been spilling out at election rallies in Karnataka is embarrassing to the Kannadiga, to say the least. It sounds like a cross between Kannada and Hindi/Gujarati, Urdu being out of question for the BJPian!
Another Marxian panacea Yedyurappa stapled to the farmer loans waiver was “Rs 1,50,000 crore to various irrigation projects so that water reaches every field in the state”. That is considerate of the BJP and sounds great following in the wake of the Supreme Court ruling that Karnataka should get the hog’s share of Cauvery Water, forcing Tamil Nadu to banish IPL from Chidambaram in Chepauk in Chennai with a reluctant ‘Poda’.
And because where the BJP goes it takes the cow along, the promise to reintroduce a ban on cow slaughter was part of the manifesto. Marx wouldn’t be happy nor would Xi Jinping. The Chinese are as partial to beef as the BJP is to cow. It kind of foxes logic that the two are the same but that is how it is. The BJP manifesto also speaks of a Rs 3,000 crore Kamadhenu Fund for animal husbandry. Marx wouldn’t object as long as the fund fattens up cows for beef. The German love for the beef-burger is second only to their hunger for hamburgers. The Chinese with a year of pig to boot will strike a high-five!
All that being said, the battle in Karnataka is not about Marx, and Garibi Hatao. It is between Rahul Gandhi and Narendra Modi – the 64-year-old and 47-year-old, one sharp as a knife, the other blunt as a hammer. The two are going after each other like after May 15, results day, one will vanish from the firmament. If Rahul Gandhi is all self-righteous indignant, PM Modi revels in his broken Kannada, trading barb for spark and vice versa. Rahul in his stubble-and-kurta is standing up to insult with insult of his own and it’s a fine sight to see followers of both at their both venues raise hands in wave after wave.
Does that mean there is wave in favour of either of the duo? Nope, not that the waves are tumbling or the breakers breaking in ethereal white. Nothing of the sort, though both these ‘mahanubhavs’ would want to make us believe there is a wave against the other. Eight days to election day and it’s saltwater, pointed barbs and jokes like “when the Congress shines, only a few families shine.” Neither is talking of farmers or jobs or of the polluted Silicon Valley of India – Bengaluru! And Marx and his philosophy are far from their thoughts. Xi Jinping will do a high-five to that the next time he meets Narendra Modi to drink tea with. Marx to Xi is not the same Marx to Modi but they are the same! (IPA Service)