By Sushil Kutty
This is one for Ripley’s ‘Believe it or not’. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is a glutton for abuse and appears to like being called vile names. Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge called Modi “zehreeli saanp” and the BJP broke out in a rash of gleeful reactions. The sagging image of the BJP, and that of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, received a booster thrust like that of a rocket blasted into space from Sri Harikota.
Also, cuss words are for Prime Minister Narendra Modi victim cards. To nobody’s surprise, after Modi gets cussed, the entire story of the Prime Minister’s humble origins is repeated ad nauseam on all channels, “godi” as well as “durbari”. Modi and the BJP gain from positive and negative reactions. The Prime Minister actually turns the tables on the Congress when abuses are hurled at him.
In the last edition of the Gujarat Assembly elections, AAP filled in for the Congress and Prime Minister Narendra Modi was constantly trolled and called names by AAP leaders. Thanks to the Bharat Jodo Yatra, the Congress was nowhere in Modi’s home-state to call Modi names. And AAP made up for the deficiency. BJP won Gujarat with the biggest majority yet.
To reiterate, there is reason to believe Modi loves to be abused. A “gaali” is Modi’s staple when the BJP gets set for elections. Prime Minister Narendra Modi looks forward to a “gaali” or two when the BJP election campaign is floundering, and losing steam. Like now, in Karnataka, where votes will be cast on May 10; and votes will be counted May 13.
Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge’s “zehreeli saanp” barb hit home, but with a sense of gratitude from the target. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is not the “invincible” he’s built up to by his handlers in the PMO, and by Amit Malviya’s IT Cell. After being called a “poisonous snake”, Narendra Modi, who went into campaigning with a language-handicap, got a potentially-rewarding talking point. The BJP believes it now has more than an outside chance to strike a majority.
For the past two days, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been harping about Kharge and his “zehreeli saanp” comment in all his election-stump speeches. As a result, the entire Karnataka knows who is the “poisonous snake” and who pulled it out of the snake pit? Whether Kharge has done a service to his party or not will not be known till counting day. Certainly, Narendra Modi and the BJP are keeping up a brave face.
The fact is, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s image requires constant tweaking. The image should not wither and sag. It is like a snake shedding its skin every year. For Modi it is at election time. Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge is a serial benefactor of Modi. His “venomous snake” barb was preceded by “Modi is Ravana” when Rahul Gandhi’s Bharat Jodo Yatra was passing through Rajasthan. Political analysts say it helped Modi retain Gujarat.
Nobody knew this till the other day, but Modi keeps count of the number of cuss words hurled at him. Whether he has a personal favourite is not known, but he has the number pat: 91! The Prime Minister expects the number to hit 100 before the year is out, quite buoyant that the target was achievable because there will be five more assembly elections in 2023.
Quite possibly, the BJP headquarters will do an analysis of the different types of abuses hurled at the Prime Minister. What is known, and what is in the public domain, is this: Congress and Congress leaders are the bulk-abusers of Modi. More Congress leaders have called Narendra Modi names than leaders of any other opposition party. On Sunday, Modi accused the Congress of abusing Karnataka’s Lingayat community. Modi believes strongly in the saying “gaalis fetch votes”, the more the merrier.
Will Kharge regret his “zehreeli saanp” comment? He has already expressed regret once. But, if this time, the BJP gets a majority and forms the government in Karnataka, the fable of lost elections because Modi was abused would become folklore, and Urban Legend. Modi has sworn the BJP will get a clear majority this time and not just be the single largest party as in 2008 and in 2018.
Confounding as it sounds, Modi insists the Congress loses elections because Congress leaders abuse him, saying “look the Congress once again has started abusing me.” He claims to have a list of abuses hurled at him by “Congress people”, and that the Congress has a dictionary of abuses. For Modi, Kharge’s “zehreeli saanp” was godsend, like timely rains are for a farmer. Kharge tried making amends, saying his comment was not against a personality, but against a vile ideology. Modi isn’t buying Kharge’s defence. The Prime Minister lined up the abuses and sounded quite happy. (IPA Service)