By Sushil Kutty
The foreign Press seems to be taking seriously a newly acquired role – that of warning the world that Narendra Modi for all his hugs and business-friendly aura is the next thing to Hitler and gullible Indians, thoroughly fooled by this megalomaniac, have given the reins of their country to this sectarian figure all over again. ‘What foolhardiness’ they let out a collective gasp. First, The Economist, followed by Time magazine and now The Guardian, Narendra Modi, who was given a standing ovation in the US Congress, has no cheerleaders left in the international media.
But even as we speak, the target is shifting: From Modi and his “Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party”, to the electorate of India, those who voted the BJP “blindly” and ensured the return of a “bigot”. In the reckoning of the western media, the Indian voter, especially the “Hindu voter”, is no less a bigot. “Wherever I have travelled, the refrain from Hindu voters, with very few exceptions, has been identical: Modi has failed us, yes, but he has at least put Muslims in their place,” writes a commentator in The Guardian, adding that Modi, “unable to enhance the lives of people, has meticulously incited their passions.”
While millions of Indians, including Hindu Indians, will agree with the commentator that certain members of Modi’s BJP did “incite passions” during Modi’s tenure so far, it cannot be said of the man himself. Modi’s Achilles heel has always been his inability to take steps to leave no room for other people to incite communal passions. Whether it was in 2002 or when the cow vigilante were all over the place lynching Indians, Modi kept silent and that made him complicit. If that could be called “meticulously inciting” then it’s a conspiracy theory that should not find space in any newspaper anywhere.
In 2014, Modi and his BJP got a comfortable majority in the Lok Sabha, the first time in 30 years that any party could do so, and only 31 per cent of the electorate voted BJP. Much was then said about how 69 per cent of the electorate “rejected” Modi. But even if all 100 per cent of the Muslims voted against Modi they still wouldn’t make up the 69 per cent. A very large chunk of the 69 per cent was Hindu. The question then is, if Hindus were not “bigots” in 2013/14, how could they turn into sectarian bigots in 2019 as The Guardian commentator has suggested?
Can Modi or anybody else in this age of Social Media succeed in turning millions of people into communal bots/bigots? Is there a role-reversal happening in front of our eyes and we’re not able to see it, but have to be shown the mirror by the international media? If The Guardian is to be believed, very much so.
“And on any given day, there are tens of thousands of (Hindu) activists, spread out across India, preaching the gospel of Hindu nationalism and fomenting a revolution from the bottom up. They believe in their cause,” writes the commentator in The Guardian. Of course, he’s just assuming, but who is pointing that out to him. No one! There would not be any rebuttal. The western media is always the gospel and truth be damned. To even allude that India’s majority Hindus are always mulling – morning and evening, night and day – how to kill a few Muslims apiece for breakfast is grotesque.
Indian Hindus by and large have better things to do than wake up to the thought of lynching and national and international media, should also have better things to do than hunt for targets to hit out at because a certain person is poised to win elections again. If instead of the 31 per cent who voted him, this time around 41 per cent vote for Narendra Modi then it must be for a variety of reasons and not because Indian Hindus have in the last five years acquired a taste for Indian Muslim blood.
Time magazine and The Guardian have essentially focused on a similar theme; that Modi is a polarizing figure and has succeeded over a period of five years in dividing the Indian electorate along sectarian and communal lines. “Five years on, we have more than a glimpse of the “New India” he (Modi) has spawned. It is a reflection of its progenitor: culturally arid, intellectually vacant, emotionally bruised, vain, bitter, boastful, permanently aggrieved and implacably malevolent… where bigotry against religious minorities is among the therapeutic options available to members of a self-pitying majority…”
Such rants do not do justice to the Indian citizen, especially Hindu Indian, and the history of the last five years. India, on the eve of another elections being read out in detail, is not a land of bigots and if there is a reaffirmation of faith in a particular party it could be because the alternate could not be found or could place itself in the reckoning in the Indian mind. The undermining of the Indian by the western media should be thwarted and fought. India is not a land of bigots. (IPA Service)