Imagine there’s no heaven,
it’s easy if you try; No hell below us, above us only sky; Imagine all the people, living for today...
Imagine– John Lennon
Imagine being elected with margins of lakh-plus votes, being part of pre-poll alliance which is the first in 20 years to get a clear majority, being part of a party that recorded its best in nearly two decades. Imagine then not getting your choice of chapatis!
Imagine not having the option in Modi Sarkar to stall a bill or the House or to leverage coalition math for the minister’s attention. Imagine the frustration of being the ally with the largest number of seats and yet not being heard. Imagine having to put up a display of ‘thok-shahi’. Imagine being asked to apologise.
Imagine now the collapse of the concept of order, the rule of law. Imagine the magnitude of arrogance, the idea of being elected for privileges, the sense of entitlement. Imagine for a moment, it wasn’t a Muslim who was targeted. Imagine if chapatis were shoved down the throat of a Hindu. Would that be kosher? Sure. Home Minister Rajnath Singh did speak up. He did describe it as unfortunate and regrettable. He didn’t find reason to condemn them. Elected office, it would seem, indemnifies members from following the protocols of decency and societal norms.
Imagine if we the people mimicked MPs for the poor quality of public services? Imagine you are the voter. Imagine they are elected to enact laws. Imagine these are members who are tasked with the responsibility of upholding the rule of law.
Imagine you are a national champ, have represented India since 2003, have been among the highest ranked players till 2013, and are a recipient of the Arjuna Award and the Padma Shri. Imagine being targeted first by extremist Muslim groups for wearing a skirt to play tennis. Imagine now being targeted again. Imagine the level of patriarchy, being told you cannot be the brand ambassador of Telangana because of who you are married to.
Imagine the daughter of India being re-classified as the daughter-in-law of Pakistan. Sure, there was saving grace. Prakash Javadekar said, “Sania Mirza is pride of India,” and Ravi Shankar Prasad reclassified her as the “proud daughter of India.” What about the leader who presented the lowest common denominator in political thought?
Imagine how this will embolden the loony fringe, the fatwa artists, the khap panchayats, all those who do not make a distinction between fame and infamy, who cherish the two minutes of airtime even if it is at the altar of ignominy, who think nuisance is relevance.
Imagine the damage being done to the quest of the Modi Sarkar to empower women. Imagine the tear in the fabric of diversity, the dent to the idea of modernity. Imagine the grief, the hurt pride of a sporting icon who wears the India blazer and who marches under the Indian Tricolour. Imagine the opportunity for moral equivalence presented to the neighbourhood. Imagine the thrill, the satisfaction in the corridors of Talibanised Pakistan. Imagine how this one incident will haunt India every time it chooses to point a finger.
Imagine the dyslexia afflicting political minds in what is India’s truly cosmopolitan and progressive state. Witness the rise in gross domestic verbiage. A few weeks ago, Ramakrishna Dhavalikar, a minister in the Parrikar government, declared that bikinis and bars should be banned in Goa! Imagine the imagination of this minister to desire this in a state which survives on tourism. Now, his brother Pandurang Dhavalikar, an MGP legislator, member in Parrikar’s cabinet, sought the “cooperation” of people so that India could be made into a Hindu Rashtra. This was not at a public meeting but on the floor of the House. Within hours, his colleague and Deputy Chief Minister, Francis D’Souza, declared competitively that “India is a Hindu nation”. Imagine all this in a state which joined the Union of India following a unified struggle against colonialists and a war.
Imagine now CM Manohar Parrikar. Imagine the pride of the party in winning an election in a state with a substantial Christian population. Imagine a victory which is presented as an argument of BJP’s inclusiveness and held up as evidence of the party’s credentials. Imagine the threat to the sustainability of the claim of sabka saath, sabka vikas.
Imagine the migration of India from ‘no government’ to ‘no opposition’. It would seem, a start-up has been set up by idle political entrepreneurs to innovate, invent an opposition. It would be tempting for spin masters to define the word warriors as useful idiots and their utterances as useful distraction. The slide of the UPA began with similar ideas of spin masters. The rise in the GDP of lowest common denominators reflects a threat to the idea of Modi Sarkar. The cadre, not the leadership, must practice vipassana. To paraphrase Edmund Burke, all it needs for fools to succeed is that the intelligent do nothing.
Shankkar Aiyar is the author of Accidental India: A History of the Nation’s Passage through Crisis and Change