A Modification of the Mind Mesmerises the Masses
By Pallavi Rebbapragada - NEW DELHI
Published: 01st Dec 2013 07:56:31 AM
The other side of the Yamuna; the lesser side of the Yamuna; cattle and canine run amuck on bumpy roads, a saline stench from a swamp of filth has spread far and beyond. Residential clutter has embraced the marketspace and metro rail is unfinished business. In India, this is anywhere’s everyday; difficult, predictable, and profane.
On the last Saturday of November, in Delhi’s eastern suburb of Shahdara, profanity was questioned a bit. And, only those who mimic or mirror the sacred can ever interject what’s profane. Narendra Modi certainly does. A truckload of young men, sporting brand lotus on t-shirts and caps, emptied out into a playground. Fortified in glossy saffron, even the ground was a much more than its weight in dust. There was a stage, and much like a sanctum sanctorum, it was forbidden and away.
Just half an hour before the rally and the space is mostly vacant. Still, a Delhi Police patroller professes “Aadhe ghante mein khade rehni ki jagah nahi milegi”, urging the crowds to grab a chair before life gets hectic. And that’s exactly how the plot unfolds.
A reader who picks up a bestseller has heard enough about the book to safely overlook its prologue, but it’s still there anyway. Lesser stalwarts start stirring public fervour, each in their own way. Navjot Singh Sidhu, BJP’s resident rhymester, recites couplets with ‘Modi’ alliterations. Manoj Tiwari, Bhojpuri entertainment’s best-thing-ever, croons his ‘recent’ composition in awe of Modi. Collectively, they call Delhi ‘a sick state’ to introduce their CM candidate Harsh Vardhan, who happens to be a surgeon by profession. Everyone who matters today is either a ‘CM to be’ or a ‘PM to be’, the optimism is apparent. Finally, Delhi BJP in-charge Nitin Gadkari declares the capital’s need for a Ram Rajya.
Once Modi takes over and till Modi hands over, the crowd performs a less patterned version of the Mexican wave. Cheering his every remark and completing his sentence whenever he makes one of his fashioned pauses. Intriguingly, the common seats have labels for Delhi University’s departments —Faculty of Social Sciences and Faculty of Science & Technology, but ultimately belong to local residents, party workers and labour from nearby construction sites. In the hyperactivity that’s exploded here, who cares about that anyway?
In rock concert frenzy, the front rows are flashing their phones to capture him on video and the ones at the back are clashing empty water bottles to amplify applaud. In case someone isn’t feeling adequately excited, there are also a couple of giant inflated lotuses floating about. There’s a carnival of chaos that’s developed around Modi’s practiced rhetoric and prosody.
Just as the protestant ethic has a spirit of capitalism thrown around it, mercantile ethos anywhere in the world has an element of vulnerability attached anywhere in the world. So, a protector of wealth, and a promoter of more wealth, is hardly undesirable. Vishnu Rawat, 31, self-employed, feels a Modi victory will make it easier for him to expand his business to other cities; Phulchand Aggarwal (69), a BJP-MLA contestant in the 80s, believes that Modi’s confidence inspires confidence in the masses; they will emulate him and prosper.
The symbolic imagery is scientific. His endorsement of technical advancement is manifested in the swanky live-streaming 3D booths that are erected all around. The Modi-masks being handed out at the entrance multiply his presence; they offer the crowd a sense of ownership over a leader who calls himself a man of the masses.
All in all, a Modi rally feels like an India-Pakistan cricket match where Pakistan is an imagined entity, and victory will change the way cricket is played.
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