May 21, 2014, 9:34 PM IST Bachi Karkaria
Will we be allowed to criticise, and can we dare to praise?
Never mind the nit-picking about the BJP’s piddly 31%, the lowest ever vote-share of a party that won a parliamentary majority. Maani leedhu, Manibhai, 282 whopping seats is no small singdana of an achievement. In a head-to-foot blow, it has socked our jaw and knocked our socks off, even the khaki ones. The historic victory made the new deity worthy of that global genuflection at Dasashwamedha Ghat as the Lord was installed in holiest of holies Banaras; the telegenic praan pratishtha ceremony complete with chandan, chants, conches, cymbals and SFX aarti. In this time of mandi-to-mall adoration, would anyone who dares dissent or even fails to fawn be roadrollered like a Rahul, crushed like a Kejriwal, or — ultimate shame! — be spat out like a stale aloo in Varanasi’s famous samosa?
But seriously, those of us who made it our mission to say NoNo to NaMo are in a quandary bigger than his boasts, his rallies and his margins of victory. We are damned if we don’t plunge into the gushing tide, and damned if we do. Let me explain.
Listening to his ‘Yes I Can’ acceptance speech last Friday at Vadodara, i genuinely felt a surge of optimism. Now, this was the seat that he jilted at the altar or left as unceremoniously as a wife; not unlike the sacrificial Jashodhaben, Vadodara had replaced Modi’s long-time consort, Maninagar, only in this election. But he bid goodbye to it, and roared ‘Here I Come’ to the nation and the world with such fervour that it could not fail to floor even the most caustic critic.
But could we NoMo sayers dare to nod in approval without fear of having our heads bitten off by our own Moaning Minority. And, at the same time, being laughed out of court by the I-told-you-so Idolisers? Baap re, we are trapped between a ‘Hai-Hai’ and a ‘Ha-Ha’.
Do i exaggerate? Here’s a real-time example. As the landslide began its relentless course, i tweeted ‘Considering the clean sweep, the jhadoo should have been Mr Modi’s election symbol’. Merely factual and innocuous enough, but i was immediately buried under an avalanche of troll tweets mocking me, hee-hee!, for my ‘U-turn’, indeed my ignominious capitulation.
So can i dare risk even the smallest hint that things could change for the better? And, in doing so, would i be letting down my side? Would i be ridiculed by the Modevotees for my earlier refusal to see the light, and be mocked as a Mir Jafar by my own tribe? Are we honour-bound to keep banging on about the negatives despite evidence of positives? Will a course correction, however slight or fair, be damned as heresy? Does giving up even an ounce of apostasy turn me into an Apostle of the Devil?
The positions, these past months, had hardened. More so as we saw some of the most entrenched and trenchant among us falling for the plums to be had by switching to what looked increasingly like the winning side. Each new Modi-convert proved the religion-agnostic English idiom, ‘The Hindu worships the rising sun.’ Those who stayed back dug their heels in even harder, yes, out of genuine mistrust of the Modi ABC: autocratic, bigoted, controlling. If we now put even the smallest toe on his line, would it be tantamount to crossing over to the dark side?
Yet, i must confess, it seems almost churlish to ignore this massive mandate or see the writing on the sensex. Help! I feel like Mazboor No. 1. Having been a card-carrying NoMo-ite, how do i acknowledge the imminent ‘achhey din’ of growth without being branded a ‘bandwagon climber’? How do i welcome the new AD without being called a BC?