is not clubbable, not by Delhi standards it seems. Also, his critics
make fun of his messianic delusions. The vision as he calls it thrives
on a steady supply of spilled blood. Gory indeed, but it is now only a
handy archival file, dusted before the occasional poll.
memory is not short; attention span is. Few can forget Delhi (1984) or
Ayodhya (1992) or Gujarat (2002) to name the big carnages. Teesta
Setalvad and Rana Ayub won’t let you forget the horrors even if you were
an ostrich. It is the attention span that trips up with the overload of
life’s ceaseless demands.
leader is fortunate there are no fussy dress codes for Delhi’s elite
clubs, but the reminders keep coming: let’s not ignore his sense of what
he wears, which of course is gross.
the day when he flaunted that funny jacket during a high-profile
international moment? Facebook and Twitter went berserk over the
apparent lack of class. It was so uncultured, the leader’s name threaded
in garish gold along the entire length of the cloth. Some said that’s
why he lost Delhi. They didn’t see the corollary to their logic — he won
with every massacre but lost because of a badly designed jacket. If the
reasoning has substance, we are in greater trouble than we imagined.
look. How dare he call himself a fakir after rubbing shoulders with the
jet set? That’s another remark that comes up from the liberal critics,
never mind their short attention span with his other greater horrors.
The visiting Americans found the jacket first. Their sharp cameras
zoomed in on the fine print. Then the rest sat up and rejoiced at the
foibles of the parvenu leader.
boorishness remained the subject of mirthful chatter. They then picked
on his language skills, concluding sagely it was the pits. His diction
is rotten like something the cat brings home. There were other
blemishes, the grating nasal intonations, enough for the intelligentsia
to flail their arms, a few whipping up a muddy froth at the corners of
Teesta Setalvad and Rana Ayub won’t let you forget the horrors even if you were an ostrich.
opposition seldom wakes up when a slaughter is under way. But the
dormouse party just about perked up to register a personal affront. How
dare the grosser leader poke fun at its more cultured leader? The
protests came in a blinkered bandwidth, directed specifically against a
parliamentary slight — the leader had remarked, astutely perhaps, that
his predecessor wore a raincoat in the bathroom, reference to raining
corruption. On the other hand, what do butchers wear when they work the
the lampooning becomes the counterpoint, say, to the opposition’s
helplessness when mass rape and bloodbath raged near Gandhi’s
birthplace? Mayhem cut loose in the wee hours of a February morning that
year, lasting for many bloody days, in slow motion.
opposition satraps whispered to their inviolable leader she should not
visit the grief-stricken women amid the manmade ruins. So she took her
time to condole with the widow of a former MP, her own party’s MP. The
man was slaughtered before the eyes of the brave wife, brave because she
is among the clutch of women who are leading the charge against
religious fascism today. Give or take some minutes, the horrors peaked
around the time the finance minister was beginning his budget speech to
an unusually attentive parliament.
Tom, he peeps into people’s bathrooms was how the offending leader with
inferior language skills came to be denounced, including by cartoonists
and editorial writers.
to think of it Adolf Hitler had shocking table manners. Cartoonists had
a field day with him. He grew a round waist, we are told, by hogging on
cake in his bunker while his men murdered millions of helpless Jews.
revelations came in 2009 in a hitherto unnoticed diary of a Nazi
officer. He boasted of dining with the Fuehrer 30 plus times. Is this
what was wrong with Hitler, his flatulence? The man was gross. That’s a
given. Mussolini was grosser still.
their laudatory biographies or autobiographies have been doing brisk
business for decades at India’s every train station. “Democracy is
beautiful in theory; in practice it is a fallacy. You in America will
see that some day.” So railed the Duce. “The truth is that men are tired
of liberty.” Both sides of India’s ideological street can see the
import, the right as an endorsement of its thuggery, the left as a
wake-up call on an alarm clock with drained batteries.
fun is good, more so if the target is a right-wing adversary. Charlie
Chaplin excelled in portraying Hitler as a buffoon. In a movie there’s a
scene in which Chaplin takes the pants off of both Hitler and
Mussolini. The humour could have easily miscued. The fact that the
laughter endures is of course much thanks to Chaplin’s genius. Had he
not had the ancillary support of two ideologically committed militaries
that came together to breach the Nazi fortress the joke would be on
Chaplin, and on his fans if there were to be any.
victory was heady and also sobering as Chaplin argued in The Great
Dictator. “I don’t want to rule or conquer anyone. I should like to help
everyone — if possible — Jew, Gentile — black man — white.” The magical
speech can still give goose bumps to anyone with a grain of humanism.
Chaplin’s sagacious words both inspired and imbibed from the rout of the
Nazis in their lair.
like Teesta Setalvad are a great source of inspiration to fight the
fight in India, and, in fact, everywhere. Foot soldier of the
Constitution is the title of her new memoirs. Yet how far can a foot
soldier fight on without a motivated army in combat mode to ensure the
Seeds of Hate - Picture of Bricks collected by the Hindu right Ram Janmabhoomi movement (Photo PTI)
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