Aakar Patel is not generally known to be an insensible man. He has his flaws, but he has his good points too. He has been one of the less shrill critic of Modi, and he has often attempted to present his argument skillfully. In a recent article (titled: Beyond Narendra Modi’s oratory is a vapid message) that we will examine, he has presented his views in a fact-mixed-with-his-imagination mode. While there are certain sensible aspects in his analysis, his drift betrays pan-Indian stupidity (in our humble and arrogant opinion that is).
First we comment on his article para by para. AP's writing is in blue, and our comments in black.
Narendra Modi is a man before his time. A couple of decades along, too late for him, there will be a bigger constituency in India for the anti-Muslim demagogue.
AP's prediction. Let us hope he is wrong by miles. And that in much shorter time Hindus wake up to the existential threat of Islam and do something about it.
This may seem a counter-intuitive thing to say just when Modi has been given control of his party through popular demand. But it is true.
It better be true. As far as we understand, Modi is not pro-Hindu at all. He is merely the least anti-Hindu among the whole group most of whom are extermination-ist anti-Hindus. Those who paint him as anti-Muslim or pro-Hindu (these two do not mean the same thing) are colluding against Hindus.
Today, the group of those who idolize him is large, as we observe on social media, which the group, in fact, dominates. However it is only relatively large. The Indian voter remains confessional and sees virtue in caste. The urban Indian has never been particularly different in this sense and our matrimonial advertisements demonstrate this.
There is virtue in Varna. But that is another topic for another day. Also, this is the first hint that AP will, in the said article, has presented his rant in the garb of analysis.
A quick transition is happening as the middle class expands. Education and awareness have produced a yearning for identity that is broader than caste, and for many urban Indians, Modi has provided this. The contours of his message are simple: Indians are a great people, but our leaders are corrupt. If we have firm and decisive rule, the Hindu nation will become a world power again.
There could be quibbling over the nitty-gritty, but the drift is not way off the mark
This message is not simplistic so much as it is stupid. But it becomes darker because it is coloured with hatred.
Now AP's rant is becoming full-throttle. BTW, the same (being simplistic, stupid, dark, hate-filled) is a more accurate description of this article by AP. But let is pass for a while.
His biographer Nilanjan Mukhopadhyay says Modi is our first anti-Nehruvian leader. Even Atal Bihari Vajpayee, when he came to power, put forward a soft and secular face, reaching out to Muslims. Modi offers no apology for his actions or those of his murderous ministers.
Now AP begins to mixing facts and his own imagination. The fact is, Modi himself is a state-mediated tax-funded welfare supporting crypto-socialist. ABV put forward a "take my ass" soft face and faced Kandahar and Kargil. Modi has never spoken forthrightly about the Islam problem. And whether his ministers have been murderous is being evaluated by courts, not all of which are uncontaminated by Congress influence. And yet to describe Modi the way AP has described, and then slip in demonizing insinuations reeks of deeper sinister and evil designs.
This no-nonsense image is the primary reason Modi has risen and shone within his party. His eclipsing of L.K. Advani comes directly from this, and now that he sits on the margins, Advani will have the time to observe this truth.Advani took great pride in saying that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was a party with an ideology, which was Hindutva.
A partly factual but a tangential point. Hindutva of Advani and Modi, BJP and RSS is not enough to protect against the existential threat posed by Islam. By posing as if Hindutva is dangerous to Muslims AP is overtly or covertly colluding with anti-Hindus in planning Hindu-genocide.
Ideology insists on purity and the moderate position is always under threat from something more extreme. The leaders in all parties that claim an ideology at some point face the problem Advani does.
Until now, the drift in Indian policy has constantly been towards more Socialism (read coercive state mediated wealth redistribution involving huge misappropriation of funds aka crony capitalism), more Secularism (read trampling Hindu emotions, and anti-Hindu and non-Hindu appeasement), and so on. This blatant progress towards complete Hindu-genocide is being perceived by AP as not being fast enough. This further exposes where AP is coming from.
The cadre of the BJP adores Modi because he gives them their real ideology, what is called red meat in American politics. This is also the reason why the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), whose leadership doesn’t approve of Modi’s non-collegiate style, had to succumb to its own cadre, which loves Modi.
Modi has time and again stressed and demonstrated that he is true-secular. In Gujarat about more than 30% of the people who died (oh yes, during that spontaneous reaction following the barbarous carnage of old men, women and children) were Hindus, though the events have wrongly been called anti-Muslim riots.
Also, while every non-Modi (whether from BJP, for example Shivraj Chauhan, or non-BJP, for example Nitish Secular Kumar) are credited with individual triumphs and granted immunity under the garb of collective responsibility; in the case of Modi he is blamed individually and denied credit under the umbrella term of collective responsibility.
Modi dislocates the hypocrisy of a party whose leader fired up a mob and then said he regretted its vandalism. He, on the other hand, has shown Muslims their place in Gujarat and kept them there. His legions on the Internet have one defence against the barbarism of his ministers—that the Congress also did it in 1984.
That Advani - after his brilliant insight of the majority vote bank - reduced himself to an infernal vacillator owing to his own lack of conviction and the ABV phenomenon cleverly orchestrated by the secular brigade, is a fact. Modi has been dangerously tolerant of Muslims if he has kept them in Gujarat. Islam is ever at an existential and extermination-ist conflict against non-Islam, so anything short of Separationism, is a postponed genocide of the non-Muslims.
That Congress did it in 1984 is plain history. That such things have happened many times during Congress regimes is also plain history. AP like legions of Islam apologists forget that their ilk use 1992 demolition of disputed structure as defense for 2002 Godhra incendiary act where old men, women and children were burnt alive.
AP will do well to establish his credentials as a balanced analyst if he writes a piece on history of Islam in India. For starters he can try plagiarizing from (Islam's other victims by Serge Trifkovic) rather than blabbering smatterings from books like Discovery of India.
The second thing is that Modi can communicate over the head of the media with his audience, and he can do this better than any other leader in India. This is why his power is independent of the media or the traditional party structures. He reaches out directly to his group in the eternal way of the demagogue.
Some general comment!
The Greeks had Cleon (mercilessly panned by the great playwright Aristophanes) and the Romans had Gracchus and Caesar.
Here AP betrays his Macaulayian instincts again. Quoting from Greek and Roman history is chic. Ramayana and Mahabharata are for dhoti-clad vernacular rural folks.
Like Modi, none of these strongmen appealed to the most populous segment of their society, the servants, the real landless. Their constituency was the neo-literate middle class.
Those who are interested in verifying this, please check up Greek history. We are not interested at this moment.
For those able to look beyond his superb oratory and humour, the vapidity of Modi’s message is striking. It has not been noticed or remarked upon, but Modi has never been to college (his degree is from a correspondence course). His simple views spring from this lack of knowledge.
AP's evaluation and opinion. We will have more on it later, in second part.
His writing is all in Gujarati and—I can claim to know something about this—it is mediocre. He’s not well-read, has little idea about the world or its history. It will be embarrassing, if he becomes prime minister, to have him in the same meeting as US President Barack Obama.
AP's evaluation and opinion. We will have more on it later, in second part.
The interesting aspect of Modi—and this makes him honest—is that he genuinely believes the things he represents. Discussing Kashiram Rana, Surat’s six-term undefeated Lok Sabha member of Parliament (whom Modi denied a ticket in 2009) with journalist Saba Naqvi, Modi observed that Rana was different because he was non-vegetarian: “Maans khane wale logon ka vyavhar alag hota hai (meat-eating people have a different temperament).”
Without all the relevant facts of case being available, we can't say much. Mr. AP is entitled to his freedom of speech. Further, the relation between food habits and psychology has been investigated and a more nuanced treatment of the subject is beyond the scope of this article. What needs to be put in proper perspective is that what Modi allegedly said can not be classified as obviously wrong by itself.
Those who love him purely because they agree with his dislike of Muslims and his love of unity of command, should consider this aspect to him and what it means for them if he takes power.
Does Modi dislike Islam? If yes, then he seems the most knowledgeable Islam-realist non-Muslim politician we have in this country. May Ishwara make thousands like him. However, AP seems to be day-dreaming (what we would love to be true). An honest investigation into workings of Islam against non-Islamic societies is a matter that needs urgent attention.
He is aching to bring with him his social vision, which is aligned with that of the RSS, to the rest of India from Gujarat. A money-minded, intellectually barren, segregated, ghettoized, non-drinking and vegetarian utopia that some of us have fled from.
Well Mr AP, you don't seem to like non-drinking vegetarian utopia, then please consider migrating (fleeing to use your term) to a utopia of non-drinking non-vegetarian kind which your skull-cap toting friends are preparing for you. In passing we would like to remind that often it is precisely those who zealously resist being told what is good for them are the most vociferous in telling others what is good for the others.