According to Chetan Bhagat, a liberal in India today is a person who was born in an upper class family, received English education, absorbed the world culture, carried hotdogs to school in their tiffin box, visited Disneyland, and ridiculed those who spoke English in India with a vernacular accent. The popular writer said this and much more in his Times of India article yesterday. He goes on to reduce the current communal disturbances and acts of intolerance to a mere class struggle between the privileged and the underprivileged, the latter being the present-day nationalists whom the former refer to derogatorily as the right-wing, or sanghis, or bhakts, or chaddiwallahs.
“There is a reason why liberals are derogatorily referred to as pseudo-secular, pseudo-intellectual and pseudo-liberal,” claims Bhagat. “For their agenda is not to be liberal. Their agenda is to look down on the classes that don’t have the global culture advantage.” He goes on to say that “If, for instance, Modi and Amit Shah had gone to Doon School, or studied in college abroad, or at least spoke English with a refined world accent, the liberals would have been kinder to them.”
Modi and Shah, apparently Bhagat’s greatest contemporary national heroes, enjoy much power now. They can implement their vision and convert India into a country where all the underprivileged victims of liberal derogation can be emancipated. A year and a half in power, they should have been able to show something at least in this direction. Yet what is their contribution so far? Communal strife. Feelings of insecurity among certain sections of citizens. Vandalism of places of worship, which mercifully stopped after a few initial experiments. Appointing Hindutva supporters to important offices. Rewriting the country’s history in whatever ways they could do so far. And little in the way of the much vaunted “development.”
And now, the Prime Minister tries to justify everything by comparing his government with the Congress regime. While campaigning in Bihar a couple of days back, the PM said that the Congress had no right to speak about tolerance because of the anti-Sikh riots that they led in 1984. What kind of logic is this? The people of India elected the BJP because it promised to be “the Party with a Difference.” Now, the PM is saying that they are no different from the Congress. This is not what the people wanted. They wanted DIFFERENCE.
Even Arun Shourie, former BJP minister, says that BJP now is equal to the Congress plus the Cow. Yesterday, Mr Shourie counselled the Prime Minister to stop being “a section officer” and be the “leader” of the whole country. A few days back Mr Ram Jethmalani, also a BJP leader, charged Modi with cheating the people of India.
Now, Mr Chetan Bhagat, do Mr Shourie and Mr Jethmalani belong to your hotdog-chewing liberals?
The worst thing that has happened in India today is the polarisation of the country’s people into Modi-supporters and Modi-baiters when Mr Modi himself has nothing to offer apparently except high rhetoric and vaporous promises. It is not a liberal versus right-wing fight at all, as Mr Bhagat would like us to believe. It is not a class war. It is a communal war which enjoys the tacit support of the ruling party. If this war is not contained, it will escalate into a civil war. Nice-sounding sermons on the privileged classes sneering at the underprivileged won’t save the country then.
The least that the BJP can do is to put the country on the path it promised to people: economic development. Bring development, provide jobs to the unemployed, deal with farmer suicides, bring inflation under control... There’s a whole lot of promises to be kept. Deliver them, please. And stop cocking a snook at people who are asking for what was promised to them and what is actually required.