“IT IS MORE THAN JUST A ROTTEN TOOTH….!”
-Fr. Cedric Prakash sj*
As the poll results of the Karnataka Assembly elections trickled in on Wednesday, 8th May, the one person who was in the eye of the storm was Narendra Modi, the Chief Minister of Gujarat.
Over the years, the BJP in Karnataka had done everything possible to make certain their defeat: the terrorizing of the minorities, the bashing up of youth who didn't conform to their cultural 'traditions'; the bringing in of a legislation that was directed at harming minority communities, the support to right-wing Hindu fundamentalism and much more; this was besides the corruption and scams of immense proportion. However, the BJP party workers were confident that Narendra Modi would campaign in Karnataka, wave his magic wand and cast a spell over the State to ensure that the BJP would come back to power!
Modi himself was a frightened campaigner; one who had no guts to campaign in difficult terrain. From his track record, it is obvious that Modi goes to places where he can either win or is confident of fooling the people. In Karnataka, he did become the BJP star campaigner, making forays to three areas - Bangalore, Mangalore and Belgaum. When he did so, he was able to attract crowds and throw barbs at the Congress party and the UPA. In the rally he addressed in Mangalore, he struck the Hindutva chord and tried to rake up the “cattle slaughter” issue clearly targeting not merely the UPA but also the Muslim minorities.
However, all his rhetoric did not pay dividends. The BJP has lost miserably in the places where he campaigned and was considered to be the main vote-getter!
It is interesting to note that when Modi campaigned, the media highlighted what he said in no uncertain terms and would have given him all the credit if the BJP had won or even not fared as disastrously as the final results showed. However with the results being declared, practically no media is holding him responsible for the debacle. On the contrary, some within the BJP are conveniently blaming Gadkari, Advani and Sushma Swaraj for not ensuring that Yeddyurappa was still in the party; but no one highlights the fact that Rajnath Singh and even Modi, over the last several months could have (if they wished), easily reinstated Yeddyurappa and his followers.
After the election results were out, Modi developed a 'sudden toothache' and neither his many spokespersons nor his highly paid public relations agencies, were at hand to give his point of view. One does not have to be very intelligent to know that Modi like a little school boy easily 'falls sick' when the going gets tough. Even if he did have a toothache, why did his spokespersons not speak up on behalf of him? And how did this “very painful toothache” suddenly disappear when he addressed the Gujarati diaspora in the US through a video conference on Sunday, 12th May?
Yes one can surely, “fool some of the people some of the time, but NEVER all of the people all of the time!”
(* Fr. Cedric Prakash SJ is the Director of PRASHANT, the Ahmedabad-based Jesuit Centre for Human Rights, Justice and Peace)