Watching the house when NaMo was going full speed on himself was a torture. NaMo was shouting himself hoarse on himself. Treasury benches cheered him; opposition jeered-some were in the well of the house and the authority of the Speaker was conspicuous by absence. It was like a green politician speaking in the village bazaar: he went on talking while the others went about their business. That business was, on both sides, preplanned was the only difference. NaMo chided the opposition by reminding them that the country was watching them; forgetting that he too was being watched by the 1420 million countrymen.
Arjuna, the Evil is characterized by hypocrisy, arrogance, pride, rage, uncouthness, and ignorance of culture.
The Evil says, ‘I have killed this enemy, shall kill other enemies too. I am God, I own and enjoy (the world), I am supremely endowed, I am all- powerful and (hence) happy.
‘I own this and I will fulfill My other desires too. This is Mine and there shall be more.
‘I am obsessed with Myself, is there anyone like Me?’
(The Gita. Ch 16)
Reports of NaMo’s aggressive speeches last week in both houses of parliament triggered the remembrance of the above description of Aasuri Sampat - Evil Endowment - from The Gita. As NaMo and his gang will surely be immune to any other scriptures I quote those here for them and all others among the 1420 million Indians who NaMo believes are unanimously behind him.
Ever since sheer circumstance propelled him to the top job in 2014, NaMo has been speaking aggressively. His style brought a much-desired change after the almost ‘no-speech’ Man Mohan Singh. Indians are used to premiers of three types: orators like Nehru, Vajpayee, Chandrasekhar, speakers like Indira, Narsimha Rao and V P Singh and soft speaking talkers like Shastri, Rajiv Gandhi, I K Gujral and Manmohan.
But this was probably the first time when the PM spoke about self like a maniac. Nehru and Vajpayee got high on emotion at times but never waxed eloquent about themselves; their emotional appeal was received by the whole house and taken to the people by the members, one and all, to the people. Nobody could charge them with Narcissism. Indira Gandhi, under suspected paranoia, appealed to the people outside parliament when she said,'Vipaksha kahata hai Indira Hatao, Indira Kahati hai Garibi Hatao; ab aap hi sochiye kisko hatana hai’. Though she was rarely brilliant in parliament, it is to her credit that she never used that august platform for self-promotion. Her detractors can well argue that there were enough sycophants in her party to do that; the fact stays that she never indulged her own self there.
Some quotes from the NaMo tirade
“The entire country has been a witness to how one individual has prevailed over so many.
“They are having to take turns even to shout slogans, but I remain unshakeable…
“Even together, the opposition (leaders) can’t get the better of me…
“Lies can’t breach the shield (support) of 142 crore Indians…
If this is not Megalo-Modia, I don’t know what is!
It is absolutely futile to talk of democracy when the PM is so obsessed with his own image. Equally pointless it is to point out that the PM might belong to a party but he is notionally the leader of the house and cannot treat opposition like personal enemies. The suggestion that he has to enjoy the confidence of all members of the house like Nehru and Vajpayee is also bound to fall on deaf ears. Worse still while NaMo challenged the opposition leaders, such as we have, like a WWF wrestler, he showed no regard for his team at all. No PM can function without a team and NaMo has another 75 team members. He did not find even one of them worth a little credit. If the opposition leaders are His enemies are cabinet members His fiefs and attendants, one wonders. Moreover, not one of them has shown the guts to voice their discomfort at this total disregard. What a mockery of democracy. We know that under a strong PM the team members have to play second/third fiddle: but here they are not allowed to play a single note. If NaMo exalts in the hero worship of such spineless colleagues, it is another confirmed symptom of Megalo-Modia.
Watching the house when NaMo was going full speed on himself was a torture. NaMo was shouting himself hoarse on himself. Treasury benches cheered him; opposition jeered-some were in the well of the house and the authority of the Speaker was conspicuous by absence. It was like a green politician speaking in the village bazaar: he went on talking while the others went about their business. That business was, on both sides, preplanned was the only difference. NaMo chided the opposition by reminding them that the country was watching them; forgetting that he too was being watched by the 1420 million countrymen. In a way this is doubly ironic. Like all 1420 million Indians are not voters and only about 38% of those who voted did vote for Him; probably not all 1420 million watched the proceedings and some like me must have been disgusted both with the opposition and NaMo!
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Why this Megalo-Modia, is the moot point. NDA and BJP are at the helm and unless there is a miracle in this year, they are bound to be voted back in 2024. A recent survey by an independent(!) agency has predicted that despite the marginal loss of 20 odd seats (to the gain of Congress?), the BJP is going to get a majority. The opposition is leaderless and rudderless notwithstanding the euphoria over recently concluded Bharat Jodo of Rahul. Yet NaMo is campaigning for BJP in all elections: local, state, and national!
Like in sport there are bad losers in politics too and the opposition is blaming its failures on NaMo and his methods: Kharge has said that politicians cannot be expected to study an issue in depth before making charges! No need to comment on this cry of a loser. But NaMo seems to be turning into a bad winner: like Australian cricket teams under ‘aggressive’ captains. They went on sledging even when they were sure to win the match like under Ian Chappell and Smith-Warner brought shame to their country with ball tampering when a series win was ensured. The great Bhartrihari advised that one should be humble and forgiving in glory and brave in defeat. At present there is no one to take this wisdom to NaMo, sadly because this blight is likely to get us a democratic dictator! Earlier, I did not ponder this very seriously but NaMo has convinced me now.
I know subtlety is foreign to NaMo in thought and deed. But is he practicing it by way of an exception and sending a message to his mother organization-the RSS? For all its disregard for modern representative democracy the RSS has never encouraged personality cult after the passing away of M S Golwalkar who was RSS chief for over three decades. Occasionally the RSS has been taking, at least in words, a different line than NaMo and BJP. The RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat had commented in 2014 that NaMo was the top servant of the motherland (and no one above that?); in the recent past he had affirmed that no individual was greater than the country. So NaMo’s real target might be not the exhausted and clueless opposition parties but the RSS top brass? We need also to remember that the BJP norm of no public office after 70 years was enhanced (?) to 75 years after NaMo’s advent. It Could be taken to 80 by say 2026 when the RSS will be 101! Only time will tell.
We need a strong PM but not a strongman as PM. We need a party with a majority but not a party of a strongman’s slaves. We need a strong democracy based on decency and respect for difference of opinion and method but not elected herds driven by whips.
To end by another quote from The Gita: ‘the portents are bad, Keshava!’
- Vinay Hardikar
(The writer has been working in the public sphere of Maharashtra for the last five decades. His versatile personality has several dimensions, but the primary ones remain to be that of an established writer, journalist, editor, critic, activist, and teacher.)