I do not read as many daily newspapers as I used to, certainly not many English newspapers. Because of news on TV the day before, the dailies become rather stale the day after, and also because of TV, English newspapers do not carry much news nowadays and have to fall back on the so-called think-pieces, which means more opinions than news, and therefore worthless as news. Who wants to know what so-and-so, whose name you have never heard or seen before, thinks about Rahul Gandhi’s chances or plans for the future, when we know the man has no future at all? Firstly, I am the least interested in Rahul’s future – who is he anyway? – or his plans, and even less interested in what the reporter has to say about them. So, I just glance at the headline and skip the rest and pass on to the next item.
I am told that English language newspapers have huge circulations – running into millions – but they do not mean much in the new scheme of things. If they carry more views than news, they are not newspapers any more, and therefore meaningless. That maybe one reason why their views do not count anymore and the papers themselves have ceased to be less influential than they used to. In fact, many readers take English papers mainly for financial news than their editorials, for even the editorials are written by men, and possibly women, who have no views of their own, as they jump from paper to paper, and one TV company to another.
English papers are produced by people who have lost touch with their readers, because they do not know who their readers are. They have lost touch with the society in which they operate. Take Gujarat. Non-English papers are better informed about Gujarat, and about Narandra Modi, than English papers, for the latter have an angle when reporting from Gujarat, while the non-English reporters have no axe to grind and give you more or less straight news.
The English reporters, and their bosses, have turned Modi into an ogre, the kind of ogre who goes about in devil’s dress and devours children. For the last ten years, the English papers have been carrying on a campaign against Modi and government and painted both in lurid colours in their reports. I doubt whether they really believe what they write, but my guess is that this is what their owners want them to write, and this is also what their anglicised readership wants to read.
This class is a section of the middle class that has emerged in the last twenty years of liberalisation, a so-called “secular” middle class with secure jobs and fat salaries which sets them apart from the rest of the society. This is the class that travels by air, stays in five-star hotels and takes its holidays in foreign countries. They have mentally cut themselves off from India and things Indian, and culturally have become a rootless lot out of place in their own country. If they are Hindus, they never visit temples; if they are Muslims, they never visit mosques. But when they or their children become NRIs, they suddenly start remembering they are Indians after all, but by then its too late.
The English newspapers are exactly like these rootless men, neither here nor there, and hating themselves for being nowhere. For them, and for those who still live in India, but hate the country, and hate the rise of people like Modi, for the simple reason that they do not understand how a man like Modi, who doesn’t speak English, has not been to a fancy school or university, let alone Harvard or Cambridge, has suddenly taken over a whole State and turned it around, and is now poised to achieve bigger things.
The first reaction to such a man, who doesn’t fit their stereotype is to run him down. And this is what they have been doing all these years, ever since the riots in 2002, in which he is alleged to have had a hand. Such a man, according to this brigade, simply cannot be chief minister of a State, let alone prime minister of India. So they run down his achievements, belittle his government, and go about shouting that the man simply cannot win another election, and is not a man fit to go to Delhi, and is therefore doomed to defeat in the coming poll, that the die is cast against him, and those who support him have lost their heads, and even those millions who have made him what he has become have lost their minds, and, in any case, their hands are so soaked in blood that he is already an outcast and does not deserve to win!
They simply have no idea who Narendra Modi is and what he is up to, just as they had no idea who Bal Thackeray was and what Shiv Sena is.
These are the very same people who were alarmed at the huge turnout at Bal Thackeray’s funeral, a man they would not shake hands with, let alone invite him to tea. This man from nowhere came from the wrong side of the track, and before you could learn to say Mumbai, captured the city before their eyes. So did Narendra Modi, who until ten years ago was not even heard of. The men sitting in Gymkhana Clubs and downing their pegs simply could not understand what had happened to their beloved city, just as they refused to believe that their Gujarat, Mahatma Gandhi’s Gujarat, had been taken over by a nobody, and made a success of his job. This is not what Harvard Business School had taught them. So they shook their heads and simply refused to believe what was happening before their eyes. And when Modi would not oblige them by leaving, they said he was not a normal person, and should not be trusted.
Then the secularists took over. “He does not represent Muslims,” say the secular man and women in chorus.
“Mahatma Gandhi did not represent Muslims either, after years of genuflecting before them, which is why they deserted him and abandoned India and left for their new Eldorado,” you say.
“But Gandhi was different” they persist but cannot explain why he was different.
Our English papers are always twisting news and figures to cast Modi and BJP in a perverted light. But in the process, they do not realise they are twisting news. One newspaper, the same one I referred to earlier, recently had a full-page report on Gujarat elections, full of statistics and what not, though it refused to say that Modi was going to win, as if a Modi victory was sticking in their throat. The whole world knows that Modi is going to win hands down, an unusual achievement, with Congress way behind. The other parties, including a new one with Keshubhai Patel at its head, will be lucky to get even five seats. This is what the polls are saying, not me. But the English paper which carried the report made it appear as if it was going to be a tough fight and Modi would be lucky to retain his power.
Elections have nothing to do with whether you are communal or secular. People to not care who you are. When the Marathis followed Thackeray’s hearse in lakhs, they didn’t care whether the man was communal. The men who came in their starched Khadi kurtas in the VIP lounge did not care how many deaths Thackeray was allegedly responsible for in his long career spanning half a century. Here was a man of the people who was being honoured by millions of his men, some of whom or most of whom, had fought for him for decades, whether he used violent means is beside the point. Which revolution in the world has been wrought without violence? A communist weekly said that Shiv Sena was a violent outfit and Thackeray was a violent man, as if this was big news.
Bal Thackeray changed the history of Mumbai and Narendra Modi is changing the history of Gujarat. One did it violently, as his critics contend, and the other is doing it peacefully. But what they made or what they are making is not steel or power or roads, but history. Anybody can make steel or power or computers, but it is given to few to make history. And this is what Narendra Modi is doing in Gujarat. And that is why the vested interests are after him.
The Indian National Congress was a revolutionary party at one time, long before Independence. Now it has become a party of clerks, and crooks and gamblers, of thieves and gangsters, not so much a political party as a den of marauders working for and under a foreign woman who has no connection or interest in the country and whose prime aim is to extract as much loot as she – and they – can, before their time is up. And believe me, their time is up.