Ineed a good enemy. That is the basic rule of my calling. We’re politicians, you see, and we always need an opposite, sometimes more than at other times. This seems to be that time now. It also has the bonus of the right sound, like words of strategic wisdom from the mouth of an ancient sanskari sage. Probably sound better in Sanskrit, too. The kind of thing that old fox Chanakya might have said. In that case, I too can honestly say I’m inspired by our ancient traditions. Of course, it’s hard to prove he said it because there’s no record of it. Not that it matters; we all know the value of a good enemy. In fact, that was our ticket out of exile.
Win or lose, we still win. Heaven forefend that we lose, but if we do our replacements will be following our script.
Our primary teacher was, lest we forget, the great Bhishma Pitamaha. He opened a door when we saw only blank walls in every direction. He showed us that the real sin in this country was not being poor; it was being Hindu. It’s a secular republic, they kept saying, we can’t be imposing our prejudices. What about the real injustices we have suffered, we said. That was the past, let’s stay in the present.
So he helped us turn our bleak today into a tomorrow of infinite possibility. We showed them, didn’t we, that the past shapes the future, in a way that’s scaring the pants of some of these bleeding hearts. That’s why we’re here and they’re howling in the outer darkness. Most of the time it’s hard to understand what they’re mumbling, but when you catch a word here and there, they sound just like us, only it’s a lite version.
So, right now everyone’s repeating our storyline, although the versions are slightly different each time. I wonder why no one, not even our strongest critics, thinks that is worth mentioning. Everyone has realised that what we’re saying resonates with the public. That’s why I’m satisfied with our position. Win or lose, we still win, never mind what these hypocrites say. Heaven forefend that we lose, but if we do our replacements will be following our script.
And why is that? We changed the story. That is the extent of the debt we owe Pitamaha. He made the narrative bend our way. We should always remember that and remain true to his path even if he no longer walks with us. He is still, after all, our margadarshak. Now that he is enjoying a rest from his long labours we wish him Godspeed on his rath yatra onwards and upward.
ut the world never stands still and things change all the time. The unfortunate fact is that you’re only as good as your last outing. The result is not a given forever. You have to earn it every time. And I must admit that we stumbled over a few self-created obstacles. We bit off more than we could chew, in short, and we’ve caught the gripes. And that brings me back to the need for a good enemy.
There are also those who keep saying we’ve done nothing, but they’re a lost cause. The trouble is, too many people in this country have nothing to do but complain.
Last time, you see, we didn’t need one. The enemy existed and the people had identified him. All we had to do was keep pointing to him and with our own little contributions show how different we are from them. Needless to say, our Pitamaha laid the foundation for that as well with a relentless campaign of satyagraha in Sansad that showed them up as pathetic, shifty liars. Everything else worked for us, too, with all the arrests and corruption cases, the economy slowing down and prices shooting skywards. So we rolled them over. There was no fight left in them at the end. Honestly speaking, (I often do, to myself) they handed us the cup though my role as amplifier made the difference between victory and landslide.
But that’s history. Times have changed, the universal constant is at work. We’re finding it harder to defy gravity as the weight of our incumbency pulls us down. I know it seems absurd to say that. We’ve done so many great things others never dreamt of but more people than ever in the last four years are saying we haven’t done enough. There are also those who keep saying we’ve done nothing, but they’re a lost cause. I couldn’t be bothered with them. Anyway, this business of satisfying the customer is a never-ending task. The trouble is, too many people in this country have nothing to do but complain.
God, did I say that? Good thing this is not a public rally. Because that’s exactly what a lot of people are complaining about, that they don’t have anything to do. There are no jobs to be had, they say. Everyone points to the “Make In India” logo and asks what happened there. The truth is that the best laid plans and all that, but it isn’t all that black. Yes, we promised two crore of them every year and yes, we haven’t got there. But it wasn’t just another jumla, and hey, we haven’t been sleeping on the job either. The people who keep carping are the ones who want us to fail, so they exaggerate every little setback.
ust look at this calculation that one of my friends at what they call an economic consultancy provided. We have so far built some 60 lakh toilets under the Pure Nation scheme. This is all over the country. He says that for each one an average of six people are required. Some may need more, some less, but this is the average. That means we provided 3.6 crore jobs over the four years. But no one talks about it and the difference it made. Why?
Strange as it may seem, the number of sceptics is growing. My friends tell me that everyone still believes in me but quite a few don’t believe me.
My friend has many other figures as well, like money paid out, man hours worked, economic benefit in terms of spending power, and so on, but I want to highlight this one fact. We created this many jobs from this one scheme. It isn’t over yet, either, so expect a few lakh more jobs before it’s over. And I won’t mention the other benefits because even I don’t understand the half of what these bearded types claim. The experts will tell you how we helped industry, logistics, labour and other ordinary people. It was designed for them, after all, but do we get credit for that? Do we hell!
Excuse the language, but sometimes it’s necessary. We work day and night to make things better and all we get is constant cribbing and whining. Too few, too much slope, not strong enough, where’s the water, no one is ever satisfied. At the same time, they don’t bother to ask the people who use these facilities how their lives have changed. It would open their eyes.
Seriously, do they want to open their eyes? How else would they have the gall to launch their ignorant tirades? Oh well, that is the burden of public service. We have to be patient and hope that the people for whom we are working will eventually learn how much we care. We can hit back, though. I can tell you that we’re the champions at this.
Except, for some reason it isn’t working so well. Strange as it may seem, the number of sceptics is actually growing. My friends tell me that everyone still believes in me but quite a few don’t believe me. They don’t doubt my good faith but they feel the people around me are sabotaging my efforts. That isn't saying much about my Man of Iron persona, but does provides a useful cover even if it isn’t strictly true.
I took the wheel only because they shoved me into the seat. I fixed our compass, found a direction and the rest was history. I thought this time there’d be more personal time, but no, I have to focus on my enemy.
The only problem is that I can hardly blame my own ministers and party men. That was the style of Chairman Mao and, whatever my opponents say to the contrary, I’m a firm believer in democracy. Majority rule is what it’s all about. And anyway, it doesn’t help us much. Dearly beloved but defeated, it doesn’t sound too good. We have to find another way to skin this cat.
The push back is unbelievable and the strange thing is that there is no real reason for it. Just look at the things we have brought. Nice, crisp new notes for everyone to spend, in every colour of the rainbow.
One way is to find a good enemy and load him or her with all the sins of omission and commission people believe you’ve committed. But you have to carry conviction, make it believable. It’s also better not to put a face here. Someone made the obvious suggestion but my best friend and alter ego laughed himself sick. “That boy? Come on, let’s get real. Who will ever believe us or anything else we say if we try to sell that story? It’s like saying the dog ate my homework.”
That makes it a more uphill task but the fact that we need one at all shows how uncertain this business of governance is. Those two glorious years are almost like a false memory now. It was magical. I didn’t even have to raise my voice; being there was enough. These days I have to find a new set of pejoratives for my opponents at every public event. People seem to get turned off by the dregs of recycled invective from old speeches. It’s not their fault. Smart phones, Twitter and YouTube have drastically reduced shelf life. They create a constant appetite for new stuff. We’ll give it to them, of course, it’s our job, but I was hoping to focus more on myself this time. At the risk of sounding immodest I must tell the truth.
I am centre-stage. You heard that right. I took the wheel only because they shoved me into the seat. There was no one else and no one knew if we were going or coming or even if we could move at all. I fixed our compass, found a direction and the rest was history. So I thought this time there’d be a little more personal time, but no, I have to focus on my enemy. We may not get there otherwise. Still, there’s always scope if you know what to do.
Here I must make a thing or two clear. Am I making up the enemy? No, I’m not. He exists, in more than one place. The problem is that he’s cunning, he doesn’t show himself. He leaves no evidence, in case you’re wondering why we haven’t presented it. This is like that itch inside your head; you can’t reach it but you know it’s there. So the best thing we can do in these circumstances is our patriotic duty, call him out. And what will we do if we catch him? We’ll leave that to the law. We are a nation of laws after all. Ordinary people don’t have to be anxious. In fact we make all this noise because we’re more worried for their security.
’m used to swimming against the tide, most of my life has been exactly that. But this here is harder than anything I’ve done before. The push back is unbelievable and the strange thing is that there is no real reason for it. The other side is making even less headway and we’re ahead of everyone by miles, except for that pesky everyman with his muffler, but even he has piped down. And just look at the things we have brought. Nice, crisp new notes for everyone to spend, in every colour of the rainbow.
Almost everyone has their own latrine. This will revolutionise their lives. Not only do they have a safe and private space, cleaning their own toilets will teach them both about hygiene and the sin of untouchability. For one, it will show them they’re still the same caste, same gender, same social set, and for another, it will help them understand that the brush in hand truly makes us all brothers under the skin. We’re completing the Mahatma’s great task, in short. That makes us the spiritual heirs of two of our greatest men, the Sardar and the Mahatma. And, of course, there is a third, our own Chhatrapati, but he belongs only to us. We have the key symbols in our hand now, we’ve made a serious dent in black money hoards, and we’ve made things happen on the other side of our borders. Everything ought to be working smoothly. We should be up and at them.
You’d think these people might at least be willing to make a sacrifice for the nation. But they don’t want to walk the extra mile even for clean air and better days.
But my best friends tell me it isn’t so. They’re banging their heads against the wall trying to work it out. I too have noticed it here and there, but honestly, how bad can it be? Then, again, it’s silly to be too sure. Look at 2004, that’s a teachable moment if ever there was one. And I must say I’m disappointed in some of my supporters. The say they still like us but the sight of the price board at petrol pumps makes them groan. What a bunch of pansies. I spent most of my early life on moffusil buses, third class train coaches, bullock carts and rickshaws and I’m none the worse for it. Anyway, let me tell you about the reason for these fuel prices.
hese middle-class types, they say they want clear skies, clean air and no acid rain. Oil, especially automobile fuel, is the major culprit here. It’s a sensitive thing, so we didn’t do much at the start, but when global prices began to fall we saw an opportunity. We thought we’d kill two birds with one stone. First, keep the prices high with a discreet use of taxation powers. It would plug holes in the budget and at the same time discourage some people from jumping into their vehicles too eagerly, reducing pollution at source.
Then, we’d use some of the cash to buy into a massive non-fossil fuels programme. Our supporters have repeatedly applauded our commitment to reduce carbon in the air and this is the best way to do it that I can see. It’s working, too, just look at the kinds and size of solar plants we’re contracting out. Of course, this means petrol and diesel prices will remain high. In any case, world prices are also climbing, so what do you want us to do? No more price hikes, that what they want. How do we subsidise our solar and other projects? They don’t want to know.
You’d think these people might at least be willing to make a sacrifice for the nation. They talk so earnestly about it when they meet you. But if it’s a choice between walking to the grocer’s or taking the scooter you know what wins out. They don’t want to walk the extra mile even for clean air and better days.
So there you have it, they want to have it good but at no cost to them. Don’t they know someone always pays for lunch? Not us, we don’t. And so it goes. Our best efforts are met with increasing suspicion and my best speeches are received only by polite hand claps. That hurts, when I think of the delirious reception everywhere I went only a short time ago. The long and short of it is that we can’t really tell how people will react to our achievements so we’ve resorted to one of the old weapons in our armoury, old but potent.
If we could keep people looking over their shoulder constantly in nervous anticipation they would choose us, a known quantity, rather than a new aspirant, especially the lightweights and old failures auditioning now.
We’ve covered ourselves in the flag and I can tell you that it feels good. Just the other day I was an INA soldier and I was thrilled at the public enthusiasm for me. There’s nothing like nation to rouse the spirit, nothing except the presence of the enemy, within or outside. It can be confusing, but it can also be tremendously empowering. And, I must admit, also a bit disturbing. Someone who doesn’t want to walk a hundred metres to the milkman is suddenly ready to run a hundred miles after an enemy he can’t see and die at the end of it. This is like the nuclear option; I wish we weren’t using it, but you people left us with no choice. Sometimes you don’t know your own best interests so we thought we should show you.
So we had a long and interesting discussion and everyone agreed that if we could keep people looking over their shoulder constantly in nervous anticipation they would choose us, a known quantity, rather than a new aspirant, especially the lightweights and old failures who are auditioning now. We field-tested it in small samples and the results were encouraging.
One thing we found was that more than one enemy was better. It carries more conviction, oddly enough. For instance, a rogue businessman makes for a good one. You can name him and shame him safely, better if he’s holed up in foreign parts. He can’t really tell his story then. A rogue nation, on the other hand, is better left unnamed. And, of course, terrorists are extremely useful. They also happen to be real yet remain faceless. They could target me or they could hit you. We’re all equal before terror. Political enemies always come in handy, too, and they’re priceless when ineffectual. The best thing is that each of these enemies is real. So it’s time we told the truth about a single, hardworking government obstructed in its duties by all these different agencies with different agendas. We’re saying, yes, we haven’t kept our promises, but look at the threats we face. Just give us another chance and we’ll deliver. What’d you think of that?
Only time will tell but I think we’re on a good road now. And what about the other side? I’m not too worried at the moment, to be honest, because their problem requires a simple solution that’s been staring them in the face all these years. It is something the Mahatma used to great effect and he used to recommend it to everyone. But they don’t hear him anymore. They have truly forgotten the Mahatma, you see. For me, every day I learn something new about him. The old man died seventy years ago, and he still had the answers to so many questions. Hot water and a tube, it was the simplest of nostrums. What they need is a good enema. It’ll flush out all the toxins, and I’m damned sure they don’t see it.