Saturday, 5 April 2014

India's Prime Ministerial Choices

So let’s be honest - this race is between Narendra Modi and Rahul Gandhi. I mean, Third Front? What’s that? And that group of maniacs, the AAP - I’ve known drunk frat boys who were better behaved than that icky lot!

I am no political pundit and I am infamous for my lack of knowledge of domestic politics - I even got Salman Khan and Salman Khurshid mixed up once.  Anyway, what follows is simply how I am looking at the two candidates and you are welcome to maintain all the biases and hypocrisies that stop you from crying to sleep at night. 

What qualities would one look for in a candidate? I would venture that someone who has an agenda is usually a good bet. Yes, I know…the bar is incredibly low in India. Second, one might want to look at past achievements that might help the candidate in performing the duties of the most powerful post in the land. And third, as a special bonus because this is an election that has Modi campaigning in it, pedigree or background might factor in.

Narendra Modi has spoken about his plans for a 100 new cities, bullet trains, nationwide broadband, manufacturing reforms, focus on infrastructure, and several other things. These may sound too fantastic to be true but even if Modi delivers on 25% of what he has talked about, he will be the greatest Indian prime minister as of yet.

Rahul Gandhi…well, it is hard to tell what he seems to want to do with his five years. I remember something about women’s empowerment and that is an honorable goal, but could he possible have described it any less? The Gandhi scion seems to speak in cliches and platitudes, that is when he makes any sense at all.

I choose Narendra Modi, of course, you might choose the other candidates because, you know, you cannot live with the horrors of 2002. I suggest spending a few nights without food, clean water and sanitation, or a shower. Now magnify that to 60 years…poverty truly is the greatest crime. Hundreds of millions of hungry and hopeless people still waiting for garibi to be hataoed does not, I suppose, weigh as heavily on the “secular” conscience. Idealism is lovely that way, saves having to make any tough decisions or dealing with reality.

Okay, I will still accept your decision that Modi is not prime minister material. But here is my challenge - show me a better candidate.

King of Varanasi!

Voter of Varanasi which is hailed as the oldest city of the world want development but they are unanimously of the view that it shouldn't be on the cost of peace or the agenda of divisive politics.

On Varanasi's ghats where the Hindus cremate their dead and where the festival of holi is played with ash, Ganga is considered to be so pure that it could wash the dirty sins of humans, but now it has been turned into a filthy and dirty river, yet the followers of Modi believe he can clean the river if he is elected as the Prime Minister of the country.

It has been always believed that the race to become the PM goes through UP. Whoever wants to try and achieve this objective have to first successfully capture the seats in this state.

Mr Modi's appeal as a progressive leader cuts across caste and class in a city which has seen no development, even though it has been represented by a BJP MP in five of the last six Lok Sabha elections. I believe development in Gujarat, constantly held up as Mr Modi's great triumph, is not inclusive. And that the lives of Muslims and the areas they live in have not improved. Modi is a marketing guru of sort who is selling the frustrated and helpless people of this country dreams, which are so vague that even he wouldn't know how to turn them into reality.

But Mr Modi's fans say he will change their destiny by providing employment and other opportunities to improve their lives. Naturally, the expectations of the people of Varanasi from Mr Modi are high, that he will restore the city's ancient glory and rescue their future. But that's not why the BJP's prime ministerial candidate chose this constituency. In the last Lok Sabha elections, the BJP won just two of the 32 seats in Eastern Uttar Pradesh. In order to win UP, they must sweep this region. Mr Modi from Varanasi is their best bet.