Modi speaks constantly of Sabka Saath Sabka Vikaas, a slogan and substance that is making a mess of vote bank politics. This particularly with its various adjuncts of dismantling the Nehruvian “Idea of India”, in favour of Modi’s “New India”, with only a small mention of the Nehru-Gandhi contribution
It is a strange time of elections when the president of the Congress party embraces not only every anti-national gun and bomb-toting fringe element in the country but also most terrorist organisations abroad.
He heaves with sympathy for these dangerous elements, and muses aloud in seeming innocence, about legitimate causes of what may have led them to their revolutionary positions.
The bloodthirsty are given an open license. Scandals of corruption against the present government are created where none exist. There are shrill denouncements of the government’s Rafale purchase of 36 fly-away aircraft to provide cover for the myriad corrupt deals of the UPA. Allegations of crony capitalism and heartless indifference towards the poor are propagated, ignoring all facts to the contrary.
Other shockers include the airbrushing of facts from 1984 when the Congress Party led by Rajiv Gandhi organized a pogrom against ordinary Sikhs that left thousands dead in the streets. Congress, said its current president, had nothing to do with the Sikh riots.
Even his handlers, embarrassed by the enormity of the lie, said Rahul Gandhi was too young to be held responsible for the goings on at the time. But, not yet satisfied in his strange projections, Rahul Gandhi spoke on the now defunct LTTE that murdered Rajiv Gandhi and thousands of others. He said he (and his sister) felt bad when its ruthless and double-crossing chief was finally killed in his lair.
These recent pronouncements are beyond Rahul Gandhi’s periodic relaunches and reinventions. These are twisted tales and fictions in a magic realism universe designed to create an alternate reality shorn of the usual moorings in propriety and fact. These are signals to everyone who wants to bring the Modi government down, for its alleged fascism, that anything goes in the endeavour. Truth can substitute for a lie, and fiction for fact, in an almost Shakespearian tragedy of wordplay. Later, there is the multiplier of national outrage and consternation playing out in the television studios as a bonus. But isn’t all this messing about very remote from the booth level where the voters are?
But putting these antics in perspective, it is a truism that what some old civilizations can do by way of ignoring the relatively immediate past, is not a luxury that the new ones can afford. If the very new US, or reformulated countries like Bosnia, Herzegovina, Croatia, and the like, throw out its meagre contemporary history, its precedents of freshly minted traditions, what will they have left?
Some have barely had the tumult of their births, actually rebirths, fading from earshot, and others actually know that there was nothing they could make a meal of before they came, except animist Red Indians and prairies full of bison.
Their sense of being and possession could almost blow away like chaff in the wind if they uproot the tent pegs. It’s not for nothing that Margaret Mitchell’s great classic is so compelling, despite Rhett Butler immortalizing giving a 'damn' or Scarlett O’ Hara looking forward to a new day.
Sometimes, when a once resplendent monarchy is overthrown, as in the Russian Revolution, there is a haunting classic like Boris Pasternak’s Dr Zhivago to mark the transition.
In everyday life, when the ground is shifting under one’s feet, it is often difficult to see the drama of it, but it is there nevertheless, even if it becomes evident only with the perspective of time.
A monsoon visit to North Goa at the end of August leaves one wondering how long the whole of the tiny state has before it becomes a seamless city with some green bits plus a little old world leftover Goan cheer as a relief.
It will soon have a spanking new airport at Mopa in the North, to add to the military-cum-civilian airport of Dabolim in the South.
Bridges and flyovers, a BJP speciality, are going to connect the raucous razzmatazz of the North to the quiet villages of South Goa, the sprawling expanse of Vasco Da Gama notwithstanding.
A new state-of-the-art connector, San Francisco style suspension bridges, across the Mandovi and Zuari rivers, will reportedly cut the commute downtime from over an hour to just thirty minutes.
This could well be completed by 2020, and the work done already makes this assertion quite plausible, particularly if the BJP wins another term both at the Centre and in this State.
The gathbandhan, should it come in, however, will have a large number of other fish to fry, and development of the country may have to take a seat at the extreme back of the bus.
How long then before Goa becomes a full-fledged all season destination? The roads do not flood here after downpours that sometimes last all night, because of clean guttering alongside, though the surface takes a beating in parts. And the mangroves have so far been left alone.
Locals tell us things are more alive these days compared to recent years past, with boisterous if low budget tourists from nearby Hubli and Dharwar flocking in, plus the usual full flights of fly-ins from Delhi and Mumbai. A large contingent of six charter flights of Russians is expected in October, to break the jinx of a Russkie absence over the last few seasons.
But reviving business or not, the quaintness of Goa is fast vanishing, with an unprecedented real estate boom and buildings that are pointedly modern. It is as if they want to ignore the crumbling edifices of colonial Goa, even its lovely whitewashed churches, its embedded Portuguese/Konkani influences.
Prices too are no longer cheap, and there is a great deal of Bhangra music booming out of eateries via oversized amplifiers in place of what went before.
Change is inevitable, of course. And this little state is saying bring on the growing opportunities of 21st century India. Is this chronicling of an unabashed maturing of a tourist state cum its per capita pride a metaphor for what is happening nationally? One for how India itself is moving towards its future with an unsentimental jettisoning of its economic, political, and even immediate cultural past?
In some things, we find, like it or not, continuity is not as important as relevance to the here and now.
It is this cleaving to relevance by the current dispensation that is unnerving the Congress Party into making desperate manoeuvres. Modi speaks constantly of Sabka Saath Sabka Vikaas, a slogan and substance that is making a mess of vote bank politics. This particularly with its various adjuncts of dismantling the Nehruvian “Idea of India”, in favour of Modi’s “New India”, with only a small mention of the Nehru-Gandhi contribution. It has become a do-or-die mission of survival for the Congress even as other elements of the Opposition watch mutely from the sidelines speaking up only when it suits their purpose. But the Congress seems to be saying that if you don’t want our version of India, built by us over decades of promoting a certain narrative, we will work for the destruction of this country rather than let the BJP recreate it in its own image. The bugles have been sounded. It is now up to the ever-wise electorate to settle the issue in 2019.
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Last Updated 30, Aug 2018, 1:23 PM