Ganpati puja is round the corner, hooray. I cannot wait for it to arrive so that I can pray to Lord Ganpati to remove all the obstacles to democracy that are currently rearing their ugly heads in India. This time I’m putting my faith in God and God alone because I have completely lost faith in constitutional institutions. They have been destroyed, while the central government’s PR agencies are shrilly screaming that the public really, truly wants a stern danda-wielding Daddy to tell them what they cannot say, eat, wear, read, watch, do, etc. According to those PR agents, Indian citizens are willingly bending over and begging the government to give them six o’ the best.
Our lovely Union Home Minister, however, is a civilised, mild mannered man who does not believe in corporal punishment. He has always believed that dandas as are so 1947 RSS shakhas. Holding guns to heads is a far better option according to him (they terrify people but leave no tell-tale welts, so wussy fussy international humanitarian agencies like the UN can’t whine and complain). The nation rediscovered his formidable qualities as a bully after a jolly discussion in Parliament, and he has now earned his place in the Hindu pantheon: let’s hear a cheer for Lord Gun-Kanpatti who removes all obstacles for Hindutva men who have been dying to crush Muslims, marry fair Kashmiri girls, and buy land in Kashmir.
In fact, Lord Gun-Kanpatti is so pleased with himself that he has issued an order to all BJP-led state governments and local bodies to pass resolutions felicitating his best friend Modi and himself for their ‘determination, firmness and courage’ in scrapping the Article 370 provision that accorded a special status to Jammu and Kashmir. Lord Gun-Kanpatti has also directed all the party units to hold news conferences and ‘enthusiastic programmes’ to advertise and glorify how he and his bestie Modi have fulfilled the dream of Dr Syama Prasad Mukherjee. Psst: Lord Gun-Kanpatti misspelt Dr SP Mookerjee’s surname, but rest assured no one will be foolish enough to hold a gun to his head for that.
Which brings me to Chennai, of all places: a few days ago, I had to dash to Chennai for an emergency. Not the undeclared Emergency in the nation in general and Kashmir in particular, but an extremely personal one. I spent a few harrowing hours at Delhi airport Terminal 2. It was crowded and far noisier than an inter-state bus terminal, and everyone was angry about something or the other but certainly not the situation in Kashmir. Everyone is delighted about Kashmir, the PR agencies have informed us, remember? Kashmiris would be delighted too, but they’re so overwhelmed at being downgraded and split into two union territories, that mere words cannot express their joy. If hundreds of their leaders were not enjoying rest and recreation in jails, I’m sure they would scream with delight too (in keeping with the officially declared public mood).
Only one Indian news channel was daring enough to get a few Kashmiris to tell us what they thought about the situation in Kashmir. The nation was shocked to realise that they were not happy at all; au contraire, in fact.
The government was shocked too that some Indian citizens still had some spine left after all those danda beatings and gun threats, and in retaliation stopped two of the channel owners from leaving India for a holiday abroad. They were only informed at the airport, so the public could witness their humiliation and snigger. That’s Lord Gun-Kanpatti’s usual way—he’s such a charmer.
I’m still in Chennai as I type this, and I just discovered that a senior BJP member is dining at the hotel. I suspected something was terribly wrong when I spotted a police sniffer dog wrinkling its nose in disgust and whining piteously in the lobby. I asked a plainclothes cop what was up, and when he told me, I wrinkled my nose, whined piteously too and darted back to my room. I also used that extra security latch on the door. After all, you know how lovingly the BJP treats dissenters. A while later, I felt ashamed for being so cowardly, went back to the hotel lobby, stood outside the closed door of the restaurant and defiantly whispered ‘Boo!’ Yes, ‘Boo!’ The senior BJP leader couldn’t have heard. Lord Gun-Kanpatti couldn’t have heard, either. However, I fervently hope Lord Ganpati, remover of all obstacles, heard my voice of dissent!