London Diary: Foreign money pouring into Modi’s campaign; Kate-Meghan feud and English for vegans

The Overseas Friends of BJP (UK), a body of Indian expats, mostly British citizens announced its plan to “galvanise” support for PM Modi’s campaign by targeting Indian voters through social media

Finance Minister  Arun Jaitley at the inauguration of the OFBJP (UK)‘s new website
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley at the inauguration of the OFBJP (UK)‘s new website

Hasan Saroor

Solidarity or interference?

Given that foreign citizens can’t participate in Indian elections, is it kosher then to try to influence the outcome of an election in India by lobbying for a particular party or candidate via campaigns funded with foreign dosh? Doesn’t it amount to interfering in another country’s elections?

I’m prompted to ask this after receiving a press release from the Overseas Friends of BJP (UK) —essentially a body of Indian expats, mostly British citizens—announcing its plan to “galvanise” support for Narendra Modi’s 2019 General Election campaign by targeting Indian voters through social media.

The statement was issued after a “Karyakarta training day” in London, which, it said, was attended by hundreds of members from across Britain. Vijay Chauthaiwale, in-charge of foreign affairs cell of BJP “specially flew from India to attend it.”

Describing it as the first such event “in a series of programmes planned to galvanise (for) the 2019 election campaign of Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi,” it gave details of “a new strategy” to ensure Modi’s and BJP’s success. The plan was to take the campaign “to districts and parliamentary constituency level.... to project the achievements of the Modi government of last 4.5 years using social media and connect to the voters of their area of origin in India.”

It spoke of “great enthusiasm” among participants, some of whom suggested “very novel methods to support (Modi’s) 2019 election campaign.”

Pardon my ignorance, but is such a campaign lawful, considering it is funded with foreign money? Just curious.

Queen’s feuding bahus

The honeymoon is over, and knives are out. The media is buzzing with reports that Kate Middleton and Meghan Markle have had a big falling out, and things are said to be so bad that the Queen is being urged to intervene.

Much to the delight of tabloid hacks, the big fallout has come a lot sooner than they thought. And newspaper readers, tired of boring Brexit chatter, have finally got something sexy to read and gossip about.

So far, media reports, mostly based on briefings by anonymous sources, have been heavily tilted against Meghan, who has been variously accused of throwing “tantrums,” pulling rank, disregarding royal protocols, and being rude to staff. Kate is reported to have “reprimanded” Meghan for her “unacceptable” behaviour.

Meghan’s personal assistant Melissa Toubati was apparently left in “tears” after one incident and has since resigned as things became “too much.” “In the end, it became too much. She put up with quite a lot. Meghan put a lot of demands on her and it ended up with her in tears,” according to The Sunday Mirror.

The Kate-Meghan feud is believed to be behind Harry and Meghan’s decision to move out of the Kensington Palace complex they shared with William and Kate. William is reported to be “unhappy” about his brother’s decision, fuelling speculation whether the two families will even spend Christmas together.

The Palace, of course, continues to pretend that it’s business as usual. But it would say that, wouldn’t it?

Dead horses, not for flogging

If you thought political correctness was already out of control with nursery rhymes and children’s stories being rewritten to accommodate cultural “sensitivities” and it couldn’t get worse, you have a lot of catching up to do. After censorious feminists and prickly immigrants, it’s the turn of self-righteous vegans to tell us what we can and cannot say or write.

So, be very careful next time you use any English-language phrase which has a reference to animals, meat, and dairy products, or suggests animal cruelty.

Henceforth, you cannot “flog a dead horse,” “take a bull by the horn,” “put all your eggs in one basket,” or “bring home the bacon.” The alternatives suggested by PETA include “feeding a fed horse” (sic); “taking the flower by the thorns”; “putting all your berries in one bowl”; and “bringing home the bagel.”

And instead of “killing two birds with one stone,” you are advised to try “feeding two birds with one scone.”

The charity’s website explains: “While these phrases may seem harmless, they carry meaning and can send mixed signals to students about the relationship between humans and animals and can normalise abuse. Teaching students to use animal- friendly language can cultivate positive relationships between all beings,” it says.

Lest you should forget, here’s the guidance at a glance courtesy

Harmful: Bring home the bacon.
Helpful: Bring home the bagels.

Harmful: All your eggs in one basket,
Helpful: All your berries in one bowl.

Harmful: Flog a dead horse.
Helpful: Feed a fed horse.

Harmful: Hold your horses.
Helpful: Hold the phone.

And, lastly, a secret to marital bliss apparently is for a couple to live apart from each other, even if it means living only a few doors away in the same house. British comedian, Eric Idle, who lives in America with his wife of four decades, Tania Kosevich, told an interviewer: “My wife and I, having been together 41 years, have separate wings. I suggested separate houses, but she wouldn’t go for that.”

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