RSS and BJP latch on to a debatable past to secure an uncertain future
French blogger Gautier claimed that Nostradamus predicted a supreme leader would be born in the state of Gujarat and his first name would be Narendrus (Narendra)…
This is beyond satire or sarcasm. French writer François Gautier, quite a favourite of the RSS, has been frequently coming across trunks in ancient buildings across France that ostensibly contain manuscripts predicting the advent of Narendra Modi in 2014.
Nostradamus, who apparently lived in the 16th Century, seems to have foreseen what would happen in “India" in 2014. But did "India” exist in that century? I had always been taught that what we know as the geographical territory of India today was always many kingdoms and dynasties, mostly ruled by Hindu kings and Muslim sultans until the Mughuls tried to impose themselves across these independent kingdoms. So how did Nostradamus come up with "India"?
But it is even stranger how Nostradamus could predict the advent of Modi and skip entirely the earlier formation of India into a union of states, the resistance of all the independent kingdoms to the formation of India, the previous arrival of the British who defeated the Moghuls and the Marathas and captured all their territories that later shaped themselves into a modern India...
I also wonder that Nostradamus could predict a “white woman" – Sonia Gandhi – who would allegedly rule over India and be defeated by Modi, without having a clue about another world-renowned "white woman" – Queen Victoria - who would reign over “India", over territories shaped by the British into the modern geographical form – and whose descendants would then be defeated by a series of Indian men, including Mahatma Gandhi, who were clearly greater than Modi to have brought down the mighty British Empire.
Perhaps those predictions are lying somewhere in another manuscript in another attic of another ancient building in France, waiting to be discovered by the likes of Francois Gautier. For without those gaps in his predictions being filled, it defies credulity to believe that Nostradamus could have predicted the advent of Modi to the extent that he would be hated by many on his advent and loved by all when he disappeared in 2026.
Now Nostradamus gives him 12 years as the messiah of India, Modi has already had eight and there are no signs yet of him being universally loved by those who allegedly hated him at his advent. In fact, I would think he is disliked more today than he was in 2014 and even those who sort of “loved" him then have changed their minds about him, some speaking up loudly about their disappointment, others still sotto voce.
Then again a glorious India leading the world as said to have been predicted by Nostradamus happened (or almost, should I say) during the era of the UPA and Dr Manmohan Singh as Prime Minister and not Modi who has tanked the economy, driven millions into poverty and out of jobs, presided over hundreds of bodies flowing down the Ganga (did Nostradamus also predict that?) and is running among the most corrupt administrations in the country today (remember Rafael, coming from the home turf of Nostradamus which he could not predict?).
All of these so-called predictions attributed to Nostradamus seem suspiciously to me like WhatsApp forwards by the BJP IT cell. So, in view of the fact that Gautier has been let loose on the nation again to blame the Congress for Modi's lack of grip on the bureaucracy, it should be par for the course when union minister for law Kiren Rijiju revives those faux “predictions" and raves about Modi's great existence just as he completes eight disastrous years as prime minister.
What it tells me is that Modi and his ministers could be feeling a little bushed about their complete lack of governance. Demonetisation and their handling of the Goods and Services Tax has completely destroyed the economy, the government's Covid management has been disastrous, communal harmony is at its lowest ebb and yet people are not breaking into riots and violence as the BJP-RSS would wish, the Congress is not obliging by disappearing from the face of the earth, Rahul Gandhi continues to show up Modi's shortcomings within India and abroad and is accepted as credible, Modi is unable to answer questions from the media, despite a tame and timid media, unable to push China out of Indian territory, unable to overcome Gandhiji and Pandit Nehru despite years of maligning them ... the list could be endless.
So, I guess Modi is in need of some divine reinforcements considering nobody in India is any longer convinced of his benign and benevolent “avatar". So he must look westward and backwards to the 16th century to a French soothsayer who is no longer around to deny what he is purported to have said or not said.
But while Rijiju comes out as a prize dum-dum for regurgitating Gautier (who probably thought all Indians were dumb enough to swallow his discovery of Nostradamus's trunk), his arithmetic of thirteen is also questionable.
He has embellished the list of MPs in the NDA to get his magic figure of 13 (373) – but does he know 13 is an unlucky number for the BJP? The first BJP government of Atal Behari Vajpayee was sworn in on May 13 and lasted only 13 days and the BJP subsequently avoided the number like the plague. Then does he get the numerological addition of 13 before adding the 18 Shiv Sena MPs who quit the NDA or after their exit? It just does not add up on other counts as well.
Then, again, how does Rijiju link the number 13 to Nostradamus? For while 13 might not be an unlucky number for Indians, it clearly would be for Nostradamus in the post-Christ era, because Jesus got betrayed by his 13th apostle Judas Iscariot and Christian societies too have avoided it like the plague - many Western hotels do not have a 13th floor, nothing is numbered 13 in the Christian world. Perhaps Rijiju needs to study all the scriptures before coming up with these fantastic theories and estimates.
Still, it is highly juvenile of a minister in any government to go ecstatic over a 500-year-old prediction, faux or otherwise, to base the credibility and raison d'ètre of a government on. There should be clear examples of achievements in development work, poverty alleviation, administrative excellence and policy making and other areas to legitimise the existence of any leader or government.
It is the tragedy of our times that we are ruled today not by giants like Jawaharlal Nehru or d Indira Gandhi who needed no Nostradamus to boost their legitimacy but political pygmies who need the crutches of the past to safeguard their future.
(The writer is Consulting Editor, National Herald, Mumbai)