Fifth column: Sonia’s loving message

Sonia Gandhi. Sonia Gandhi.

Halfway through this endless election if it were not clear that Narendra Modi leads the race, he may have seriously considered suing Sonia Gandhi for her recent TV appeal. In her first direct address to the nation in a decade of being India’s de facto prime minister, she accused Modi of trying to break the country. She said, in so many words, that the choice before voters in this election was between “Bharatiyata” and a “vision clouded with hatred and falsehoods… that will drive India to ruination”.

So fascinated was I by Shrimati Sonia’s Bharatiyata appeal that I watched it more than once in Hindi and in English and the longer I watched, the more I saw a case for slander. It reminded me of Rajiv Gandhi’s speeches during the 1984 election campaign when he accused the opposition parties of treason because of their alliance with the Akali Dal. In those long ago times, the Election Commission was feeble and there was no Code of Conduct; so he got away with it, but it surprises me that nobody in the Bharatiya Janata Party has complained yet about their prime ministerial candidate being charged with trying to destroy India. What has Modi said so far that can be construed as spreading hatred?

His campaign has talked about taking India in a new economic direction with “minimum government, maximum governance”. He has talked about making India a rich and prosperous country by creating jobs for the youth and investing in education and healthcare. On the Hindu-Muslim front, he has urged both Hindus and Muslims to fight poverty and not each other. So whoever wrote Madame’s appeal can be taken to court for spreading falsehoods.

As someone who is very keen on Bharatiyata, I consider it my duty as a Bharatiya to point out that the Congress party has caused more damage to it since 1947 than almost anyone else. In the name of socialism, magnificent palaces, forts and ancient temples have been allowed to decay. Soniaji, please take a boat ride on the Ganga when you go to campaign against Modi and you will see the ruins of our oldest city. And while you are about it, notice what has happened to our most sacred river.

If ‘socialist’ values have caused the neglect of old monuments and museums, ‘secular’ values have made it impossible for Indian children to learn about their own country in state schools. What they are taught about India’s ancient civilisation would fit on a postage stamp. So they usually leave school imbued with more awe of McDonalds and Hollywood than any aspect of their own heritage.

Two other things in Soniaji’s appeal caught my attention. She said Congress had respect for democratic institutions (they do not), without noticing that she has personally diminished the prime minister’s office to dwarf size. Sanjay Baru’s excellent new book confirms this, but in dusty villages and shabby small towns during this election campaign, …continued »