Updated: May 10, 2016 9:36:48 pm
Ever since Kejriwal’s ascension and re-ascension to the chief ministership of Delhi many Indians harboured a hope that the politics of India that had descended from its post independence glory into the gutter may finally begin its journey back from the gutter to glory. His regime did some good, the least of it being a third alternative to the Tweedledee Tweedledum of Congress and BJP. But soon his antics and histrionics, too many to enumerate here, laid that hope to rest.
Gradually one felt one was witnessing a comedy on Delhi’s political stage, what with the Somnath Bharti’s dishonourable conduct, the law minister Tomar’s fake degrees and Kejriwal’s own theatrics vis-a-vis the lieutenant Governor of Delhi. It was comical too to hear him respond to most criticisms by repeatedly reaffirming “hamari neeyat to acchi hai” or “at least we have good intentions”. He mustn’t have been aware that “the road to hell is paved with good intentions.” His political ride in Delhi has done some good to Delhi but on the whole it has been more comedy than serious governing.
But the latest play of the drama king Kejriwal on the Modi degrees has turned this ongoing comedy into a real farce.
Someone should take Kejriwal aside to school him in the common law around names. It is quite legal and legitimate to use any names or aliases whatsoever unless one does so for an illegal purpose.
Whether Modi’s name is spelt as Mody or Modi, written as Narendra Kumar Damodardas Modi or Narendra Damodardas Modi is of no consequence and some quite plausible explanations have been offered by Arun Jaitley and others.
And above all in the election of 2014 that resulted in him becoming the Prime Minister, Modi didn’t campaign on the basis of his degrees. While he and his supporters sloganeered about economic development a zillion times I don’t remember even one of them crowing about his academic prowess. If the degrees are genuine, and so far they appear to be, forget the names or the spellings Modi has used.
Using Kejriwal’s logic I should be in real legal and ethical trouble. Before the Middle Standard Examination in India in 1960 I was Ujjal Singh. For the exams my late father changed it to Ujjal Dev Singh, to make it sound modern, he said. In 1964 I travelled to England as Ujjal Dev Singh Dosanjh in my Indian passport. My BA from Simon Fraser University has Ujjal Dev Singh Dosanjh and the LLB from the University of British Columbia simply says Ujjal Dosanjh. And I prefer using Ujjal Dosanjh as my name; all of it perfectly legitimate.
Enough defence of Modi’s names on his degrees.
Now let us look at what Modi the political juggler or the conjuror, madari in the Indian parlance, has done recently. Campaigning in Kerala he more than once publicly alluded to Sonia Gandhi’s Italian origin.
The thinly veiled references to her being born an Italian are the worst form of dog whistle politics to mine the imagined xenophobic impulses of Indians. That is far more sinister than the names he may have used in the past or on his degrees. It ill behoves the Prime Minister of India.
For the current plight of the country and its people including the latest Augusta Westland revelations, the Congress has a lot of questions to answer but the Indian citizen Sonia Gandhi’s Italian origin isn’t one of them: an Indian citizen, in this case Sonia Gandhi, is an Indian like all others no matter where she was born. Why doesn’t Modi talk about his record on economic development or his plans for it rather than wallowing in the gutter of racism and xenophobia?
A tragedy of immense proportions is unfolding in India. There are water shortages. Under the weight of crippling debts and drought the brutally impoverished Indians are killing themselves. There is unrest in the country’s universities. There aren’t enough jobs being created for the millions of youth joining the job market every year. Corruption, poverty, violence and injustice are on a rampage in the country.
In the midst of all this misery all right thinking Indians need to be discussing, debating and engaged in the most urgent national challenge of building a prosperous, harmonious, just, egalitarian and compassionate — corruption free– India.
For its past sins of allowing corruption, communalism and sycophancy to flourish the Congress is on life support and irrelevant, at least for the time being. The drama King Kejriwal is obsessing about Modi’s degrees and Modi the great orartor about Sonia’s Italian origin. God help the country!
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines
- The Indian Express website has been rated GREEN for its credibility and trustworthiness by Newsguard, a global service that rates news sources for their journalistic standards.