… An ancient city, a sacred place every Hindu wants to be cremated in, oldest living civilization is now realising how big the mistake was as they voted out an outsider during last lok sabha elections.
More spectacle than substance, more pomp than piety—and loud, hyped and orchestrated like you know what—a cynic might be tempted to find real-life parallels when not evading the refuse left behind by cows and bhelpuri sellers. But 18 months after a triumphant Narendra Modi smeared his forehead with sandalwood on its banks at primetime, there are few signs that ‘achche din’ have arrived even for the boatmen working the ghats in the constituency where the prime minister is no less a ‘bahari’ than every visitor and tourist.
Modi’s candidature and win from here was to have electrified the BJP’s bid to widen its imprint in this part of the country. Nov 7 and 8 should give us some idea if the Biharis next door have fallen for the bait. And, if Bengalis are next. But, for the moment, after more trips to Hinduism’s holiest centre than its hon’ble member of Parliament in the last year, your reporter can only report that Modi in anno domini 2015 isn’t looking as good on the ground as he did in the year of the lord 2014.&nBSP.
Every bit of news the toadies love—ghar wapasi, love jehad, beef ban—is being received with shock bordering on anger in an ‘unrelentingly chaotic’ city where Hindus and Muslims have lived cheek by jowl for centuries and have woven its rich tapestry in silk. And the sight and sound of excavators on the ghats is spreading fear of what the future holds for a citizenry that lives only physically in the present.
However, it is rising prices that Modi’s voters are most worried about. The battle cry ‘Har har Modi’ was thankfully abandoned at election time. It has now given way to ‘Arhar Modi’ in the eyes of many because the price of dal has shot up from Rs 72 to Rs 200 akilo. But a chaiwallah cuts to the chase: “Do you know a two-rupee packet of biscuits now has five pieces instead of six?”
(Author is an Export Entrepreneur, Journalist, Engineer and Social Activist Against Animals Cruelty…