Ram, Raymond and Goan Holidays

Thanks to Advani, we now know where he got his feel good inspiration from. No, he did not get the idea from any farmer or worker or student. The other day in Ahmedabad, Advani was candid enough to admit that he got the brainwave from the world of advertisement, from a Raymond Suiting ad to be precise! Advani truly stands for ad-vani, the message of advertisement. And if one Raymond ad can make an Advani feel good, cannot a million such ads also infect the masses with the ‘feel good’ virus? Hence you have the glossy ‘India Shining’ images chasing and mocking at you wherever you go.

But the point is not just where Advani got his ‘feel good’ idea from, but also the funds that are being pumped into the campaign. The new CEC has been right in expressing concern over the growing misuse of taxpayers’ money by poll-bound governments. The BJP has set new records in the game of fleecing the people to subsidise the government’s poll campaign. And the audacity with which the BJP is playing this game can be seen from the fact that the Prime Minister himself has rejected the CEC’s call for observance of the model code of conduct by parties in power. With the government spending billions of rupees for the India Shining ad campaign, the civil aviation minister must be grudging the meanness of the people who made such a hue and cry over the paltry sum of Rs. 2.5 lakh that he wanted the Airport Authority of India to spend to fund his Goan holidays!

Meanwhile, the government has stretched the feel-good campaign into the realm of reservation. The income ceiling for identifying the ‘creamy layer’ for reservation purposes has been increased overnight from Rs. 1,00,000 to Rs. 2,50,000. In other words, the benefits of OBC reservation would henceforth be cornered almost exclusively by a minority belonging to the income bracket of Rs. 1,00,000-2,50,000. From taxation to reservation, the entire gamut of government policies is now geared to an unabashed pampering of the nouveau riche crowd.

But the RSS has warned the BJP to beware the pitfalls that may spoil the feel good party. Beneath the veneer of the arrogant euphoria of ‘India Shining’ and ‘Mission 2004’, the BJP cannot but be aware of the shaky ground under its feet. Frantic attempts are therefore already underway to refurbish the trademark issues that have delivered good dividends in the past. If Pramod Mahajan has burnt his fingers in trying to set the vote market afire with the so-called ‘foreign origin’ fuel, Vajpayee and Advani have started remixing the good old temple tune. The two leaders selected two key sites on the Sangh’s political map – Ayodhya and Ahmedabad – to seek a renewed mandate to complete the unfinished job of temple construction.

In Madhya Pradesh Uma Bharti is of course already working overtime to use every bit of her new found power to implement the Sangh’s pet agenda of minority-bashing and cultural policing. Conversion and cow-slaughter have already been banned. In fact, she has gone to the extent of banning fish, eggs and other poultry products in some pilgrimage centres in the state. The minister for culture in Uma’s cabinet, who happens to be a nephew of the BJP’s poet Prime Minister, is busy renaming the state’s cultural academies. And socio-cultural magazines critical of the Sangh’s ideology are being banned in the name of preserving communal harmony.

Every fascist campaign in history has rested on the twin props of violence and fraudulence. In the BJP’s scheme of things, the recipe accordingly revolves around a mix of crude muscle-flexing and cynical manipulation of myths garnished with coats of feel-good gloss. q