15 Ways To Praise The Prime Minister
You’ve cast a spell on this country. Saffron seems brighter—blinding actually—when you’re around. You were in vogue way before the Sangh Parivar took centre stage.
You seem to really know who you are. Through your actions and words, you’ve shown us your true self too. Facts seem irrelevant when you are around. You bring out a side of our families and neighbours that was previously mostly hidden.
My pre-teen sees your face everywhere, from banners and vaccine certificates to saris. She’s only 12 but se knows how deeply you’ve impacted this country. You are great at deflecting criticism.
You find unique ways to spread a consistent message every day—we feel exhausted just looking at the results you produce. You set an example to all the elected representatives of your party. They all emulate you to the tee. You always change my mood.
I live in Narendra Modi’s India and after hearing what a Delhi High Court said I’ve resolved to improve my ways and only praise the Prime Minister.
I was inspired by the Delhi High Court’s recent reprimand. “This ‘jumla’ (false promise) is used for the PM of India. Is that proper? There has to be a line drawn for criticism also. There has to be a laxman rekha,” the court said, commenting on a speech given by former Jawaharlal Nehru University student Umar Khalid where he criticised Modi. The speech is a key piece of ‘evidence’ provided by the Delhi Police for jailing Khalid for nearly 600 days.
It doesn’t matter that we live in a democracy where criticism of elected representatives is not a crime.
You’re crushing it, sir.
It doesn’t matter that Modi has himself criticised former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on more occasions than one can count. As far back as 2012, he referred to Singh as “Maun Mohan”. And who can forget the time he said: “Only he [Singh] knows the art of bathing in the bathroom wearing a raincoat.”
Modi has also wondered how a PM “who is not even considered leader of his own party can lead the nation” and accused Singh of not being able to provide security to our nation. In the run-up to the 2014 election, his party hammered the idea of the “puppet” prime minister into our political consciousness.
Why just Singh? Modi made criticising Nehru an early USP and never tires of finding new ways to ridicule India’s first Prime Minister. Since we’ve spent so much of the past seven years comparing the two prime ministers, Nehru once wrote an essay under the pseudonym Chanakya. It was a warning to himself, a cautionary note on the power of leaders.
From the far north to Cape Comorin he has gone like some triumphant Caesar passing by, leaving a trail of glory and a legend behind him. Is all this for him just a passing fancy which amuses him, or some deep design, or the play of some force which he himself does not know? Is it his will to power, of which he speaks in his autobiography, that is driving him from crowd to crowd and making him whisper to himself: ‘I drew these tides of men into my hands, and wrote my will across the sky in stars.’Jawaharlal Nehru, under the pseudonym Chanakya, in the Modern Review (1937)
But in a world where dissent has been criminalised and you can go to jail even for holding flowers painted blue and gold, the rules of how citizens can engage with the state have changed dramatically.
As poet Habib Jalib said in Main Ne Us Se Ye Kaha about the Pakistan of Zia-ul-Haq and Ayub Khan:
‘Jin ko tha zaban pe naaz, chup hain vo zaban-daraz, chain hai samaj mein, bemisal farq hai
kal mein aur aaj meñ, apne ḳharch par hain qaid, log tere raaj mein, aadmi hai vo bada, dar pe jo rahe pada, jo panah maang le, uski baḳhsh de ḳhata’
(Those eloquent with pride, their tongues are silent now, there is calm now in our land, what a difference there is now, between today and yesterday, people are in prison now, at their very own expense).
The poet ends with: ‘Apni toh dua hai ye, sadr tu rahein sada’ (My only prayer is that you will always be our boss).
Priya Ramani is a Bengaluru-based journalist and is on the editorial board of Article-14.com.
The views expressed here are those of the author, and do not necessarily represent the views of BloombergQuint or its editorial team.