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26/11, Modi and Rahul. Kya Pappu Pass hoga ?

10 years ago on the day we remember as ‘26/11’ modesty of this nation was outraged by just a handful of gunmen who descended on Mumbai with extremist intent. After interminable three days of expensive and extensive effort, 9 terrorist were killed and one taken to custody. Many civilians died.  4 Years later almost on the anniversary of those attacks the lone surviving perpetrator Ajmal Kasab lost his final appeal in Supreme Court and was hung to death at Pune.

But the point in discussion is not the killer. It is about another disrupter who came in tearing to declare compassionate monetary award to families of security personnel slain in that attack. He stood rather awkward speaking in front of Oberoi Hotel. He also toured around other targets of those terrorists. Few paid attention. After all it was just 28th and the gunfight was still on.

Could not help notice how well that man spoke, though the text was not unlike other terror tourists. It was his presence there and the fact that he felt he had a reason to be there that needed to be lauded. He thought he would be taken seriously. He had come to show solidarity. It wasn’t merely Maharashtra’s dilemma but nations’. Maharashtra CM never met him, officially at least. Not sure if CM of any other state came by. The press too gave him little space. (A film director who accompanied local CM Deshmukh to Taj got more coverage.)  Like an underdog driven by a mysterious source of pride he spoke with his head high. He went on to be declared the PM candidate of BJP a year later, indeed got elected and administered oath on a hot May summer morning of 2014 and was Prime Minister of India. A political untouchable supposedly with blood on hands was the supreme authority.

On his 1st day in Parliament he declared that people would see his report card exactly five years later, when he would be sworn in again. He promised a million rupees to every individual taxpayer of India, if all the money stashed abroad was brought back. Such bravado was unseen among the politicians of Delhi, such robust confidence unknown. Never before has a grass root man, and a pracharak at that, gained this high office in India. In Delhi too, he stood like an outsider. He spoke with a fresh diction. He wasn’t ashamed of his native accent. His acumen was awe-inspiring. Narendra Modi had arrived .

Today we are 10 years after Mumbai attacks and 10 years after Narendra Modi made that trip to the Oberoi end of Marine Drive. We have rightfully forgotten the Ajmal of Mumbai attacks, but is Prime Minister Narendra Modi in imminent danger of being erased from our fragile memories?

After nearly 5 years in office PM sounds repetitive, at sea with a slew of fresh initiatives and an unmoved bureaucracy. He got many outsiders to head mighty temples of Indian democracy but nothing changed. Not everybody is a Sam Pitroda he learnt hard. Many projects, allegedly, stutter due to lack of participation or mindless implementation.

Economists claim jobs aren’t available and infrastructure on edge of plummet. Retrenchment could start soon they mourn, and housing already in visible shambles. Layman looks around and says “well, did independent India ever have all these factors performing well … at the same time ”? Powers sector looks on the verge of crumbling with skyrocketing T&D – when did everybody, in cities too, pay all bills?  Abruptly PM finds a list of questions on all these supposed failures at his door and not giving answers. Of-course other economists claim everything to be in order.

On flip side there is a fall guy round the corner. An untested man fresh out of his Amulya drink (- going by a spoof on him in a Malayalam movie). All of sudden he is the only guy standing up against Goliath prime minister. (Modi a Goliath? How did that happen ?)

Old Pappu is here there and everywhere. Apart from ‘RSS ko ban karenge’ he hasn’t made many uneducated remarks this time. He had the govt. motor mouths suffer apraxia on Rafael. He has rejuvenated that glimmer of hope in the congress remains. He looks like the after life of INC, not promising but viable.

Rahul Gandhi is the new under dog. And this time Pappu may pass, for Peoples Perception is a tragically weak election barometer.

 C Anand Velayudhan is Chief correspondent – India for an American Television Channel ‘


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