To say that I normally don’t read an Aakar Patel piece is like saying I sidestep dirty puddles. Yet, ever so often, life makes you step into a dirty puddle.
Is it worth wasting so much time on an article – especially when Mr. Aakar Patel makes money writing the kind of things he does – and I don’t? And writing this article is costing me some part of a good night’s sleep. Is it not better to ignore trash?
But, sometimes, having stepped into a dirty puddle, one does the needful -of stepping out.
Smita Barooah ripped apart Mr. Patel’s article apart on one count (read here) – that of Mr. Modi having not been to college. For the record someone who is one of the most prominent women politicians in the country given to renunciation and who often gives lessons to her son along the theme that power is poison does not have a college degree. But, well, such things are not important when one is on a mission with a job to be done with a hatchet and a deadline.
But there is more! “He, on the other hand, has shown Muslims their place in Gujarat and kept them there.” Says, Mr. Patel. Quite simply, music to the ears of those who want to hear this kind of music. Care to elaborate how, Sir?
If he disliked Muslims, would there be Muslims in his party? And there are. Surprisingly. Many of them. And in the BJP all the way up to the top, is a surprising sprinkling of quite a few religions (check Goa BJP for instance). Or maybe Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi or Shahnawaz Hussain are not Muslim enough for Mr. Patel.
And what about Asma Khan Pathan, a councillor of a Gujarat Nagarpalika in Nadiad (@pathanasmakhan) who is both Pro Modi and a Muslim? And in what would warm the cockles of Mr. Patel’s heart, ‘secular’ twitterati, not satisfied that a Muslim woman is pro-Modi have gone ahead and verified her authenticity with her husband (no less) that it is indeed she who tweets. And she has joined the BJP recently from the Congress – and her tweets are worth reading. Modis dislike caused them to join the party maybe?
Or is Mr. Patel falling into the familiar claptrap that Muslims are ‘supposed’ to hate Modi in a theory propounded by our mass media and disproved on the ground? And in the last elections, his party won Muslim dominated constituencies handsomely.
And the last time I checked, Muslim development indicators in Gujarat are better than other states. Maybe he dislikes them so much that he helps them develop. Oh, well, hatchet jobs and deadlines are not conducive to checking on statistics. (And by the way, the goalpost on this has shifted. Only non-Gujarat Muslims do not like Modi after the 2012 elections is the latest theory.)
But perhaps, just perhaps, Mr. Patel is too busy to do anything than to stereotype Muslims into lazy clichés of convenience?
And he has one sentence where Modi apparently said something about meat eaters in some context. Well, meat eaters also think vegetarians are like cows who eat ghaas phoos? And yours truly hears that often too.
And in the elite, college going west are a lot of people who are turning vegan by choice. So if non-vegetarianism is a choice, so is vegetarianism? But that part somehow escapes Mr. Patel who by now is on his own trip.
And if you read the last line, Mr. Patel has called Gujarat ‘money minded, intellectually barren, segregated, ghettoized, non-drinking and vegetarian utopia’ that some like him have fled from?
That is lovely insult to the land from where the original Gandhi came from as did the venerable Sardar Patel and even a certain Mr. Ambani. And khakras and dhoklas and some wonderful handicrafts and brave hearts and entrepreneurs. So those who stay in Gujarat do not fit Mr. Patel’s description of ideal people.
Or maybe by his own admission (that the ‘Indian voter sees virtue in caste’), this has something to do with caste and that of a Chief Minister. Or perhaps as he says, his ‘simple views spring from his lack of knowledge’, apply to himself.
Or perhaps he refers to himself in the quote as intellectually barren. Perhaps.
Strange are the ways of people on a deadline with a hatchet job to complete.