Mr Modi has once again done what he is so good at, generating a maelstrom of publicity. In an age when all news is good news, the NaMo brand seemingly deems any PR healthy for business, especially one that involves the tricky story of remaking a man's dubious past. Since being hired by Narendra Modi, Apco (the world's second-largest independent PR agency) is waging a decibel led battle that is attempting to erase 2002 entirely from the NaMo resume - if not the unsavoury year itself then certainly Mr Modi's unsvaoury association with it. But will that ubiquitous Indian fauna, the pavement dweller's best friend, that lends itself to that singular Desi invective that Dharam paji has so gloriously enunciated with flaring nostrils - Kuttay! - put a spanner, albeit temporary, in the NaMo publicity drive?
In an interview to Reuters on 12 July, when quizzed on his lack of regret regarding Godhra riot victims, Mr Modi said "Another thing, any person if we are driving a car, we are a driver, and someone else is driving a car and we’re sitting behind, even then if a puppy comes under the wheel, will it be painful or not?"
So Mr Modi, in his own words, is sad at the terrible fate of a puppy that gets crushed by a car. He feels for the crushed puppy, he states, just like any normal human being. "If I’m a chief minister or not, I’m a human being. If something bad happens anywhere, it is natural to be sad." Clearly, in NaMo camp it is deemed profitable to be sad, especially when sad Modi offsets bad Modi. To efficiency obsessed Mr Modi, Apco probably proposed it as a simple switch of letters, an 's' to replace the 'b' and voila, a clean new image!
Mr Modi used the vernacular for puppy- kutte ka bachcha. As a writer I am intrigued by this particular usage: kutte ka bachcha or puppy has allusions of innocence, helplessness, a tiny thing that can get obliterated by bigger things. He could not have used the word 'kutta' because that would have been akin to abusing the victims but the 'kutte ka bchcha' lends itself to the imagery of a benevolent Mr Modi full of feeling for the happless pup who got crushed.
But surely Mr Modi, PR savvy, on a crusade to elevate himself on national stage and see himself installed as Pradhan Mantri, must have realized some of the unsavoury ramifications of equating the victims of ghastly communal violence with kutte ka bachcha? Is this a genuine foot in the mouth, an occasion when NaMo's silver tongue slid off the Mercedes track and trundled like the Gujarati chakda? Or is it a case of the same silver tongue forking to express sadness at the plight of pups and simultaneously alluding to himself as the benevolent overseer? Mr Modi's kutte ka bachcha analogy lays the blame wholly on the pup, clearing the driver of any wrongdoing. In a remarkable twist on wily Cassius' "The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourseleves that we are underlings" Mr Modi has declared, The fault, dear pup, is in you, not in ourselves, that you are an underling.
Or perhaps, it is a simple matter of a man who believes his exalted posiiton allows him to dismiss certain sections of Indian society with impunity? After all, Mr Modi, as he gleefully declaims is a 'Hindu nationalist'. For a man aspiring to become the Prime Minister of India, I'd recommend that he read at least the Preamble to the Constitution (the Constitution might tax his mind, focussed as it is on marketing gimmicks and PR salvos) which states unambiguously: WE, THE PEOPLE OF INDIA, having solemnly resolved to constitute India into a SOVEREIGN SOCIALIST SECULAR DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC and to secure to all its citizens...
Please note Mr Modi that the operative word is secular, not nationalist.
Having just returned from a week in Ladakh, I came across a condition which causes the head to swell up, which can lead to fatality. A ramification of HAS, High Altitude Sickness, it affects people who find themselves suddenly at elevated altitude. To recover from high altitude cerebral oedema, the patient is advised rest, or a return to ground zero. Considering Mr Modi is exhibiting some of the same symptoms, perhaps he would benefit from the prescribed treatment?