20 January, 2021

The Other Gandhi Yatra

The 'hi-fi' candidate, the motley rashtrabhakts and rivals—Pilibhit serves up a heady brew

Tribhuvan Tiwari
The Other Gandhi Yatra

So, how good are you at attacking Muslims without actually naming them? If the Vishwa Hindu Parishad announces a Saffron Idol contest, this is what the elimination round will be about. Before us, in village Kanakor, is a middle-aged speaker who would sail through that round with ease. There are two kinds of voters, he tells the large crowd assembled here for over an hour in the merciless afternoon heat—"rashtrabhakts" and "rashtradrohis", nationalists and traitors. "Rashtradrohi vote zaroor denge, apne leader ke ek ishare par vote denge (The traitors will always vote, and on the orders of their leaders)," he thunders, his voice amplified by a mike. "And their women will stand in long queues, with their children around them," he continues, with sarcastic mock admiration. "It will be hot and slushy, policemen will push them around, but they won't budge—not until they cast their votes." Then, chiding the "rashtrabhakts" in a big-brotherly way for being lazy, Ram Saran Varma, a BJP ex-minister, finishes off with a sinister compliment:...



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