hidden image

Modi's Linguistic Irony: Shahenshah vs Shehzada

A. J. Philip A. J. Philip
13 May 2024
Prime Minister Narendra Modi is so fond of Hindi that he can be called a proponent of the concept of

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is so fond of Hindi that he can be called a proponent of the concept of "Hindu, Hindi, Hindustan". But he uses the Urdu word Shehzada, which has its Persian origin, for Rahul Gandhi, who, age-wise, could be his son. It means the "crown prince". He has been using the word wherever he campaigns during the ongoing 18th Lok Sabha election.

A word about elections would be in order. Modi always blames the first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru. Take the second general election in 1957. The country went to polls between February 24 and March 14, 1957. Simultaneous elections were held to the Lok Sabha and state assemblies.

Ballot boxes and ballot papers were used. In less than three weeks after the polling began, the results of the elections were announced.

Under Modi's regime, the election process takes about three months, despite electronic voting machines and other technologies available to the election commission. Varanasi, where Modi is the BJP nominee, will go to the polls in the seventh and last phase of voting. This enables him to campaign for the maximum period with all the inexhaustible resources at his command.

The word Shehzada signifies pomp and show. After all, it means "crown Prince". Rahul Gandhi is always seen wearing a white T-shirt and a black trouser. He does not have time even to shave or trim his beard. No, he is not a superhuman being. He recently told the media that he still has some pain in the leg he acquired while walking all the way from Kanyakumari to Kashmir, a distance of 4,000 kilometres. Nehru spent nearly 10 years in jail, unlike Modi, who did not go to jail even during the Emergency.

Wherever Rahul Gandhi goes, he meets people and, more importantly, he listens to them, eats the food they give him, and moves on, leaving memories to cherish. Nobody has seen any Shehzada-like qualities in him. Once, the Kerala Chief Minister gifted Modi an Aaranmula mirror.

Unlike other mirrors, which are made of glass with a reflective layer that has a metal like silver, tin, nickel, or chromium, the Aranmula mirror is made of an amalgam of various metals. It has reflective power, enhanced by polishing. Once, I interviewed a traditional artisan at Aaranmula, and he demonstrated the whole process to me, which he knew I would not be able to copy or replicate.

He offered to teach me the process if I were ready to spend a couple of years as his understudy, helping him at his workplace. He did not know that I had a deadline to file the story, and I had made up my mind to remain a journalist and not become a mirror-maker.

Modi should look at the Aaranmula mirror to realise how properly trimmed his beard is. He will also notice that he has become fairer than he was when he jumped on to his "mentor", LK Advani's Rath, which was on its way from Somnath to Ayodhya. No world leader has been photographed as much as Modi. I doubt whether any photographer can recognise a dress Modi wore a second time.

He has a custom-made state-of-the-art Boeing aircraft at his disposal, which rivals the American President's Air Force One. He flaunts pens and watches that only rich aristocrats can afford. In contrast, his predecessor, Dr Manmohan Singh, had a cheap, plastic pen in his pocket. He wore the same blue turban and white kurta-pajama except for formal state functions. Never did he wear a costume! He never hesitated meeting journalists and answering their questions.

Philippines leader Imelda Marcos was known for her wardrobe and shoe collection. No, I am not comparing Modi to her. In terms of wardrobe and other accoutrement, few world leaders come anywhere near Modi. The word that fits him is Shahenshah (Emperor), though nobody calls him by that word. The only emperor the Indian people have seen is Amitabh Bachchan, who was the lead character in the film "Shahenshah".

The irony is that the Shahenshah calls the T-shirt-wearing Rahul Gandhi, who lives among the people, the Shehzada. It was like Modi calling Manmohan Singh a Mauni Baba (a person who does not speak) when, in reality, he was always ready to talk on any issue.

It is said that tragedy brings out the best or the worst in a man. When elections were announced, Modi was so confident that he used to say that the NDA would get more than 400 seats. His megalomania was such that he titled the BJP's manifesto "Modi Ki Guarantee 2024".

The other day, Bajaj Finance refused to give me a loan to buy a mobile phone because they could not accept my guarantee that I would pay the equated monthly instalments (EMI) because I was "overaged". Yet, Modi, who is older than me, expects the people to accept his "guarantees" when the average life expectancy in India is only 67 years.

In 1942, the Cripps Mission came to India with some proposals. Actually, it wanted India's support for the British stand against the rise of Hitler. Britain knew that without India's support, it could not challenge Germany in any theatre of the war. The mission made some proposals which fell far short of Gandhi's expectations. After seeing the proposals, Gandhi famously said, they were like "a post-dated cheque on a crashing bank". Modi's guarantees are like the British cheque with which Britain tried to bluff India.

This happens because Modi considers himself a know-all who will only talk and not listen. His "advisors" know how to please him and will tell him only what he wants to hear. That is what happened to Mrs Gandhi, who was told by her advisors that the Emergency was hugely popular. They were partially correct, as the South stood with her in the 1977 elections that brought the Janata Party to power.

As Modi began to address election rallies, he began to realise that his popularity was on the wane. And after the first round of polling, he knew that 400 seats were an impossibility. He remembered the BJP's "India Shining" campaign in 2004 that brought the Congress back to power.

Modi, who predicted that the Congress would lose heavily in 2024, noticed that the INDIAlliance was formidable, with impartial political observers claiming that his party might not even get 15 seats from the South. For once, he changed tactics. He began raking up communal issues. He began calling Muslims "infiltrators" and "baby-makers". As prime minister, he travelled to several countries. Did any leader anywhere call the single largest minority in his or her country such names?

Did any Pakistani, Bangladeshi, or Sri Lankan leader use pejorative words against Hindus? Is this the great culture that he boasts of? Is this the Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam (the whole world is one family) that he often mentions? We have a three-member Election Commission, which ordinarily should have ordered him to shut up or face consequences.

Instead, after many days, the commission sent a notice to the BJP president. By the time his reply reaches the commission, the election would have been over.

In order to give ammunition to the BJP, a panel linked with the PM's office has come out with a bogus theory that the minorities have been growing in numbers while the majority community has been shrinking. What is the panel's locus stand? Who are its members? What competence do they have to give such a report?

Modi should have released the data from the last census, and he should have conducted the census that was due in 2022. Instead, he wants to give the false impression that Muslims are overgrowing.

I can understand Modi questioning the promises made in the Congress manifesto, like giving Rs 100,000 under the Mahalakshmi scheme, abolishing the Agniveer scheme, and reintroducing the old recruitment system in the armed forces and the Right to Apprenticeship Act under which every diploma holder and graduate below 25 will be entitled to apprenticeship. Modi does not have the courage to discuss these promises. Instead, he discusses "imagined promises" made by the Congress. He tells voters that the Congress would confiscate the gold and silver in their houses, including the sacred mangalsutra of their womenfolk and distribute the proceeds among the Muslims.

He has even gone down to the level of alleging that if anybody had two buffaloes, one would be snatched by the Congress and given to the Muslims.

Ms. Maneka Gandhi is Modi's candidate in Sultanpur in UP. She was his Cabinet colleague once. She recently mentioned in a video about her visit to a gaushala where she found that all the aged cows had been sold to the butchers. Where are the old cows? They are either loitering on the roads in Delhi or destroying the crops in UP, where the Congress has virtually no presence in the administration. His only aim is to get some votes in the name of the cow, whose population has been diminishing faster than the cheetahs Modi brought to India.

He and his party have done the greatest harm to the cow, which has been replaced by the buffalo. The Congress manifesto does not say that Muslims would be given reservations. But Modi has been spreading the falsehood that if Congress came to power, they would reduce the reservation for the backward communities in order to give reservations to the Muslims.

Modi should read the Mandal Commission report under which the Birla community in UP is entitled to reservation. So are the Ansaris, who happen to be Muslims. What kind of justice is that the moment a scavenger who cleans dry latrines is considered in social status equal to that of Amit Shah the moment he finds spiritual solace in Jesus and calls himself a Christian or Muslim?

The Congress manifesto does not say that it will provide reservations to minorities. Instead of ridiculing the Congress for what it says in its manifesto, he unnecessarily attacks the Congress and its chief Rahul Gandhi. All the 10 years that he has been ruling the country, Modi's constant refrain was that the Congress should be banished from the country. Today, he cannot speak anything without attacking Rahul Gandhi's family. He has more royals in his own party than in any other. He has taken the campaign to the pits.

Taking his cue from his master, Amit Shah told a rally in UP that even if Rahul Gandhi's maternal grandmother came alive, he would implement the Citizenship Amendment Act. When the BJP may not even get 200 seats, how can Shah be confident that he would remain home minister and implement the CAA and other harsh laws?

In India, nobody speaks ill of a dead person. Sonia Gandhi's mother died of old-age-related problems in Italy in 2022 at age 90. She never took any part in India's domestic or international affairs. Why did Shah mention her name in the context of elections? How would he react if a leader like Lalu Yadav referred to Modi's mother?

He knows that no political leader would stoop as low as the duo. Why is Modi not listing his achievements and seeking votes based on those achievements? When he could not provide two crore new jobs per year, how is he guaranteeing to solve all the unemployment problems if he gets one more term?

Modi's latest bluff is that the Ambani-Adani duo gave Rahul Gandhi cartloads of money. He thinks that is why he does not mention the businessmen during his election campaigns. He is the PM and he has all the investigating agencies at his disposal and he could have investigated and found out how much money was given to him.

Instead, he has lowered himself to the level of a gossip-monger. What a tragedy! Can Modi go still lower? That is the question bothering the whole nation.

Recent Posts

The furore surrounding NEET has once again brought the need for systemic reforms in education to the fore.
apicture Jaswant Kaur
24 Jun 2024
The RSS' sudden snipe against immoral politics and concern for issues it had hitherto left untouched can be perceived from many angles.
apicture Ram Puniyani
24 Jun 2024
Mr Modi and Mr Bhagwat are both vicious personalities with a cussed arrogance
apicture John Dayal
24 Jun 2024
The Modi-led BJP has aimed for a "Congress-mukt Bharat" since 2014, weakening democracy.
apicture Jacob Peenikaparambil
24 Jun 2024
Modi has gone on record saying that he has invited Pope Francis to India!
apicture Cedric Prakash
24 Jun 2024
None of us have yet emerged from the shock of one of the most devastating fire accidents in Kuwait, which killed 50 migrant workers, including 46 Indians, on Wednesday, June 12, 2024.
apicture Dr Arnald Mahesh SDB
24 Jun 2024
Uttarakhand's forest fires have resulted in the loss of not only human lives but also a vast forest area.
apicture Vidya Bhushan Rawat
24 Jun 2024
Prime Minister Modi tends to dismiss climate change, attributing the challenges to altered human behaviour.
apicture Peter Fernandes, SFX
24 Jun 2024
I believe, and this is not a political article, that these elections have shown us qualities of true leadership.
apicture Robert Clements
24 Jun 2024
Many years ago, Mahatma Gandhi spoke about seven crimes. One of them is "Politics without principle."
apicture M L Satyan
17 Jun 2024