Dear Shri Narendra Modi Ji,
"Let them eat cake" is said to have been spoken in the 17th or 18th century by a great French princess upon being told that the peasants had no bread. The incident could possibly be apocryphal. No, I do not want to dig into French history, which is as futile as it is infantile.
Instead, I want to draw your attention to a comment made by your Health Minister Harsh Vardhan about the medicinal properties of dark chocolate to fight Coronavirus and keep Covid-19 at bay. He wants the people to eat dark chocolate to fortify themselves against the pandemic.
The last I heard about this great minister was when he released Baba Ramdev’s concoction called medicine to fight Covid-19.
All this happens when the second Covid-19 wave has been taking a heavy toll of people, belonging to all sections of society.
I know your aversion for Jawaharlal Nehru. Let me seek your indulgence to quote from his will and testament: “The Ganga, especially, is the river of India, beloved of her people, round which are intertwined her racial memories, her hopes and fears, her songs of triumph, her victories and her defeats. She has been a symbol of India's age-long culture and civilisation, ever-changing, ever-flowing and ever the same Ganga".
I must have read this passage at least a hundred times before I lived on its banks at Patna for 10 years. Today, the people are scared of taking a dip in the river for fear that they might touch a floating body part.
Nobody has any reliable statistics of the number of bodies thrown into the river, which would eventually find their way into the Bay of Bengal. Giving respect to the body is one cardinal principle followed by every religion. Have the people become irreligious to dispose of bodies in this horrible manner?
No, at the root of the problem is poverty. The poor can’t afford to treat their Covid-19 patients when medicines, oxygen cylinders, hospital beds and ventilators are beyond their reach. They are the ones who are forced to dispose of bodies in this manner.
I have seen a huge banner outside your party’s old office in Lutyen’s Delhi. It shows the picture of a heavily-armed Ram with “Jai Shri Ram”, your party’s war-cry, written in bold letters. I no longer hear this slogan. What is heard, instead, from the south to the north and from the west to the east is “Ram Naam Satya Hai” (The name of Ram is the truth).
This recitation implies that the dead body no longer sustains the truth (breath) which is Ram Naam. How did we as a nation come to such a sorry pass? As leader, can you shy away from your responsibility?
It is now nearly one and a half years since we have been grappling with Coronavirus. Everybody who is somebody in virology or epidemiology had spoken about a second wave hitting the nation but did you prepare the nation for it?
Your decisions last year were characterised by your haughty political and personal behaviour. You did not consult the medical fraternity or the knowledgeable when you ordered a countrywide lockdown that made life miserable for tens of millions of people. Your FCRA and CSR rules have impoverished the NGOs to do anything to help the people.
Your periodic addresses to the nation sought to legitimise superstitious practices like clanging metal vessels to drive away Coronavirus and switching off electric lights to light diyas for nine minutes and nine seconds. You believed that the virus could be defeated like the Pandavas defeated the Kauravas in a 21-day battle.
I am sorry to say that your behaviour did not redound to the credit of the nation, the Constitution of which enjoins upon the people to promote the scientific temper in its Directive Principles. The closest any of your party leaders came to being scientific was when former Uttarakhand Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat said that Coronavirus, too, had a right to live!
While the whole world is bothered about Coronavirus, you allow such characters to speak about the rights of Coronavirus and yet remain in the party. Do you know why all this happens?
It is because the media, both print and electronic, do not have the courage to say that the King is naked. In a democracy, the media are supposed to show the mirror to those who hold power. One of your favourite gift items is the Aranmula mirror, made of an amalgam of metals. Do you think anyone will accept your gift if she cannot see her image in it? Please remember that the media are as useless as the mirror that does not have a mercury coating.
One grave mistake you made was to choose your own Gujarati buddy as your second-in-command and home minister. You not only look similar but also think and act similar. You will, therefore, never get a different opinion from your number two.
In contrast, Nehru’s number two was Sardar Patel, a leader in his own right. In his Cabinet, he had stalwarts like Shyama Prasad Mukherji, who later founded your party, Dr BR Ambedkar, who drafted the Constitution, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, a scholar of scholars and Dr John Mathai, who could extempore deliver his Budget Speech. None of them was an Yes-man.
The problem is that you do not have even a single minister who can tell you on your face that what you do is nonsense, be it the way you demonetised high-denomination currency notes or introduced GST through a midnight session of Parliament.
Recently, I saw a picture of German leader Angela Merkel walking behind two German scientists involved in finding a solution to the pandemic. When I saw the picture, I remembered the picture of you addressing the scientists busy developing vaccines. You should have learned from them, instead of lecturing them as is your wont.
Exhibitionism or triumphalism is one of the hallmarks of your prime ministership. Did you consult anybody in the know when you claimed that India had emerged as the vaccine manufacturer of the world and the world had a lot to learn from India? The fact of the matter is that India’s vaccine production is not even 20 per cent of the world production.
While countries like Britain, Germany and the US have ordered vaccines up to 10 times of their need so that their people did not suffer from any shortage, you have not yet been able to evolve a cogent vaccine policy that would ensure that every citizen, entitled to it, gets it in time. As a result, India has become a laughing stock.
What a pity that even the Supreme Court finds drawbacks in your oxygen policy forcing it to intervene by constituting a committee of experts! Your vaccine policy, like your oxygen policy, is in a shambles.
When you should have been in the war room with expert epidemiologists and health officials to take prompt decisions, your mind was elsewhere. How to defeat Mamata Banerjee, earn some browny points in Kerala and Tamil Nadu and retain Assam.
It is not that you were not told that large public meetings were not in the interest of public health. You ignored such advices as you campaigned extensively in West Bengal and other states, sometimes without even wearing a mask. You even boasted about the large turnout of people.
Do you know what your USP (unique selling proposition) is? I can tell you that it is your vote-gathering ability. The successive elections in Gujarat, when you campaigned against “Mia Musharraf” as if the Pakistani General was contesting in Gujarat, proved that you could polarise voters and win.
It is this ability that convinced the BJP leadership to shed leaders like LK Advani and MM Joshi and repose its faith in your leadership in 2014. Your so-called development plank helped the party to get some non-traditional votes to capture power at the Centre.
I remember you telling the nation from the ramparts of the Red Fort in 2015 that you were a little diffident when you were elected to power but after a few months, you were confident that you would be able to manage Delhi. Six years after that first speech, I can say that you have not risen above your sub-nationalism.
Many factors helped you to get a better mandate in 2019. You could have used it to do good to the people. Instead, you squandered the public goodwill by pursuing such policies as bestowing citizenship on the basis of religion and building a temple when the nation needed more temples of science and technology.
You have proved that ethics and civility did not matter when power was the be all and end all of politics. All through, you were able to sustain the belief that you were a vote-gatherer.
For once your invincibility has been exposed. But for the Election Commission functioning like an adjunct of your government and allowing you to campaign for as long as one and a half months in West Bengal, your party would have been roundly defeated.
All your money and muscle power could not influence the Bengali voter. Your performance in Kerala was far more disastrous. Wherever you and your musketeers campaigned, the party secured lesser votes than it won in the 2016 election.
For once you have proved that you are no longer the darling of the voters. Rather, you have become a burden for the party. All you need to do is to go through the claims you yourself made while campaigning in Kerala and West Bengal to know where you stand today.
Forget the Assembly elections, your party could not win in your own parliamentary constituency of Varanasi when panchayat elections were held there recently. The drubbing you received should have woken you up. I thought that you would have learnt your lessons and you would put your government in order to fight Coronavirus.
Nothing of the sort happened. Your government in UP was more interested in saving cows from Coronavirus than the people, as could be inferred from the many cow-friendly decisions it took. Anyone who questioned the government risked going to jail like Siddique Kappen, who made the mistake of visiting the state to do a story.
The morale of the people has never plummeted to such low level, as it has now. I have witnessed the aftereffects of the 1962 war with China, minor and major wars with Pakistan and several national catastrophes like the Super Cyclone of Odisha, Tsunami that hit the southern coast and the earthquakes in Gujarat and Uttarakhand. The people were never so despondent. They faced the crisis as one man, forgetting caste, political and religious differences.
Yes, you have a mandate to rule till 2024. The mandate is because the people have no right to recall. It will be disastrous for the nation if you continue in power. Nothing has a greater influence on the people than renunciation. Gandhi would not have become a sage if he had become the first Prime Minister. Buddha became the Great only when he renounced the comforts of his palace. In contrast, you are building a palace for yourself in the name of Central Vista!
Ram became venerable only when he chose to go to the forest to uphold his father’s word and renounced the world when his wife went back to be with her mother Earth. You have a great opportunity to quit power and thus earn the goodwill of the people.
They will soon forget that you were a disaster. It is now time for you to call for that letter head to scribble your resignation letter. Surely, your party will be able to find a leader who can capably run the government in the best interest of the people. It is now or never! Alternatively, there can be an all-party government till the nation is freed of Coronavirus.