I was an undecided voter. I was exploring my options. UPA II did not deserve another chance. Modi personally never gave me good vibes. Blame the publicity, but I never saw any compassion in him, even in BJP posters. But BJP was still an alternative because AAP was not fit and ready to govern, at least for five more years. I had a lot of issues with AAP. So I was veering towards BJP despite my discomfiture. We still have to make a choice and NOTA is not an option for me. I wanted to vote for stability. For me, Gujarat is one of the better governed states. I also did not want a Baba, Amma, Behenji, Netaji, Didi or Bhayyaji to be the next Prime Minister or even interfere in governance.
As I kept expressing myself without bias on Facebook and elsewhere, the Modi fans went after me. They were organized, belligerent and at times scary. For me, AAP was a 3% party and least likely to make an impact. The attacks continued. Many questioned my intelligence and a few even my integrity. Last night, I analyzed few people who took it on themselves in leading this charge—the hardcore Modi fans (I personally don’t think there is any BJP left). And what I found was revealing. Throughout the posts, I saw hatred, criticism or trivialization. No serious discourse based on facts and reasoning. Liberal use of epithets like "Sickular", "Paid Media", "Khan-gressi", "Pakistani Agent", "Traitor", "ISI Agent", "CIA Agent", "Saint Topiwal", "Fakeriwal", "Aaptard" was common. The name calling was personal and perverse.
I encourage each of you to do a similar exercise. I can’t even wish them off as over-enthusiastic supporters. They are so committed to Modi that it is well nigh impossible to be objective in future. Unknown to us, we have created a lynch mob. But then, they have only learnt it from their leader who had used the "Mian" in Musharraf, and the "James Michael" in Lyngdoh to create insecurities and mass votes. Even as a PM aspirant, he peddles epithets such as "Shahzada" (Rahul) and "Pakistani friend" (Arvind Kejriwal) and vitiates the discourse. A leader who has only created a legion of followers but no second line of leadership needs a stronger opposition in Parliament. The checks and balances have to be stronger.
The agenda for positive change, good governance and development are mere statements that have got lost in the election carried forward by his followers. What started off as a positive campaign soon descended into bullying. Development is no longer the narrative. Maybe, it is too much to expect from a party which prioritized the charge-sheet to the manifesto. The bias was such that the same people who quoted Time ("The Under Achiever" cover on Dr.Manmohan Singh) started criticizing and questioning The Economist and The Guardian for ‘interfering’ in India’s internal affairs. Hypocrisy has become synonymous with politics.
And then yesterday, a beast amongst us slapped Arvind Kejriwal. It was ferocious. It was brutal. It was inhumane. It was meant to physically hurt. As AK held his face, it was heart-breaking. He had a black eye and a swollen cheek. This attack was not meant to prove a political point. AK retreated to Raj Ghat. And the BJP bandwagon took to the streets and launched their attack in a highly synchronized manner. They forgot humanity in pursuit of political affiliations. It was celebration time. The slap was a butt of jokes. AK was despised, derided, laughed at, attacked, and violated. It was appalling. Each time as I watched the slap, my heart wept. Is this the society we have come to be?
Last night, My decision was made. There was greater clarity. I don't want a society where hatred wins over love, violence over peace, anger over amity, frown over smile, sternness over calmness, negativity over positive feelings. I don't want a society where the mobs decide the agenda cleverly planted by a handful of people (we have seen it in 1984 and 2002).
I decided. I will vote with my conscience. I will vote for peace. I will reject divisiveness. I will vote for change. I vote to bring in a good opposition in the parliament. I vote for AAP.
Post Script: After writing the above, I have learnt about AK's Gandhigiri in visiting his attacker. I know that the cynics among us will dismiss it as yet another "drama" but given the choice between the politics of hate and politics of truth and reconciliation that this latest gesture symbolises, I am all for more such gestures of trying to understand diverse points of view.