“Aukaat” Remark Against Modi Is Latest Gift From Congress To PM
Has the Congress done it again? Will Congress leader Madhusudan Mistry’s statement about Modi’s “aukaat” (standing) be a defining moment in the Gujarat election? Mistry made his remark in the morning. Hours later, Modi tossed it into the air as Rahul Gandhi arrived in Gujarat to campaign for the Congress. Addressing a rally, the PM said, “You all come from royal families, but I am from a normal family. I have no aukaat. I am a sewak (server); sevadar (servants) have no aukaat.” He then shared the litany of insults used against him by Congress leaders in the past: “Maut ka saudagar” (Sonia Gandhi), Neech jaat (Mani Shankar Aiyar), “Chai-wallah” (also Mani Shankar Aiyar). “And now you have come to show me my aukaat.” Earlier during the day, Madhusudan Mistry had made his statement in the context of promising to rename the “Narendra Modi Stadium” as “Sardar Patel Stadium” if the Congress forms government in the state, saying that “Hum Modi-ji ko unki aukaat dikahna chahte hain (we want to show Mr. Modi his place in society).” Modi is a master at taking a personal comment made about him and converting it into a mega-issue in an election. In the 2007 election in Gujarat, when the Delhi media, cut off from reality, was suggesting the Congress might win the state and defeat Modi, Sonia Gandhi described him as “Maut Ka Saudagar”. She was then the Congress president; he was the Chief Minister on whose watch Gujarat erupted in horrific communal riots. But Modi swept the election. Many held that the riots played a huge role in the consolidation of Hindu votes in his favour. He was seen as the saviour of Hindus though he had invited global criticism for mishandling the riots and many countries pronounced him persona non-grata. If Sonia Gandhi thought that she would put him on the defensive by calling him “Maut Ka Saudagar”, she was grossly mistaken. Modi turned that statement of Sonia Gandhi into an election issue. He presented himself as a victim of secular forces out to malign his image when he was working relentlessly for Gujarat’s progress. Even in the 2002 assembly elections, Modi exploited all the criticism to weave a narrative that the whole world was conspiring against him. Not just him, but against every Gujarati, is what he said. He did not spare even the National Human Rights Commission or the Election Commission, which was headed by James Lyngdoh, a Christian. The BJP’s main opponent was also led by a Christian i.e. Sonia Gandhi. He referred to them in such a way that people were reminded again and again that they were Christians. He called Sonia Gandhi a “Jersey Cow” and Rahul Gandhi “a hybrid child”. The attempt was to tell Hindu voters that Christians were conspiring against Hindus and the conspiracy was being hatched at a global level. Before Modi, BJP leaders were quite defensive while playing the Hindu versus Muslim or Hindu versus Christian card. It was a different era. The Congress was still a dominant force and the BJP was led by Atal-Advani who grew up in the Nehruvian ecosystem. But Modi in Gujarat had no such hang ups. By 2007, he was creating a cocktail of Hindutva and Development. Sonia Gandhi’s statement allowed him to invoke a communal angle. Political pundits and election analysts over-stated the “Maut Ka Saudagar” phrase as the sole reason for Modi’s victory. In my opinion, Modi’s victory was a mix of many things. His personalised style of aggressive campaigning, raising Gujarati sub-nationalism and converting it into political currency, clever consolidation of Hindu identity supported massively by the multi-layered organisation of the Sangh Parivar and the ruthless use of state apparatus constructed a colossal election machine. The same experiment was repeated at the centre once he was chosen as the Prime Ministerial candidate in 2013. In 2014, Congress was so damaged by the corruption charges that its defeat was inevitable but it was Modi’s genius that helped the BJP sweep 2014 and then 2019.
Similarly, Mani Shankar Aiyar’s twin statements, headlined by TV channels with prime-time debates – it helped Modi to emotionally appeal to voters as a do-gooder looked down on by the traditional elite. Yes, these remarks allowed him to present himself as persecuted and connect directly with the poor and marginalised but to equates these comment as turning points of the elections is a miscalculation.
Modi himself has made a few errors on this front – like his “Didi oh Didi” sneer in the Bengal election earlier this year which ended with Mamata Banerjee’s landslide victory. And he is milking the “aukaat” insult – but this does not give the BJP a windfall gain in its campaign. As Frida Ghitis noted, “The timing could not have been any better…”“With democracy suddenly looking like it’s on firmer ground and key autocracies facing serious problems, it was an ideal moment for Biden to speak frankly to Xi about areas of disagreement between the two superpowers while trying to build safeguards to prevent the rivalry from careening into conflict as the relationship has deteriorated to its most tense state in decades.”
But life may get especially uncomfortable for Biden early next year. “With Republicans in control of the House,” Julian Zelizer wrote, “the Biden administration will likely encounter a combination of investigations, conservative-agenda setting and obstruction. … Despite all the media speculation about whether the election will push Republicans away from Trumpism, the safe bet is that … they will dive deeper into the sea of red.”
Still, the Republicans could overreach and give Democrats an opening. Zelizer recalled the maxim popularized by the Spider-Man franchise: “With great power comes great responsibility.” Former Rep. Charlie Dent, a Republican, observed, “Assuming Kevin McCarthy manages to win the vote for the speakership on the House floor in January, his governing challenge could prove much more frustrating and difficult than what John Boehner faced a decade ago.” “House Republican votes will be needed to raise the debt ceiling, fund the government and enter into other agreements with the Senate and President Joe Biden,” Dent noted.
The “election outcome has made McCarthy’s task not only more difficult but perilous. McCarthy has no breathing room, as extreme elements within the House GOP conference feel emboldened with their leverage.”should place the current controversy regarding Rahul Gandhi’s remark during his Bharat Jodo Yatra about Savarkar humbling himself before India’s British rulers.The remark was avoidable. Many in Maharashtra and elsewhere honour Savarkar’s memory, including, crucially, Uddhav Thackeray, the Shiv Sena leader who, until the other day, was heading the Maharashtra government of which the Congress was a part. Impolitic Rahul Gandhi’s remark might have been, but perhaps it is impossible for one who says he wants to bring all Indians together on the basis of equality and mutual respect not to question the notion, associated with Savarkar, of majoritarian supremacy. The political outcome of Rahul Gandhi’s Bharat Jodo Yatra is hard to predict. But already the Yatra seems to have impacted the Indian mind in a significant way.
Its inclusiveness (every sort of Indian seems to have joined the Yatra) offers a living and walking demonstration that all Indians, poor or rich, despised or honoured, are linked to one another and need one another. And the Yatra seems to be providing evidence that people who believe in everyone’s dignity, who reject hierarchy and supremacy, who want to reach out to all their compatriots on India’s good earth, will find comrades and fellow marchers. Also underscored by the Yatra, however, is the troubling fact that physically coming together across religious divides has become rarer in our land in recent years. Covid was a new hurdle but not the only one. Even ardent champions of human rights do not mix regularly with people of another religion. One hopes that the Yatra will trigger other inclusive actions in locations across the land. To return to Rahul Gandhi, it has to be acknowledged that until the Bharat Jodo Yatra, not many public figures were willing to mount a firm challenge to majoritarian hierarchy. Rahul Gandhi has shown his willingness to do so. He has also tested with apparent success his belief that the bulk of the Indian people want equality and mutual respect, not a high-and-low nation. Individuals are more vulnerable for a variety of reasons, including their address (living in areas prone to disasters made worse by climate change), age (children, older persons), existing medical problems (heart disease, lung conditions), their job (outdoor construction workers exposed to heat), or not having adequate health care to manage the health problems created by or made worse by climate change (health care disparities from economic injustice and systemic racism).
[ MORE: States With the Strongest Health Systems ]
The good news is that we already have the solutions we need for a just transition away from fossil fuels. Renewable energy sources are widely available and often cheaper than fossil fuels – especially if governments stop providing fossil-fuel subsidies. But we need the societal and political will to implement them. Advocating for renewable energy by contacting your elected representatives is powerful, especially when framed as a prescription for improving your health and those of your loved ones and neighbors.
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As White Latinos grow distant from their immigrant origins and experience American society more like non-Hispanic White people – with fewer encounters with discrimination or microaggressions – their politics may be conforming to the ideological trends of White Americans more broadly. And because they comprise 60% of all US-born Hispanics, their evolution will swing the broader Latino vote.
Taken together, these trends only extend the racialization of American public affairs. In an era defined by culture wars and identity politics, Hispanics – a dynamic group that has always fit awkwardly into America’s reductive racial categories – are demonstrating the continuing power of these colonial boundaries and their absorption into the mega-identities that Democrats and Republicans now embody.
We will only begin to transcend our divisions by recognizing the ways that people of all racial identities share a common devotion to the American project, a common struggle to pursue the American dream. But in its propensity to sort voters into established coalitions, the American political process is an unlikely bridge.
PAID CONTENT– You can easily see that it is called “Divorce – Matt Hancock”.
As for what to expect in his upcoming I’m a Celebrity Celebrity appearance, let’s improvise. Hancock designs a soccer ball out of palm fronds and enrages Jill Scott to defeat him on guard. Hancock throws a protective ring around the camp elders, who are all immediately expelled. Conversations over a campfire in which Hancock tells Chris Moyles: “In the end what happened was that I fell in love. Is that a crime? If so, lock me up and get rid of the key.” Hancock decides that Mike Tindall is a fellow alpha and tries to form an alliance with him: “Together, we can rule the jungle.” Tindall backs off. Tindall engineered things so he would face Hancock at a bushtucker trial; Tyndall stared at Hancock with dead eyes and a non-blink as he trotted round after round of rooster and the former health secretary failed to keep up; Tindall’s absolute vengeful will power shatters Matt’s soul until he succumbs to a grade five spiritual breakdown and a full public apology. Cop it, scrapie-doo.
Obviously, the darkest possible timeline is that the British tele-voting audience is moving on to Matt of the Jungle, and he actually goes on to win the show. If that happens, the ban on intellectual articles will obviously be repealed immediately, and I will personally join the growing numbers of people moving away from the very idea of democracy. See you in the militia.