NaMa MoDidi: East is east and best is best, and ne’er the twain shall greet

NaMa MoDidi: East is east and best is best, and ne’er the twain shall greet
28/01/2021, by , in Home Page Articles

This story first appeared in Times of India Blog

Before Gujarat’s storied chief minister souped up Ahmedabad’s Kankaria lake, the gentle Reuben David had built a small but lively zoo on its shore. Here, he had created a Biblical ideal, the antithesis of the reign of Modiji as both CM and PM. ‘Reuben-Dada’ had made ‘the lion lie down with the lamb’; the bitch Blackie shared the cage with the majestic Montu whom she had nursed as a foundling cub. This fortnight another of Dada’s experiments became more relevant: the tigon. Unfortunately, the coming together of the Bengal Tigress and the Gir Lion at Netaji’s 124th birth anniversary celebration has only led to cross tempers and an absence of good breeding. Who the faulty party is will depend on your political stripes.

The venue was Kolkata’s famed Memorial, and the Bengal empress aptly echoed Maharani Bhicktoria by conveying a pursed lipped, ‘Bhee are not amused.’ Of course, nishchoy, how uncivilised, ki oshobbo!, to invite someone to an auspicious occasion, and then ‘eensult’ her, that too on her home turf. No one can pretend that those in the crowd who shouted ‘Jai Shri Ram!’ as Mamata rose to speak were innocently voicing religious exultation. Even the BJP admitted this.

Instead of retreating into an offended sulk, why didn’t Didi launch one of her trade-mark offensives? She could easily have hoisted her hecklers with their own petard. After all, there’s not a little irony in BJP’s stormtroopers wanting to ‘religionise’ everything, but, at the same time, ‘secularising’ a sacred chant. Worse, reducing Lord Ram and his reverent salutation to a tawdry political slogan. Sadly, ‘Jai Shri Ram’ unfailingly remains a red rag to bullish Banerjee.

Saffron is red mixed with yellow, but there’s nothing cowardly about the way the Gir Lion has leapt into the tigress’s lair. She may have her back to the wall, but she has not one but two precious cubs to protect: Bengal and its ours-alone mascot, Netaji. BJP may be a coldblooded killer but merciless Banerjee too is La Belle Dame Sans Mamata.

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Alec Smart said: “Farmers refused to retract; instead, they re-tractored.”

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About Bachi Karkaria

SAWM India member Bachi Karkaria writes the weekly column “Erratica” for Times of India and is the Director of the Times Litfest. Her latest book is “In Hot Blood” (Juggernaut, 2017). She lives in Mumbai.