Ranjona Banerji: Living on Modi-fied truths
Prime Minister Narendra Modi. File pic
Is it true that in Uttar Pradesh, only Muslims get non-stop electricity during Eid while Hindus are deprived of electricity during Diwali? We now live in a post-truth world of alternative facts. This is our "new normal" we are told by those who claim to know. Of course, us humans have always partly lived in a fantasy world, which may include the Divine, the aura of film stars and the exploits of your favourite football or cricket team.
Alternative facts work any way you want them to, I would imagine. So, if US President Donald Trump's other truth is gossip on alt-right pretend-media outlets or, for all I know, locker room chit-chat, then, the Indian Prime Minister can decide (did I say invent, lie or make up? I did not!), based on any old thing when and where the Uttar Pradesh Electricity Board might or might not supply electricity.
In any case, during election season, nothing you say needs to have any connection to the truth or facts or reality. BJP President Amit Shah informed us of that a couple of years ago with the excellent word "jumla". I don't know what this word means exactly, but I gather it could mean some sort of 'lie', 'alternative fact', 'post-truth election pffft' or something like that.
Therefore, the R15 lakh sum of black money we were all going to get in our bank accounts after the BJP came to power in 2014 was a 'jumla' election promise, a post-truth election pffft. One gathers that even poor Baba Ramdev was waiting for this R15 lakh package, in spite of all the enormous advantages, I mean strides, his companies have made selling biscuits, noodles and so on.
But, in the Prime Minister's alt truth world, we actually got something bigger than R15 lakh in our bank accounts. In fact, the Prime Minister took all our money out of the economy, locked down our bank accounts and then told us that we all had more money than we ever had before because we were free of black money, terrorism, corruption, counterfeit currency, high real estate prices and many other alternative fact benefits which I have been unable to keep track of. I would say that India has become a perfect country except that India has always been perfect except for the 70 years when Modi was not the Prime Minister and various other 1,000-year gaps in between when Modi should have been Prime Minister, but was stalled not just by Jawaharlal Nehru's grandfather but also by several Lodhis, Tughlaqs, Mughals and whatnot.
India's Prime Minister and India's Finance Minister, their fans and other ministers have all corroborated the wonders of demonetisation to us, for instance. The Finance Minister has repeatedly assured us that there is plenty of money in banks and cash machines, thus proving what liars all those people who were standing in queues were. Not only that, we were also told that people (that is, us) were absolutely thrilled with demonetisation, thus proving that all those people who died standing in queues were not just liars but also ungrateful.
I am not even mentioning those people who dared to suffer because of problems with hospitals, schools and so on. A few deaths are necessary as a great nation stumbles into the future with no money, a flailing economy and battered industries. Please ignore that last sentence. It had not a single alternative fact or post-truth element to it, thus making it out of sync with the zeitgeist which now belongs to Chronic Liars and Other Wonderful Folk.
Meanwhile, there's the Indian Prime Minister implying during an election rally that only Muslims get electricity in Uttar Pradesh under a Samajwadi Party government. Should I repeat that this is the Indian Prime Minister, not some random party functionary, not some "fringe element" party politician, not some rabble-rouser who can be dismissed as one by some fantastic party logician on a television debate. This is Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India.
This is the Prime Minister of India telling you that this is how he sees India — divided between Hindus and Others. When he says there should be no discrimination between communities, he is careful to point out that discrimination when it exists is skewed only towards non-Hindus. Work out how post-truth you want to be now. I'm done with it.
Ranjona Banerji is a senior journalist. You can follow her on Twitter @ranjona Send your feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org