Under Cover: Inside A Right-Wing Saffron Group Meeting
When Creedence Clearwater Revival wrote ‘Fortunate Son’, they could well have been referring to me.
When Creedence Clearwater Revival wrote ‘Fortunate Son’, they could well have been referring to me. We aren’t in 1970’s America, of course, and I don’t need to dodge the draft (which is a sure-shot way to ensure the Presidency). Still, I’m one of those despised Lutyens insiders, have lived in the heart of the city all my life and didn’t need to screw my way to the top. I went to the right college, too, because naturally there is only one proper college in the city of Delhi. By the way, do you know that a lot of the Republican’s (ours, not the crazies in America) anger against Lutyens’ Delhi is because he studied across the road, as did the head of the Patriotic Twitterati (PT) brigade? The fact that these two went to Hindu and not Stephen’s explains a whole lot; I feel sorry for them, Oxford and Harvard notwithstanding. Maybe I should roll them some of the Malana I got last week.
Anyway, I have always wondered what good old Edwin would say if he found out his name was being used as a pejorative. I mean, he did absorb some ideas from Indian architecture, but his wife did start the trend of rich white women falling for Indian gurus (that is a story for another time). Now, on to my right-wing indoctrination. Some in the family felt that my impeccable English aside, I should make peace with the powers that be, so how better to start than to attend a weekend off-site of a suitably right-wing think-tank in Gujarat? While I’m not a Gujarati, which obviously makes operating in the new climate much tougher, I am fond of their food — but not of the fact that you can’t booze all that easily out there. It’s easy to find a tipple, of course, but paying a 1,000 bucks for a bottle of desi vodka is a bit much, even for me. Stashing a bottle in your checkin luggage is actually a lot easier than you think, however (and I once took a bottle to Teheran), so the booze bit was sorted. The biggest problem in Gujjuland is finding some kind of meat — heck, even chicken isn’t that easy to find, so a couple of days of dhokla and chiwda it was going to be.
When you spend time sitting around a lot of right-wingers in India, part of you is always waiting for the gaumutra from the sprinkler system. These are perfectly rational people, though, and some of them have some good ideas for the country, unlike a Congress convention in Delhi, which is worse than a inbred Redneck family, where the only conversation is about whose dealer has the ‘best goods’ — I have been to these dos, and this genuinely happens. Thus I was pleasantly surprised when everybody started speaking of all the problems that we faced, and there was a healthy appreciation that things are pretty messed up. There was also a clear consensus about not losing the plot when disagreeing with someone — this was refreshing.
Indeed, this was definitely not a Commie LoveFest, where everyone climbs onto the “We Hate Narendra Modi” bandwagon — these kids had good ideas, and some of them will be in positions of power and influence soon enough. The key takeaway? Stop discussing the goddamn problem and try and solve it. There was less appreciation of some other problems, however — you know, like the testosterone-fuelled madness in India and the pillorying of feminists, (although, in all fairness, the latter was not so much because they felt feminism was bad, but more about them hating particular people).
Yes, there are problems with the right, problems other than a historically and geographically-challenged Sambit Patra claiming that Iwo Jima is in Kargil, and the fact that the BJP and RSS do employ a lot of louts. But then, every party in power in India has louts, because they are like blood-sucking lice, which gravitate to a new source of sustenance when they find it. I actually left rather impressed. These guys aren’t the dark side of the force, because Rahul Gandhi ain’t no Luke Skywalker, and Narendra Modi isn’t Darth Vader, despite what the folks at UndieTV want you to believe. The thing is, in Lutyens’ Delhi, things are very grey, and all we are doing is fighting over shades of grey – without the S&M. And that is for a future column…