Saturday, April 25, 2009

The promised Mallika Sarabhai column

Here it is.... not even a few hours in circulation and so much hate mail already! Kadwa sachh??

Gujarat’s Gudiya is dancing into people’s hearts…

I was in Modi-land ( not to be confused with Lego-land) last week, just to check out how ‘vibrant’ Gujarat really is. Narendrabhai did not send me a text message that read ‘Swagatam’. He reserves that for Ratan Tata. However, his presence was everywhere…. and any attempt to engage the otherwise garrulous Amdavaadis in a frank conversation about the man was frustrated… even stonewalled. Narendrabhai has his eyes and ears all over the place and people are plain scared to as much as take his name in vain. It reminded me of the Emergency during which even the swaggering netas of Delhi had turned into mice, and would refuse to utter Sanjay Gandhi’s name without lowering their voices and looking furtively over their shoulders. It was no surprise then that the two bhais ( not the Dubai variety), who had come to the airport to fetch me, giggled like nervous schoolgirls when I asked them their reaction to Modi’s ‘Budhiya-Gudiya’ remarks. They looked at each other uncertainly, and answered together, “ It is okay…nothing wrong.” The driver of the car added his two bits’ worth and shook his head from side to side parroting, “ Absolutely nothing wrong…”
I was scheduled to meet the local Gudiya – Mallika Sarabhai, the next morning, and trek to some distant village to watch the Natrani in action. My minders were scornful, “ Why waste your time? Nobody else stands a chance in Gujarat. Only BJP .” I rang Mallika at around 10pm to confirm our programme for the next day. She sounded her usual, cheerful self, though a bit exhausted. The stillness of the night combined with soaring temperatures (44 degrees and climbing), accounted for the strain in her voice. “ So… how’s it going?” I asked, “ How’s Amma?” I have always adored Mallika’s incredible mother, Mrinalini, who is well into her nineties and still very much a babe. “ It’s going great! Amma has only been wearing my colours – purple, red and white, ever since I announced my candidacy,” Mallika confided with an indulgent laugh. That’s my girl. Her entire family is engaged in the “ Vote for Mallika’ effort. Her daughter Anahita handles internet marketing, her son Revanta designs the posters, mailers and graphics, while her “ very, very ex” (as she put it), Bipin bhai, former husband and current business partner, has taken over the logistics department of her colourful campaign.
Mallika tells me with a wry laugh that the village of Palodia, where we are to meet, is not all that far from the city (around 40 kms ), but has been so horribly neglected by successive governments, that the last politician to be seen alive there by village elders was Mahatma Gandhi!! This I had to see. Once my SUV hit the road to Gandhinagar, I found myself thinking, ‘Must hand it to Modi…. this is perhaps the best road I’ve ever been driven on in India.” My over-enthu driver ( a real Modi chamcha), kept singing the man’s praises and giving him credit for the stupidest signs of ‘progress’ along the route. But the minute we slid off that silken road and onto the dirt track leading to Palodia, the story changed dramatically. It was pathetic and embarrassing to see such backwardness and abject poverty – nothing but nothing had changed for those desperately poor people in 62 years. Modi is the richman’s leader – all the sethlog in Gujarat love and support him. He has made them richer and fatter. Their lives are certainly very ‘vibrant’ in Modi’s zamana.But the rural, wretchedly poor, remain where they’ve always been – in the gutter. There wasn’t a nullah in sight in Palodia, and the stench of human and animal waste overwhelmed the senses enough to make one recoil and retch. Mallika didn’t seem to be affected by the filth, as she briskly went from one hut to the next, removing her mojris before entering the homes of toothless crones sitting around listlessly in the fetid heat. A lone drummer preceded the rag tag army of volunteers working tirelessly for their candidate. Mallika spoke to the women in their dialect and made no grandiose promises. She assured them that the least she could (and would) do to improve their miserable lives was to provide a nullah and safe drinking water. They stared at her impassively…kids and young brides giggled when she pointed to her symbol ( a harmonium, appropriately enough).Mallika urged them to come out and vote on the 30th. They giggled some more. Later, I asked them if they’d heard of L.K.Advani – Mallika’s adversary. Blank. Narendra Modi? Blank again. Perhaps, this ‘gudiya’ stood a chance, after all?? They had met her in the flesh. At least she wasn’t the ghost who walks. I asked Mallika whether she really believed she could defeat the mighty man. “ Why not? My constituency extends over 90 square kms after delimitation. It is huge. There are 16 lakh registered voters. I plan to cover every inch of the territory and convince people about my ability to deliver. And to do so without bribing anybody with mangalsutras and money, as Advani’s men have done. I have declared that I spent 3 lakhs on my campaign so far. The others claimed they’d spent 50,000!!” Mallika is a feisty woman. This Gujju Guidiya is determined to put up a fierce fight, harnessing all her resources along the way. With her business management degree ( a doctorate , too) and grass roots level activism via street plays, she is nobody’s toy. Modi’s followers had dubbed her “ a whore of the Muslims’, post-Godhra, and have been baying for her blood since. The richie rich in Ahemedabad ( Modi’s loyal serfs) hate her guts and shun her socially. The outcaste status rather suits Mallika. At 54, she is an extremely attractive woman, capable of reducing grown men to mush in her formidable presence. Articulate, arrogant and argumentative, she is aware of her privileged position and is prepared to pay the price for other people’s prejudice. Taking on Advani is her biggest gamble yet. She knows that if she pulls it off ( miracle of miracles), she will be creating history. She has done her sums and is counting on the 10% swing to scrape past the man whose last ditch efforts to woo his constituency may see his long cherished dream of becoming p.m. finally come true. Political pundits see that as a given and insist Mallika will lose her deposit. But I happen to like the tale of Goliath. And I hate masks. Mallika’ s supporters don’t wear masks. This is a big plus in her favour – there is nothing to hide.Even if she does lose her deposit, I get the feeling she will go back to Palodia and give them the promised nullah. If she indeed does do that, she will have won yet another diehard fan – me! I for one will take her even more seriously… and like amma, wear red, purple and white to let her know I love her.

36 comments:

Priyadarshini Karanjai said...

where are the links?

Rajesh said...

have you toured entire Gujarat??? touring one village and dismissing Modi as a failure is laughable. Modi is infact better than all other CMs we have in India, let us accept the fact. Mallika can look only her constituency (if she wins??) but Modi has to look entire Gujarat, do not get carried away by her looks, if people voted for looks then we would have had entire bollywood sitting in Loksabha.

Jogeshwar said...

It will be very interesting to see Advani vs Sarabhai, and she seems very courageous. It is a wonderful thought, to think that she wins!
thanks a lot for the links, I don't have NDTV at home so now I can watch the show online,and please post the other links too that you mentioned in the previous post.

muthu said...

Modi is of course better than the rest of the CMs. That goes without any questions but what i appreciate about Mallika is that she is trying to take a stand against the system. The system that has made us cynics, by not ever delivering us what it promised.

Are we here voting to get the best of the bunch. Arent we a bit too short of choices. Why is that people who try something new are shunned.

I am not against Modi. Infact I appreciate a lot of developmental efforts he has put in gujarat. But what modi represents is not about him, modi represents the fact that people only mouth things but when challenged they falter and cow.


Our politics is becoming a family politics. Every single party this time is putting forth their own family members to contest. What they want is to singularize the democracy..... What would be the reason for democracy if each and every time the majority party is winning. If we are not allowing someone like an independent canditate we will never know how much worth the majority party is or how much of crap the majority party is....

We are educated or atleast we claim so... Think you guys... how do we know any government is doing good unless we have a measuring stick and how are we gonna get this measuring stick by always electing the majority party.....

And please Rajesh do not compare Modi with other PMs. The other PMs being such wastes doesnt make modi better... Modi himself is not the God or something... He is too human and he can be improved upon... Politics needs fresh blood
(and by fresh blood, i do not mean younger generation - if thats the case then varun gandhi would also be fresh blood - Is he???)

By fresh blood I mean, People who can speak for themselves, People who need not hold on to a party propoganda to get elected, People who get their kicks by throwing words around, People who believe that this country needs to improve a lot and people who would rather embrace new things rather than sticking with the "India has as rich culture and we need to save it" shit.

Our culture is represented by we people and does not require saving, (hopefully we will look after it) but what abt our country....

We need people like kamarajar in TN. When my father says how he never campaigned but got elected every time, I get goose bumps all over me.... He was so dedicated to people and neva cared abt himself that he only had 2 pairs of dhotis....

He took the government bus where ever he went and he stood in q at the ration shop.

and all this happened merely three and a half decades ago... I am flabbergasted, what went wrong in these 30 years.....

I am not asking 4 the dedication of kamarajar but at least we people can be true to his soul and provide oppurtunity one or two new guys..... just to let us know... what we are missing......


So I appreciate from the bottom of my heart the efforts of Mallika and people like her. If she is reading this, let her know there are a lot of people like me supporting her....

India damn sure needs a hell a lot of women like her.

Preeti said...

I am glad someone is working somewhere and I wud rather vote anyone against Advani .. there are many poeple who want basic amenities from govt , want politician to represent them and not some stupid race/ class/ religion issue ... we want economists / MBA's /genuine people who understand buissness of running a country not the kind of people who think india is better without english and computers and girls without western cloths ...

Shaktistambh said...

April 25, 2009

Dear Ms Shobha De,

I had liked to read your pieces in various newspapers. To an extent, though not always and in every matter, I liked also.

But I was shocked to go through your piece in your column SHOBHAA'S TAKE (Asian Age, today) headlined "Gujarati Gudiya dancing into people's hearts....". You have your right to your opinion. But when you write, saying you personally visited the people, "I asked them if they'd heard of L. K. Advani – Mallika's adversary. Blank. Narendra Modi" Blank again. Perhaps, this gudiya stood a chance, after all?"

I don't, like you, predict who of the two – Advani or Mallika – "stood a chance". But I am sure whoever will read your piece will only pity on you, on your intellect and your understanding. None will get impressed. Who are you Ms Shobhaa De kidding? None else. You are just befooling yourself by such trash.

Please think again!

Shri said...

I hope the Diva De does read the responses on her blog.
What's your problem Diva De? I know you are one of those English media journalist, who for some reason want to hide behind the burkha of so-called secularism (which I call sickularism). Granted there were these unfortunate incidents like Godhra and post-Godhra, but so were Mumbai riots and Delhi riots. How come you are conveniently forgot the other incidents? How come sentiments of minority is more important than sentiments of majority? How come you want to ignore the facts on the ground and the fact Gujrat has re-elected Modi 2 times, despite the English/Foreign media's propaganda? Please don't assume just because you have some access to media, can write a one-dimensional views on any subject or person.
Also, please stop this obsession with terms like sexy, stud, etc. Your are not writing in Bollywood magazine or on Hollywood celebrities.

Crowscious said...

I like Mallika so much. The way she talks, so clearly without mixing up issues. I hope she gets enough votes because Gujarat can REALLY use some good people like her.

fazal said...

Woow Go Malika Malika go ........vote for Breave and Couragious malika sarabhai !

Anil Kumar said...

Mallika Sarabhai intentions and goal must be very good but your column seems to be completely biased.

These kind of columns do more damage to Mallika's ambitions and image than lifting her up.

If you think Modi land has good highways then a stupid argument that it's made for rich people should be avoided. Don't compare a village's plight with the achievement of some individual/party. Give credit where it's due.

Did you see any sign on the road where it said that this highway is only for fat cats??

You can find such villages in every state and each district. If you look around the same description of nullah can be found in Mumbai itself...not far off from where you go and eat for pleasure.

Having said that, the politicians with dismal records must be hounded. Just like the bitches on NDTV and StarNews which happen to describe your innocent Spa Diva. I call them bitches not because of your time with them but the way they jump at first opportunity to show filthy details on TV every single day.

Rohit said...

You demonstrate typical indian mentality of criticizing somebody who has done a world of good to the state. I go to gujarat almost everyweek and right from auro rickshaw drivers to CEOs praise modi's work ( let alone being scared ). Your third rate article is much more scary.

Priyadarshini Karanjai said...

I really hope Mallika keeps her promises irrespective of winning... ditto for Meera. That will make them the true winners of the 'game' and give the 'undisputed netas' some well deserved emosanal attyachaar. Let the rest stay at peace in their kursis!

Sidhusaaheb said...

Narendra Modi is unrivalled. He is unmatchable. He is absolutely the best at what he does. Which other chief minister has the blood of more than 2000 innocent people on his/her hands, after all?

If I were him, the sense of guilt would probably never have let me sleep a wink, since 2002, but then, as some of preceding comments state, he is Narendra Modi.

Sorry for the digression, BTW!

If there had been a candidate like Mallika Sarabhai in the constituency that I live in, I would certainly have voted for her/him.

AJai said...

It's nice to see people such as yourself actually going to the grass-roots and being involved in the campaigning process. I don't know much about Gujarat, and even less about it's politics. But it surprises me to know there's a village just outside of Ahmedabad where the people haven't heard of Advani or Modi. I can understand people blaming it on poverty. But don't these people move around at all? It's unbelievable that in this day and age people are still so ignorant.

Fragmented Minds said...

It's good that Mallika (or anyone for that matter) are contesting against the reigning king of genocidal Hindus- and before all you Hindutva types go off on my ass, I am actually an Iyengar- even more Brahmin than you ...
However, very nice article Ms.De- for those of us , living elsewhere and curtailed by a shoddy machinery that does not recognize us as worthy of absentee ballots; your blog is one of the ways to keep in touch.
hopefully, people like Shashi Tharoor and Mallika Sarabhai can usher in some measure of decency in what is a highly self aggrandising political scenario...maybe someday,India might mature into a decent enough democracy, without religion entering the body politic.
Other than that, keep up the good work!

Bertie said...

Madame.. Before ridiculing Gujarat, have a look at the filthy states that you represent- West Bengal and Maharashtra. And, you, madame, are that filth personified.

Modi bashing, the sickular goddesses believe, is the short-cut to woo the Gandhis. A very honest question madame.. Are you doing all this just so that you get a congress ticket in the next Lok sabha/assembly election??? lol

And for God's sake stop comparing Mallika Sarabhai to Meera Sanyal.
Oh, btw, you must be knowing that Sarabhai has been charged with being involved in a human trafficking caseThe point is that people like Mallika Sarabhai, Yourself, Medha Patkar thrive on the ELM. The day you stop supporting each other, you'll be lost in oblivion. Keep yourself busy. Keep writing such crap. I, for one, sure love reading your posts.

kala said...

Argumentative and articulate . Good. But arrogance? Because she is facing another arrogant person in Modi. It will be interesting to watch 2 arrogant persons clashing.

kk said...

It was an interested reading

naval said...

she will hav to sweat a bit to fight the so called iron man ........

Vibhor said...

ok, I think comments are a little off the mark. Contest is between Advani and Mallika.. All you guys are talking about is Mr. Modi. Shobhaa just made a passing remark about Modi and you guys can't take it (wow this guy has die hard fans!). How about we compare Advani and Mallika?

Gajendra said...

The lady sure has guts. I mean which other contented life can jump into the crazy tamasha of indian politics ? She has jumped into the hell hole, hats off to her.

krish said...

hi thr

You hit the nail rite in the head........development at wht cost.....if sumone polarizes the society and thn goes about ranting about development ....does it help.

P.S i am no modi basher this is for one and all politicians.


Luv

Kris

Jagan's Universe said...

i wish i were a voter in gandhinagar.Mallika is such an inspiration.Go girl...u deserve to win.

Gaurang Raval said...

Dear Shobhaji.
Great article. I belong to a small town of Gujarat called, Savar Kundla. This place is really 'vibrant'in summer. My mother and many other ladies really make our street 'vibrant'.This has nothing to do with Mr.Modi's vibrant gujarat marketing but its becuase in the after noon all of these women go on street to get water from municpal tanker.There is no water in my town,'all gudias and budhiyas' have to dance if they travel on roads of my towns becuase the roads are so bad! Can you imagine electricity power cut in the after noon at 2pm in 44 digree tempretture? I would only say that this entire 'Development' and 'Vibrant'gujarat story is the biggest lie by any politician in India. I liked your article and request you to visit Saurastra region of Gujarat. you will find the clearest and true picture of real gujarat.In peace

Rajesh said...

Hope all Modi bashers here berating him for Godra have read about the great Teesta's goof up exposed by SIT committee...who knows how much more media goofed up post Godra...

Gaurang Raval said...

I am not a fan of Teesta but one this i strongly belive that nobody has lost his/her life due to her so called goofed up. Also there are no case of killing inocent peopel against her. Supreme caurte has not asked SIT team to invistigate against her. So now even a 5 year child will be able to decide who is cultprit!

Bertie said...

Mr Gaurang Raval..

Understand the term communalism??? What Teesta did fosters just that.
And, as you mention, this is no 'so called goof-up'. This was well orchestrated and was funded well the the Congressis and the media. If you fail to understand the simple fact, god bless you with a little IQ.

introspection said...

Greatest write up ever, shobhaa. I have just arrived in NYC, and was missing my daily blog feed. but this one's a winner. Guys, only shobhaa with her guts can write what she writes about Modi. You guys can wear bangles and lick up to him....! Shobhaa is not scared of any one. Period. Three cheers for Shobhaa.

Gaurang Raval said...

I understand the meaning of communalism very well. Also have witnessed the communal riots when many were watching Sas Bahu soaps at home. For me communal harmony is far more important thn Congress or BJP. Deviding people and nation on the basis of religion proves that Hitler is still alive!!! I am not an intellignt person but has a minimum IQ that NO ONE HAS A RIGHT TO KILL ANY ONE on the basis of RELIGION

readersdais said...

Dont know why? but your last few lines brought tears to my eyes

Dhruvit said...

I dont have to comment anything see this video and listen http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nYD3fgqcmIQ.

writer said...

go gudiya go!

purvi umesh said...

Madam

I used to have a very clear, intellectual, gorgeous emage of yours whom I've seen giving unbiased, bold opinions, but this time you beat yourself to preserve the same emage.

Before analysing anything, just go through the fact figures and study the developments of Gujarat last 5 years. Ofcourse, why you have to mention Modi on the first place while the battle is with your Gudia and Advaniji. That is selfexplanatory that Modiji is in everybody's mind whether it is Gujarat, India or World. You can not just ignore him.

You'll see the results soon. I can even foresee him to be PM of India. Days are not far madam. We Gujaratis are proud to have him as our CM.

Gaurang Raval said...

i am from gujarat. development has happend only to rich people. ppl who used to earn in lakhs are now earning in corers and ppl who used to earn in thousands are earning in hundreds. before inviting anyone to see the development of gujarat, one has to visit kutch and saurashtra and see if ppl are getting water and electricity or not.Modiji has done development only to higher class.poor people are still poor.so lets not invite shobhaaji to see UNEQUAL development

Shaktistambh said...

Has your karva sacch not proved meetha jhooth? Kindly do think before you write.

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