An outsider in a private club

Had Rahul Gandhi made the speech Narendra Modi did last week, he would have been hailed as India's shining white hope. Had Prime Minister Manmohan Singh made this speech from the Red Fort, instead of the dreary one he did, it may have swept away the sense of gloom and doom that permeates the economy. Had any other chief minister made the speech, us political pundit types would have sat up and taken notice. But, since it was Modi, he had to be reviled. What he said was unexceptionable. So he had to be attacked on other grounds. Why did he need to steal the Prime Minister's show by making this speech on Independence Day? The truth is that August 15 lost its magic long ago and has been reduced to ceremonial tokenism of the worst kind. We need political leaders to make meaningful speeches on this day, but that this idea should have occurred to Modi is intolerable.

So much so that even his former mentor, the tireless Shri Lal Krishna Advani, made an immediate veiled attack on him by saying that Independence Day should be an occasion when political leaders should refrain from criticising each other. Why? Shri Advani then trotted off to Rashtrapati Bhavan and was seen cozying up to Sonia Gandhi at the President's Independence Day tea party. I found this particular detail interesting because of my conviction that the reason why us denizens of Lutyens's Delhi hate Modi so much is because he is a rank outsider. He comes from the wrong class and caste. He speaks little English. He dares to criticise the Dynasty we revere. And he exhibits a marked disdain for socialism and secularism. These two ideas are sacrosanct for those who have privileged access to that most exclusive of Indian private clubs: Lutyens's Delhi.

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