Despite recent wins, hypocrisy will rob ‘liberals’ of a big victory over Modi

·3-min read

This is the golden hour of the so-called 'liberal-secular' establishment in India.

Narendra Modi's government is losing the perception battle in the war against the COVID-19 second wave, despite doing quite well in the first wave. Mamata Banerjee's TMC has whipped his party, the BJP, in the Bengal state elections and put in motion brutal, violence against her opponents, cocking a snook at the prime minister and home minister Amit Shah's formidable influence.

Even Hemant Soren, the chief minister of Jharkhand, has mocked a private conversation on controlling COVID-19 with the prime minister in a late-night tweet. Something unthinkable even a couple of years ago.

But in spite of all this, it is unlikely that the self-proclaimed liberal establishment will come back to power at the Centre in the next elections. In fact, it may even lose more political ground. The only reason is its enduring hypocrisy and refusal to let go of it.

The 'liberal' ecosystem, for instance, shouts from rooftops about "fascism" and breach of freedom of expression by the ruling Hindutva proponents. But how does it respond to an advertisement making fun of Congress' president-forever-in-waiting Rahul Gandhi?

Comedian Sanket Bhosale and actor Sugandha Mishra had acted in an ad which made fun of Congress' first family Sonia and Rahul Gandhi. The two, who got married in a private ceremony in Punjab, have been booked by the Congress-led Punjab government for allegedly violating COVID-19 norms.

They were booked on the charge of allegedly breaching the Punjab government's COVID-19 restrictions during their wedding event on 26 April. The state authorities have also booked the manager of the venue, the Club Cabana Resort.

It is difficult to believe that this was not retaliatory. Earlier, popular anchor and owner of Republic TV Arnab Goswami was hounded and even sent to jail by the Maharashtra government, of which Congress is a part. While the facile official reason was TRP manipulation (although Republic TV has not yet been named as an accused) and a suicide of a vendor, it is well-known that Goswami openly took on Sonia over the lack of action on the killing of sadhus in Palghar.

The 'liberal' establishment recently displayed brazen hypocrisy over the post-election killings, arson, and alleged molestation of BJP and Left activists in Bengal by goons as reprisal for working against the TMC. 'Liberal' champions like Shashi Tharoor and Pritish Nandy cheered Mamata Banerjee's victory as the victory of "Bengal's culture", "inclusiveness" and the "idea of India". All this while, the TMC's opponents were hunted down, their houses set on fire, women dragged out and assaulted, and men murdered with the assuredness of the perpatrators getting away with it.

This crass, opportunistic and violent hypocrisy is most likely to stop the 'liberals' from returning to power even when Modi fumbles. Hypocrisy cannot be hidden by even its masters for long, and does not invoke public trust.

It won't hurt the 'liberal' order to criticise its own for their egregious mistakes. Trying to cover them up, however, will snatch defeat where victory is eminently in sight.

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