Vikas gone crazy: Modi's development plank is coming back to bite BJP in Gujarat
The Bharatiya Janata party (BJP) never expected this in Gujarat: 'Vikas' (development)– the plank that helped Narendra Modi transition from chief minister to India's prime minister – is now sending shivers down the party's spine in his home state.
Now the masses have personified 'Vikas' and using 'him' to hit out at the Modi government on every possible medium. Vikas now symbolises the frustration of those who feel let down by the BJP in general and by Modi in particular.
The phrase 'Vikas gando thai gayo chhe (Vikas has gone berserk)' is reverberating at every nook and corner of the state and there is no way the BJP can control this. The phenomenon was felt in a big way during Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's visit to Gandhinagar and Ahmedabad in Modi's company.
It is for the first time that the people were annoyed with the grand decorations and lighting-up of prominent landmarks in these two cities. Throughout Abe's visit to Gujarat, the people kept on circulating pictures of well-lit landmarks like the Nehru Bridge, Ellis Bridge and Sabarmati Riverfront, which is Modi's dream project, with the caption – 'Diwali of Vikas' father (Modi)'.
Some of these pictures carried the question – 'Kona baap ni Diwali? (Whose father's Diwali is this?)' and the answer below was 'Vikas na Pappa ni (Vikas' father's)'. These pictures had an insert of Modi with the caption Vikas gando thai gayo chhe.
Bullet train? No thanks!
While the Vijay Rupani-led government in Gujarat and the officials of the Modi-led Central government tried to play up the launch of the Bullet train project between Ahmedabad and Mumbai, the agitated people were in no mood to relent and came up with new humorous and sarcastic takes on it.
The first one hit out at the prohibition policy in Gujarat with a message that went – 'Amdavadis can now hop on to the Bullet Train, enjoy the drinks in Happy Hours in Mumbai and return back home by the same train. There is no need to go all the way to Rattanpur (a town on Rajasthan side of the border with Gujarat that has become infamous for Gujaratis going there to binge on alcohol).'
The second one said – 'We do not go in for even new vehicles during Shraddha period and here the foundation is being laid for the Bullet Train. Hope this train will run?'.
People made jibes at a channel running the headline 'Bullet yug ki shuruat (Beginning of Bullet era)' by posting a counter on Modi's tenure that was marked by anti-Muslim pogrom and the subsequent phase of 'fake' encounters that said – 'As if it (the bullet era) started 16 years back in Gujarat'.
There was another message referring to Railways Minister Piyush Goyal saying that the Bullet Train in Japan and he were born on the same date. The question posed was whether India is seeing the advent of yet another 'Iron Man'.
Another quoted the Maharashtra chief minister saying that the Bullet Train would lead to an increase in the country's GDP. This was taken down with the comment – 'Perhaps he has not seen the latest GDP figures'.
Then Rupani was quoted as saying that Modi perplexes everyone with new concepts every day. The qualifying comment was – 'Every Indian is under this impact since 2014'.
A new anthem
Vikas gando thai gayo chhe has become an anthem of sorts. The BJP and other affiliates of the Sangh Parivar will soon have to counter this, lest it continues to damage their narrative.
“This phrase has come from the masses. No one can stake claim to coining it. It has just gone viral and the Congress party is trying to usurp it for its poll campaign. But it is hitting the BJP very hard with people recalling Modi's quotes centered on 'Vikas'. The same Vikas is now haunting the BJP in Sangh Parivar's laboratory of Gujarat,” pointed out a young professional in the field of audio visual arts who is also a keen political observer.
With Navratri round the corner, Garba songs have started coming out in the market with lyrics like 'Vikas gando thayo chhe'. The video of this song also has a morphed visual of Rupani saying the words.
There are references in the songs, saying that Vikas has become an integral part of inflation, fuel price hike, poverty, public loot in the name of Goods and Services Tax and demonetisation etc.
It needs to be recalled that Modi had used Navratri as a platform right from 2003 onwards to give a makeover to his image of a hardline Hindu leader. He had turned Navratri into a gala event by holding a mega function at the Kankaria football ground and the road encircling the Kankaria lake in Ahmedabad.
Now it is the Vikas videos that are hitting at him and several of them are expected to come up by the time the Navratri revelry hits its peak. And they will in all probability keep on playing in local autos and shops right till the State Assembly polls.
From songs to audio messages
There is also an audio message from an Ahmedabad resident that has gone viral where the speaker has taken on Modi for the poor management of the Indian railway network. He says:
“Earlier people used to send the message that they have reached their destination. Now they say that they have reached ALIVE. Abe agreeing to put in money for this Bullet Train despite Modi's poor track record only shows that Amdavadis are shrewd businessmen who can take anyone for a ride.”
He then goes on to load his message with high-pitch sarcasm adding –
“Modi has been trying to run the Bullet Train named Vikas for the last three years but blame it on his inexperience he has put it in the reverse gear.
"Bhakts are happy that the train is running but are not aware that it is running in the reverse direction. Hence the GDP is going in the reverse direction, the rupee is on the reverse against the dollar, business and employment are also in reverse and so has been the impact of demonetisation.
"The economists have been shrieking at him to apply the brakes. But since he is running this train for the first time, every time he tries to apply the brakes he steps on the accelerator.
"The request (to Abe) is that there is no problem if you give a Bullet Train but please explain the functioning of gears and brakes because you will go back with a fruitful business deal and Modi's Vikas will derail at the speed of the Bullet Train.”
Vikas jokes are doing the rounds among every section of the society. The most prominent one is about Zilla Vikas Adhikari (District Development Officers), Naib Vikas Adhikari (Deputy Development Officers) and Taluka Vikas Adhikari (Block Development Officers) asking the government to remove Vikas from their designation because people are tempted to suffix 'Gando thai gayo' (Has gone mad) with it.
There is another message that comes as a question – “Why did nine girls break their engagements in the last one week?”
The answer is – “Because the name of the boy was Vikas.”