Pakistani generals who are otherwise not shown in good light by the politicians of the country must be secretly enjoying the importance given to them by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. It is the first time in recent memory that PM of India has openly stated that Pakistan is trying to influence the elections in India. The occasion was that of a ‘private party’ in which the guest, former Foreign Minister of Pakistan Khurshid Kasuri met with some top dignitaries from India. The news of this meeting has gone viral, with the PM hinting at a conspiracy. The word ‘Pakistan’ did come up previously in other election but not with the same intensity, and in this manner. Gujarat is forcing a change of benchmarks. The state elections have opened the can of name-calling. The sheaths are off the swords and tongues are afire all around. In this scenario, the conspiratorial air has wrapped the private party of Khurshid Kasuri. The question being asked is why top figures of Congress met with Kasuri. Even if the participants of that party swear that Gujarat did not come up in the party, let alone decide who should be the next Chief Minister, the atmosphere is so polarised that belief is based on perception and not on reality. Mr Kasuri, as an ex-Foreign Minister and a well-known author and diplomat, is not supposed to meet a three-wheeler drivers in old Delhi or the fruit-vendors of Sabzi Mandi to discuss the rates of travel and vegetables. If the current regime is so touchy about his meetings in India, at a time when he is also promoting a book of his own, it was better to prevent him from coming into the country. Since he came inside India under the gaze of Modi, more than Manmohan, it is Modi who should be asked questions, unless of course he thought that there is a line of auto-drivers waiting to meet him. The response from the former PM is what the critics term as ‘hard’, but it reveals the level of prejudice towards Pakistan in India. When the current and the former PM invoke Pakistan to settle scores, what comes out is the normalisation of hate and prejudice against Pakistan in India. Both mark their purity by their distance from the neighbouring country. Both use harsh language to show the depth of their disgust with that country to come out clean on each other’s allegations. All this is the result of desperation produced by the urge to win an election. To win an election, the extent to which one can go is unlimited. Because with the win from a prestigious election arrives the power to bend the levers of powers and write the fate of millions and cast the country in its favourite ideological colour. The opposition in mimicking the behaviour of the ruling regime, and it not confined only to the invocation of Pakistan. The word ‘secular’ has become so accursed that Rahul Gandhi is putting an extra effort to appear more like a proper Hindu than a secular person The new President of the Congress is running from one temple to another in Gujarat with the hope of washing off the image of being ‘anti’ or ‘non-Hindu’ if not anti-Hindu. The word ‘secular’ has become so accursed that Rahul Gandhi is putting an extra effort to appear more like a proper Hindu than a secular person. To appear more Hindu than the PM, Rahul Gandhi’s ‘tilak’ looks like a permanent birth mark. A principled stand on secularism is off the page and the opposition is trying to act ‘more’ than what the ruling regime does. With his passion to be a ‘Hindu’ growing it shouldn’t be a surprise if Modi reduces the number of visits to temples and invokes another pet animal of Pakistan. The former PM in his response has not disappointed by charging with an extra bit of effort at the neighbouring country. But all is not over. Even if Mani Shankar Aiyar has been suspended from the primary membership of the Party, there is reason to listen to him. In him and his ilk, there is a ray of hope. He represents the rebellion to the surrender inflicted on the grand old party of India. His statements may not be politically correct, but his position resonates with the deeper impulses of his party, which will probably revive once the flash of Modi is off the landscape. His ‘chai’ and ‘neech’ remarks, especially the former and not the latter which was conveniently interpreted by Modi, are in poor taste but they reflect the essential disgust with the politics of polarisation made normal by the BJP. He was also part of the private party, mainly perhaps because both Kasuri and Aiyar are friends and have been proponents of dialogue to resolve differences between the two countries. Whether Aiyar along with others was trying to influence the results of Gujarat elections is a moot point but what is certain is that he believes in an ‘uninterrupted and uninterruptible’ dialogue with Pakistan. In Pakistan, the rumour is that the elections are influenced by the ‘third umpire,’ a reference to the establishment which includes army and intelligence agencies. By saying that Pakistan is trying to influence elections, the weight and influence of Pakistan’s establishment has been elevated and doubts cast on the cardinal component of democracy in India. Pakistan seems to be more shrewd, witty and cunningly intelligent and India as a naïve malleable entity. Can anyone have the courage to ask why Modi visits temples if he feels Pakistanis will make Ahmed Patel the Chief Minister of Gujarat? Will not the Gods favour him? Or is he afraid that the Gods may also have been under influence of the ‘rogues’ across the border? The writer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org Published in Daily Times, December 15th 2017.