It’s not every day that I feel like a member of the unwashed masses — except on weekends perhaps, when I’m simply too lazy to conduct my admittedly simple spousal duty of a wash-up. But while many of my socio-technological clan followed with great excitation and knowledge the clash between #Pappu and #Feku — dishonourifics given to Rahul Gandhi speaking before a Confederation of Indian Industries (CII) crowd last week and to Narendra Modi speaking before a Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) delegation of women entrepreneurs earlier this week — I remained clueless of this Battle of Evermore on Twitter for a while.
I received a text message on late Monday evening about how the Rahul brigade had “won”, the message coming from a devout supporter of a devout supporter of Rahul (Amaresh Mishra, a loyal‘n’loud foot-soldier of Digvijaya Singh). Not being on Twitter — as a Facebook and print media junkie, Twitter’s a bit too sound-bitey for me — I had no idea what the message meant by #Feku and #Pappu.
I would imagine, much of India – even those armed with mobile phones – were unaware of this great Deva-Asura balls-up. But then, I’m wrong about many things and this may be just one of them. Then, on Tuesday afternoon, when I got a call asking me whether I could be part of a television panel to discuss a tsunami of support for Arvind Kejriwal on Twitter that “could make him Time magazine’s Person of the Year”, I decided to check the internet specifically for Twitter politics news. Yes, I googled.
And it was on the Indian Express website that I found the news: “Congress sympathisers finally managed to assert themselves in the social media space on Monday and came up with an impressive performance… They ensured that #Feku…was one of the top-trending topics on the (sic) Twitter, just as #PappuCII had been…last week”. Hurrah, said the anti-NarendraModi in me. So, Modi supporters had finally met their match and like those worshippers of Nemo in the Matrix movies, Rahul’s evangelists had struck a blow against the loud Nehruvian program 3.0-destroying viruses in the heart of Cyberabad. Who in turn may have succeeded in sending a message to patriotic editors of news TV channels and print publications and thereby made unwashed India register the news via “unsocial media”.
Does this battle on a terrain a little more visible than that in Siachen matter? In the herd mentality that marks and forms tastes and opinions in this country — where the unverifiable blurb on a book stating that it’s already sold a million copies leads a million idiots to actually buy the book and thereby make the prophecy come true — a result in a school debate if magnified and amplified across media platforms can end up becoming “national opinion”. Except school debates, like those sms and online polls on TV and newspapers, don’t manage to step out of their tight, insular circle of cackle.
But if #Pappu vs #Feku has managed to kick-start something in my head, it is the thought of other personalities taking a crack at speaking at CII or FICCI. Some worthies actually took it upon themselves to write well-meaning articles that went on to describe what they would have said if they had a similar opportunity to speak before a similar platform. The Times of India actually went ahead and published what IAS officer Srivatsa Krishna, in all seriousness, would have wanted Rahul Baba to have said at CII, little realising that we don’t care what Krishna wanted Rahul to have said, but are interested in what Rahul did or did not say (which Devanghsu Datta did quite succinctly in his Business Standard column (http://m.business-standard.com/wapnew/storypage1.php?id=3&autono=113040500558).
Which, of course, means me trying to get known adversaries who could be speaking at CII and FICCI days after each other in the news in the hope that both #Pappu and #Feku agit-prop artists join forces to start an agitation with a memorable Twitter handle (#Hijra perhaps?) against self-righteous me.
Rahul at FICCI: I lost my grandmother. I played badminton with her bodyguards. Boss, I know the energy of India’s billion women. Um, half a billion women.
Modi at CII: India is not a beehive. It is our motherland. It isn’t dynastic. It is a parent without children you can will property and assets to. Like me, me, ME!
ShashiTharoor at CII: The idea of India is like the United Nations. United. And a nation. Except that it is far more understanding of talent travelling cattle-class.
Digvijaya Singh at FICCI: The husband-wife model doesn’t work. Only the woman of the household can run the family. Or just the man if he isn’t married. By that I don’t mean being married and keeping it an awful secret.
Mani Shankar Aiyar at FICCI: I don’t know how anyone can argue with those fascist jokers! Indira Gandhi was a woman who understood panchayati raj. I have no doubt that Sonia-ji also does. [Some difficult Sanskrit line from the Mahabharata before leaving the stage in disgust.]
Swapan Dasgupta at CII: There seems to be a deliberate attempt to malign any position that doesn’t suit their rather waffly, airy-fairy line of thinking. One has to remember that anti-Congressism has its place in Indian politics and policy-making. As Lord Minto, speaking about his years in Canada, said…
Dhoni in CII: I mean, we have to keep a positive outlook. There will be bad days, but we have the capability to bounce back. That is if the wickets are not made badly. The boys need to pick up their socks. And wickets.
Sachin in FICCI: I think it’s important to know when one is past delivering what is expected of him. Women know that biologically. My wife’s a doctor, you see. But has that time come yet? Heeheehee.
Shah Rukh in CII: We’re first Indian. Then entertainers. Then Indians who play our roles to provide entertainment. Then Indians again. I have no qualms about saying that I’m an entertaining Indian. Are you?
Salman in FICCI: Don’t need to tweet your fears, babe. Have already tweeted how to go through your fears. Tell me what makes you happy? Bolna…
Media at FICCI: Women need empowerment in India. As cases from the Delhi rape last year to those in countless parts of India where women languish and are thwarted from expressing their full potential point out, avenues must be made to give women a louder voice.
Newslaundry at CII: You people are serious? You want to listen to me tell you what you want to hear? Aw, shut up and go home!
Now tweet this and turn this dribble into a talking point.