Gorakhpur tragedy: When you say nothing at all, Prime Minister Modi

A satire in an hour of tragedy.

 |  5-minute read |   14-08-2017
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Mr Prime Minister, please do not hide your grief, let it come out; we realise you need quiet and solitude: Ms Smriti Irani tells us you are in a state of disbelief - some kind of an emotional shutdown, which may make it appear as if you're not affected at all...

She tells me you will overcome your numbness in time for the Independence Day speech from the ramparts of Red Fort. Yes, we saw your tweet asking us for input - that is very gracious of you - but we are all rather busy right now, attending the last rites and writing epitaphs on tombstones...

Or, maybe, your silence is not understood? You are just livid with yourself, outraged like the rest of us; correct me if I am wrong, but you had almost handpicked that IIT-BHU whiz kid Manoj Sinha for the CM's post. And then you were blindsided by saffron... sure, I understand, you had to accommodate your political nanny - the RSS - and keep your part of the Faustian bargain.

But, maybe, if you had tried hard to look for one, you would have found a person with some intellectual virtue even within the saffron brotherhood - someone who can uphold the dignity of the august office of CM as well as be the custodian of the BJP's political heirlooms beyond 2022.

Maybe, Mr Prime Minister, you need to hold Mr Naidu's hand and have a good cry - these things always help. I, too, did not know how to handle such situations since I don't have children of my own.

But, instinctively, when I gently touched the cheek of this woman who had lost her newborn, she broke down in a torrent and I cradled her in my arms as if she were my baby. But I did not shed a tear: I am like you, the strong, silent type!

Some uncharitable fellow citizens have said you are blissfully ignorant; others have opined that you are sitting on the fence. Honestly, I don't agree with your detractors.

It is your privilege as the head of the government to sit on a fence and be a bystander in a national tragedy, if you so desire.

But how could the hospital administration and the parents of the deceased be so insensitive to your suffering? More so, when they know you have put all your eggs in chief minister Adityanath's basket - eggs that will hatch in 2019.

yogia1_081417080111.jpgMaybe, if you had tried hard to look, you would have found a person with some intellectual virtue even within the saffron brotherhood. Photo: PTI

The hospital was clearly careless and the parents callous in not taking care of their environs, inflicting such a horrendous tragedy on you.

As well-meaning citizens we can only prod you - no, I did not say poke, Mr Prime Minister - How dare I?

Anyhow, semantics apart, in case you are indeed in the dark and missed out on the wailing parents due to your punishing schedule, let me put you abreast...

No, no, no, this Mr Prime Minister is not about the raging Portugal forest fires as has been suggested in the social media; those are being doused, we appreciate your sensitivities about the weather conditions in southern Europe.

No, sir! It is not about the elephant calf that was found abandoned in Kenya - it is doing well in an orphanage; and, yes, we saw your tweet on the HP mishap - 45 dead - that was very prompt, sir. And that has been duly acknowledged in the social media.

Mr Prime Minister, I think we are all barking up the wrong tree; it seems in your excitement about the impending visit of Ivanka Trump this fall, perhaps you missed out on the news that 61 children were choked to death in a Gorakhpur hospital because they did not get the oxygen that would have kept their hearts ticking. Possibly, smothered to death by red tape as anxious parents sat on their bedside, prayers on their lips.

No, we understand that the PMO is very fastidious and we all have to wait for the facts to emerge - possibly in a couple of months. But, Mr Prime Minister, even if you don't have all the facts, all you need to do is look the nation in the eye and put out a tweet, the kind of endearing one-liners you keep dishing out to your global chums.

child_081417080800.jpgI assure you, Mr PM, it does not take a robust chest to comfort a wailing parent.

Remember, this is all about saying the right thing to your countrymen; you need not worry about acknowledging what is right and what is wrong - leave that to the experts in the TV studio.

Am I heckling you? No, no, Mr Prime Minister, we were merely wondering why you were maintaining a strategic silence: such misgivings are bound to arise when an otherwise eloquent prime minister tends to get constipated on matters of national gravitas. Remember how you lost control of your vocal cords for a year or so while the lynchings were on?

Sometimes silence can be disturbing for moral and ethical reasons, too. These hapless parents are crying out in anguish, feeling frustrated and vulnerable in a people's democracy. Yet you allow an over emphasis on cow worship, the compelling need to liberate a community from its culinary habits and the obsession with a “national song” to distract you from issues of actual governance.

We have seen you huffing and puffing about the need to fix Pakistan; you have often invoked the 56 inch metaphor to spook them into submission; but I assure you it does not take a robust chest to comfort a wailing parent. Just gently put your arms around them, let them sob on your shoulders; now is your opportunity to hug your own people.

I wish we too could take refuge in silence; then we too could have joined you, Mr Prime Minister, on the fence. 

(This is a satire, partially based on the online sentiment; no offence intended.)

Also read: Why Adityanath refuses to face facts and own up to Gorakhpur hospital deaths

Writer

SS Dhawan SS Dhawan

The writer is the former editor of FPJ.

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