The Mumbai farce: Was I wrong about it?

Mumbai that was beating its breasts over the 26/11 attacks after which high society decided to make the leaders answerable - never mind that some became ‘leaders’ by default (or was it design?) - and was expected to turn out in droves to vote did not do so.

I am not into the ‘I told you so’ business, but the few who felt it necessary to question me, will need to look again at my stand. There are no winners here, except the politicians, any which way you look at it.

This was my first sentence:

If you believe for a moment that the residents of Mumbai are angry about the recent terror attacks, then they have succeeded in fooling you. There is no anger; there is irritation. Their daily routines have been mucked up….

They may cry themselves hoarse at peace marches, they may cry themselves hoarse on panel discussions, they may cry themselves hoarse in petitions that sound like school essays, but their sensitivity is like froth on lager; it will settle down after a few sips.

While film stars and corporate honchos did their walk to the booth, mainly because they had become the visible faces of an advertising campaign, the figures of the city’s voting speak for themselves:

1.59 crore registered voters; less than 70 lakh cast their ballot. That is 43.5%.

Bhiwandi - communally sensitive area - 38.5%
Parts of Mumbai South: Colaba- area closest to the Taj Mahal Hotel - 39%; Cuffe Parade's G D Somani School - whose voter list included some of those who blew hot and cold - 37%

Updated on May 2 for final figures:

Total for Mumbai - 41.28%
Mumbai South - 40.31%
Bhiwandi - 39.39%

Contrast this with the report that states:

Gadchiroli district, where the Naxalites had threatened to chop off fingers if a villager exercised his franchise, recorded 65%

- - -

Will journalists and TV anchors please stop this cutesy act of referring to people with too much familiarity? In this case it became 'Tony' to show just how well they know first-time candidate Mahesh Jethmalani, resident of South Mumbai, contesting from Mumbai North Central.

Last night, commenting on the dismal turnout, he mentioned that even Muslim-dominated areas did not come out to vote. Do you know what his explanation was? “It means that Muslims too are concerned about terrorism.”

What rubbish is this? What does “too” mean? They get killed as well, by professional militant groups and by the terrorising establishment. Only because he has joined the BJP, and mind you his reason was the same “26/11”, he does not need to get all patronising. He even reasons that it shows they did not want to vote for the Congress or any other party, not just the BJP.

Will he go to his society buddies and check whether they voted? And there are turncoats among them who happily started the cry of ‘Enough is enough’ and are now giving the practical perspective about how there is no movement and it is all hollow. If they have been a part of it, then how ‘unhollow’ are they?

Sau billi kha ke ab chhoohein moonh se malai poch kar patli galee se nikal padey (after eating a hundred cats, the rats wiped off the cream from their mouths and made a quick exit).

- - -

Another point I had made at the time was:

No one was talking about the 58 people who died at the local train station or the 10 others who died at the hospital or the taxi driver whose vehicle was burnt and so was he. Or even the cops who took the bullets.

Well, the Citizens for Justice and Peace foundation (CJP) got involved in the fashion week held a while ago for an honourable purpose:

The clothes were later put up for auction on eBay and the proceeds were to go to the Citizens for Justice and Peace foundation (CJP). The theory was that since a majority of the victims of the 26/11 terror attacks on CST died because of lack of ambulances, CJP would use the auction proceeds to buy ambulances that would ply near CST, Churchgate and Dadar. But so far, they have money for only one or two ambulances, according to Teesta Setalvad, secretary of CJP.

So, what happened?

One of the most coveted invites of the last fashion week was to the Naomi Campbell-Vikram Chatwal show, Mai Mumbai. And now it seems like Naomi flew down for nothing; to say nothing of the fruitlessness of getting 38 international designers to donate their outfits. Only eight outfits have been sold, even though the event was promoted in USA, France, Germany, Singapore, Malaysia and the Philippines.

Why? Where are all those rich moneybags who don’t even think of manners when they trample on people to get a close- to-the-ramp seat? Who whistle and clap like front benchers watching a kitschy film? Who would otherwise talk of “outfits to die for”? Wasn’t this a cause that mattered so much that they had stood outside the Gateway of India holding candles?

Yet, Ms. Setalvad bravely says:

“I think what is more important is the attention the event has garnered for our project. It was because of this event that we managed three private donors who have offered us Rs 5 lakh each. Let’s not forget there is recession and there are elections in the country for which parties have dried up lot many pools.”

Yes, of course. There is no recession when they fly in their private helicopters? There is no recession for the poor? Rs 5 lakh is like small change for many of them; they would be happy to get rid of it in cash or just get the tax free certificate.

I do stand by my views…and let me end with what I had written, because sometimes, at least sometimes, my truth isn’t too far from what you see:

Today, the people who would run down the elite are speaking up for them; they are all into rubbing shoulders and back-scratching. It is a limited edition utopia: our elite vs. their elite.

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