April 23, 2014

Your vote tomorrow

A note I sent out to my friends in Bombay today, April 23 2014.


Dear friend and fellow-citizen of this vast fascinating maddening incredible city:

Tomorrow is the day we'll all vote. May I count on our years of friendship to be bold enough to say a few things about that?

1. First and above all, please vote.

2. You probably know my thoughts on this, but nevertheless: Yes, I hope you will not vote for a candidate whose victory will help Narendra Modi become our Prime Minister. At this late stage, I'm not going to burden you with reading material. Instead, just three points:

- 2a. This is a man who, in 2007, appointed a murderer (Maya Kodnani) as his Minister for Women's Development and Child Welfare. I realize Modi is speaking an inclusive, near-faultless language these days. But he's aiming for the nation's highest elected office: he knows better than us all the need to come across as inclusive, thus to speak this language. Therefore I judge him not on today's rhetoric, but on his record. Among much else in that record is his Kodnani appointment. There is no explanation for this that makes Modi look good.

- 2b. I realize we all see what we want to see in Gujarat. But that alone should tell us that the story of a state far better than every other in every respect has holes in it.

- 2c. What worries me most about a Modi government is not Modi himself, but the loose cannons his ascent will give legitimacy and voice to. We've already seen examples like Giriraj Singh, Praveen Togadia and Ramdas Kadam. When a major politician announces that (for example) those who oppose him must be sent to Pakistan -- well, that kind of attitude simply worries me.

3. Finally, I also realize that I may have stepped on a few toes with this mail. Still, I trust that whatever our different views of politics, we can and will remain friends. That's also my faith in democracy, that we have different views that we are unafraid to express. This country has seen too much that divides us. I believe you will go to vote with the same hopes for a better tomorrow as I do. If you finally choose a different route to that better place than I do, that's your prerogative and mine. But if we let that choice itself interfere in our relationships, we let the divides win. I don't plan to let that happen.

All good wishes tomorrow.

Your friend,

(Comments intentionally disabled until after the vote).

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