The Social Media age has made the upcoming Indian general election – the largest exercise in democracy in history – perhaps the most inclusive yet, with everyone from politicians, celebrities and everyone’s grandmother wading in to discuss the merits of the plethora of candidates.
Quite apart from Twitter and Facebook, many have taken up the “Open Letter”, getting ruminations published in everything from national newspapers to obscure blog posts.
This in turn has led to a heightened interest in the opinions of even the most marginally well known.
But whilst many open letters are just ramblings of those looking to migrate from the periphery to the centre, some have been articulate, perceptive and – in a few instances – quite funny.
One of the funniest recently has been an open letter from actor and comedian Vir Das: the Harvard educated stand up and star of ‘Delhi Belly’ who is often described as the “funniest kid in India”.
Das – who also writes a slew of funny columns for a number of Indian publications – penned his open letter for the Times of India and took digs at all the major candidates for Indian Prime Minister as well as his brethren in Bollywood.
Here are his musings:
It’s all so bhakt up!
Dear people who read these open type things, I’m officially sick and tired of living in a country where we are all essentially afraid to say what we really feel. Where any political expression, outrage, criticism or feedback (on social media and now in social situations) is construed as blanket support for opposing factions resulting in hatred, stupidity and an unhealthy division of people who should be unified. So today I’m just going to say it. I don’t support Modi, I don’t support the BJP, I don’t support AAP, I don’t support the Congress and yes, I am a patriotic Indian who believes in democracy and the voting process. So before I am once again accused of political allegiance, I’m writing an open letter….to all of them.
Dear Rahul Gandhi,
I wish you weren’t gunning for a position that you are clearly not ready for. I wish your party didn’t have a track record of corruption and theft that is so staggering that even you rather conveniently distance yourself from them whenever the time is right. I wish you didn’t play the youth card without understanding youth issues. And I wish you would stop going on TV shows that you are completely and unquestionably unprepared for… Comedy Nights With Kapil included.
Dear Arvind Kejriwal,
I wish you would stop playing the victim and start playing a leader. I wish your patriotism extended far enough for you to respect a seat of government and a leap of faith that many people worked very hard to give you. I wish you would have the courage to recognize the immaturity and the rotten apples in your midst and weed them out. I wish your party dealt in vision and ideas, and not mostly in other people’s dirty laundry. I also wish you multiple Strepsils.
Dear Narendra Modi,
I wish you didn’t scare the hell out of me, I wish your followers didn’t scare me more. I wish you would realize that if you want to be my PM, I fully expect you to prove yourself as a human being, and that’s ok, that’s democracy. I wish you would answer questions, a simple quality that makes the most powerful leader even more powerful. I wish you would understand that a difference of opinion is not sedition. I also wish you would stop saying things in your speeches that don’t become a leader. I also wish you better microphones at your rallies… too much yelling.
There! All three of them! Seem fair? Oh wait, I’ve got three more letters:
Dear Celebrities who are Endorsing Political Parties, I wish you would recognize that if you are an official party representative, that means that you have to improve your behaviour and your language. Not because I expect you to become something else, but as a sign of respect for the volume of people you affect (probably the only reason you’ve been let in) and the democratic process you now endorse. And unofficial supporters, I also wish you wouldn’t lose perspective so fast, I wish you would keep your support conditional upon common sense.
Dear People Reading This / Trolls / Bhakts / Intellectuals / Who have handles with #(insertleadername)ROX in them.
I wish we were all mature enough to see that irrespective of who you support, there are realities about our leadership that can be recognized, and should be questioned. I wish you could see that you getting behind a candidate does not suddenly make that candidate infallible. I wish you knew that spewing hatred and abuse towards people who support opposing candidates or parties only makes your candidate seem weaker and your whole ideology seem false. I also really really wish you would use better grammar and spelling while abusing me. And..
You just wrote the preachiest letter ever… about people being preachy. Irony just kicked you in the nuts. I wish you knew who to vote for this year.