Shorts, Ashoka, cows and travel broke the BJP’s back | columns | Hindustan Times
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Shorts, Ashoka, cows and travel broke the BJP’s back

The BJP’s attempt to showpiece Ashoka did not work… those whose ancestors died in the kalinga war voted against the bjp: Historian

columns Updated: Nov 15, 2015 02:30 IST
Manas Chakravarty
File photo of a BJP campaign bus, in Bihar.
File photo of a BJP campaign bus, in Bihar. (Mujeeb Faruqui/HT Photo)

I had the honour of moderating an in-depth discussion on the Bihar election results. Here’s a transcript of that insightful meeting:

Political scientist: I blame the RSS.

Me: You think Mohan Bhagwat’s remark about reservations hurt the BJP?

Political scientist: I was talking about their shorts.

Me: Eh?

Political scientist: Remember that meeting they had in Nagpur where Messrs Bhagwat, Fadnavis and Gadkari all wore really short shorts? I told you then it would affect Bihar voters.

Fashionista: The sight of those thunder thighs was too much. And Mr Bhagwat’s shorts were flared at the bottom — a kind of very short divided skirt. Many voters took several days to recover from the ordeal. Nobody should be exposed to such a ghastly spectacle.

Me: They’re thinking of changing them to trousers.

Mafia don: It isn’t just the chaddis that’s the problem with the RSS, you know.

Me: You dislike their ideology?

Mafia don: They can think whatever they like. I have a problem with their lathis. Which aspirational young chap wants to be seen with a lathi? AK-56 would be ideal, but at least use a nice country-made gun, like this one I have here.

Me: Are they legal?

Mafia don: All right, give them nunchaks. Or even khukris.

Student: The BJP leaders kept on talking about chemistry, a subject I hated at school. They lost the chemistry-haters’ vote, while Nitish won the arithmetic lovers’ one.

Historian: Lots of people also voted against Emperor Ashoka.

Me: A bit late in the day, no?

Historian: I was talking about the BJP’s attempt to showpiece Ashoka as a warrior of the Khushwaha caste, to get their votes. Not everybody likes Ashoka, you know. Susheem, who was killed by Ashoka and who was the rightful king after Bindusara, was my ancestor. My entire clan voted against the BJP, as did the families of all the soldiers who died in the battle of Kalinga.

Veterinarian: Their focus on cows didn’t help.

Me: Ashoka’s cows?

Vet: No, I mean why does the BJP ignore buffaloes? Just because they’re black? This is animal apartheid, an attempt to drive a wedge between cows and buffaloes. We buffalo fans voted against the NDA.

Astrologer: Nitish’s Pisces star sign plus Lalu’s Gemini is a deadly combination, easily beats Modi’s Virgo.

Coffee-wala: This constant talk of Modi being once a chai-wala cost them the coffee-drinkers’ vote.

Aunty from Patna: We voted against Modi because this job he’s got makes him run around too much in foreign lands.

Me: You think he’s neglecting his work at home?

Aunty: No, he’s neglecting his health. Have you seen how thin Modi has become? Too much air travel results in jet lag, damages the immune system, leads to the risk of deep-vein thrombosis, radiation and rapid ageing. It’s time the poor chap got some rest.

Manas Chakravarty is Consulting Editor, Mint. The views expressed are personal.