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Jacinda Ardern: A true practitioner of ‘sab ka saath, sab ka vikas’

On February 14, when a bomber rammed an explosive-laden car into a Central Reserve Police Force convoy at Pulwama and killed 40 troopers. India’s response – echoed through members of the ruling party and the Opposition – stood out in complete contrast to that of New Zealand.

india Updated: Mar 22, 2019 15:05 IST
Harinder Baweja
Harinder Baweja
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Jacinda Ardern,New Zealand PM,New Zealand mosque shootings
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern met representatives of the Muslim community at Canterbury refugee centre in Christchurch, New Zealand on March 16, 2019.(REUTERS)

If there were one politician I’d willingly and immediately cast my vote for, it is Jacinda Ardern, the Prime Minister of New Zealand. Actually, it would be wrong to refer to her as a ‘politician.’ She should be described as a leader, in the true sense of the word, for the way she guided her country through grief in the wake of a lethal terror attack that killed 50 people in two mosques in Christchurch.

We were hit too, not long ago, on February 14, when a bomber rammed an explosive-laden car into a Central Reserve Police Force convoy at Pulwama and killed 40 troopers. India’s response – echoed through members of the ruling party and the Opposition – stood out in complete contrast to that of New Zealand.

Ardern reached out with kind words.

“It is okay to grieve,” she said.

“Jaw breaking response,” we said.

“Gun laws will change,” she said.

“Ghar, ghar mein ghus ke marunga (We will enter their homes and kill them),” we said.

She comforted, soothed, calmed.

We thundered, thumped our chests and sloganeered.

She hugged and wiped tears, a black scarf adorning her head.

We wore battle fatigues and lost no time in decorating stages with photographs of the dead.

She was visibly pained; we could barely contain our glee at the advantage the Balakot strikes may yield at the hustings.

“We are one. They (Muslim immigrants) are us,” she said.

“The meaning of the word ‘Abhinandan’,” will change, we said, referring to the air force officer who landed in Pakistan after ejecting from a fighter plane.

Ardern led a multi-party group to visit grieving families and New Zealand’s Muslim community members; we are still squabbling.

“He sought many things from his act of terror, but one was notoriety and that is why you will never hear me mention his name,” she said.

“Who flew Masood Azhar (head of Jaish-e-Mohammed) to freedom?’’

“How did Pulwama happen,” they asked the ‘chowkidar’.

“What did they do after 26/11?” he countered.

In the claims and counter-claims, amidst the he said, she said, we have to pick and choose.

Slogans is what we have as of now.

‘Chowkidar chor hai’.

‘Main bhi chowkidar’.

‘PMO is now publicity minister’s office’.

Many more will be added as we inch closer to the election.

For some of us, Jacinda Ardern summed up her response through an Indian slogan she didn’t know she was borrowing from.

Sab ka saath, sab ka vikas.

We are one. They are us.

It helped them win handsomely too. Only, in India, we last heard it in 2014.

First Published: Mar 20, 2019 22:24 IST