Background Information: Narendra Modi, the Chief Minister of the western Indian state of Gujarat, has been widely implicated in the anti-Muslim pogrom of March 2002 that left more than 2,000 Muslims dead and 100,000 homeless. He was to tour the US for a week starting March 20th, but a successful mobilization by the Coalition Against Genocide [http://www.coalitionagainstgenocide.org] and the US state department’s denial of a visa put paid to his rehabilitation hopes. What follows is a fictional account of former Indian Deputy Prime Minister LK Advani’s letter to US President George Bush. LK Advani and Modi are both long-standing members of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, a Hindu supremacist organization with a long history of violence against religious and cultural minorities in India. For more information, please see the CAG website mentioned above.
Pranaam! I know you don’t understand Hindi, but how do I care? Hindi is our national language, and “Hindu, Hindi, Hindustan” is our beloved slogan. Given that you have attacked our swabhimaan, I don’t owe you anything, least of all a comprehensible letter. Besides, even in peaceful times, Vajpayee-ji had stunned the world and made us all proud by addressing the UN General Assembly in Hindi.
Yes George, I am extremely offended by your hard slap to Narendra Modi. In fact, I am still struggling to think coherently. After all that we did to you, is this what you do to us? A friend in need is a friend indeed, George. And I am pained that you’ve failed us in our time of need. You were nice to us when we were in power, but now that we are down (but not out, mind you!), you have stabbed us in the back. Why, George, why? After all, I am sure the death of a couple thousand brown Muslims couldn’t have moved you. I would be much obliged if you could let me in on the real reasons.
In case you have forgotten, George, let me remind you of our response to the tragic events of September 11, 2001. While your detractors were lampooning you for your inaction (that you preferred to read stories to kids in Florida, rather than act like the selected, oops, elected head of state), we were among the first to condemn the attacks and pledge our “unambiguous and unconditional”  support to your noble cause of fighting terrorism. The same Narendra, the same guy that you’ve now deemed unfit to set foot on American soil, said this : “The BJP is of the firm opinion that terrorism is a war against the human race. When terrorism is inspired by political and religious beliefs it becomes more lethal. The world is seeing it in the worst form today.” Isn’t it ironical that you’ve used Narendra’s own rationale to screw him? Narendra worships cows (cows are to us what foetuses are to you!) as his mother, George. How can such a bloke harm humans? After you denied him a visa, he was completely distraught and I had a hard time consoling him. “If I was anyway going to be implicated publicly, why did I go through the trouble of destroying all evidence?,” he kept asking me in between sobs. Dignity of labor never meant much to me, but to see all of Narendra’s valiant efforts go waste was a heartrending sight.
Let me also remind you that at your moment of need, Vajpayee-ji was as forthright as Narendra : “We must strike at the roots of the system that breeds terrorism. We must stamp out the infrastructure that imparts the perverse ideological poison by which the terrorist is fired up. We must hold governments wholly accountable for the terrorism that originates from their countries. In other words, to get at the terrorists the world community must get at their organizations, at those who condition, finance, train, equip and protect them.” Lest you think he did a volte-face later, let me assure you he didn’t.
Vajpayee-ji does have a tendency to say different things at different fora, but on this, he was atal (That’s again a hindi word, George. Please pardon my rudeness, the denial of visa to Narendra is an insult to our nation, and I can’t think of a better way to regain lost pride than by speaking in our national language).
I am appalled, George, that you’ve twisted Vajpayee-ji’s words out of context. Though his statement was worded in very general terms, you know as well as I do that such lofty principles are only meant to be applied to Muslims. How can you forget that only terrorism inspired by Islam is dangerous, and only the funding of Islamic terrorist groups needs to be stopped. Unfortunately, now you seem to have been smitten by the commie argument about American funding of Hindutva . Let me remind you, George, that while we were applauding your courage and egging you on (and followed your example by enacting Patriot-ic laws ourselves), these commies were marching alongside fellow anti-war loonies, made (and continue to make) wicked comments against the Patriot Act, and even opposed our noble endeavor of sacrificing some of our jawans for “Operation Enduring Freedom.” You should have packed them all to Guantanamo Bay — in fact, we never thought twice about how to treat our Muslims — but far from that, you’ve ganged up with them and kicked us — your loyal allies — in the butt! You know what, the commies are now taunting us for our loyalty. Praveen Togadia (another of those blokes who wouldn’t harm even a cow) had called you “our hero”, and the Indian commies are now taunting us with questions like, “what has your hero done to you”?
I am already feeling much better, George. I guess all I had to do was to convey my agony to you in private. Now I can rest assured that you will take care of this. Let bygones be bygones, and lets start a new chapter in our friendship. We don’t give a damn about the commie taunts, all we desire is your friendship.
As for the attacks against Pepsico, please don’t lose sleep over it. This was a one-off incident completely antithetical to our ideology, and the swayamsevaks who had indulged in it have been let off with a severe warning. It’s just that our swayamsevaks are so used to violence, and Narendra was for a long time heartbroken, so there was no one to rein in on the anguished souls. As always, we very much value our special relationship with big businesses, and are in fact, planning to use this attack as a pretext to pass stringent legislation that would restrict the right to peaceful protest. That way, we hope to rein in on the mushrooming protests against Coca Cola in India . If we had our way, the police would unleash as much violence on these peaceful protests as we have unleashed on Muslims.
Please convey to Congressman Pitts  that our swayamsevaks have been asked to exercise restraint against Christians. Of course, violence against white Christians has always been strictly taboo. Let me assure you and Congressman Pitts that the Graham Staines incident was an aberration; it only happened because our swayamsevaks couldn’t ascertain the victims’ skin color in the dark. As for brown Christians, I request you to ignore isolated acts of violence against them. (We will also make sure these don’t get reported). Considering the treatment you mete out to African-Americans, I hope this is not too much to ask! (Please ignore some of our intemperate remarks in this regard).
I would also like to apologize for the seemingly crude remarks that some of us have made against the US. Political exigencies in a democracy demand that we play out our carefully constructed roles. As the iron man with a Prime Ministerial ambition, I had to react strongly to this issue. Still, I would like to dissociate myself from this quote attributed to me : “The US is a large country, but I doubt if it has an intelligence to match.” Let me also inform you that for some time now, we haven’t been able to sustain any serious agitation, so we might try to make political capital out of this issue. This should be welcome news for you, for it is to your advantage if the anti-US space is taken up by us, rather than the loony left.
Before I end, I would like to discuss a potentially ticklish issue on which I would very much appreciate your feedback. After the denial of a visa to Narendra, some of our friends are upset that you’ve named one of your cats after our motherland. They find it particularly offensive that kids who chance upon the Whitehouse website  might grow up with an entirely different notion of India. Until now, I have been able to convince them that this is a matter of honor for all Bharatiyas and that this has ensured that our motherland is always at the back of your mind. However, the new developments have made this viewpoint untenable. In particular, Balasaheb Thackeray, a venerable gentleman whose courage has been acknowledged, among others, by a judge who noted that Balasaheb acted like a “veteran general” , has ordered his troops to be on the alert. He has a fetish for changing names, so he might insist that you rename your cat. Or else, he and his troops might name their dogs, “Amreeka.” I will try my best to prevail over him, but in case I can’t, I want to clarify that I had nothing to do with this.
Finally, I have a request. You might know of the violence caused by my rath yathra in the 1990s. I hope that won’t be held against me when I try to come to the US. Also, things are not looking up for me on the legal front, what with a regional high court ruling  that I could be prosecuted for a mosque I helped demolish. (Mandir Wahin Banayenge, George!) It was a ruling by the same court that caused former Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi to assume dictatorial powers. I don’t have the means to indulge in anything of that sort, but with a compliant government at the Center, you never know! In any case, I hope our long-standing friendship would take precedence over any petty political or human rights concerns and that I can always count on you for a diplomatic visa.
I hope your current position is not a principled position for human rights. Contrary to what others might tell you, you are best when you are hypocritical, George. Lets focus solely on the Islamic threat.
Jai Hind! Jai Shri Ram! Vande Mataram! Garv Se Kaho Hum Hindu Hain!
Your friend, Lal Kishenchand.
ps: After the swabhimaan rally, I heard our George console Modi that at least he didn’t suffer the ignominy of a strip search at the airport. That seemed to mollify Narendra considerably, and he has since toned down his anti-US rhetoric .
pps: One of my friends, Murli Manohar Joshi, a co-accused in a mosque demolition case, is planning to visit the US for a series of lectures on “The 101 benefits of cow urine”  and “Vedic Astrology.”  I urge you to grant him a diplomatic visa. With our past threatening to catch up with us, a normal visa would simply not suffice.
1) See “Standing up to be counted” at http://www.hinduonnet.com/thehindu/2001/09/23/stories/05231348.htm
2) See “BJP expresses solidarity with U.S.” at http://www.hindu.com/thehindu/2001/09/13/stories/0213000b.htm
3) See “Pakistan: Exploiting US dilemma” at http://www.thehindubusinessline.com/businessline/2001/09/18/stories/041855ma.htm
4) See “The Foreign Exchange of Hate: IDRF and the American Funding of Hindutva” at http://stopfundinghate.org/sacw/index.html
5) See http://www.indiaresource.org
6) See http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?c109:H.RES.160:
7) See “Modi visa issue has hit Indo-US ties: Advani” at http://in.rediff.com/news/2005/mar/20advani.htm
8) See “India’s Biography” at http://www.whitehouse.gov/kids/india
9) See “‘The General’ in his labyrinth” at http://www.flonnet.com/fl1518/15180200.htm
12) See “Cow urine for dazzling teeth?” at http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/1034529.cms
13) See “Vedic astrology and all that” at http://www.frontlineonnet.com/fl1810/18101170.htm