Take Two

Then They Came for the Dieters

Madhavankutty Pillai has no specialisations whatsoever. He is among the last of the generalists. And also Open chief of bureau, Mumbai  
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First they came for the Muslims and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t one. Then they came for the Communists and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t one. Then they came for the dieters...

Over the last one week, a new minority has come into being in this country’s political history—the community of people who diet. The seminal moment was not immediately apparent when you heard Narendra Modi tell The Wall Street Journal that size zero was responsible for malnutrition in Gujarat. But within days, when Mamata Banerjee said dieters and not Maoists were responsible for dengue, you knew this was more than just the winds of her paranoia changing direction.

It is happening for a couple of reasons. Number one is the same reason that Jews have been persecuted through history—they were successful, and envy breeds resentment. Look at Modi on television. Most of the time you will see his face on close-up or it will be an angle from the chest up or he will be sitting. In those infrequent rare full body standing shots, it is startling to see that he is most portly a person, every bit the pot-bellied Gujarati. Here, you know, is someone who went on a diet and failed so often that he decided there must be something horribly wrong about diets.

It’s hard to say whether the same applies to Mamata, though she is clearly not dieting either. But Mamata is an example of postulate number 2: every politician likes a good minority to target once it becomes okay to target them.

Recollect how the Shiv Sena saw the BJP’s success and decided that Muslims were better than South Indians to kill. After reading the Modi interview, Mamata knew there was something that dieters should be responsible for in her state too. Malnutrition was not an option in Bengal since the world would only be surprised if there were no malnutrition there.

Dengue is probably only a start. The next time there’s a rape in Kolkata, all dieters would do wise to get the hell out of Bengal. To anywhere except Gujarat.