Starry Night



Under a Hindutva sky

I lay me down to die

but suicide is a moral crime,

so maybe it’s not yet my time.


The jacaranda fragrance

was spiked with pollution.

In the nearby filthy river

souls did their ablution.

Sounds of distant gunshot—

murder of the outspoken

a common solution.


I thought of cutting off my ear

to block out the noises of

hate and intolerance

growing near.


Looking up at the pitch-black sky

the stars spelled out a message

plain to see:

B         J         P


A monolith

Propagator of divisive myth

Nationalist judger

of friend and foe

of caste and past

of kin and kith.


In desperation I called my brother Theo.

He said: “Don’t do it.

Reliance will give you a free Jio.

There’s so many things to live for now—

anti-Romeo squads, vigilante-for-cow,

playing the Sensex or the Dow,

weekend jaunt to Macau,

crushing all voices of dissent,

everyone crawling under Modi’s tent.”


Other stars—faint,

hundreds of light-years away,

told me to live, to paint

one more day.



With apologies to Vincent van Gogh.

The Starry Night, 1889.


“Not many people would know that the governing party of India—the so-called largest secular democracy of the world—is an offshoot of a right-wing Hindu nationalist organization that sees controversial figures like Hitler and Mussolini as its role models.  The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is a political wing of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), whose founders idealized both fascism and Nazism…. There is a need to have a candid conversation on the agenda of the RSS and the BJP government. Under its rule attacks on religious minorities, particularly Muslims and Christians, have grown.

“The RSS was founded in 1925 with a mandate to establish an exclusionist Hindu nation. It was started as a cultural outfit that is dedicated to the cause of establishing a Hindu theocracy….Since the time of its foundation, the RSS has always seen India as the land of Hindus, while viewing Christianity and Islam as foreign religions. Other minority faith groups such as Sikhism and Buddhism have always been viewed by the RSS as part of the Hindu fold.  The BJP later came into being as a political arm of the RSS with a mandate to transform India into Hindu state through electoral means. Many prominent BJP leaders are members of the RSS. Among them is Indian prime Minister Narendra Modi….The world needs to wake up and see which way India is heading to before considering extending free trade and business with it.  India under the BJP government is not immune to becoming an outright fascist state despite its glorious history of pluralism and diversity.”  —”Racism, the RSS, and Narendra Modi’s efforts to turn India into a Hindu nation” by Gurpreet Singh. March 5, 2017.

“The BJP leadership is going ahead with the implementation of the saffron agenda with the objective of attaining a Hindu Rashtra by 2022 which the Prime Minister terms as New India. The core values of the Indian nation have been challenged by the Modi government and one by one, the institutions are being saffronised with the objective of completing the agenda by 2022.The initial signs of fascism are visible and if the Opposition parties, who are opposed to the saffron agenda, do not unite to fight the BJP right now, it will be too late later as the saffron forces will further consolidate and the trends of fascism will get further entrenched….

“Congress leader Rahul Gandhi at times loosely uses the word fascistic to condemn some of the activities of the BJP and the RSS but he hardly has an overall strategy to fight these forces. A broad front of the democratic forces including the civil society groups and NGOs must be formed. Urgent economic issues also have to be included in the common programme to fight saffron forces….The RSS, [the BJP’s] mentor, established in 1925, has never made a secret of its fascist ideas. The RSS will implement its programme step by step as BJP’s power spreads to every level of polity and society. The responsibility of every secularist and democrat is to join the fight against the saffron forces at every step.”  —”India is seeing swadeshi fascism knocking at its doors” by Nitya Chakraborty. Daily O, 08-09-2017

“The BJP Government won because we Indians had become so soooo Gandhi family intolerant — any alternative seemed like manna from heaven in comparison.  Had the Congress propped some other leader of calibre other than gora chitta Rahul Gandhi or his Maa, the votes would have been divided. But Rahul Gandhi sealed it. The BJP owes him a lot for their victory.  But what have they done with their victory? It’s been disappointing to say the least. Not just disappointing. Annoying. Frightening, Unacceptable. Totally. Totally totally unacceptable. Despicable really…..How disappointed are we? God OMG — more than disappointed, I believe we are shocked and hoping it’s still all a mistake. Did we ever imagine we are voting for a despotic fascist regime? What exactly is going on?….

“Hinduism is a philosophy. A way of life. The doctrine of which allows me the choice of acceptance or rejection. Rama or Ganpati or atheism too. The Upanishads or Gita or tantra or mantra. Hindutva, on the other hand, is a militant imposition of wrongly interpreted tenets of Hinduism. Hindutva is a political tool — nothing to do with the religion itself….So do not teach me about my own religion, dear BJP. Don’t tell me how I should think. Who I should worship. How I should dress or what I should eat….I am a Hindu — by definition, a purer and higher form than you can ever be — and I reject your Hindutva. Just as Islam must reject the Taliban or Isis.  To be a Hindu is to be tolerant. It’s why we have survived as a race in spite of invasion, conversion and unimaginable attempted destruction. If you do not understand that tolerance, or exercise that compassion so intrinsic to our religion, you do not deserve to call yourself Hindu. Or a leader of a democratic nation.  So dear BJP, I reject your Hindutva. I reject your fascism. I reject your despotism.  Dare me if you will. For I speak for all of India.”  —”Dear BJP, I Reject Your Hindutva, Your Fascism” by Suchitra Krishnamoorthi.  Huffington Post July 15, 2016.

Walt Gelles, an American writer based in India, does not endorse any political party in India or the United States.  He is the author of Options: The Alternative Cancer Therapy Book (Avery/Penguin Random House) and has published articles and political verse at,,, and other websites.

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