Thursday, April 24, 2014

The lion and the hyena.

April 3, 2014 12:14 am
A fascinating electoral fable is taking shape in Uttar Pradesh.
Aesop’s Fables” gave us “The Fox and the Stork”, “The Lion and the Mouse”, “The Ant and the Grasshopper”, even “The Cock, the Dog and the Fox”. Now sample this: “The Lion and the Hyena”. At a rally in Bareilly, Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi alleged that the Samajwadi Party was afraid of lions. The Gujarat lion was caged in Uttar Pradesh, said Modi, unlike in the Gir forest, where they roamed free. The animals under discussion had been gifted by Gujarat last year. UP Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav retorted that his government had also bestowed zoological tokens on Gujarat — hyenas, for instance. Except they didn’t roar about it. This electoral fable holds promise.
The lion in Gujarat has become a political animal, co-opted into a massive image makeover for the chief minister. Modi has long invited lion metaphors, holding “hunkar” rallies and cultivating the kind of mane-rippling virility associated with the big cat. Madhya Pradesh, governed by the BJP’s Shivraj Singh Chouhan, popularly considered to be Modi’s rival chief minister, had prepared a wildlife reserve to accommodate some of Gir’s lions. But Gujarat couldn’t bear to part with its pride. The hyena, in contrast, faces several public relations challenges. Folklore has cast it as cowardly scavenger, chewer of infants, apprentice to witches. Politicians wishing to identify with the hyena have their work cut out for them. But the hyena can laugh, a marked advantage over the humourless lion.
Meanwhile, the bets are on for what the moral of the fable will be. He who laughs last laughs the loudest? Pride comes before a fall? You reap what you sow? Or maybe just a simple case of all’s fair in love and war.

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