Fitness Challenge, the PM Edition: How the Fight to 2019 Will Unfold

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Fitness Challenge, the PM Edition: How the Fight to 2019 Will Unfold

Illustration: Robin Chakraborty

This song goes out to Narendra Modi, the most popular guy around, from his frenemy-in-chief Rahul.

Hey Modi, do you love me?
Are you leaving?
Say you’ll never ever leave from beside me
Cause I want ya, but I challenge ya

No, that’s not Rahul Gandhi daring Prime Minister Modi to the Kiki Challenge. But even without social media gimmickry, with elections around the corner, the challenge is implied. This tactic of humiliating your opponent with a dare is a new one. You dare your rival with an unattainable task, making him look like a loser, and gloating in the knowledge that the challenge has been publicly diddled. From the sidelines, this clash is awe-inspiring, or at the least, amusing.

As next year’s election draws closer, India’s newest Shiva devotee has been daring the PM intermittently. Sometimes the PM responds with a counter-dare, and sometimes he ducks the bouncer to play an easier delivery instead. Like accepting the good-length Fitness Challenge from Virat Kohli, but ignoring bouncers from his rivals.

In May, our dimpled devotee had tweeted, “Dear PM, glad to see you accept Kohli’s challenge. Here is one from me. Reduce fuel prices or the Congress will do a nationwide agitation and force you to do so.” It is now September, fuel prices have landed on Mars, and looks like the challenger and the challengee are both busy praying to Lord Shiva to bring them down. One at Mansarovar and the other at Kedarnath.

You see, bluster is an intrinsic part of politics. Much like Truth or Dare, but played with one crucial twist; there is no truth here. Because if you inject truth in politics, there won’t be any politics left to play.

While NaMo continues to ignore Rahul baba’s challenge, he doesn’t mind playing “dare-dare” to achieve political goals. Why else would he challenge HD Kumaraswamy at a crucial time of the Karnataka government formation, only to be spurned by him? (Secretly NaMo was like, “Hey HDK buddy, I’m tagging you in a fitness challenge but you know what I’m hinting at, right bro?” And HDK was like, “Sir, I might look the way I look, but no thank you, I’m smart enough to figure it out.”)

Recent hugging aside, RaGa had posed a similar dare earlier this year. He folded his kurta sleeves and roared, “I challenge Modiji to a 15-minute debate in Parliament. If I am allowed to speak for 15 minutes on a host of issues, Modiji will run away.” To which Modi ji responded with a linguistic challenge. He challenged the Congress prince to speak for 15 minutes about his accomplishments without reading. The PM also dared Rahul to pronounce Visvesvaraya’s name five times. Thankfully, oratory is not a measure of governance, and Navjot Singh Sidhu is not our PM.

Not to be silenced by Modi’s zingers, Rahul challenged him to a debate on the Rafale aircraft deal followed by another dare. “I challenge PM Modi from this stage that if he has a 56-inch chest, why doesn’t he give 50 per cent of the money required to waive (farmer) loans? No, he will not do it. But he waived loans worth ₹1.5 lakh crore for rich Indians.”

Dares and challenges are not reserved for the people who lead political parties. Even as I write, the party with “pure Brahmin DNA” has dared the haters of RaGa to climb 46,000 steps like he did during his spiritual spree. Thankfully, again, physical agility is not a measure of governance and Tiger Shroff is not our PM. (On a personal note, I wouldn’t mind Milind Soman though.)

You see, bluster is an intrinsic part of politics. Much like Truth or Dare, but played with one crucial twist; there is no truth here. Because if you inject truth in politics, there won’t be any politics left to play. Truth and politics are as different as Kader Khan and Salman Khan, MK Stalin and J Stalin, or Ahmed Patel and Ameesha Patel.

In this game of Roadies 2019, the PM edition, it seems both NaMo and Rahul want to be Rannvijay and set the challenges for each other, instead of competing to complete tasks at hand, aka fulfil promises made to the public. I’m not sure if the voter will be enthralled with this verbal back-and-forth between the two contenders. But after ruminating for a while, I have concluded that when it comes to bravado, I shouldn’t pass judgement. After all, I don’t even have the guts to challenge my house help. Daring to upset her leaves me without help for 15 days, so I dare not. Instead, I just sing to her:

Hey Sweety, do you love me?
Are you leaving?
Say you’ll never ever leave from beside me
Cause I want ya, and I need ya.

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