What is it about dogs that so excites politicians and other animals schooled in the “Gujarat Model” that lures them into the gutters of political discourse?
In July 2013, as he primed himself for the big job, Reuters news agency asked Narendra Modi if he found it frustrating that he was still defined by 2002.
Do you regret what happened?
“I’ll tell you. India’s Supreme Court is considered a good court today in the world. The Supreme Court created a special investigative team (SIT) and top-most, very bright officers who
overlookoversee the SIT. That report came. In that report, I was given a thoroughly clean chit, a thoroughly clean chit.
“Another thing, any person if we are driving a car, we are a driver, and someone else is driving a car and we’re sitting behind, even then if a puppy comes under the wheel, will it be painful or not? Of course it is.
“If I’m a chief minister or not, I’m a human being. If something bad happens anywhere, it is natural to be sad.”
Last month, addressing party workers in Bombay, the BJP president Amit Shah derided attempts at opposition unity with this gem.
“Fearing the ‘Modi flood’, a mongoose, a cat, a dog, a cheetah and lion, they are coming together because they see water rising below them. So they are all in one boat.”
“To har cheez par, ki wahan par pathar maar diya kutte ko to, sarkar jimmewaar hai. Aisa nahi hai. (For everything… like if somebody throws a stone at a dog, then the Central Government is responsible…it is not like that)”.
Closer home, in January this year, minister of state for thrill development, Anantkumar Hegde likened Dalits to dogs.
After his vehicle was blocked by protestors in Bellary who raised slogans against him for saying that the BJP had only come to power to change the Constitution, Hegde said:
“We will go ahead with our commitment and not bother about barking stray dogs.”
But it is the Pradhan Sevak’s invocation of “man’s best friend” during his election rally in Karnataka yesterday that takes the cake—and the bakery.
“Don’t break decorum in criticism,” PM cautions Congress.
And in the same breath adds:
“Learn patriotism from Mudhol dogs”
As always, beyond the spectacle of crass oratory, the PM’s explication of the Mudhol metaphor during the election rally is revealing.
The Hindu reports:
“Describing Mudhol breed of dogs as more patriotic than the Congress, the Prime Minister on Sunday asked the Congress party to learn patriotism from the hounds.
“At an election rally at Jamkhandi on Sunday, he questioned the patriotism of the Congress and said the Mudhol dogs’ patriotism was higher than that of the Congress.
“The BJP government has identified patriotism of Mudhol dogs and created a battalion of these dogs for the defence forces. However, I doubt whether the Congress would learn patriotism from Mudhol dogs,” Mr. Modi said.
Aside from claiming credit for “creating a battalion” of these dogs in the army, it is interesting that Modi, an RSS pracharak, which believes in the purity of the species, should be extolling the virtues of the Mudhol hound.
The Mudhol hound has been bred in Karnataka for at least five centuries (500 years), by a few hundred families in and around Mudhol in north Karnataka.
B.C. Ramakrishna, the editor of Pet-India magazine, was quoted by The Hindu 11 years ago as saying that the Mudhol Hound was one of the rarest of Indian dog breeds, and efforts had to be made to save it from extinction.
“He told The Hindu that the Mudhol hound was largely used for hunting.
“There was no authentic information regarding its origin, but it was believed that the Mughals had brought the breed into the country in the 14th and 15th centuries and offered them as gifts to local rulers.”
In 2015, Dr Mahesh Doddamani, the head of Canine Research and Information Centre (CRIC-Mudhol Hound), told The Times of India Mudhol hounds are the result of crossbreeding amongst Greyhounds, Saluki and Sloughi breeds of dog.
“When invaders brought dogs from their countries, they were developing next generation of dogs by crossbreeding with local dogs,” he explains.
Plenty of nonsense gets said in the heat and dust of election rallies, but for Narendra Damodardas Modi, an RSS pracharak, to extol the virtues of a species introduced in India by the Mughals, and which is “crossbred”, reveals the depths to which the BJP campaign has sunk.
Photo: courtesy The Telegraph, The Hindu, and Dr Subhash Rao