I go for a swim every evening, for several years now.
Of late I find people giving me strange looks. “You seem to be strutting around the pool these days, George. Looking rather superior as if you had a 56 inch chest. Have you been pumping iron or something?”
“You are letting your imagination run riot” I say “and if you, like many others, want to know if I still have clout in the BJP my answer is “have a guess”
I am afraid I am not on first Namo basis with Narendra Modi, although he has been kind enough to tell us not to be afraid.
I n order to give my swimming pool friends an answer about my clout with the BJP I have to do some ‘déjà vu’ and take you back to the 80s.
I was like in my fifties,
working for a German multinational, writing regularly for several newspapers and living life to the full. Doing everything I was free to do. Almost every thing that was immoral, fattening, and expensive I should say.
Words taken from a kind of Wlkipedia developed by my late and lovely wife.
Among the things I enjoyed doing most was using my column in the Indian Express for “Congress bashing”.
It was the era of Indira Gandhi, a continuation of the dynastic rule, an era when all our institutions were destroyed and corruption became the only institution left standing.
I unleashed my anger in all I wrote. It got noticed and I was invited by Ram Jetmalani to support his bid for the Mumbai North Central Constituency in the 1984 elections
Ram Jetmalani won but the BJP got a trashing. In Jan 1985
Ram took me to Delhi and introduced me to Mr. Vajpayee and Mr. Advani leading to my being inducted into the National Executive of the Bharatiya Janata Party,
The media made a big deal of it and when I got back to Mumbai all hell had broken loose in my Church and community.
Cartoons and posters were pasted on Church walls, calling me a traitor, meetings were called to pass no confidence in me, the local media were happy to provide space for a slanging match for and against me.
Suddenly I discovered that from a very ordinary parishioner whom the parish council and the sacristan did not give a second look, I was some one very important to the Church.
How come then I did not merit even a simple recognition? Must ask the Holy Spirit some day.
In the meanwhile the debate in the press continued.
It was mostly vengeful, venomous, below the belt, below than even a snake’s navel and more than anything else very personal and a bundle of lies.
A particular owner editor of a tabloid took pains to say that I was a petty clerk in Hoechst and not a Director as was being made out to be.
My wife whose pillowcase was always wet with tears shed silently at night asks me “Why George?” We don’t have any known enemies.
That is true. Not even now in my 85th year of my life.
The people from the Catholic Church who wrote to Pope John Paul the Second asking him to remove me from his Pontifical Council where all friends.
I remembered Shakespeare’s ‘Julius Caesar’. “Ingratitude more than traitors arms quite vanquished him “
When the Vatican wrote back “Mr. Menezes is building bridges instead of building walls. Let him be” they were very perceptive
So were the clergy and religious in Mumbai.
And indeed I achieved a few small things. I taught the Executive Council how to run effective meetings. Pan wallas were stopped from selling pan during meetings. Agendas were sent in advance and strictly adhered to, members started to obey the chair and not take long personal breaks and although many of them slept during sessions they were not allowed to snore lest they woke up their neighbours.
The most interesting assignment was my 3 hour seminars with the RSS members. I spoke about why I loved the
Person of Jesus and about the thrust of our educational institutions and our orphanages and our charitable institutions including Mother Teresa’s unique work.
I also learnt from the RSS. Most of them are well educated. They were all squatting on the ground 5 minutes before I arrived and left after I had gone. No toilet and coffee breaks for 3 hours. And the questions were never critical only with a desire to learn. Discipline came naturally to them. Even in the manner of the destruction of the Babri Masjid
That’s when I quit. That one act of desecration not only destroyed my faith in the BJP but my self esteem as an Indian.
Now when the BJP … read Modi, has taken total, unopposed control of Parliament people ask me if I have clout in the BJP I laugh.
Can I have clout with and control the wind. I don’t even know what colour it is.