“He doesn’t hate us. Phew!” A collective sigh of relief was audible along the 1,600-kilometre coastline of Gujarat, which is home to 300-plus varieties of fish. When the fish heard that the BJP’s Paresh Rawal had spoken of them in contemptuous tones at a rally in Valsad, they were outraged. The past few years have been tough on them. Rampant fish deaths because of pollution and related issues. Truckloads of their kin were dying every other day, in Tapi, in Sabarmati, in Ghodasar Lake, in Sursagar Lake… “So insensitive,” they said to each other. Then they began to worry if this was part of some larger conspiracy.
Hook, Line And Stinker
And then some mullets came swimming in with the clarification. Mr Rawal did not hate fish. He had said, “Fish is not the issue.” And for good reason too. And he put forth his reason in all caps, “GUJARATIS DO COOK AND EAT FISH.” Mr Rawal was against a certain variety of humans. But the threadfins, the croakers and the eels discussed how he had been confused between different species. At first he had clubbed them all together, Bengalis, Bangladeshis and Rohingyas, though one was a linguistic identity, the second referred to the citizenry of a particular country and the third is the name for humans following a certain faith in a certain state of yet another country.
The surmai didn’t think these differences were reason enough for contempt or hate, but as he told the chapri, even when he was clarifying, Mr Rawal had seemed shaky about who was who. He said, “But let me clarify, by Bengali I meant illegal Bangladeshi and Rohingya.” The palwa told the varara, “I bet he doesn’t know the difference between inland fish and marine fish.” They had created solidarity memes hashtagged #manUnkind #hooklinethenstinker and sent them to the Bombay bhetki, hybrid magur, hybrid tilapia, Andhra rohu and catla, the amodi, bhola and shol. A miffed Padma ilish WhatsApped the ilish in Myanmar an eyeroll, a wink and these words --- Rawalatt Act 2.0.