What are you doing Bro? Cyrus writes a 20 Point, Open Letter to Rahul Gandhi

In a hilarious and sarcastic dig, the author, a senior freelance journalist, lays out exactly what in the Indian National Congress’ manifesto (released on April 5, 2024) is irking the privileged and socially entrenched chatterati and this includes the country’s omnipresent television anchors; and why a re-assertion of India’s commitment to the constitutional vision at this juncture in our journey is something that ought to be celebrated
Image: AICC / X Handle

On April 5, 2024, the Indian National Congress released its manifesto, drawing a reaction, bordering on panic, from India’s prime minister, Narendra Modi. With its emphasis on the rule of law, representative governance, a level playing field in education and livelihood access –most of all a reiteration of conducting a nationwide caste census—the Congress’ programme offers hope and a corrective path. This satirical piece expresses the resistance to these moves from an entrenched class. It describes the daily conversations in an affluent Cooperative Housing Society, where the residents discuss the national narratives as they see them. Its most enigmatic character, Cyrus Behramji Puranafurniturewala pens an Open Letter to Rahul Gandhi:

I woke up with a start. Somebody was at the door. It was 7 in the morning. I wasn’t an early riser. It was my neighbor, Cyrus Byramji Puranafurniturewala.

“Hello, hello, hello, good morning, who are you going to vote for?” queried Cyrus as he came barging in. I am not at my best in the mornings. A strong cuppa also does not help. After many years of trying, I have resigned myself to the realisation that if there is anything that requires my attention, then it is best done later in the day. Much, much later. “Cyrus, I haven’t even brushed my teeth and you know what early morning chats do to me!” The plea fell on deaf ears.

Cyrus had made himself comfortable and was devouring my newspapers. He was eloquent and erudite and had a quirky fascination for current affairs, history, politics and conspiracy theories. He was known to write earnest letters to the Prime Minister. He had even sought the PM’s help to access Pegasus software to spy on the General Secretary of The Happyman’s Cooperative Housing Society, Blocks A and B, where we all live.

“You know – these Electoral Bonds – why is there such a hullabaloo? It is a super scheme. You request the government for a favor, pay a fee through this Bond and get your work done. There is no discrimination of any kind. Anybody of any religion, caste, creed, beef eating habits, sexual and criminal orientation, and Google search history can pay up, and get his work done. Has there ever been anything this efficient in the history of governance? I mean, ever?” With groggy eyes, I glanced at the headline in Frontline that said – Electoral Bonds: Why it is a giant scam. I murmured something about preferring Fixed Deposits over Bonds.

So, have you decided who you will vote for? Not that it will matter. With the EVMs, we have got it all sorted. No hanky panky, if you know what I mean,” he winked.  I had no idea what he was referring to. If there were machines who could vote for you, then that was certainly progress. One had heard of robots and drones. This seemed like another helpful innovation. In any case, I realized I did need help. Making decisions wasn’t easy.

“What do you think about this Bharat Jodo thingy? My aunt went for their meeting at Shivaji Park. She found this Rahul dude cute. She finds his duel with Adani fascinating. I can understand the cuteness. After all he does have 25% Parsi blood in him. But why hassle Mr. Adani? Poor guy is just doing his job – managing ports, airports, mines, infrastructure, and he does it all with diligence and humility. It can’t be easy running that giant empire and selflessly building the nation. And giving monstrous returns on his shares. I had told my aunt to invest in Adani stocks. She didn’t. I guess its sour grapes now.”

I had no idea Rahul Dravid had Parsi blood in him. But what was he doing at Shivaji Park? Looking for new talent? And what was the beef with Mr. Adani? Some sponsorship deal gone south?

The bell rang again. It was Sarla Ben. A socialite in her 50s. A serial borrower of assorted things. And a reliable carrier of the most important news of The Happyman’s Cooperative Housing Society, Blocks A and B. She was accompanied by the charming Fasel Atke Khan, dapper as usual. His dalliance with Mrs. Braganza’s paying guest was doing the rounds. Cyrus called him the local Mr. Love Jihad, after le learnt about his JNU background.

“Are you even listening? See this – they even have an INDIA alliance now?” pointing at a headline that said “Rahul Gandhi’s Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra concludes with show of strength in Mumbai

“This INDIA alliance is a brotherhood of people who have fought each other all their lives. Now they have become friends. Sarla Ben, can Rahul and his friends be trusted?”

The penny dropped. He was referring to the other Rahul.

Sarla Bhen said she needed some almond milk urgently for guests that were arriving unexpectedly. “I don’t know about that, Cyrus. I do know that my wealth has gone up and I can have more holidays now. By the way voting days are holidays and this time it’s on a long weekend. I will be off to Alibag with friends. But what’s the point of voting? Aayega to Modi hi! Jai Shri Ram!”

Cyrus nodded agreeably and turned to the quiet and thoughtful Fasel. “What do you think Mr. Fasel? Will Rahul have the courage to use the Bulldozer? Or the craft to use the Washing Machine?”

My head had begun to spin. Sarla Bhen hastily whispered in my ear, “The government in UP demolishes the houses of people who they don’t like or those that go against them. Using a bulldozer. It’s fast track justice. The ruling party also loves to clean dirty politicians. And rehabilitates them with pomp and glory.”

I wished I could go back to bed.

“Mr. Cyrus, perhaps you could read their manifesto and write to Rahul Gandhi. Ask him questions. Express your concerns. They say he listens to all. I am sure he will listen to you too”, Fasel replied equitably.

And with that, Cyrus shot off a letter that is reproduced below:


April 2024

The Honorable Member of Parliament

Rahul Gandhi,

New Delhi

Subject: The Indian National Congress Election Manifesto 2024

Dear Rahul,

Allow me to introduce myself. I am a senior citizen from the Privileged Class. I received a blue chip higher education, substantially subsidized by the State in the 80s and 90s. I am part of a gated community called The Happyman’s Cooperative Housing Society, Blocks A and B. We are a jolly lot. We spend a lot of time in the Sensex Bubble, enjoying the stock market boom, exchanging sunset, sunrise and wildlife pictures with old friends, experimenting with Super food recipes, doing the occasional Keto detox, frequently going for binge jamborees with likeminded friends, often donating sizeable sums of monies to my “Independence seeking” alma mater and reconnecting with my “sanskari Bawa” self. As I have been the beneficiary of the highly enjoyable increase in wealth in the last few years, I am expectedly content. I am a keen observer of current events and have political views. Incidentally, I voted your party out in 2014.

My aunt, Ms. Khushnawaz Puranafurniturewala, is fascinated by you. Perhaps it is because of your part Parsi blood. And recently a neighbour suggested that I read your new manifesto. I did. I don’t know what your chances of winning are. But I was alarmed to see a few things that I believe will concern my class of people. I express them below with candour:

  1. There is no mention anywhere of any Hindu / Muslim angle in your manifesto. Nor of demolition of any mosque or church. Will this not deprive many millions of devoted Hindus of the succor they have received these last few years, despite their life’s daily challenges?
  2. You have chosen to denounce bulldozer justice, should you come to power. Why would you want to give up on this proven “fast track” system of justice, when approximately 50 million cases are pending in Indian courts?
  3. You have announced that you will modify existing criminal laws to ensure that “bail is the rule and jail is the exception”. Is this wise? What if there are Maoists, urban naxals lurking amongst us? Allegedly trying to help the underprivileged. You do remember the Bhīma Koregaon 16? They were lawyers, professors, human rights advocacy blokes, all educated guys, even priests! Do we need such elements in our society?
  4. You have promised freedom from fear, right to assemble peacefully, restoration of freedom of expression. Why? How will law and order hold, if there is no fear? Why should there be agitations at all, like the farmer’s protests, CAA protests, etc.? Too much of freedom may encourage idle thoughts, make people less productive. Do remember Mr. NRN Murthy’s advice of working 70 hours a week to build the nation.
  5. It has been a relief to us that many laws have been passed without the necessity of parliament functioning “normally”. It has brought in speed and saved us the embarrassment of watching adults spar with each other in the garb of debate? Yet you have promised to have the Houses of Parliament function normally for at least a 100 days a year. This is strange and will take us back to a dark era!
  6. You have offered to strengthen the autonomy of various agencies. Why? Is it not better that everyone works in concert with the government to ensure harmony and cohesiveness? Can you visualize an opera without a conductor? See how busy the ED, CBI, IT etc. are. Have you seen such frantic and focused activity before?
  7. You are guaranteeing first jobs for the educated youth with an apprenticeship of Rs. 1 lakh a year. And loads of reskilling opportunities to the youth, the minorities and the underprivileged. Why give anything on a platter? Will there be any incentive left to work hard?
  8. Why offer to fill the 30 lakh job vacancies in the government and public sector? Do we need more government or less? Imagine the additional bureaucracy these 30 lakh folks will create? Can these jobs not be contracted out? It is easier to “hire and fire” and one can save on social security benefits.
  9. You want to offer social security to gig workers. Why, bro? By definition, they are independent contractors. The whole idea is to shift the burden of social security away from the companies to make these workers self-sufficient and independent. You are going against a well-established capitalist norm.
  10. You wish to offer Rs 1 lakh per year to one woman from every poor family. Why? You expect them to use this surplus money to educate their families? My class of people will lose their maids, their drivers, their nannies and security guards, if there is so much surplus money available to them. What about the ones in the villages? Why will they now work in the fields to grow our food? This too promises to spur laziness.
  11. You wish to legally guarantee MSP to the farmers based on Swaminathan formula? And give them debt relief? And make farming GST free? Are they on par with big businessmen or industrialists? And, more money in their hands may mean less incentive to migrate to cities and to work for people like us. Have you thought about this? Where will we get our labor from? This may also reduce profits of the Big Food Processors, depressing their stock prices and hurting our wealth. Have you thought about this?
  12. You wish to increase daily wage rates to Rs. 400? And provide Urban Employment guarantee too? With social security and right to health? Bro, are we spoiling urban workers for good? Have you considered the impact on corporate bottom lines? On the consequent fall in stock prices? This will hit our hard earned wealth.
  13. What’s this fixation on a caste census and on increasing reservations? Bro, we have to move past caste. If we keep raking it up, it won’t go away. We have to banish it from memory. Reservations too. Just consider this – tomorrow a whole aircraft may be full of quota people – how will we take our holidays? Have a heart.
  14. You wish to increase protections for the STs under the Forest Rights Act. You believe this is fair play as they have first rights on their land? But, why would you want to make it difficult, expensive and time consuming for corporates to acquire land? It will hurt their investments and profits, in turn hurting stock prices and diminishing our wealth.
  15. You wish to recognize civil unions within the LGBTQi community. What they do in their bedrooms is their business. But why make a public spectacle? I do not even want to know who is queer and who isn’t.
  16. What’s in it for Big Industry? No tax cuts. No loan waivers. No special incentives for special companies working in special areas like ports, airports, telecom, etc.? Why this discrimination?
  17. What is this obsession to create a level playing field within industry? That’s an ancient concept. Passé. Why should everybody be treated equally? Those who create more wealth for shareholders must get more rewards and incentives too from the government. Monopolies create scale. Look at Jio, Indigo Airlines & Adani. Can we live without them?
  18. Universal and free healthcare in public health centers with a cashless insurance of Rs. 25 lakhs sounds utopian but will adversely affect a globally competitive Pharma and healthcare sector. Are you giving a death blow to this industry, whose stocks are highly fancied post Covid 19?
  19. There seems to be, in your manifesto, a drive to somehow connect poverty & inequality to capitalism. Bro, both are important. Capitalism encourages merit. Inequality & poverty are a necessity of an ordered society. They drive aspiration. Do we want to reach a situation where we need to import maids, drivers, and security guards from Africa?
  20. Your manifesto highlights that 80 crore people currently receive free grains. Why does this bother you? Would you want them to die instead? The current government is taking care of them. Should this not be celebrated?

Finally, do you have the wherewithal and sagacity to make “timely interventions” should you come to power? Like the ones made by the ruling government in saving Manipur, in solving the border issues in Ladakh with China, in saving the economy through  demonetization, in bringing relief through the remedy, Coronil, during the epidemic, in bringing transparency through the PM Care Fund and Electoral Bond schemes and in deploying a magic Washing Machine to rid India of corruption.

Bro, I hope you will see the merit in the above arguments and course correct. My friends and I do not wish to see a fall in our wealth, should you unexpectedly win this electoral battle. If the markets are happy, we are happy.

On a more personal note, how do you keep so fit and healthy? Any special Keto diet? Any secret Super foods? Any unusual asanas?


Cyrus Byramji Puranafurniturewala

A Concerned Citizen


Dear PM Modi! It was Hindutva Organisations, not the Congress that colluded with the Muslim League in Pre-Independence India

Why is the BJP calling the Congress Manifesto 2024 to be an “Imprint of the Muslim League”?




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