by M Hasan Jowher
Communalism Watch 4 March 2013
On the 11th anniversary of Godhra carnage, this article argues why development is neither sufficient nor appropriate criteria for Narendra Modi to become India’s next Prime Minister, and how it becomes susceptible to blackmail and risks discord and disintegration, if he does.
For a police constable’s son, Keskar, to preside over a multi-billion dollar international empire of diverse ‘businesses’ is no mean achievement. From shipping to Bollywood, Ibrahim has huge ‘investments’. And perhaps much more in hawala and smuggling. This D-Company chieftain, Dawood Ibrahim Keskar, five years junior to Narendra Modi, cannot be faulted on one count: development - at least of his ‘business’. That he heads an internationally dreaded crime syndicate and is implicated in Mumbai blasts is largely circumstantial.
With his $4 billion net worth, and cleaner image, the first generation entrepreneur - and a great friend of Narendra Modi, albeit 12 years younger - Gautam Adani heads a globally integrated infrastructure empire spanning coal, oil, gas, ports, power and what not. He surely fits the bill for ‘development’ in every sense.
From Mehtas to Patels to Shahs, Gujarat has plenty of ‘developers’ who wrote the legendary rags to riches stories, generating value and wealth for themselves and society. Could any of them be our next Prime Minster? Oh, no, they don’t have people’s following.
Talking of following: Al Qaeda chief Osama Bin Laden had, and LeT head, Hafiz Sayeed has each legendary fan following. Millions of dollars in prize money for helping nab them lay unclaimed. Back home, our very own Bal Thackeray did, and Pravin Togadia does, command a huge following. Do they qualify as our national ‘leaders’?
Clearly we do not want anyone with a controversial past as India’s next prime minister. Surely not one that can be blackmailed by cops involved in multiple fake encounters, IAS officers embroiled in shady dealings, ministers being tried for extortion and murder, convicts serving life sentences for mass murders and conspiracy!
Babu Bajrangi – now serving life sentence for Naroda Patia massacre – claims on the unchallenged Tehelka video that Modi felicitated him on his crime, protected him for months and arranged for his bail. Former police DIG, Sanjiv Bhatt, swears Modi asked police to let revenge be taken on innocents. Former DGP Shreekumar narrates how Modi directed fixing his opponent, Mallika Sarabhai’s lawyer with a bribe of a million rupees from secret funds, and asking him to falsely implicate the then local army commander, Major Shah, as a womanizer. They have both furnished affidavits and are willing to be narco-tested on their claims.
Numerous Indian and international NGOs claim to possess incriminating evidence establishing the complicity, or at least responsibility of Gujarat’s CEO in the events involving the 2002 train carnage and the genocide that followed.
Yes, no direct evidence has been allowed to surface. How could it come up when the state govt itself claims to have destroyed it? But do we always insist on ‘direct evidence’? Was there any against Afzal Guru whom we hung recently?
‘But Modi brought signal development to Gujarat’. Wrong and right. Wrong because he only furthered a process Gujarat has been known for since decades, nay centuries. Somnath was the richest temple, and Surat was where the British landed with Jehangir’s permission. Crediting Modi alone is plain insult to the legendary Gujarati entrepreneurship.
Right, in so far as he has speeded up development. But how could he? How could Hitler? Authority, absolute power, allowed him to bulldoze his way with bureaucrats, legislators, ministers etc and cut red tape. Thanks to massive polarization he affected in 2002, he commands a direct connect with his voters. Coupled with hard work, excellent coordination, singular ambition and super marketing, Modi created a niche. But does he qualify to be India’s Prime Minister merely due to development without regard to the ‘source’ of his power and the ‘means’ of his popularity?
Here is a man who engaged in crass polarization, used despicable expletives, aroused naked communal passions, organized post-genocide gaurav yatra, allowed, or failed to prevent, two carnages and numerous fake encounters thereafter, thwarted Lok Ayukta appointment for a decade, minimized assembly sittings; one who spies on his own ministers and officers, who speaks lies and uses uncultured language for adversaries.
For a country flaunting family values, Modi fails, too: he meets his mother residing in the same city once in six months; he is alleged to have abandoned his wife and forsaken his entire family. His instinct for personal revenge is scary as seen in Haren Pandya and Sunil Joshi matters. Indeed, fear is what reigns in Gujarat as revealed by Keshubhai Patel.
Do we have an alternative? I guess, BJP has plenty. The Congress VP, Rahul Gandhi - younger and arguably better educated - comes from a polished background and has shown realism and altruism. So did his mother Sonia, who despite foreign origins, served India well.
So, what do his voters see in Narendra Modi? The stark truth is: they like his macho Hinduism, his having ‘fixed the Muslims’. Those who doubt should view any of the myriad Hindutva brigade’s videos on YouTube.
Some claim “he is the darling of the industry”. So? Didn’t US defense industry love George Bush and Dick Cheney? “And even the Muslims have forgiven him and their clergy is embracing him”. So? Wasn’t Aurangzeb endorsed by several Hindu priests? Wasn’t the Somnath plunderer aided by Hindu soldiers and kings? “You see, the West, after boycotting him for a decade, is warming up to him and is even willing to grant him a visa now. Modi even called the genocide ‘unfortunate’ and promised this won’t happen again”. So, what? Did we condemn Modi to prison when these countries regarded him persona non-grata? Don’t we have our law and civility to guide us?
Didn’t Ajmal Kasab – involved in the killing of a couple of hundred Indians – express profound regret at his massacre and seek God’s forgiveness? Did we grant clemency to Afzal Guru? Why do some ignore the accountability of a CEO whose state witnessed the genocide of about 2000 innocent Indians? Clearly those that perished do not matter to these Modi admirers. Then, should I, you and the other conscientious Indians, care for their opinion?
These, essentially Muslim-baiters in various disguises, flaunt all kind of illogic. Do we compare the condition of American black with that of the Sudanese? How then do we compare Gujarati Muslims with Bengal’s or Odhisha’s? Why not compare with Gujarati Hindus?
A Muslim promoted NGO runs a free public park – the only one in the sprawling ghetto of Juhapura inhabited by over three lakh Muslims. For years it has been seeking water, but Modi’s government doesn’t give a drop.
In a society civilized by law what should matter is this: Was he accountable? Are his aides and confidants held guilty and convicted? Is there enough circumstantial evidence of his culpability? Yes, yes and yes.
If India is and wishes to remain one united nation, all of its citizens must be regarded equal before its laws: both Modi and Muslims.
Here is the true test for Indian nationalists and patriots: do you seek national integration, social cohesion and harmonious development of India? Or, for the sake of one man’s ambition - and your hidden dislike for Muslims - are you willing to risk a fractured, polarized society headed towards discord and disintegration, whose Prime Minister will forever be susceptible to blackmail by petty criminals?
There is nothing to lose if Modi does not become India’s Prime Minister, but the nation’s future is at stake if he does. You decide whether love wins or hate. Remember, if the majority prefers bigotry to far-sighted nationalism, it can’t question the minority’s fundamentalism.
The writer is a social activist with SPRAT [www.sprat.in] and may be reached via email@example.com