Narendra Modi’s alleged culpability in the post-Godhra riots was in the news again (albeit indirectly) yesterday when the special court pronounced Dr Maya Kodnani – a former minister of the BJP government in Gujarat – guilty of murder and criminal conspiracy. Those of us who lived in Gujarat at the time of the Godhra riots always knew of the complicity of the Gujarat government in fanning the riots. With every new judgment, that fact is getting established ever more clearly. Supporters of Modi call him a decisive man….on that fateful day, he had perhaps decided how it would end. Now this man wants to be the PM of India. Now he wants the cauldron of hatred and venom that he has brewed to flow over to the rest of the country.
The trial court also said that the whole anti-Muslim pogrom was orchestrated by the BJP and its sister outfits. The party of course claims that it was a “spontaneous” reaction of the public and it had nothing to do with it. But then isn’t this the same claim the party made during and after the Babri masjid demolition? Even then, the facts showed otherwise. There was Advani right there provoking the people to take action. There were so many others directly egging on their people to bring the structure down. What spontaneous reaction does the BJP talk about? Even in Ahmedabad, Baba Bajrangi of the Bajrang Dal has been boasting that he felt like Rana Pratap…..what a dastardly thing to say after massacring innocents. Rana Pratap fought 500 years ago in a different world. And he never massacred innocents.
No riots can happen on the scale seen in Gujarat unless the police and the government are complicit. In spite of the terrible – and much larger scale – communal conflict in Assam, and in spite of a not-too-convincing handling of the situation by the CM there, the death toll is less than 100. That’s the difference between a government that tries to control a situation and one that encourages it to flare up. The genocide in Naroda Patiya went on for several hours before the police finally arrived. The police was apparently too stretched. Doing what? Fiddling? Drinking tea and smoking beedis? Because Naroda is not some far flung district of Gujarat. Naroda is virtually inside Ahmedabad city. Naroda is where all the industries are located. Had the CM had any interest in controlling the situation, he could have done so in no time. But perhaps, his interests were different.
All of the BJP’s politics is about spreading communal hatred against the Muslims and other minorities. In the common man’s minds, the party stands for “hindu majoritism”. The Hindus themselves are a secure and secular lot. They don’t fear the minorities. It is the BJP that is insecure and unsecular. It is the BJP’s voluntary choice to position itself as a Hindu party as distinct from what almost all other parties position themselves as – secular.
But it is Narendra Modi in particular who is the fount of such communal thinking in his party. Lets not forget…..it was after the post-Godhra riots that Modi “rewarded” Maya Kodnani with ministership. How strange then that his defenders are now saying that she was not a minister when the riots happened. Of course she wasn’t. But she became one immediately after the riots….
Communal hatred is hardly the only thing that Modi specializes in. Modi loves to lie about his state’s progress, when in reality that progress predates him (Read my post of September 17th last year on this: Modi’s growth story is a sham…..). Read also the article in the TOI of October 6th last year by Dipankar Gupta on the same subject. Modi is aware of the albatross of communalism that hangs on his head; that is why he’s keen to deflect the attention towards his state’s economic clout. Gujarat has always been an economically strong state; and Modi has nothing to crow about for it.
But today we found one other attribute of this great man who wishes to be PM one day. On a day when his former minister was convicted – Modi disowned her. In the past also, we have seen BJP leaders in Gujarat disown several ordinary folks who they had goaded into “action” after the Godhra incident. The poor souls had been trapped; realizing their folly only after the court’s verdict. Dr. Maya Kodnani realized it yesterday too. Unfortunately for her, her boss is not there to support her. What kind of a spine does Modi have, deserting close associates in times of crisis? Is this the character you expect from senior leaders who aspire to be PM?
But that’s not all. Modi is known to be extremely dictatorial. When his sadbhavna farce (sorry fast) was going on in Ahmedabad, the Congress MLAs were denied permission to protest against him elsewhere. When Congress MLAs marched in protest against Modi in Gandhinagar, they were lathi charged. But Modi’s PR machinery works with such anticipation and preemptiveness, such stories never get publicized the way his “success” stories do.
The “decisiveness” of Modi is nothing but “dictatorship”. The problem with dictatorships is that they eventually and invariably turn on their own people. That’s what we saw in Libya with Gaddafi (an eminently popular leader in his earlier days) and Egypt with Mubarak (ditto). Modi turned against the Muslims the day he came to power. How much longer before he turns against the rest of the people?
What is the fall-out of this verdict going to be on Modi? Believe it or not, in Gujarat, this will work like magic for Modi. Read my post of July 27th, 2012: Newton’s third law of motion and Narendra Modi….and it will be clear why Modi will benefit from this verdict. The Hindus of Gujarat – those who have tutored in school to become fanatics – will re-unite and re-vote for Modi in ever larger numbers. Modi will romp home with an even larger majority this time around. But outside Gujarat, Modi’s become a bit of a joke now. Modi’s PM ambitions will suffer enormously. Is that one reason why the BJP top brass has quietly decided not to defend him?
Modi other “brilliant” characteristic is that he is quite happy to emasculate the judiciary and other constitutional watchdogs. The Sohrabuddin murder case history is well known. The SC is considering shifting the hearing out of Gujarat just like so many other post-Godhra cases have been shifted. And Modi’s stonewalling of the appointment of a Lok Ayukta in his state for 8 long years is well known.
The Congress was rightly panned for the anti-Sikh riots in 1982. But at very least – albeit with a lot of resistance – the political careers of the main accused – Jagdish Tytler and Sajjan Kumar have pretty much ended. The Congress can never be forgiven for those riots. But the party apologized. It even made a Sikh the PM (irrelevant point in a normal situation; but relevant in this post’s context). Will the BJP put the curtains on Modi’s career? Will the party apologize to the Muslims? Will the BJP propose a Muslim as its PM candidate? In my mind, the sun may some day rise in the West….but the BJP can never apologize to the Muslims.
The real truth is that Modi must take responsibility for the post-Godhra riots. He must come forward and make amends. Otherwise he should simply forget about stepping out of Gujarat. Unfortunately for the BJP, where there is Karnataka as a shining example of its corruption, there is also Gujarat as one of its communal ideology…..