Friday, November 15, 2013

It’s “gandh”, not “khushboo” Gujarat ki….

Notwithstanding the much talked about and highly successful TV and radio campaign “Khushboo Gujarat ki”, featuring Amitabh Bachchan, Gujarat has for some time now been known more for the “Gandh” (foul smell) emerging from its soil. We’ve had Godhra, the post-Godhra riots, the Haren Pandya murder, several fake encounter killings, sordid HDI statistics, and a whole lot of bogus economic claims (Vibrant Gujarat being the biggest). Now we can also add the Amit Shah tapes to that list.

These tapes are even more murky than the Niira Radia ones. If Cobrapost and Gulail are to be believed, then Amit Shah, under instructions from his “saheb”, ordered the illegal surveillance of a young woman architect,  for no rhyme or reason. The former home minister, and boss of all cops in the state, reportedly deployed surveillance teams comprising members from various wings – the state police itself, the CID, the SIB, and even the ATS (Anti Terrorism Squad) – to monitor the movements of this woman. Why? What’s going on in Gujarat? Most Gujaratis already know of the Modi government’s fascist ways. It is now slowly starting to get known nationally. Gujarat has been run as a police state for long. That explains why there are no riots there (like there are none in China), very little freedom of expression (dissent is frowned upon), no Lokpal for more than a decade (so the dirty tricks remain under a lid) and hardly any RTI commissioners (so no one knows nothing). Do we want something similar nationally?

How should one approach these “taped” or “tapped” conversations. Should one worry that the Home Minister of the state, supposedly under instructions from his saheb, abuses his police force and mounts a surveillance operation over a private citizen and her male friends, including an IAS officer? Going so far as to even put cops on airplanes (at great cost to the state exchequer, no doubt) when the girl travelled out? Or should we worry about the moral temperament of the PM candidate, who appears to be so infatuated with the young woman that he wants her every moment monitored? Sometimes even knowing more than the surveillance team knows (so was there another surveillance mechanism also put in place, to keep a check on the police surveillance team)? Or should one worry about the plight of the poor girl’s father, who has issued a statement that he himself had sought the surveillance of his girl? Which father wants his daughter surveyed by a police force? And how does the CM of a state deploy state resources for something so personal in nature? Or should we worry about the fact that we had to wait for a former IPS officer to be caught and arrested before learning about this ugly episode? And that mainstream media, happy to sing paeans to Modi at every possible occasion, failed to inform us about the nature and character of the person who India is considering for the top job? Or should we worry about Shah and Modi’s (both of whom would play an important role at the central level if the BJP wins 2014) complete lack of belief in the judicial system – they didn’t even bother to get the court’s permission for carrying out this surveillance, did they? The whole issue is so shocking, one doesn’t even know where to begin and where to go.

It could be a story of lust. Lust that vitiates the trust that the younger generation puts on the older one to protect it and it’s dignity and honor. Modi’s biggest supporters are supposed to be the youth. Is this what the youth expects from him? That they may also be put under covert surveillance one day if they start to protest against some decision of his government? Is this the type of democracy they want in the country?

But Modi’s views on women are well known. Remember he once called Shashi Tharoor’s wife a “50 crore girlfriend”? A government whose CM thinks of girlfriends as material objects is bound to consider them also as “objects” that can/should be monitored. There are also rumors that the infamous Sanjay Joshi (of RSS) sex scandal was cooked in the political kitchens of Gujarat. That the same team of Vanzara (now in jail) and others had executed the tapes. All this to settle political scores with him.

The gandh from Gujarat is overpowering. We know that Modi is OK with corruption (his posters for a forthcoming Karnataka rally prominently show Yeddy with him). He is more than OK – quite comfortable actually – with a Sri-Lanka like human rights issue (2002). He is used to abusing his opponents verbally (khooni panja). He runs a one man show in his state (who is the #2, #3, #4 there?). And we also know that he is quite a control freak (fascist). Some potent combination for a PM candidate.

And what about his party, the BJP? We know that Ayodhya is what it really cares for. In fact, its fetish with 17th century orthodoxy is so much that it’s senior leaders even object to songs which apparently denigrate “Radha”, and to films which question the tenets of Hinduism (Oh My God). They force students in MP to do Surya Namaskar and sing the Sarasvati Vandana. Their leaders perform pujas to appease the rain gods (Karnataka). And we also know what the RSS, the fountainhead of the entire Sangh ideology, thinks of Muslims and Christians (India’s top 2 enemies as per Golwalkar). Is this the party that modern India needs?

The real truth is that now that the spotlight is on Modi and Gujarat, all the “gandh”, hidden for long, is finally starting to come out. And the gandh is very very distasteful. The gandh is similar to that of the 2004 campaign line “India Shining”.  That ad could not save the BJP then. Amitabh Bachchan’s ad will not be able to do it either….

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