Integrated development, politics and social empowerment in India and beyond

About the author
Gentleman crusader
List of articles
Books written by B G Verghese

Books written by B G Verghese

Books written by B G Verghese

Modi remains personally unrepentant and in denial despite his latest letter of self-exculpation but general regret (for what?). He continues to block justice, fearing that the net is possibly closing in on him. The BJP, a party in disarray, remains torn between pursuing a liberal course or returning to HIndutva.

Martyr Modi’s Mystic Makeover

Despite the air-conditioned antics and fast, there has been no exoneration by the Supreme Court. The trial will proceed, with Modi among the accused.

By B G Verghese

New Indian Express, 19 September, 2011

Narendra Modi’s rather vulgar five-star, air-conditioned state-sponsored upavas or self-purificatory three day sadbhavana fast for unity and brotherhood in Gujarat has deceived nobody. In a nice riposte, Sankarsinh Vaghela has mounted a Congress “satyagraha” counter-fast in front of Sabarmati Ashram, while Mallika Sarabahi, the danseuse, has, more to the point, fed malnourished children in Ahmedabad.

After glorifying the 2002 Muslim carnage under his watch, Modi has had the gall to say that the Supreme Court order returning the on-going Ehsan Jafri case to the trial court, with instructions to proceed with the investigation and frame charges, has exonerated him of all culpability. He believes this has nailed the lies and propaganda of hate-mongers and those who have assailed the pride of 60 million Gujaratis for the past decade.

The BJP was also unctuously celebratory with Advani - remember his “saddest day”- and others, similarly bemused, praising Modi for emerging unscathed from his ordeal of fire, reckless political calumny and vile conspiracies. Modi himself tweeted, “God is great”!

No exoneration has been vouchsafed by the Supreme Court order. The trial will proceed, with Modi among the accused.

Nevertheless, Modi commenced his much advertised Sabbhavana fast in Ahmedabad on 17 September with a vague apologia conceding “genuine mistakes” made by him over the past 10 years, expressing pain at the loss of innocent lives and property and promising justice and development for all. Yet he places this in the context of the state and he himself having been defamed by false allegations.

A breathless media has already dubbed Modi the BJP’s 2014 prime ministerial candidate after the Supreme Court “vindication”. While ranking BJP leaders discount this, Advani has excitedly cited a US WikiLeaks cable citing its Congressional Research Service naming Modi a prime ministerial candidate despite 2002 in view of his administrative and development record. Whether he is yielding place to Modi after announcing his own anti-corruption rath yatra remains moot. But the farce gets richer by the day.

The facts of 2002 have been forgotten by most and need to be recalled. Listen to what Modi said in his broadcast to the people of Gujarat over Doordarshan on February 28, 2002: “Gujarat shall not tolerate any such (Godhra Sabarmati Express arson) incident. The culprits will get full punishment for their sins. Not only this, we will set an example that nobody, even in his dreams thinks of committing a heinous crime like this …”.

Who the “culprits” were was made plain in word and deed – “Babar ke aulad”, those living across “the border” defining Muslim ghettoes in Ahmedabad; the State Wakf Board and Gujarat Finance and Development Corporation in the protected adjunct Secretariat that were attacked by mobs; two Muslim serving Judges who were hounded and had to seek refuge in the homes of brother judges’. In no case was there an apology, any FIR, arrest or compensation.

Wali Gujarati, a revered dargah and city landmark was pulled down and a paved road built over it overnight. Other shrines suffered the same fate; the mazhar of Ustad Fiazuddin Khan in Baroda was vandalised. Police officers who stood their ground against violent mobs in defence of Muslim lives and property were transferred on “promotion”. Official obstructions were placed in the way of opening relief camps for Muslim victims and there was great anxiety to shut them down as soon as possible. There was an economic boycott of Muslim establishments. FIRs were not registered, victims of assault were instead arrested and charged. Blatantly false newspaper reports were not contradicted. The Government looked the other way where not directly involved.

There was a patent disinclination to permit the opening of and provide for the sustained maintenance of relief camps for terrified Muslim victims of violence. He somewhere contemptuously termed these “baby-making factories” in keeping with his crude slogan “Hum panch, Woh pachees” (We are five, they are 25), ; the Directorate of Information’s press notes described the Godhra episode as “inhuman genocide” and the subsequent killings as no more than “violent disturbances”. The chief minister was praised for restoring order in 72 hours (far from the truth) and eulogised as Chota Sardar”. Modi spoke of pre-planned genocide, collective terror and a Pakistan hand. The list can go on.

But for the pressure of the National Human Rights Commission and the national media, Modi would have got away with murder. Either he knew and directed the pogrom or was so supremely incompetent as to be disqualified from holding even the meanest public office. The Tehelka tapes and phone records tell all. As for his development record, it is certainly good. So was Hitler’s: autobahns were built and trains ran on time. The role of the VHP and RSS was not merely complicit but pro-active, starting with the teaching of hate-history through official text books. Vajpayee, was horrified and called on Modi to observe Raj Dharma. He was sought to be removed, but was saved by Advani, the Home Minister who spared no praise for Modi’s conduct.

Since Modi linked his Sadbhavana fast to peace and justice, it is necessary to record his chilling words in a news item broadcast over Doordarshan, Ahmedabad in early March 2002. Speaking in Gujarati, he said that “if raising issues relating to justice or injustice adds fuel to the fire, we will have to observe restraint and invoke peace”. In other words, those asking for peace were told to forget justice. This was cited in the Editors Guild Fact Finding Report. “The Killing Fields of Gujarat”, dated May 2, 2002. The statement has never been repudiated.

The Hiren Pandya judgement exonerating all the Muslims falsely charged with his murder, merely endorses the truth that elementary justice is yet to be done in Gujarat. The Sadbhavana fast, a publicity stunt, was a cruel joke staged at state expense.

Modi remains personally unrepentant and in denial despite his latest letter of self-exculpation but general regret (for what?). He continues to block justice, fearing that the net is possibly closing in on him. The BJP, a party in disarray, remains torn between pursuing a liberal course or returning to HIndutva.

The Congress and other parties too have much to answer for hollowing out secularism and playing vote-bank politics. The Sachar Report is languishing and the promised Equal Opportunities Bill is still in limbo. The Communal Violence Bill is flawed insofar as it ignores anything other than majority communalism. The unmarked graves mystery in J&K needs an independent probe to establish the truth and punish wrongdoing. Modi surely is no angel. But he is not the only sinner on the block.

back to the top


See also

11-C Dewan Shree Apartments, 30 Ferozeshah Rd, New Delhi 110001, India