Wednesday, February 29, 2012

not about justice and rehab, silly

Titling the post so because in most of the op-eds or columns written about Narendra Modi hardly one is about justice and rehabilitation. People have demonstrated amazing lack of memory just to drive to one point - Modi should not be the PM. While some of these columns have been outright vitriolic, few are so low on facts that it surprises Specially the one written by Salil Tripathi had me surprised since it was not expected from him to have selective memory. So let me try and get the record straight for real life Ghajinis like him and many others.

To start with, Salil tries to draw a parralel between Narendra Modi and Rajiv Gandhi in a way that would possibly make Rajiv look like an innocent poor grieving kid all his tenure. Truth unfortunately is far from that. Even if I neglect Rajiv's role in 84 Sikh riots, how can you forget the 5 years rule which saw riots at Meerut, Moradabad, Bhagalpur, Baroda, Ahmedabad, Godhra (yes, the town was under curfew for months) and many more places. Was it just a sheer coincidence that all were Congress rules states and faced internal political wranglings? Rajiv's 'extra-smart' moves on Shah Bano and Ayodhya ensured communal harmony was never the same again. Compare this to the peace that one sees in Gujarat. Some might argue that it is just forced peace. Well, forced or otherwise, the fact that no major riot has broken (except one in Baroda during road widening) out in Gujarat since 2002. This despite the fact that state saw Akshardham Temple attack and bomb blasts in the interim period. Also the sensitive issue of demolition of religious structures for infrastructure projects. Neither the Muslim nor the Hindu radicals were allowed to misuse the situation and had to fall in line. If this does not speak of Modi's ability to ensure impartial strong administration, nothing does.

Next Salil speaks about the speed (or rather lack of it) with which Modi administration worked. It is public knowledge that Gujarat had requested the neighbouring states for additional forces. But none complied. And who ruled Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra then? Yes, the supposed torch-bearers of secularism, Congress. Many commentators even talk about 'delay' in deployment of army. They surely do not remember that the riots happened just after Parliament attack and India had mobilised its armed forces on the Pakistan border. Well, such facts are conveniently forgotten when the aim is not justice but demonisation of an individual, organisation or community.

Next thing most people speak about and specially Salil did is that the riots went on for months. While riots did go on for a month and half, for the remaining period there were stray incidents. But isn't this a common thing in places rocked by big riots? Mumbai riots took nearly 2 months to settle down and for calm to be restored. When a small city (in kms n size) can take 2 months to return to peace, here we was a state much bigger in size and with a history of communal disharmony. Why not look at Gujarat itself in 80s. Baroda, Ahmedabad and Godhra saw curfew and riots for months. And how did then CM Solanki and PM Rajiv Gandhi fare post that politically? While Solanki became a Minister of External Affairs, Rajiv Gandhi adorns half a dozen welfare schemes and a Bharat Ratna to boot. And yes, no Salil Tripathi or his friends could stop or protest it.

I won't try and argue on figures about Gujarat's economic growth because figures can be used selectively to strengthen a position and that's what Salil has done. If there is a testimony to Gujarat's growth and its impact on riot victims, Kutubuddin Ansari is a good case enough. Once known as a face of the riots, today he lives happily and peacefully in Gujarat. Not only that he is economically doing much better than he was in his foster states - West Bengal and Maharashtra. His reluctance to revisit those days and advice to all to move on obviously has no takers with Salil and ilk.

Finally, the often made argument that Modi deserves no praise for Gujarat's economic progress because it was always a state of people with business acumen. If same argument is taken forward, how can you call Modi as having sown seeds of communal disharmony when the fact is that Gujarat was rocked by riots since 1967. Why should he take the blame for a legacy when he is not being credit for other things attributed to legacy.

All just goes on to show one thing and that is - the aim of most of these writers and commentators is not to ensure justice, progress and peace for the victims and state of Gujarat.

I declare the field open for anyone to counter what I say specially Salil Tripathi for whom I have greatest regards.

Link to Salil Tripathi's aolumn -