Monday, 6 December 2010

Narendra Modi- cleared by S.I.T? So what?

It appears that the Special Investigation Team has exonerated Narendra Modi from complicity in the post-Godhra riots.
So what?

The situation in Feb 2002 was as follows
1) Modi had been C.M for only a few months. He wasn't firmly in the saddle. His following within his own party was small. He belonged to a numerically unimportant community and wasn't playing the O.B.C card- indeed, few people would have known he was a 'low' caste Ghanchi.
2) After the Pak sponsored attack on the Indian Parliament in December, tensions between India and Pakistan were at an all time high. Gujerat is a border state. Thus, neither George Fernandes, as Minister of Defense at the Center, nor Modi as C.M (the usual fall-guy for communal violence, especially as he was a political light-weight in the State) could allow the riots to get out of hand.
3) Suppressing the riots meant Hindus- activists of his own party- might get shot. But, it had to be done. This was the only way to break the cycle of violence that began in 1969.  I suppose it was convenient for everybody to leave Modi in place till elections were called. Nobody expected him to win by such a margin. Partly this had to some earlier initiatives which were bearing fruit, but- in the main- it is because suppressing riots with a hand of iron is part of Good Governance- like clamping down on kidnapping as a heavy industry. It's the sort of thing which voters want.

I don't know whether Modi handled the post-Godhra situation in the best possible way, but the fact that the cycle of violence ended that same year (Modi stepped in to prevent the Akshardam terrorist atrocity from sparking communal strife by simply putting all the blame on the Pakistani ISI) is a tribute to his toughness and understanding of the real issues which voters worry about.
Modi isn't good at communal politics. He is ham-handed. He denies tickets to Hindu party men and gives them to Muslims in a corporation election with the result that his party loses on their own home ground. If some Muslims are now voting for him it is on economic or other grounds not because they are Muslims. Modi's brand of politics is fine if the only thing voters worry about is Development, Governance and Poverty Relief.
At one time we believed he could appeal to Hindus on Religious grounds. But to do that is to be sensitive to minute differences in caste, creed and symbology. Some people can do that instinctively. If you go to a Vaishnava temple in the morning then take a darshan from a Saivite sage in the afternoon.
I think it is this quality that the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty has. The Congress Gang of 4 consists of a Sikh, a Catholic (Sonia Ji), a Muslim (Ahmed Patel from Gujarat), and a Bengali Hindu (Pranab). There is no suggestion that Kashmiri Dhars are running things behind the scenes (as happened in Indira's early years) or that it is Dosco old boys (the impression in Rajiv's first year or two)- which, I suppose, begs the question of who is running things.
Personally, I suspect it might be Billi the Cat because such was its lust for power, it escaped from my lap in 1974 and despite plaintive calls of 'puss! puss!' and offers of milk in exchange for doing my Sanskrit homework, ran swiftly down Curzon Road in the general direction of the Seats of Power.
Good luck to you, Billi, is what I say. Illegetimi non carborundum!

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