Narendra Modi – India’s most popular, but equally divisive politician – has found an ideal public relations officer in the form of BJP President Rajnath Singh. Earlier, media had reported about a US firm that was paid hundreds of thousands of dollars by the Gujarat government to promote the state chief minister – whose persona, according to his political rivals and human rights activists, is speckled with blood of innocent Muslim men, children and women.
Addressing the inaugural session of BJP’s Minority Morcha’s National Executive meeting on Friday, Singh termed the Gujarat riots as “unfortunate” – this sounds pretty normal. But what followed was a purely public relations exercise with Singh saying that it was unfair to blame the Gujarat Chief Minister for the deaths of thousands of innocent people during 2002 Gujarat riots.
“One of our states is Gujarat. I agree an unfortunate incident took place. Who does not agree that it was unfortunate? Attempts were made to blame Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi as if the riots were planned by the Chief Minister,” India Today quoted Singh as saying.
This is not the first time that the BJP president is doing a PR job for Modi. Earlier, we heard him asking Muslims to put the killings of their brethren during Gujarat riots behind them. “There may have been some incidents but can we not forget or ignore them now? Incidents have been happening and 13,000 communal riots took place in the country before 2002,” he told a gathering of Muslims in Jaipur.
Let us give credit to Singh when he says that riots have taken place (read Muslims have been killed) without Modi’s presence and outside his state too. But the point, which Singh glosses over, is that politicians and parties other than Modi and BJP have, at least, tried to reach to the communities that suffered when they were in power.
Take the case of role of Congress in 1984 riots. It was disgraceful for the India’s biggest and oldest political party to carry out the massacre of Sikhs. But what followed were attempts by the Congress to reach out to the community and results are just in front of us: Sikhs have voted Congress to power twice after 1984 in Punjab.
More recently, we have the gesture of UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi handing over prime minister’s chair to a Sikh, Manmohan Singh not just once, but twice. One might say that this has benefitted Congress more, but that is how every party will and should work.
Coming back to the client of Rajnath Singh, let’s try to see how the man who has been blamed for first orchestrating and then reaping political benefits from the Gujarat riots. Being the state chief minister during the riots, he has never apologized for failing to protect fellow Gujaratis – which is the duty of the state head.
Instead, what we have seen is hypocrisy: the man who built his image as an anti-Muslim (sadly there is a massive constituency in the country which would support such leaders) politician hides it under the mask of ‘anti-appeasement’.
UPA government led by the Congress party is of late being seen as a punishment for voting them to power by most Indians, obviously because of the massive corruption, depreciating rupee and the expose of massive scams. In this backdrop, Modi is seen as a reformer who his fans believe will provide better governance because of his pro-development attitude. But deep inside Modi lovers, there is hate towards a particular community, which they believe Gujarat chief minister shares with them.
Modi and his fans want Muslims to move on and vote for him because they know without their support; his chances to reach 7 Race Course Road are minimal. Does that mean this man has changed and he no longer sees Muslims as aliens? Of course not; let’s try to find out why.
Can one forget when he said that four-woman allowance to Muslims led to “Hum Paanch, Hamarey Pachchees’ during the election campaign in 2002? In last year’s election campaigning, he asked voters to be aware of ‘Mian Ahmad Patel’. What was he hinting at? Yes, he was telling his constituency of extremists that Patel couldn’t prove to be an anti-Muslim politician you want him to be.
Being the head of Election Campaigning Committee, he made Amit Shah, former deputy home minister of Gujarat, the chief of campaigning for Uttar Pradesh – India’s most populous state which is also home to razed Babri Masjid demolition site on which BJP rode to power in early nineties.
Currently out on bail, Shah is one of the accused in the kidnapping and staged killing of Sohrabuddin Sheikh, his wife Kauserbi (her body was destroyed too) and their friend Tulsiram Prajapati. By associating with such people, Modi proves only one thing: killings of innocents allegedly by Shah don’t bother him.
So strange is the politics of this country that police commissioner of a place like Delhi will be asked by politicians like Rajnath Singh to step down for failing to stop theft at an abandoned house, but they would call it Congress conspiracy’ when voices are raised asking Modi to step down or, at least, apologise, for failing (let’s assume he didn’t orchestrate the attacks) to protect Gujaratis who were killed and maimed, whose women were raped and burnt alive.
The latest puppy analogy that so-called Hindu Hriday Samrat drew for Muslims is known to one and all. Even if it weren’t done intentionally, one would never expect India’s most ambitious prime minister making such remarks or feeling proud of them.
Had Modi made a gesture Muslims would have forgotten what happened in 2002, but when places like Juhupura– where four lakh Muslims live in a urban slum in the shadow of prospering and growing Ahmedabad city without even basic infrastructure like drainage facilities, roads, transportation and schools – continue to exist even after ten years’ of Modi’s ‘all-for-development’ rule, can they really move on? Is this what Modi calls inclusive growth?