People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 44

November 04, 2007



Modi's Stormtroopers Caught On Tehelka Tapes


Babulal Likhure


THE Tehelka expose on the 2002 anti-minority riots in Gujarat has once again proved all the charges hitherto made against the Narendra Modi’s administration by the survivors, victims’ relatives, secular parties and the NGO activists engaged in relief and rehabilitation work.


The expose has only confirmed, coming as it did from the very people who undertook the mayhem, what was generally known about the 2002 riots from the narration of the survivors and victims.


This time, for a change, neither the BJP nor any of its Sangh Parivar constituents have questioned the genuineness of the Tehelka tapes and its contents. Instead, chief minister Narendra Modi as well as the Gujarat government counsel in the Nanavati-Shah Commission have wily-nilly confirmed the tehelka tapes to be genuine.


In a recent newspaper interview, chief minister Narendra Modi has not contradicted the contents of the tapes but confirmed their genuineness by saying that a person who was imprisoned by him cannot be expected to say good things about him. Modi was referring to Saffron Brigade’s storm-trooper Babu Bajrangi’s assertion that the mayhem was undertaken with the active connivance and protection of the chief minister.


On the other hand, Gujarat government’s Public Prosecutor and Counsel before the riot probe commission, Arvind Pandya too confirmed that he did make the derogatory remarks against the two judges constituting the Nanavati-Shah Commission. Only difference is, Pandya said at a press conference, he made these remarks as part of the role he was playing in a television serial being made by the Aaj Tak channel. It did not occur to the experienced lawyer how come a serial he is acting in has characters named exactly as the judges before whom he appears during the proceedings of the commission investigating history’s worst pre-planned riots.


In the Tehelka tapes, Pandya referred to Justice K G Shah as ‘our man’, meaning a Sangh Parivar supporter who would favour the Hindu militants who implemented the pogrom of 2002. Even this fact is nothing new as the retired judge who was hand-picked by Modi to head the commission was known to be a RSS camp follower. Older generation in the legal fraternity still remember how he had sentenced to death few Muslims merely on the basis of circumstantial evidence. It was the hue and cry over this dubious antecedent of this judge which had forced the then NDA government to appoint Justice (retd.) G T Nanavati to head the Commission in order to give it a semblance of credibility.


Thus, nothing in the Tehelka tapes being new revelation, rumours are already making rounds that the revelations would actually further Modi’s cause by ‘reinforcing’ his image as the “Hindu Hriday Samrat”.


That may be the calculation of the BJP in taking an ambivalent stand on the Tehelka tapes, condemning them on one hand as well as tacitly feeling happy that communal polarisation might be back to see the party through even with the challenges posed by the rebels braying for Modi’s blood.


Some academicians attribute this tendency to Gujarat’s Hindu hardliners having no sense of remorse about the 2002 anti-minority mayhem.


But, even if the Tehelka tapes revelations have no impact on masses in Gujarat, some intellectuals feel that now it would be difficult for Modi to project himself as a leader of national stature or secular nature --- a dream he had been nurturing for quite some time by projecting himself as a ‘development’ man.


But, at the same time, some others feel that the Tehelka tapes revelations would enthuse only the Hindu hardliners who have in any case endorsed the anti-minority mayhem as a legitimate means to secure electoral benefits.


The BJP’s ‘poster boy’ would now not be acceptable to any other secular party wishing to forge alliance with the communalists for the ulterior purpose of seizing power, if and when electoral circumstances so permit.


Even some of the top leadership in the BJP high command may be happy that following the Tehelka episode Modi would remain ‘doomed’ in Gujarat so that he does not become a threat to them at the national level in Delhi.


(November 1, 2007)