People's Democracy

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


No. 39

September 25, 2011






Irony and Farce


MAKING a complete mockery of the lofty values associated with a fast, the Gujarat chief minister ended his orchestrated spectacle of a three-day fast with bombastic claims.  Tens of crores of rupees were spent on full page colour advertisements in all national dailies and in the electronic media virtually ensuring a non-hostile, if not, a favourable coverage a la paid news.


However, the irony and the farce of this stage-managed show are inescapable.  Fasting as a means of atonement is a universal value recognised by most of the religions and cultures.  Jews fast on Yom Kippur, the day of atonement. Christians observe Lent. For Muslims, it is the month of Ramzan. Quran says: “to fast is to do good unto yourselves, if you but knew it”. Likewise, Hinduism, Jainism are replete with fasts observed for cleansing and repentance. Gandhiji elevated this to a spiritual instrument of struggle affectively used during our freedom struggle, though unfortunately, at times, to dampen the spirit of the rising public upsurge against the British rule, like after the Chauri Chaura incident. 


Modi’s fast, however, makes a mockery of all these lofty values.  He termed this fast as a Sadbhavana mission that will end `vote bank politics’.  This comes from a person who practiced the worst `vote bank politics’ and who ensured his chief ministership and the victory of the BJP in the state with hands dripping of the blood of thousands of victims  of the communal genocide that he presided over, indeed, puts to shame all previously known acts of perfidy and deceit. 


He has claimed that under him Gujarat has always followed the constitutional path.  The 2002 communal genocide in Gujarat has been decried by all the constitutional authorities in the country like the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), the Election Commission etc, and a plethora of NGOs.  The NHRC report had, in fact, noted that in the wake of the 2002 riots, “the pervasive sense of insecurity among victims extended to all segments of society”. Noting the manner in which the police deliberately did not respond to cries of help which eventually led to the brutal murder of former MP, Ehsan Jafri and the refusal of the police to respond to such pleas by the sitting Judges of the Gujarat High Court, the NHRC noted: “if the response to the security needs of the High Court Judges was so hopelessly inadequate, it must be inferred that the response to the needs of others, who were far less prominent was even worse”.  The NHRC summed up its assessment by saying that the situation in Gujarat was like “when Rome was burning, Nero was fiddling”.  The severe indictment of the Modi administration in 2002 has been eloquently and elaborately documented.   


As far as the claim of the so-called Gujarat model of governance benefiting all sections of the people, consider the fact that even after nearly a decade, there are 21,448 internally displaced people in Gujarat living in 45 camps over eleven districts today.  Without expressing any remorse, Mr Modi says that he gave “the mantra of development, so that wounds could be healed”. 


Much is being made about this sort of model of governance.  This reminds us of the fact that after all, it was Hitler who built the autobahns, the precursor to the modern miracle of civil engineering of highways and expressways.  Hitler had built these roads for the speedy transportation of his army in order to govern the world post-Second World War.  In the process, he committed the worst crimes against humanity recorded in modern history.  Likewise, the fascist dictatorship of Mussolini prided that trains were running on time, an unprecedented development in Italy in those days.  Closer home, they were those in India who maintain that Indira Gandhi’s emergency provided better governance as the `Babus’ were coming on time and clearing files in the offices.  Fascist and authoritarian dictatorships invariably claim discipline and order as the achievements for curtailing democratic rights and civil liberties and justifying untold crimes of repression and genocide. 


The so-called model of governance has been hailed by the leaders of the RSS and the BJP to claim that Gujarat is the model state that has emerged as a leader of economic development.  So much so that Ms Jayalalithaa’s AIADMK sent its parliamentary leaders to express solidarity! Though the BJP’s ally in the NDA, Bihar chief minister, Nitish Kumar’s JD(U) refused reflecting deep fissures in the NDA.


For the sake of authenticity and authority, let us quote from a letter written by the Planning Commission deputy chairman to the Gujarat chief minister in May 2010.  It says that according to the Plan panel, Gujarat’s economic indicators lag behind those of Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and Karnataka and is even below the national   average of 7.1 per cent.  It also says that for the Annual Plan 2010-11, Gujarat has a resource gap of Rs 1,622.43 crores which is “25 per cent higher than last year”. In 2009-10, the state’s tax revenues as a percentage of the state’s GDP was 6.4  per cent, much lower than the national average which is over 10 per cent. 


With regards to the claim that Gujarat’s growth is benefiting every section, the Planning Commission notes that the allocations that the state made for the Scheduled Caste Sub-Plan and the Tribal Sub-Plan “are not in proportion to their share in the total population of the state”.  Noting the high levels of malnutrition among children and women (56 per cent of the state’s children, higher than the national average, suffer from malnutrition), the Plan panel noted that infant mortality rate declined only by 10 points against the all-India level of 13 points and maternal mortality rate declined by only 12 points against the all-India level of 47 points between 2001-03 and 2004-06.  This resulted in Gujarat under Mr Narendra Modi declining in terms of the Human Development Index.  So much for the Gujarat model of development. 


Notwithstanding all this rhetoric, the real objective for undertaking this fast, as noted in these columns last week, was essentially to divert attention from the decision of the Supreme Court which has directed the trial court to proceed with the trial against Mr Modi basing itself on the charges contained in the reports of the Amicus Curae and the special investigating team.  Yet another reason, as reflected in the panic at the appointment of the Lokayukta by the governor, is to divert attention fearing exposure of large-scale alleged corruption. 


This fast is also aimed to politically position Mr Modi in the RSS/BJP’s pantheon as a potential candidate for the future prime ministership.  Mr Modi seems to seek to use this fast to try and win the forthcoming assembly election in 2012  as the spring board for his 2014 candidature.  All this is happening when such a possibility for the BJP is not visible even beyond the political horizon. 


Whatever be the result of all such orchestrations and manifestations, the reality is clear that the RSS/BJP in its desperation to regain political power at the centre will stoop to all possible levels to inflame communal passions and try and reap benefit from the worst type of vote bank politics.  A grim reminder of this has already come in the ongoing communal riots in Bharatpur, Rajasthan. 


India cannot afford to re-live through the agonies and tribulations that Mr Advani’s rath yatra heralded in the nineties directly leading to the demolition of the Babri Masjid or the horrendous communal genocide that Gujarat was subjected to in 2002.  Given these ominous developments, it is the duty of all Indian patriots to defeat such machinations that seek to destroy the very foundations of our secular democratic Republic. 

 (September 21, 2011)