The big question of Narendra Modi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi meeting Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif

Recently, I got into a verbal spat with a friend who thinks Modi is the reincarnation of the devil himself. Another friend thinks Narendra Modi is India’s only hope as the Prime Minister. There is a whole range of people between these two extremes. Every time there is a flare up of NaMo related subjects, there are strident voices on both sides trying to teach me what to think.

I follow Narendra Modi’s account on Twitter. To some, it is enough to brand me as a “supporter of genocide”. To others, it is some kind of proof of my support for the man. It is neither. I follow the account because it tweets very upbeat information about Gujarat. I have no intentions of marrying the man, I don’t think I’d feel tempted to vote for him.

I think it might be useful to state where I stand on that big subject.

Let me begin with saying that I don’t know if NaMo is guilty or not of ordering massacres or inaction on them. Frankly, it sounds like an outrageous thing to do and I would be surprised if a direct order by a politician in power of this nature would happen to a group of people. That is not to say it didn’t happen either. Many outrageous things happen. I don’t know. That is my truth, and no matter how much one tries to convince me to either side, I am unlikely to change it without convincing proof. The ground theory is that a man is innocent till proved guilty, thus, until proof, I do not consider him a mass murderer.

This is not about supporting him, but about refusing to lynch him. I think India has a very bad tradition of mob pressures for their version of justice, and it has only harmed the country’s interest by making problems fester and hobbling justice with concerns of unrest. I will not play this game. I will trust our court’s judgment in the absence of very clear proof of his complicity. It is a choice I am making to remain disinvolved with both brands of mob justice. This doesn’t make me a supporter of genocide, rather makes me someone trying to prevent further genocide through emotional claims based on loyalty or contempt rather than proof. Failing my own capacity to assess available information ably, I am putting my trust in our justice system. This is not a crime.

However, in my eyes, he is responsible for the riots anyway, and the BJP line that Congress is also responsible for a lot of riots doesn’t excuse him in my opinion. As the Chief Minister of Gujarat when the riots happened, he is responsible for the breakdown of law and order on his watch. It may not be a crime, but it definitely is dangerous incompetence. I may not lynch him, but I would be wary of putting him in charge of the well being of people of the entire country.

I do appreciate that he has done a lot for Gujarat, and he has. I also think, if there was any callousness intended toward minorities during the riots, he certainly got a shock and he has worked hard to turn the state around. I know Muslims from Gujarat who voted for him. So somewhere, he is convincing in his commitment to the state.  Whether this is what the country needs, by making him a PM or by learning state level lessons and replicating processes is another matter. I think the kind of work he did happens best at a state level, so creating it all over India will require different states to learn from Gujarat and adapting useful ideas to fit their realities. That doesn’t take Modi being PM, but I do think there needs to be more acknowledgment of his work where due and openness to sharing useful processes between states regardless of political affiliations.

There is another reason I don’t want Modi to be PM, which has nothing to do with him as a leader and everything to do with his hot headed supporters. Whether Modi supported the Gujarat riots or not, the fact remains that the perpetrators felt that they could get away with it under his rule. A lot of the extremist, angry and aggressive Hindutva crowd believes that he is their leader because of his views. I would be very uncomfortable with such elements in society thinking that the leader of their country thinks like them – whether true or not. Modi doesn’t have to be like that. It is enough that people think he is, for them to feel validated in their punitive perspectives. That, I think would be very dangerous to society.

Along with his reinvention of his own image, perhaps Modi could have disowned those perspectives enough for the visible support to drop, but that hasn’t happened. Whether it is because he is in agreement, because he doesn’t want to alienate those supporting him, or because he actually believes in them is unknown, but the fact remains that Hindutva guys believe that their golden era to challenge all wrongs on Hinduism will come under him – and THAT is something I see as dangerous for society. So yeah, I’d be happy to see him throw his considerable expertise to education, law or such ministries – heck, he could probably deliver a much needed miracle for agriculture, but not as the Prime Minister or Home Minister or any other place where he is in charge of the physical or emotional safety of people.

On the other hand, he has a lot of capacity to initiate and sustain action and change. He is able to motivate people and get results. He usually engages in straight talk, even if it is not liked. This kind of directness would be a big addition to the political landscape of today. Much needed, where garbage rhetoric obfuscates everything and tangles up even simple things that seem evident. He would most certainly be a refreshing influence on a political climate of pretending results and ignoring realities.

About the Gujarat riots, I think the activists have done the people a disservice by trying to trap Modi in the case. Please note that when I use the word trap, I am not using it to deny that Modi is guilty, but to deny that individual cases were influenced by him. He may have well done what he is accused of. I don’t know, but it is unlikely he had a hand in individual killings. The cases for individual riots should have proceeded fast and culprits punished and the case against Modi, or anyone else they thought was complicit behind the scenes without a physical presence should have been done separately. By including them all together, the cases have dragged on and justice denied to immediate victims. If Modi was complicit, his wrong wasn’t just against those killed or injured but the entire state or the entire population of Muslims for putting them in danger, regardless of whether they were hurt or not. It is a different scale.

But it is familiar. This also happens in Kashmir, where the rape of a woman becomes about Azadi and credibility of forces, and justice gets delayed because even openly accepting and freely investigating becomes the equivalent of crediting a secessionist movement. The soldiers may even be innocent, but the political climate becomes one where the reluctance becomes a part of the case. A paralyzing conflict of interests develops. So, politics pretending to be protector ends up denying justice to the victim because of the political goal rather than the focus on the culprit. The same happens for a lot of festering problems in India. The Babari Masjid thing – straightforward destruction of property and vandalism became eclipsed with religious politics and minority issues and what not, and the whole thing is on hold. Why? I’ll be blunt here – because the mobs wanted to become larger mobs by banding under the largest identity religion in the country. The collective threat forced an accommodation of perspective at the loss of the country’s integrity. It seems we are not able to see shades of gray and we are not able to see beyond politics to people. We end up with the same battle everytime – the battle for the halo – no matter what the issue.

No person is wholly evil, no person is wholly good. If Arundhati Roy undermines the well being of the country with her strident rhetoric, she also has a very nuanced insight into grassroots democracy. If Anna Hazare woke up the country and gave them his integrity to come together under, he is also challenging a pillar of the democracy itself. If Narendra Modi used to be a Hindutva hot head and led the state when Muslims got butchered far more than Hindus, he has also served with enduring commitment to change the face of the state and create more security. If Sonia Gandhi leads a party of the corrupt and may be misusing her power, she also powered the RTI through when politicians would have stalled it – a direct fight against corruption. Mahatma Gandhi himself may have mobilized our freedom struggle, but he was also a hideous misogynist whose views of women have consolidated moral judgments and suppression. No one is wholly good or evil, and only criticizing someone or praising them should be seen as an intellectual warning of inability or refusal to see the larger picture beyond what they have already decided.

Such thinking is small minded and diminishes national interest rather than strengthening it. We do not need a person to be totally good to support them, and we don’t need a person to be totally evil to not like them. These decisions are individual opinions rooted in what we think is more important, but it is important that we see our decision as our own choice rather than a complete picture of the person.

As for me, I will continue to praise what I like, and criticize what I like, and remain free to think as well as change my mind if new information requires it. That is my freedom.



Founder at Aam Janata
Vidyut has a keen interest in mass psychology and using it as a lens to understand contemporary politics, social inequality and other dynamics of power within the country. She is also into Linux and internet applications and servers and has sees technology as an important area India lacks security in.

16 thoughts on “The big question of Narendra Modi

  1. Read your article on Modi today. I am not Anti – Modi or Muslim activist neither i am from Congress and 110% secular and a law abiding citizen of India 🙂 … but these 2 article should give you a prescriptive for the 2 main question you raised in your article. Growth and Trial. Article one – and Article 2 –

  2. i am at   deesa city our big question is new road in deesa is not in progres it was under counstruct for last one year and steel not finish. so it very high dust in our road so please take some measure for that  please..

  3. Dear author please go through the website and find the truth.

    Also take a case study of all major riots in post-independant India and do an analysis and comparison of riot control,government action/inaction and do a write up.

    Also find out why the Madhya Pradesh Government turned down Modi’s request for police reinforcements


    Most writers are ignorant of facts & write about how they feel based on prejudices. Many an author feel good to claim balanced view by trying to claim middle ground & sacrificing the facts in the process. So, here are some facts:1. Author conveniently forgets that more people have been successfully prosecuted in Gujarat riot cases than in any other riots in the history of India before.
    2. More bullets were fired during Gujarat riots AND more people killed at the hands of Police & Military during Gujarat riots than during ANY riots in the history o India
    3. For the first time in the history of India, a commission was set up by a CM asking to investigate his & his cabinet’s actions / inaction.
    4. Gujarat had a Muslim – Shabbir Hussain Shekhadam Khandwawala as its Police Chief during Feb. 2009 to Nov. 2010 – while SIT investigations are going on. If Narendra Modi had things to hide, he would have never appointed a Musilm as a police chief.
    5. Also, Khandwawala was among the top 10 Police Officers during Gujarat riots. Gujarat also has a far better balance of muslim in police force relative to their % population in Gujarat than in many other states. Can the directives to target Muslims & be linient on Hindus be given without Khandwawala & muslim cops knwoing about it then or getting to know about it later on?
    6. No one has bothered to ask how 10% population (of Muslims) killed 24% of riot victims (Hindus).
    7. The then home minister of Gujarat, Gordhan Zadaphia, is no longer w/ BJP & a sworn enemy of Nrenda Modi. It is impossible for giving all orders to police without him knowing about them. If he had the slightest proof of Narendra Modi’s incitement, complicity or inaction, it would have been leaked to the media by now.
    Feel free to challenge these and additional facts in my 2 articles w/ links below.  MODI-fied Media and Godhra – the scarecrow, Part 1 – MODI-fied Media and Godhra – the scarecrow, Part 2 – Criticizing others is very easy but backing up your criticism with facts is very difficult. No wonder not a single shred of evidence has ever been brought out by any one in the media to prove Narendra Modi’s incitement, complicity or inaction during Gujarat Riots. 

  5. The writer tries hard to be apolitical but fails miserably. As the problem with NaMo’s image is either you are with him or against him. There is no middle ground. The writer tries to find middle ground where no one exist thence no takers for this article.

    And between I am a great apostle of NaMo. I wish he would be PM of India one day.

  6. A typical article written like most of journos do, sit in delhi and give ground reality of Gujarat. As writer do not love to vote for him, Gujarat is lucky tht she is not in,”2002 riots do not even come under WORSE  riots in the history of Gujarat”..if writer does comparison on the basis of FACTS, thn she will be first person to support NaMo for PM..

  7. If you do not know, please do not write, You can not blame a man for what people think of him, Yes, many see him as a Hindu messiah, and if he ever even tried to drop that image, he would not even become a CM, let alone a PM. So NAMO is perfect, as of now, a role model for many youths, and still a Hindu Hruday Samrat.

  8. i hav similar love-hate feelings for Modi for the same reasons. The current events..sadbhavana, fasting, talk of peace and harmony..all this i hope will strike a chord in BJP/Modi or least get commited to maintaining harmony. And will hold them from engaging in such mindless butchery or ‘look away’ in such situations, in future. I only hope the fasting cleanses his mind besides his body.

  9. The article tries hard to give an impression that the author is neither supporting Modi haters nor she is with His supporters, but alas she fails miserably giving a very very open support to NaMo. The author asks us to let the bygones be bygones and let us give NaMo a chance to prove himself one more time, this time at national level because we all are humans and we do make mistakes, because no one is perfect and there’s a little bit of evil in all of us. I may not be as articulate as her in writing but when she says that breaking of law and order was may be what Modi’s fault and that it is not a criminal offense, but aren’t we talking the same thing that NaMo sat like a modern day Nero while Gujarat was burning? That he refused to act decisively against the rioters while he could have controlled the massacre of so many innocents?  Failure of law and order was a hallmark of Bihar for so many decades until Nitish Kumar came in, but we did not see any riots, of the scale of Gujarat in Bihar, why? Because law and order failure in individual crimes is a different thing where police has to find the criminals differently however when your entire state is burning you can use your reserved police force or can ask Center (was ruled by BJP coincidentally at that time) for help.
    Enough said, I do like some points in this article and welcomes a healthy discussion amongst we Indian’s on this topic.

  10. You have written a very honest blog. Well thought out. I agree strongly with a few points you made and do not agree with some. But on the whole well done and thanks. 

  11. You have written a very honest blog. Well thought out. I agree strongly with a few points you made and do not agree with some. But on the whole well done and thanks. 

  12. very defensive and meek tone ..3 “well I dont mean that” for every 1 “It should be”. But as you have said you are free to be meek. Democracy for India is a new thing, secularism for Hindu majority society is a inherent thing. Due to its half baked nature it all boils down to choosing lesser of the evils in India democracy, meek and confused people have screwed it up most of the times.

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