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An article by Shehzad Poonawala debunked several cover up propaganda myths spread by BJP about the 2002 Gujarat Riots and got taken down. Here is the article.

This article by Shehzad Poonawalla was originally published on DNA as "Mamata Banerjee calls Narendra Modi 'butcher of Gujarat'; here are 9 mythbusters on 2002 post-Godhra riots". It got taken down. Naturally, it finds a home here.

For those who have developed “selective and motivated” amnesia about the truths of 2002 riots in Gujarat and are suddenly buying into the myths being perpetrated by Narendra Modi's PR machinery, here are a few myth-busters to refresh your memory and perhaps your conscience

Narendra Modi surrounded by security and fans

Myth no 1: Post-Godhra violence was brought under control within 2-3 days by Narendra Modi’s government

Truth: “The violence in the state, which was initially claimed to have been brought under control in seventy two hours, persisted in varying degree for over two months, the toll in death and destruction rising with the passage of time.”

Source: Final Order of the National human Rights Commission chaired by the very respected Justice JS Verma, available here

Myth no 2: Gujarat Police acted fairly by taking action against rioters from every side

Truth: “We women thought of going to police and telling the police as in the presence of police, the houses of Muslims were burnt, but the police told us 'to go inside, it is doom's day for Muslims”

Source: PW219 testimony which was admitted as part of Naroda Patya judgment that led to conviction of Mayaben Kodnani, Narendra Modi’s cabinet minister who led murderous mobs during 2002 riots. It is available here.

Myth no 3: No conspiracy by the Gujarat government; post-Godhra violence was a spontaneous reaction

Truth: “A key state minister is reported to have taken over a police control room in Ahmedabad on the first day of the carnage, issuing directions not to rescue Muslims in danger of being killed.”

“Voter lists were also reportedly used to identify and target Muslim community members”

Source: Report of Human Rights Watch, April 2002, Vol. 14, No. 3(C). Available here

Myth no 4: Modi allowed a fair prosecution of those accused in rioting and hence even his cabinet colleague Mayaben Kodnani was convicted

Truth: “The modern day 'Neros' were looking elsewhere when Best Bakery and innocent children and helpless women were burning, and were probably deliberating how the perpetrators of the crime can be saved or protected.”

“Law and justice become flies in the hands of these “wanton boys”. When fences start to swallow the crops, no scope will be left for survival of law and order or truth and justice. Public order as well as public interest become martyrs and monuments.”

“From the facts stated above, it appears that accused wants to frustrate the prosecution by unjustified means and it appears that by one way or the other the Addl. Sessions Judge as well as the APP (Shri Raghuvir Pandya, the public prosecutor in this case at the time was a member of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and contested elections from Ward 20, Vadodara in the 1996 Corporation Elections on a BJP ticket!) have not taken any interest in discharge of their duties.”

Source: Supreme Court in Zahira Habibulla H Sheikh And Anr vs State Of Gujarat And Ors on 12 April, 2004 CASE NO.: Appeal (crl.) 446-449 of 2004. Available here

Myth no 5: Narendra Modi never justified post-Godhra killings

Truth: “Responding to queries regarding various statements attributed to him by the media, Mr Modi denied citing Newton’s law. Nor had he spoken of “action-reaction”; he had wanted neither the action (at Godhra) nor the subsequent reaction. When we cited footage in Zee to the contrary (Annexure 4A), there was no reaction from Mr Modi”

Source: Editors Guild Fact Finding Mission Report dated 2002. Available here

Myth no 6: Narendra Modi speaks only about development in his speeches. Even after 2002 riots, his speeches were never laced with communal poison

Truth: Narendra Modi’s reported speech: “For several months, the opposition has been after me to resign. When I did, they did not know what to do and started running to Delhi to seek Madam's help. They realised that James Michael Lyngdoh, the Election Commissioner of India, is their only saviour.Some journalists asked me recently, ''Has James Michael Lyngdoh come from Italy?'' I said I don't have his janam patri, I will have to ask Rajiv Gandhi. Then the journalists said, ''Do they meet in church?''. I replied, ''Maybe they do.'' James Michael Lyngdoh came and visited Ahmedabad and Vadodara. And then he used asabhya basha (indecent language) with the officials. Gujaratis can never use such language because our rich cultural heritage does not permit it. Then he gave a fatwa ordering that the elections can't be held. I want to ask him: he has come to this conclusion after meeting only members of the minority community. Are only minority community members citizens of India? Are majority community members not citizens of this country? Is the constitutional body meant only for the minority community? Did he ever bother to meet the relatives of those killed in the Godhra carnage? Why didn't he meet them? Why didn't he ask them whether the situation was conducive for polls? Why? James Michael Lyngdoh ( says it slowly with emphasis on Michael), the people of Gujarat are posing a question to you.”

Source: Reported speech of Narendra Modi, September 30, 2002. Available here

Myth no 7: Narendra Modi never applied for a US Visa (when it came to light that he was denied one)

Truth: “The Chief Minister of Gujarat state, Mr. Narendra Modi, applied for a diplomatic visa to visit the United States. On March 18, 2005, the United States Department of State denied Mr. Modi this visa under section 214 (b) of the Immigration and Nationality Act because he was not coming for a purpose that qualified for a diplomatic visa. Modi's existing tourist/business visa was also revoked under section 212 (a) (2) (g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act. Section 212 (a) (2) (g) makes any foreign government official who "was responsible for or directly carried out, at any time, particularly severe violations of religious freedom" ineligible for a visa to the United States. The Ministry of External Affairs requested that the Department of State review the decision to revoke his tourist/business visa. Upon review, the State Department re-affirmed the original decision.” This decision applies to Narendra Modi only. It is based on the fact that, as head of the State government in Gujarat between February 2002 and May 2002, he was responsible for the performance of state institutions at that time. The State Department's detailed views on this matter are included in its annual Country Reports on Human Rights Practices and the International Religious Freedom Report. Both reports document the violence in Gujarat from February 2002 to May 2002 and cite the Indian National Human Rights Commission report, which states there was "a comprehensive failure on the part of the state government to control the persistent violation of rights of life, liberty, equality, and dignity of the people of the state."

Source: Statement by David C. Mulford, US Ambassador to India, March 21, 2005. Available here

Myth no 8: Vajpayee never asked Modi to observe “Rajdharma”, did not rap him for 2002 riots

Truth: “In comments which appeared to back criticism of the state authorities, Mr Vajpayee said he would speak to political leaders about allegations that they had failed to do their job. "Government officials, political leaders, need to respond to the task. The constitution guarantees equal rights for all," he said.The state government is controlled by the BJP, and the Chief Minister, Narendra Modi, has come in for particular attack over the way the authorities reacted to the violence. At the Shah Alam camp in Gujarat's commercial capital, Ahmedabad, Mr Vajpayee said that the Godhra attack was "condemnable" but what followed was "madness". "The answer to madness is not madness," he said in an emotional speech."The duty of our government is to protect the property, life and honour of everybody... there is no scope for discrimination," he said in an apparent reference to allegations that local officials had turned a blind eye to the killings.”

Source: Vajpayee says riots “shameful” – BBC News report April 4th 2002. Available here

Myth no 9: It's not sheer opportunism that well-known Modi-baiters like Smriti Irani, have today become his cheerleaders

Truth: "Smriti Irani who unsuccessfully contested from Delhi's Muslim-dominated Chandni Chowk constituency in the April-May parliamentary elections, blamed Modi for BJP's recent electoral reverses. "Whenever people mention Gujarat they only talk about the riots and try to corner the Gujaratis on the issue. So, in order to maintain the respect that I have for Atalji and the BJP, I won't hesitate to take this step( of going on a fast to seek Modi's removal) ," she said."

Source: Times of India report dated December 12, 2004. Available here

These myth-busters took me just one hour to compile. So it's quite surprising that none of the stalwarts who interviewed Modi, (some of whom saw the events of 2002 unfold in front of their very own eyes), never counter-questioned him further and exposed the glaring gaps in his "rebuffed" narrative. Much like Smriti Irani, I guess, each night they must be saying to themselves "Hey Ram"....

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Maya Kodnani, once the woman RSS, the proof of the pudding.

"It wasn't hard to see why. Kodnani's star was on the rise after the riots. Mentored by none less than party patriarch LK Advani, she won the 2002 elections that followed the brutal riots by a thumping majority and by 2007 had been elevated to MoS for women and child development."  -  How will Modi explain his minister’s role in the riots? Firstpost.com

In December 2002 Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi gave Maya Kodnani ticket to contest State Assembly elections, even after serious AND true charges against her for 10 months since February. And He gave her the chance and the prize of a Gujarat Government Ministry yet again in 2007, that too ironically the "Women and Child Development" Minister!

  • Why did she win 2002 elections? Why did people still elect her?
  • What made the people of Gujarat keep electing Maya Kodnani, even the next 2007 term in the next 7 years even when there were grave charges against her including those that people saw her leading the mobs?
  • What GOOD that Sinner COULD do and did by winning and winning elections again?
  • What did the Gujarat Government do until she was convicted and put in jail by Supreme Court monitored SIT, for 28 YEARS?

After so much simple evidence before the Strong and Stable Gujarat Government chose to appoint her Women and Child Welfare Minister.

Are you kidding me?

Just because Kodnani was STILL winning by LARGE MARGINS! The usual banter goes with the countering of public anger at mis-governance through denials. Tell me if you haven’t had enough of those sorry-it-didn’t-happen (because it would shame our administration) defences from all concerned, liable authorities ever since independent India has been governed. It works to shrug off when your guilt is collective, dividing the shame, emboldening the lie. But if you forego those I’m sure you’re deathly bored... sorry, furious at the denial tantrums of the UPA government for last 10 years, which feels as if we’re so immature as a democracy that we had only the British Raj just before that to have had that misfortune.

Fans come out and profess Modi didn’t know! He wasn’t supposed to know all that, what goes on under him! It’s the job of the courts and the police not the Government!! Yeah Right, Kindly read on!

So why are you angry with UPA’s 10 year stable government? The same God forsaken logical reasons, they won’t act on the apparent wrongs in the regime! Deny Deny... Deny Deny Deny... (To rhyme with a pithy character from Inglourious Basterds)

Please, Understand THIS:

  • Maya Kodnani won elections 3 times in succession, including 2 times after her Criminal involvement in 2002 riots (As Anti-Hindu act as it can get).
  • AFTER her 3rd time winning, and being elevated as a Minister by her ‘ignorant’ mentors, she WAS convicted for facilitating the riots in Naroda Patiya and the massacre of 96 innocent lives (35 children!). [Fan: What Bullshit! Godhra train massacre called for it!] Congratulation! You don’t want justice for that, but to be equally, rather, more evil. Remind yourself, it began with the date of December 6, 1992.
  • Kodnani’s conviction, 28 years in prison, proves that WINNING elections doesn't prove ANY person innocent, voters can't give Clean Chits! And No INDIVIDUAL or PARTY can claim so (all established parties bat for it) citing 'WINABILITY'!
  • The "Innocent Until Proven Guilty" argument doesn't help innocent victims like you and me under the grave charges such as Murder of 96 people of which 35 are children. Law may well take its course, but not at the cost of civilisation. You have to demarcate line of accountability, before someone proliferates the injustice reaches your own doorstep. Look at Pakistan, we, as in the rest of the world, hold it accountable for its own misfortune because “we know” it abetted the denials it sought for the wrongs in their own backyard.
  • What does it Say about the people who buy into the above argument by the vested interests? They fall prey to the propaganda of false opportunism of misinformation and when it gets too hot to handle the indefensible; they are discredited and distanced from the pompous commotion of greed disguised as a public service. Wait for your turn to be Ramesh Pratap Singh, Pawan Pandey... .

"Kodnani’s name came up in witness testimony immediately after the massacre ended. The fact that she was eventually convicted 10 years later came as no surprise to anyone in Gujarat.

Even if the evidence required for the charge sheet was only gathered by 2009 thanks to the Supreme Court-monitored SIT,

THE FACTS about her involvement ought to have been known to Modi in December 2002, when he gave her a ticket to fight from the Naroda constituency, and in 2007, when he brought her into his cabinet.

  • IF THEY WERE NOT, this shows, at best, that his administration lacked basic administrative and intelligence gathering skills.
  • And IF THEY WERE, he needs to explain why he chose someone for the job of Minister for Women and Child development whom he knew had blood on her hands." - Skip the apology Modi saheb, tell us about Kodnani, Svaradarajan.com
  • WHAT KIND OF A LEADERSHIP IS THAT?
  • A LEADER that INCAPABLE of SIMPLE ADMINISTRATION, of knowing what goes on in his CONTROL?
  • HOW SAFE do you feel?

Maya Kodnani bowing before Modi

More on ‘Capacity’ of Control later.

Because HE’S BUSY, Modi gave an "explanation" in a (soft) ANI interview that he HAS NOT seen (even after a whole week?) Amit Shah's Hate speech that got the latter BANNED by the EC, along with an EQUALLY guilty MAN on the OTHER SIDE of the fence, Azam Khan. Shah is the right hand man of Modi, their public identities are interlocked in so many ways for Mr. Modi to overlook such shame to be banned by EC to hold public meetings.

Modi is the undisputed Election Campaign Manager of the BJP, has personal stake (wannabe PM), and yet he gives away such an explanation to the nation? AMIT SHAH was his Home Minister in Gujarat before being 'BANNED' from there, and Modi DOESN'T THINK it necessary what his MAIN GUYS are doing or are accused of? That's his LEADERSHIP?

AND THAT IS THE MOST BASIC QUESTION MR. NARENDRA MODI HAS SO CONSPICUOUSLY BEEN AVOIDING:

  • WHAT LED YOU, Mr. Modi, to believe that Gujarat, in 2002 riots and later, with its Strong – Stable Government DID NOT have worthy evidence to investigate and charge Maya Kodnani for her crimes instead of rewarding such a sinner with productive political career?

Rahul Sharma’s evidence, contribution and persecution:

  • Why don’t the judiciary take suo moto cognizance of the apparent direct relations of the case involving the obstruction of evidence and subsequent persecution after the fact that the same evidence held the prime accused, Then Minister Maya Kodnani, guilty of massacre?

One of the things all Indians, including Modi voters, should be ashamed of is how we have allowed Modi to treat Rahul Sharma. This brave Indian Police Service, or IPS, officer tracked the movements of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) thugs who participated in the rioting. He did so by going to mobile phone operators and securing data from their signal towers to track cellphones. This is how we came to establish that Modi’s minister for women and child development, Maya Kodnani, was involved in the murder of 97 Gujaratis, among them 33 children and 32 women, in Naroda Patiya, Ahmedabad.

Sharma should have been decorated for his initiative, but instead he is persecuted. - Narendra Modi critics, expect no quarter and no mercy, livemint.com

The evidence and the reasons for Maya Kodnani’s conviction for 28 years in jail were so obvious and basic that the Gujarat Government’s ‘inability’/’incapacity’ to suspend her and allow the investigative proceedings to fruition. INSTEAD, IT TOOK SUPREME COURT Monitored SIT to facilitate further investigations THAT GOT HER to be punished, NOT GOVERNMENT whom you’d expect.

It’s not who you are underneath, it’s what you do that defines you. Batman Begins, 2005.

It is an axiom that will ring a bell for aficionados of Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy.

It is also a maxim that effectively defines leadership. In politics, it is not just what you do but also what you do not or fail to do that you are defined by eventually.  – indianexpress on UPA’s Manmohan Singh. I’m sure you’ll like it  :-/

 

So you know what Governments, this or that, have on stake.
Unless we make them accountable to “We The People”,
we are at a loss. Sigh :-/

 

Investigation and Apparent Justice, another case:

Why the SIT is considered limited in its findings were the same obvious reasons listed elsewhere and similar to the 1984 Sikh Massacre during the MOST Strong and Stable Congress regime:

Cutting down Ved Marwah -

So cheer the Strong – Stable Leaderships that can do so much!

Guest post by @SarCreem

As the election fever hots up, the BJP - seen as the front-runner across most opinion polls - is dishing out a campaign which is a heady cocktail of Hindutva and promises of development. Having comprehensively failed in 2009 when it tried to make the Advani-Manmohan Singh fight a personality, rather than an ideology contest, the BJP this time seems to have wisened up.

Though, like Advani, Modi's campaign too projects him as a larger-than-life figure, with the most recent slogan 'Har Har Modi' giving him the place of 'Mahadev', his PR machinery is usually quick to balance such outward expressions of Hindutva with something more palatable for the urban masses - such as economic growth. Most recently, the focus has now shifted to women's safety, which in post-Nirbhaya India is yet another urban buzzword.

While supporters hail Modi for the development Gujarat has witnessed under his stewardship, critics often say that his 'development messiah' image is an organized effort to wash off the stains of 2002. The BJP usually cites the clean-chit given to Modi by the SIT to rubbish such claims, but his image isn't spotlessly clean across all parameters. In the context of women's safety, nothing can be a bigger indictment of the 'Modi Model of Governance' than the conviction of former Gujarat cabinet Minister for Women and Child Development - Maya Kodnani - in the 2002 Naroda Patiya massacre.

One would imagine that the fact that Modi not only defended, but also assigned the WCD portfolio to a woman who later went on to be convicted of orchestrating the massacre of several innocent women and children, and the embarrassment that he faced in the Snoopgate scandal would make Modi a pariah when it comes to women's safety - but apparently PR, and collective amnesia around election season work wonders!

Not only is Modi not seen as a man who does not take the safety of women and children seriously, we are now seeing the emergence of a Ramboesque image of NaMo in this regard as well! But how serious is Modi about Women's safety indeed?

Let's give Modi the benefit of doubt and look beyond the Kodnani verdict though. Let's examine what he has done for the safety of women in Gujarat post 2009. Here, two prominent initiatives standout - both of them being helplines - the first being '1091 Police HEART Helpline for Women and Children' launched in 2013 and other being 'Abhayam Women's Helpline - 181' which was launched just last month. The focus of this post is the latter but before that let's examine the initiatives pertaining to the well-being of women that were present before Abhayam.

Gujarat, prior to the launch of Abhayam had already launched a widely acclaimed 108 Medical Emergency Helpline in 2010, which is run by GVK EMRI (which as the press release for Abhayam claims is also present in 16 other states in India). While 108 wasn't a women centric service, there were positive reports that suggested that the services were being utilized majorly by tribal women. Soon enough, Modi launched an additional service named Khilkhilahat which utilized the phased out 108 vans in conjunction once again with GVK-EMRI in 2012. And finally the HEART Helpline was launched early 2013. Between 108, 1091 HEART Helpline and Khilkhilahat, one can say Gujarat has a sufficient number of women-centric services. Which brings to the question - why another helpline?

One might argue thar Abhayam is merely Gujarat's installment of the 181 helpline mandated by the centre post-Nirbhaya. But that is where the question of whom it plans to benefit emerges. While the 108 helpline follows a PPP model across the country, 181 is essentially meant to be run by the State Government, as was the case in Delhi. The Government of Gujarat, on the other hand, adopted the PPP model in this case as well, by roping in GVK-EMRI once again. While GVK has successfully run medical emergency helpline services across the country,  the question to be asked is what expertise did GVK bring to the table with regard to women's safety? None at all. In fact, if insider information is to be believed, the development of the helpline protocols, and the training for the employees was outsourced to external NGOs and institutions like the Tata Institute of Social Sciences by GVK. This makes GVKs involvement in the whole project questionable.

While it is true that the centre had directed each state to introduce a helpline service for women, Gujarat could have done without one, given the numerous helpline services that already existed. In fact, even a cursory glance at the press releases of 1091 Police HEART Helpline and 'Abhayam Women's Helpline - 181 reveals an extensive amount of duplication of services.

For example, both HEART and Abhayam promise 'rescue in emergency situations'. While the press release for Abhayam states that it will be synchronized with the existing helpline services, it appears that both helplines have independent rescue services. While HEART is essentially a Police helpline, Abhayam's idea of 'rescue-officers' is rather vague. Further, the HEART helpline clearly mentions that the location of the caller is tracked automatically, regardless of the phone being used. Abhayam's stance on the same is not clear. However, if a service which purports itself to be a counselling helpline does track the location of its callers, while at the same time promising "that information given at the time of call will be kept undisclosed" we are heading back towards Snoopgate territory.

But that's not the only way Abhayam makes Modi's committment towards these issues suspect. While the helpline went live only in February 2014, recruitment for the same happened as early as October 2013 (see image). Insider information reveals that the recruitment and in fact the entire training process for approximately 50-60 staff members was completed within the month of October itself. In other words, the helpline could very well have been launched as early as November 2013. However this could not be done as Narendra Modi was on the campaign trail. In other words, an additional project which essentially duplicates a service already in place was delayed by 4 months as Modi was unavailable to inaugurate the service. What's more is that Modi himself did not inaugurate the service in the end!

While the BJP criticized the Aam Aadmi Party for the shutting down of the 181 Helpline in Delhi, despite Kejriwal's claims that he had sanctioned payment for the helpline staff till 31st March 2014 - one wonders how the BJP justifies keeping 60 idle staff members on payrolls for 4 months.

If one were to calculate the cost to the taxpayer for the salaries paid to these staff members for the 4 months they were idle, it works out upwards of Rs. 30 lakhs (the salaries for approx 60 helpline counsellors are believed to be around Rs.15000/-). While 30 lakhs is small change around election season, it is still a waste nonetheless.  On the other hand, if the employees were not paid until the helpline began, that would be grossly unjust as the delay was not a fault on their part. At the same time, while GVK-EMRI claims to be not-for-profit initiative, there is no clear information with regard to the amount paid to GVK for these initiatives.

Abhayam also has a bizarre age cut-off for access of its services (14 years and above), and initially will launch only in Ahmedabad city, Surat City and Gandhinagar District. The helpline however is being touted as a 24*7 state level free helpline.

While the intention is certainly noble, the fact that (yet) another PPP has been handed over to GVK-EMRI which has no demonstrable experience in women's safety, the launch of HEART helpline merely a year ago and the utterly limited scope of Abhayam - makes one wonder whether Modi is serious about Gujarat, or about the well-being of women at large, or whether the helpline is yet another pre-poll publicity stunt!

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A reader left an outraged comment defending Narendra Modi's honor. I must admit I have not encountered them being answered. I have not thought enough on the subject to answer reliably. Reproducing them here, if anyone wants to give it a shot. [Note: Read to end before commenting]

In quote below, "I" is the writer, Dhananjay. "Author" is me, Vidyut.

  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.

Normally I do very little moderation of the comments, but on this subject, and knowing the extremes of emotion prevailing, I WILL moderate thus:

  • Abusive in any way to ANYONE. Modi, Congress. ANYONE. Zero abuse, or even an informative comment will die.
  • Less loyalty, more logic. We understand that if you are defending Modi, you are doing it out of respect and loyalty, and vice versa. But these questions get flatlined by emotion often enough. Answer data, logical reasoning.
  • Any comment that answers the questions or part of them, will get added to this post over this moderation paragraph. I am the sole person to decide what gets put in the post. In other words, insulting me is unlikely to make me your fan unless you present outstanding logic.
  • Anyone wants to create counter questions, comment them in, but I'll start a new page - DON't go off topic by answering them here, or I'll delete your precious answers. Wait to answer on new page.
Thank you.

16

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.