Posted by: Bagewafa | اگست 3, 2013

‘Development’ will not shield Modi from his past —-Dr.Amna Mirza

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Dr Amna Mirza is an Assistant Professor at Delhi University.

 

‘Development’ will not shield Modi from his past

 

India cannot have at the helm someone who is responsible for religious turbulence.

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Modi’s supporters in Ahmedabad on 9 June 2013. Reuters

he idea of a living democratic secular civilisation acts as a uniting fabric in India, irrespective of all the differences in caste, creed, religion and region. An uneasy chill runs down the spine of this notion whenever the memory of the ill-fated period of February-June 2002 surfaces. It was a time when minority vs majoritarianism was exploited in its crudest form to rent asunder the cohesive fabric of society. As a student in those years, and as a Muslim, the Godhra riots came as an existential crisis in terms of security and identity dilemma. It became a case of "us versus them”.

The unfortunate incident of the burning of the Sabarmati Express in February 2002 needs to be condemned. However, what followed next as retaliation was an unparalleled state sponsored genocide: the massacre, the loot, images of imposition of curfew, deployment of rapid action forces, cancellation of examinations, the stopping of everyday movements.

Various segments of civil society and international agencies held that the Bharatiya Janata Party, which was in power at the Centre and the state, failed to address moral and human concerns when an overwhelming majority of Muslims were being victimised. The state was hand in glove with certain vested interests to cause civil unrest on communal terms.

The injury and destruction caused to all communities in terms of loss of lives, property, livelihood is unsalvageable and irreparable. Time is the greatest healer for all wounds. The beauty of the diversity of our civilisation is that it does not get Balkanized in the wake of such acts.

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To see Modi as a prospective Prime Ministerial candidate who can be given the reins of the nation defies logic.

But today another attack is being made on the ethos of our civilisation. Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi has been elevated as the BJP’s chief of the election campaign committee for the Lok Sabha elections. As long as this move remains an internal party matter to augment the BJP’s vote share, the much hyped elevation of Modi is fine. But to see him as a prospective Prime Ministerial candidate who can be given the reins of the nation defies logic. So it’s time to contest the iconization of Modi.

Modi refuses to talk about the infamous Godhra riots. He often claims that he is misjudged by the media and civil society. He may proclaim to be a leader whose appeal is global, but one cannot overlook the fact that he was denied visas in the past because of his utter disregard for communal harmony. Development cannot be the only weapon in his armoury to shield him against the crude reality of being a mute spectator during a riot that destroyed the united fabric of society. In the course of time, the least one can expect from Modi is that he will apologise and express some remorse for the massacre of several thousand innocents. People are wise enough to differentiate between honesty and opportunistic stunts for the purpose of getting votes.

At the start of his latest term as Chief Minister, Modi hinted at his desire to rule over the nation to repay his debt to the motherland. The problem with this ambition is that he is a polarising figure not only in terms of society but also politically, in party matters and for the BJP’s alliance partners. Further, heterogeneity is a prerequisite for growth in this country, but his Gujarat model of development is essentially about homogeneity to be applied to all states.

At a time when the nation is pegged as a soft power, where its glorious knowledge, technology, culture have given a unique edge to the country, we cannot afford to add to its fabric an austere persona responsible for religious turbulence. It will be even detrimental for our foreign policy in future. Further, one cannot help but point at Modi’s inability to put his own BJP in order.

While it is time to work for the growth and well-being of all, that well-being cannot come from those who have been guilty of being silent spectators when several lives were ruined.

 (Sunday Guardian)

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