Election 2014: A tale of two silences

“Chaos is a ladder” – Game of Thrones

 

On May 22, 2004 a quiet, simple and dignified man was sworn in as the thirteenth Prime Minister of India.

His government, a hastily cobbled together alliance calling itself the UPA took charge of India and over the next ten years proceeded to run it into the ground. They did it with a combination of well-meaning populist measures, incompetence and above all, unprecedented corruption. I remember a sad but hilarious newspaper article during the 2010 Commonwealth Games that toilet paper was being invoiced for 4000 Rs a roll – roughly 80$ at the time. Representatives from the government attempted to explain away the astronomical and intellectually insulting sums as “management charges” but short of someone wiping your butt in person, I failed to see the value of 80$ in a roll of toilet paper. If someone in your house went out and bought a roll of toilet paper for 80$, you’d probably have a long chat with them later that evening. You’d try to understand why they’d do something so utterly brazen and insane. I expected the same sensibility from Manmohan Singh, the steward of the UPA government. Instead what we got was silence. It was when I read the article about the toilet paper that I realized this government is nothing less than a cancer. India had become a global laughing stock and Manmohan observed with silent calm. His ministers ran amok, filling their own pockets, rampaging funds meant ostensibly for the disenfranchised, but Manmohan observed with silent calm. He became a punching bag on social media. His silence was rumored to have replaced the gold backing the Rupee and yet, Manmohan remained silent.

On 27 February 2002, the Sabarmati Express, carrying sevaks returning from Ayodhya started to pull away from Godhra junction but was halted. What followed remains contentious but it’s very clear that 58 innocent people were burned to death and consigned to a grave of twisted metal. The next day, hell broke loose. The 2002 Gujarat Riots (or Pogrom as many refer to it) are now permanently etched in the nation’s mind as angry Hindu mobs burned Muslims, children and disemboweled pregnant women (a third of the victims in this horrifying and senseless episode of violence were also Hindus). Babu Bajrangi, the best known personification of a turd, proudly bragged on camera about killing Muslims by throwing them into pits and chucking burning tires onto them. He also invoked brave Maharajas of yore as he wound through his nauseating and repulsive tale. He and a witch called Maya Kodnani now languish in life imprisonment.

In 2006, I covered Ahmedabad and north Gujarat as part of a sales training stint. The person helping me cover a particularly communally sensitive area became a close friend and we often hung out together after work. One day, as we covered a sales route dotted with burned out shells of shops, I asked him what had happened. That evening he narrated his tale. After the Godhra incident, he’d received a call the next morning letting him know that something was being planned and he should keep himself and his sales crew ready for “action”. Panicked, he called all the Muslim shopkeepers on his route and asked them to clear out. Then he destroyed his SIM card. He refused to tell me what happened after that but he told me he still manages to sleep at night safe in the knowledge that his calls saved many lives, even though their businesses were destroyed. I asked him what the Police did. He shook his head and said they stood by and literally encouraged the mob to go about its business.  I listened, stunned. He shook his head forlornly and asked me to forget about it. He personally didn’t think it went as high up as the Chief Minister of Gujarat, a gentleman called Narendra Damodardas Modi, but the situation had gotten so out of hand that even Modi would’ve found it difficult to curb. Nonetheless, what emanated from the Chief Minister’s office were some platitudes but mostly resounding silence.

The silence has continued for a decade. Modi was interrogated about his role in the riots by a Special Investigative Team at the behest of the Supreme Court. He was exonerated. There’s a famous Karan Thapar interview in which he’s quizzed about his role in the riots and he takes a sip of water and walks off, leaving a flummoxed Karan Thapar to deal with the ensuing silence.

Meanwhile, his star has continued to rise over the course of a decade, driven by the well-earned perception of having kept Gujarat on the road to economic prosperity and even accelerating that momentum. Nonetheless, rumors continue to swirl of discrimination against Muslims in his state but Modi has remained silent. More than a decade has passed since Godhra and activists continue to exhort Modi to own up, confess or express regret. He remains silent, and with good reason. There is absolutely nothing left to gain by expressing regret other than a negative association with the riots and creating a perception of weakness.

And weak, he’s not.

Modi is an interesting study in perception management. Measured, stoic, formidable and forceful in his speeches, he can own the crowd with his personality. He’s also aided in this endeavor by a ruthlessly efficient coterie of advisors and an endearing story of humble beginnings. He’s the polar opposite of Manmohan Singh, now perceived as a henpecked marionette, dancing to the orders of his Italian-born controller, Sonia Gandhi. Modi is a welcome breath of fresh air for Indians sickened by the nepotism and inefficiency of the UPA Govt. Modi has deliberately played up his role as an economic magician because that’s his strong suite. He promises a heady elixir of economic stimulation and infrastructure development through pro-business policies and an efficient bureaucracy. These aren’t empty promises. He has Gujarat to offer as proof. Many analyses have attempted to knock down Gujarat as only “one of the high-performing states in India, outdone by Maharashtra” but in all honestly, a performing state is a performing state (and I will weep blood at the prospect of Sharad Pawar as India’s PM).

Modi also brings two significant pieces of baggage to his candidacy – his links to the RSS and his ardent supporters.

The RSS has always been an awkward association for the BJP which, during election time, seeks to distance itself from the pro-Hindutva garbage spewed by RSS functionaries. I think it’s a testament to the true secular fabric of India that the BJP feels compelled to adopt a more moderate stance during election season and Modi is no exception. Again, his silence about the RSS and Hindutva during his campaign is interesting.

Then there are his supporters. Modi fanboys are dreadful, especially online. Masters of abuse and rhetoric, they’ve driven Ram Guha to the verge of insanity and frequently show up in Twitter mentions and Facebook comments with crude messages of hate, bigotry and misogyny. Unfortunately these elements are increasingly feeling empowered as the Modi juggernaut gains momentum. I wonder if Modi will continue to maintain his silence if these neanderthals were to embark on a victory rampage. I mean, these are folks who are investing in creating a mind-melting personality cult through Modi slogans and comics. How rational do you think they are?

At the same time, I’ve also interacted with normal, well-meaning folks who support Modi for the welcome change he is compared to the current government (please don’t tell me that a candidate is unequivocally perfect. It’s always in comparison to someone else). These people (and I count my parents, friends and good folks I follow online among them) are confronted with an ever increasing barrage of opposition questioning their moral choices. Every day, op-eds and open letters condemning Modi appear and every day his star continues to rise. This isn’t coincidence, this is a tradeoff of priorities. There’s significant moral ambivalence to Modi’s story but it’s clearly not as much of an imperative as the need to save pride and incomes. And I’m no one to judge this tradeoff, especially if it’s a moral one. It’s also interesting how Modi alone has been consistently tagged as communal although this litany of riots proves that the political class in general is fairly unconcerned about the lives of others.

And so it’s in the juxtaposition of two silences that the story of this election emerges. Indians are tired of of a silence that signals weakness and humiliation. Indians want to reclaim their pride with a man who understands how to manage his silences like a genius.

As of this writing, it appears that sometime in May 2014, a quiet, simple and dignified man will be sworn in as the fourteenth Prime Minister of India.

 

 

(My piece on AAP and some important disclaimers are available here.)

(Edit: Some blogsplaining seems to be necessary. I will not vote for Modi on moral grounds. The reasons are mentioned in the post. At the same time, I’m also trying to understand the factors which allow so many of us to move past those uncomfortable choices and rationalize. Hence, the post is a compilation of factors that are seen as positives for Modi, which make rationalizing easier. Such rationalization isn’t necessarily wrong. And I don’t have the right to impose my morality on others, but I can use it to make personal decisions.)

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30 responses to “Election 2014: A tale of two silences”

  1. Anil kumar (@simbamara) says :

    Otherwise its a fair article except for maybe we differ why there has been no outright aplogy from Modi.He gave a reply which answers that question if properly and fairly listened to.”If I am directly guilty,whats an apology,I must be hanged”.The fact he has NOT BEEN FOUND guilty by SIT under the SC is regarded by opponents as’ incomplete’;the same people when asked about dubious characters in their parties,are ready to take comfort in the same SC.

  2. Anil kumar (@simbamara) says :

    ”Masters of abuse and rhetoric, they’ve driven Ram Guha to the verge of insanity and frequently show up in Twitter mentions and Facebook comments with crude messages of hate, bigotry and misogyny. ”
    Perhaps you may consider this:Robust reactions come from Modi supporters because he has been demonised for the past 12 years and they resent so called”intellectuals” sitting in Studios&armchairs pontificating and giving the impression every single vote should be controlled by them and their pronouncements.Its important for such people that all they have is JUST ONE SINGLE VOTE,like every one else.I am NOT for personal abuse at all,But please allow for the fact not everyone is refined in self expressio as learned folks,who can be just as scathing but not crudely.

  3. blogibo says :

    First of all I wanna clear that whatever people says, I think UPA-I was best government in terms of economy in India, UPA-II was also not bad in terms of economy but tops in corruption. Also I WILL NOT VOTE FOR MODI, for the same reasons you have, perhaps.
    Now it comes Modi’s economy agenda. I never get to know why peoples feel he has developed Gujrat. CAN A SINGLE MAN CAN DO ANYTHING? Morover if datas are to be believed than in his tenure growth rate of Gujrat has become low. Also Modi speaks a lot about foreign investment in his state. Again if datas are to be believed again than Gujrat tops in getting foreign investment about 4 lakh crores and Haryana is second with around 3.75 lakh crore. ACtually irony is that Gujrat ranks last getting implemented this foreign investment and Haryana ranks first. I seriously don’t get why people relate economy with Modi. I requst you to please give me facts of what you said. Also if you talk about education, then Gujrat has just 27 universities while state like Rajasthan has 70 univ.
    Also people believe that UPA was corrupt so they will vote for Modi, its my take on it. http://blogibo.wordpress.com/2014/03/28/why-modis-nda-will-lead-to-more-corruption-then-upa/
    Hoping for your reply.
    Regards.

    • Anil kumar (@simbamara) says :

      Lets not go into statistics because they will be presented by eschone according to eachones own preferance.In AAP KI ADALAT Modi clearly said whatever progress has been made in Gujarat cannot be attributed one single person ie to him,

  4. Me (@Opinio_in) says :

    Despite myself, I found myself liking this article. It is very well written – thank you for that.

    It mostly escapes notice that many of us who are deeply troubled by the 2002 violence are also constantly questioning ourselves and looking for alternative explanations to Modi’s guilt. Nothing would please me more than to be convinced that Modi is innocent and/or he was framed.

    But I am still left deeply unsatisfied by the several details you failed to address, but that are surely immensely relevant to this great moral dilemma we have before us.

    Did you not consider the following?:

    1/ To me the most revealing insight into Modi’s character was not his speculated role in the actual violence – but his subsequent Gaurav Yatra and the incendiary language he used during the time against an extremely vulnerable minority that had only recently experienced the most grotesque possible violence against it.

    2/ Babu Bajrangi, who you rightly consider one of the most repulsive characters (that we got to see) in this episode casually talks and gives matter-of-fact details about Modi’s role in directly protecting him (and presumably other principals of the violence). And this part of his narration in the videos is as believable or unbelievable as the remainder of his ‘testimony’.

    3/ It wasn’t an “exoneration” by the Supreme Court – it was only a statement of “absence of prosecutorial evidence” by the SIT team leader, which was disputed by another of SC’s own agents, the amicus curiae. Then there are the deeply troubling questions about the behavior and selectivity of the SIT itself, as detailed in Mitta’s recent book “The Fiction of Fact Finding”.

    4/ Finally, the well-meaning folks who support Modi after mulling the tradeoffs involved – what percentage of Modi supporters do you think they are? 20% or 80%? I suspect the former, and that the much greater percentage of Modi’s middle class, educated supporters actually do so because he “rightly taught them a lesson”!

    I am happy and eager to be corrected on this last one, as it will – at the risk of sounding pompous – at least partly restore my faith in India an in humanity!

    Thanks again..

  5. itsmgc says :

    Very well written. Very balanced too.

    let me give my two cents.

    I grew up in Gujarat and have seen congress government n than BJP government. Was there during riots and have seen Modi become CM and amount of work he has done is amazing. For someone to come from outside Gujarat and just look at figures or infrastructure and decide if there is development or not is very misleading. I have seen 1990s Gujarat and 2000s Gujarat and I am amazed at the work he has done. Mind you this compared to other states of course. Gujarat is part of India and GOG had to deal with hostile central government. In 2002 elections people might have voted on religious lines but in 2012 they did not. Most of noise are from people outside Gujarat who cannot see a different Modi. And as long they are reading and watching Delhi media they never will. I don’t mind them. They are just making decision on what they hear and see.

    I can tell you one thing. I don’t know if he would be able to bring same amount of development as he did in Gujarat but he will surely be not threat to moral fabric of India. I think lot of Indians have read him wrong because there is lot of exaggeration in pro and anti Modi propaganda to see the real person.

  6. Desi Daaru says :

    I happen to be someone who would never vote for Modi either. Still, having said that, I cannot help feeling angry at Western articles that seek to paint Indian citizens as somehow lacking in morality, all because collectively we are bent on making Modi the PM.

    People are voting for Modi, as you say, for all sorts of reasons. There’s hardcore supporters, development believers, and also those who really think of him as the lesser of two evils. I believe that the latter two exceed the former.

    For what it’s worth, the man is contesting on a development platform, because he cannot be associated with that other platform. For what it’s worth, he knows we know about 2002, and he knows he cannot risk being seen as an enabler of violence again. For what it’s worth, I refuse to believe that India will overnight turn into a darker, more sinister place if Modi wins, because India is made up of people who will fight tooth and nail before that happens.

    In short, I feel a bit despondent that not only are we being asked to choose between a man like Modi and a man like RaGa, but also that we are being judged by the world on that choice. It’s especially infuriariating coming from a place that has elected the likes of George Bush TWICE.

  7. Rushabh says :

    Important thing to consider is what are the biggest threats in electing Modi? One is people are electing him specifically as he is hindu right and because of hatred towards Muslims. On this front I have absolutely no doubt in my mind that majority of voters vote for him for economic development, barring few crazies and few regions where there have been fresh violence and polarization most of voters vote for him because they want to see development, prosperity, economic growth. They vote for him inspite of hindutva and not because of it. Otherwise the kind of demography we have in terms of the percentage of hindu voters, BJP would never have lost any election. But the fact is they hardly ever win it. And even this time also they are only barely winning it despite 10 years of absolute misgovernance and misrule by Congress. So I believe majority are decent.

    Second threat is people might have good intention but after being elected Modi and his man might go crazy just like Akhilesh and his goons did in UP. People voted for young Akhilesh with hopes that he will be their Modi or Nitish. Growth rate will pick up and they will be able to held their head high in rest of India and have better life. But Akhilesh have given them non-stop misery, riots, misgovernance, law order gone to the dogs with his men raping and murdering people even, thousands of children dying of Japanese Encephalitis. Could this happen with Modi? I see no chance of this. The man is too smart to let there be widespread violence in his own rule, (yes, I know 2002, but things have changed now) especially now that there is so much scrutiny on him. People had apprehension about law and order under Akhilesh and he has proven their fears right and as a result I predict he will lose this and next election and people will not forgive him ever for it, unless of course BSP or Congress unleash even worse violence or worse governance. My point is Modi is too smart to realize that having violence under his watch now will be political suicide.

    Also I think he is a changed man, or he never was that communal, nationalist but not communal. Look at his track-record in Gujarat, where he has kept VHP, bajarang dal crazies far away. They were so disappointed in him that they actually campaigned against him in last Gujarat election. Yes VHP was campaigning for Congress in Gujarat. He has shown time and again that he is pragmatist, modernist, for example in Gujarat many temples have been brought down for road widening with Modi’s encouragement. He hasn’t come out at all in support of crazies like Aasharam who has a lot of following in Gujarat. He lets Gujarat police do its job. Also remember his speech about sauchalaya before devalaya. If you want to see true hindutvavadi’s response to that just look at Uma Bharti’s response who said its not right to even say Sauchalaya and Devalaya in one statement. Also remember his response when some crazies in UP were digging for gold because some religious baba had dreamed that there is gold under there. His instinct was to mock them saying the world is laughing at us. That was the correct response. Of course he later retracted and praised Shobhan Sarkar because who wants to take on crazies in election season. My point is he has always shown modernist and progressive instinct, but his party and core voters means he will show some soft hindutatva to please them, which is fine. But I think his focus will be on economy.

    We face many threats both internally and externally and wasting another decade is a luxury we just don’t have. Remember poverty is many times responsible for more violence and if we don’t get the economy right now then we will have many riots, religious and left wing Maoist kind. And its not like the other parties are not capable of violence or playing with national security or instigating riots for few votes.

    • YN says :

      “The man is too smart to let there be widespread violence in his own rule, (yes, I know 2002, but things have changed now) especially now that there is so much scrutiny on him. ”

      Wow. Just because he won’t let 2002 happen again (who knows, maybe maybe not… we’ll know when the other round of elections are near), lets all forget it ever happened and make him the PM. Who cares for justice-vustice… that’s all bullcrap in India anyways. Let us be developed, whatever be the cost. Because morals are for undeveloped fools. Look at the US for chrissakes! :)

  8. pertinentobserver says :

    Very nuanced and I agree with most of your writing.
    I am more towards the economic right and believe in UCC. Congress governance and their “pseudo-secularism” disgusts me.
    But over the last few days, I am getting more depressed with the rise of Modi. I can’t in good faith support someone who hasn’t showed remorse of Gujrat riots. During this election too, he has used divisive language too.

    This election is a moral dilemma and have been depressed about this. I can’t vote for Congress & bring those dacoits back and voting for Modi would be endorsing someone who clearly hates minorities.

    Either way, my country is doomed.

  9. shenoyn says :

    Really well said! Very balanced. And you speak for me.

  10. darkerdeeper says :

    I live in Gujarat, and I want to offer a point of view which may seem absurd, but I have been trying to reconcile with it for a while now. Modi is popular in Gujarat not inspite of Godhra, he is popular because of Godhra. Or atleast his popularity started because of it. We gujaratis, I am terribly ashamed to say, and I hope I am wrong are highly communal people. It may be due to the disgust and revulsion with which a normal gujarati treats non-vegetarian food, or it may be something deeper. But the fact is this. I have friends, relatives, elders who are otherwise very sane, but say things like “Good that Modi put the muslims in their place.” Or that “what else could you have expected of M-Class”, etc. I have relatives who shopped purchasing groceries from their neighbourhood grocer for a year after the riots because he was muslim. It is not for me to say or judge whether Modi was complicit in the riots, but I have faced the 1992 riots as a 12 year old, where we stood guard with broken tube-lights and acid bulbs along with our elders the whole night.
    I would also question the development model to some extent. 3 incidents point me to the fact that Modi might not be as competent as we think generally.

    A. The 2002 riots. I wonder why more fingers are not pointed at the then Police Commissioner of Ahmedabad, since his counterpart in Surat did manage to stop the riots completely. But the fact remains that maybe riots can happen without political will, but they can definitely be nipped in the bud with political will.
    B. The 2007 Surat floods. The scale of devastation that we encountered in Surat was unprecedented, and was purely a manmade flood because of the incompetence of the then irrigation minister Mr. Narottam Patel. Neither was he removed after the event, nor was he denied a ticket in the next assembly election.
    C. The amount of bribes that go into procuring lands, getting them converted into Non-agricultural in the SEZ areas of Dahej and Sanand, is mind blowing. The sarpanch, mamlatdar, right down to the appeals officers, all are corrupt. And I say this not by hearsay, but by purchasing land myself.

    Still, I would note vote for an independent, and vote for the BJP. There are good people in the BJP, and ultimately it is the ministers that run the govt. It would be really good to see people like Shourie as Finance minister, VK Singh as defence, Sushma Swaraj as home. And the media/opposition/us liberals will ensure that the govt remains on its toes as regards its secular nature.

    • Me (@Opinio_in) says :

      Thank you for your comment, darkerdeeper.

      Without actually having been there, I feel you are right about the Gujarat electorate and we are unfortunately seeing a re-run of that at the national level.

      This is what a Modi is capable of doing to a whole country – with his deft balance of ‘development’ rhetoric and his dogwhistles – shehzada, biriyani, sultanate, etc – directed to the appropriate constituencies.

      I agree with many here that Modi will be restrained as PM – but only till the going is good. When the honeymoon gets over, as the promised magical development is not delivered and re-election looks doubtful, that is when Modi will have to unmask himself.

      And let it not be said then we were not warned.

      Most of us now tend to forget but we were warned repeatedly by intellectuals and journalists when the BJP/NDA was first elected – like we are being warned now – that Gujarat was a Hindutva laboratory and a fascist experiment was taking place there. And then we all acted stunned and surprised when Gujarat 2002 actually took place, with its hundreds upon hundreds killed, and went into our various analyses and introspections on why it happened!

      We were warned then, we are warned now.

      • darkerdeeper says :

        @Opinion_in I disagree with the riots being a fascist experiment in Gujarat. Gujarat has had a bloody history of riots, and the hindutva brigade has only learnt to take advantage of it in the last 20 years. The thought that there could be systematic large scale govt sponsored riots before the next elections is very farfetched, but pretty scary one. In 1992, we had surat municipal elections right after the riots. 2002 had state elections scheduled after a few months. 2013 muzaffarnagar come right before the national elections. 3 unrelated incidents do not a pattern make, i might be searching for one where none exists. But we are deeply divided right now as a country, i wonder what effects that will have in the long run.

  11. halb19 says :

    “situation had gotten so out of hand that even Modi would’ve found it difficult to curb.”

    That’s a nice way to let Modi off the hook.

    I know you’re a well reasoned and liberal observer, that’s why I have slight problem with you taking a very soft stand on Modi in this piece and blaming the carnage only on the foot soldiers. You reference to the Babu Bajrangi tape where he boasts gleefully about his morbid killing of Muslims but you forget to mention the part in the very recordings, where he talks about how it wouldn’t have been possible without Narendra bhai.

    “Bajrangi: He made everything all right, otherwise who would have had the strength… It was his hand all the way… If he’d told the police to do differently, they would have f****d us…. they could have… they had full control…
    For two days, Narendrabhai was in control… from the third day… a lot of pressure came from the top… Sonia-wonia and all came here…

    Bajrangi: Narendrabhai had come to see that things didn’t stop the next day… He went all around Ahmedabad, to all the places where the miyas [Muslims] were, to the Hindu areas… told people they’d done well and should do more…

    Bajrangi: [After the massacre] the commissioner issued orders [against me]… I was told to leave my home… I ran away… Narendrabhai kept me at… the Gujarat Bhavan at Mount Abu for fourand- a-half months… After that, [I did] whatever Narendrabhai told me to… Nobody can do what Narendrabhai has done in – Gujarat… If I did not have the support of Narendrabhai, we would not have been able to avenge [Godhra]… [After it was over,] Narendrabhai was happy, the people were happy, we were happy… I went to jail and came back… and returned to the life I’d led before.

    Bajrangi: Narendrabhai got me out of jail…… He kept on changing judges…. ”

    Here you can see the entire transcripts of Bajrang Dal activists talking about how they had the blessings of Modi in carrying out the riots and officers talking about how Modi advised to go soft on the rioters. http://archive.tehelka.com/story_main35.asp?filename=Ne031107What_They_Said.asp

    You may choose to believe the tapes or you may choose to believe the persons are lying or it is all a conspiracy against the ever victimized poor Modiji. You might also wanna believe that top persons in BJP like Kodnani were involved in the riots without the knowing of Modi, that police officers like Sanjiv Bhatt and Rahul Sharma spoke out against Modi because they’re on a Congress payroll even at the cost of being vilified their whole lives, that the death of a certain Haren Pandya after testifying about Modi had nothing to do with Modi, that all the allegations of fake encounters involving Shah and Modi are completely fabricated, that all the allegations in court by Zakia Jafri on Modi, the ignoring of calls by Ehsan Jafri pleading for help on that faithful day are also a conspiracy, that transferring and suspension of officers who chose to speak against Modi is not suspicious at all, that Manoj Mitta who found several discrepancies and destruction of evidence in the SIT investigation (the same Manoj Mitta who did an extensive research on the subversion of justice in 1984 riots) is probably a Congress stooge and the allegations of illegal surveillance also probably hold no ground.

    It’s true that he hasn’t been convicted on any of these cases. But if you think that these barrage of allegations against him stand for nothing, I’m concerned for your conscience.

    • daddysan says :

      I’ve always maintained I won’t vote for him if I had the chance because he makes me uncomfortable. The reasons are mentioned in the post. What I’m trying to do is provide different perspectives from the people around me. The sentence you’ve quoted was verbatim from my friend. Perhaps he was trying to rationalize what happened and come to terms with his support of the man. Please read this post independent of my stand on Modi.

  12. Sriram says :

    Excellent post, Daddysan. You have captured my thoughts very well.

    In her seminal work, The Journalist and the Murderer, Janet Malcolm receives a pile of documents about a man who is being investigated for murdering his family. She expresses her frustration with these papers saying:

    “I know I cannot learn anything about MacDonald’s guilt or innocence from this material. It is like looking for proof or disproof of the existence of God in a flower – it all depends on how you read the evidence. If you start out with a presumption of his guilt, you read the documents one way, and another way if you presume his innocence.”

    This summarizes the many articles/posts I have read online about Modi and 2002. “He appointed Maya Kodnani, who is now a convicted murderer as, wait for it, Minister for Women and Child Development.” “But he has never been convicted by a court.” “Everyone knows the wheels of law turn slowly, and sometimes get stuck, in our country. Is this lack of a conviction any proof of innocence? Also, what about those gory human rights reports?””All paid propaganda. You give greater credibility to these reports than the due process followed by a Congress government out to get him?” Here is the flower, does God exist?

    Here’s my take, not on his guilt, but on the possibilities that confront us. History suggests that when problems of religion and sectarianism are inflamed beyond a point, their repercussions last for decades if not millennia. They are never fully solved, but simply lurch from one crisis to another, with intervening periods of apparent peace. This is the story of Kashmir, Gaza, Sri Lanka, Rwanda, Bosnia and many other places. On this count, I fear greatly about Modi’s brand of muscular politics and the potentially lasting damage. While I understand that silence may be strategically better with some, it makes me paranoid. If push comes to shove, what will this man do? Will it tear the country apart?

    On the question of economics, I’ll say the following: (1) the Congress has been a crying shame and Modi has a far better track record. (2) I don’t think short-term economic policies can cause as much damage as inflamed passions. (3) I still find the Congress utterly abhorrent and cannot bring myself to vote for them.

    So who would I vote for? Probably the best independent in my constituency. I don’t do this with any great joy in my heart, but I see this as simply the least of the evils. This, as opinion polls suggest, is not the view of many. And, I agree with you that some good folks I know, who are hardly bigots, are in the majority. But I just can’t read the question of God and the flower and the potential ramifications the same way they do.

  13. Adarsh.V (@veeadarsh) says :

    Good write-up, though it leans slightly towards Modi. I think that the chief problem is that there is no objective opinion about all this. The liberals keep harping about the moral responsibility of the country without realizing that in an utilitarian society the moral responsibility lies only with the lawmakers, courts and investigation agencies, and people just have to follow these frameworks. Everyone is making exaggerated claims, and there is no way of knowing who to believe. BJP is a better choice on basis of development only relative to the UPA, but the UPA is secular only relative to BJP. There are no absolutes, and I guess it is a very tough choice for the voters (I am not one of them)

  14. Imran Asad says :

    This is funny how you write a piece on Modi and dedicate the beginning and almost 40 % of the article about the failures of his opponents. There are so many misses about Modi here. You took a case 2002 where everything is clear about and forgot the rest. This is So sad on your behalf. but i can guarantee you great comments below by people whom you praised *the well-meaning folks among modi supporters*, although they don’t exist.

    That’s just a way to support your support to Modi.

    P.S. i also want congress to go but Modi is not a replacement we should look for. Even BJP has better leaders, but looks like you had wanted to take a side already.

    Cheers, bro

    • daddysan says :

      I’m just so disappointed you guys think I’m taking a side. I’ve always maintained I won’t vote for Modi and I stated why. I’ve also written my own story there. This post is purely observational and attempts to understand why he’s so successful despite the questions that surround him and I’ve tried to be as impartial as possible. If you think this is taking sides, there’s nothing more to say.

      Also, there’s a reason the beginning and end are the same sentence.

      • Hari Krishnan says :

        “This post is purely observational and attempts to understand why he’s so successful…” – I don’t know how you’re drawing this conclusion that he’s been successful. What can certainly be termed Modi’s success is in creating a perception that he’s a Superman who can solve all the problems of this country in a jiffy.

        Some people are naive enough to believe that 6 lane expressways are enough to compensate for lack of potable water, electricity and basic health services (Some of Gujarat’s villages). You must read some of Devdutt Patnaik’s works so that things can be seen in the right perspective.

        Modi has a history of Gestapo-giri. He will rule with an iron fist and be constantly tracking everything that his opponents are saying and doing – that includes politicians, corporates and bureaucracy. Nobody will be spared except ordinary citizens like you and me. Oh wait, there’s also a story about how state police intelligence unit was used to track movements of a young lady architect whom the saheb was smitten by.

        I agree with everything you have said about UPA and Maun Mohan Singh. But this man makes me uncomfortable. His modus operandi is scary and I have a feeling it will destroy the moral fabric of this country. Do not forget what happened to Haren Pandya. Man was killed and investigation botched up. Similar to 2002. Men and women were killed in planned riots and investigation was botched up. Also, Do not forget how Modi has dealt with political opponents and critics throughout his political career. Not a sign of a leader. More like a Don.

        We surely need decisive leadership at the top. But it can’t be at the cost of our country’s basic moral, secular values and constitutional rights.

      • Rush says :

        You may claim to be objective or impartial but what you choose to include and what you choose to ignore – in other words, what you choose to observe and what you choose to turn a blind eye towards- betray your bias. This article is anything but impartial.

        • daddysan says :

          I chose not to include a laundry list of condemnations, accusations and counter-accusations because they’re freely available in the public domain, too numerous to list and eventually end up leading you to tangential arguments. I chose the points I felt most strongly influenced Indians to look past their ethical dilemmas.

      • BV says :

        Brilliant post. I do not think you are taking Modi’s side personally, I get the impression you find Modi and his followers rather repulsive and had to work very hard to sound impartial in the above post. ;-)

        I apologize for the next few lines which are nothing to do with Modi et al.

        The title, and that you have the same sentence for the beginning and the end reminds me of a book I once read

        ” The Waystone Inn lay in silence, and it was a silence of three parts.

        The most obvious part was a hollow, echoing quiet, made by things that were lacking.
        ….
        Inside the Waystone a pair of men huddled at one corner of the bar. they drank with quiet determination, avoiding serious discussions of troubling news. In doing these they added a small, sullen silence to the lager, hollow one. it made an alloy of sorts, a counterpoint.”

  15. Raju George says :

    I wouldn’t have believed this. But after reading your fb posts about your parents views and your recent article about AAP this definitely is not a surprise.

    Just for your thought, “Most of the Modi supporters appreciate his role in 2002 Geonicide”. So you just gave them a sweet way to continue supporting him.

    The other things you missed about Modi’s rallies his speeches are simple and absolutely chauvinistic things he says like Callinh Arvind Kejriwal a pakistani agent. talking about his 56 inch chest. claiming to be chokidaar, using shehzada terms, rewriting historical facts and basically faking everything.

    And the last paragraph, Bro you just broke my heart there with adjectives like “a quiet, simple and dignified man will be sworn in as the fourteenth Prime Minister of India.”

    and wow! what a statesmanship Modi has.

    Alas! Daddy San made me very sad.

  16. Paul says :

    Present UPA Government is being lead by someone who is not even selected by the people or the alliance of UPA to govern, he’s their at the behest of Sonia Gandhi only. Manmohan fought two LS elections, and both of the times he lost to average candidates. And now he’s RS member from Assam. He was a wise man, man of knowledge whose plannings drived ’90s economy. And ever since he joined UPA, his all reputation and hard working fades away in the dust of corruption, scandals and silence.
    BJP shares RSS ideologies. We want BJP to excel in terms of modern thinking and rights to citizens and disassociate itself from that of RSS but we know, development doesn’t take place over a night, it is slow and takes time. We’ve seen BJP supporting Section 370, which is against the basic rights a citizen should be guaranteed, but let it happen, let new BJP members take decision making spots and their will be development in terms of their ideologies.
    Modi’s Gujarat Governance is a fine example of it. Most of the economic decisions taken by Modi were once not at all supported by RSS, but look at the present, it is working.
    People attacking Modi have only one weapon – Gujarat Riots. But when will they accept SC’s order, ruling and SIT probes ? It is high time they accept what lies in future because that’ll help them, us and India.
    Politics in India is all messed up, dirty and no one is clean. And from these if we have to choose, it has to be the one with less dirts and more stability under his belt, clearly Modi.

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