Thursday, September 8, 2011

There is a Sinister Side to ‘ Vibrant’ Gujarat by Aditya Menon

Mailtoday 08SEP2011

by Aditya Menon

LAST month, the Gujarat government suspended whistle- blower Gujarat Police DIG Sanjeev Bhatt for " unauthorised absence from duty". In a state where the government has a habit of protecting its cops for acts much worse than ' not coming to work', this is an inordinately harsh punishment. The accusations made by Mr Bhatt that the state machinery acted in a biased manner during the post- Godhra riots attack are not just about the 2002 pogrom. They target the very basis of Modi's regime — his consistent use of the security apparatus to consolidate and further his power.


Like other omnipotent and charismatic chief ministers — J Jayalalithaa, Mamata Banerjee and Nitish Kumar to mention a few — Modi has kept the home ministry with himself. For most part of his rule, which began in 2001, the minister of state for home has been a close aide — Gordhanbhai Zadaphiya till 2003 and Amit Shah from 2003 till his forced resignation in 2010 on account of his arrest in the Sohrabuddin Sheikh murder case. In fact, the change from Zadaphiya to Shah can be seen as symptomatic of the change in the discourse of the Modi regime. While Zadaphiya was from a Vishwa Hindu Parishad background, Shah was known in Bharatiya Janata Party ( BJP) circles as a younger version of Modi — representing a change from Hindutva- centric to personality centric rule in Gujarat.

In Gujarat, the home ministry is considered as being ' cursed' even though no specific cause is attributed for it. The careers of most home ministers or ministers of state for home since as early as the 1970s went downhill almost immediately after their stint in the ministry. This has been most dramatic during the chief ministership of Narendra Modi. Zadaphiya — who was the minister of state for home during the 2002 riots and was widely criticised for his incompetence during that period — later had a dramatic falling out with Modi. He left the BJP and formed his own outfit the Mahagujarat Janata Party and has become virtually irrelevant in Gujarat politics.

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