Saturday, January 21, 2012

Tricolour script bombs at Modi fast show as white plays truant

Express news service : Godhra

Women dressed in green synthetic sarees, their heads covered, streamed into the SRP grounds filing past Chief Minister Narendra Modi, who waved to them with his left hand as he shook his right hand with other visitors on the dais.

Another bunch of women with steel pots on their heads followed, waving at Modi, who returned their waves. There were 25,000-odd such women from the dairy co-operatives of the Panchmahals district, the anchor kept repeating. Panchmahals dairy is headed by BJP MLA and local strongman Jethabhai Bharwad, who had brought these women, in green.

Although Muslims were too few in the Sadbhavana crowd in this town known for the train carnage of 2002, green was the dominant colour in the crowd peppered with saffron, both colours combining to make up the flag of the BJP.

When contacted, Bharwad told The Indian Express, “I brought 31,000 women with green sarees from my dairy and constituency of Shehra. The idea was to create the Tricolour, but while my women reached, those wearing saffron and white could not be co-ordinated, so it did not work out.”

Godhra’s population is said to comprise 70 per cent Muslims, of which majority are Ghanchis, but the only Muslims seen prominently at Modi’s fast venue were Dawoodi Bohras, a small community of 6,000 in Godhra, who have always been cordial with Modi.

Visitors came with all kinds of gifts, from turbans to swords, bows and arrows and even a suitcase, for the chief minister sitting on his 23rd fast for peace and harmony.

The anchor made it a point to announce names of all those who donated to the Kanya Kelavni fund, a government initiative to educate the girl child. Back-to-back, they came with cheques. Niranjan Chaturvedi from General Motors, Gujarat’s first foreign auto plant at Halol, came with Rs 1.5 lakh, MLA Jethabhai Bharwad with Rs one lakh, GIDC with Rs 25,000, Abdullah Khan of Kalol Muslim Samaj with Rs 21,000, Shehra taluka Muslims with Rs 11,000 and so on.

One group of Dawoodi Bohras came with a physically challenged boy, Hatim Barodawala, carrying him on a chair. “We came to demand a tricycle for him,” said the elder Bohras accompanying the boy.

In the crowd were people like Mohanbhai Gadhvi, sarpanch of Amrapura village, some 48 kms from Godhra town. He was fasting with the chief minister along with eight others from his village, all wearing saffron T-shirts variously imprinted with the lotus symbol, Swami Vivekananda, or Narendra Modi on them, a popular Sadbhavana merchandise visible here. “Our talati told us to fast, so we are here,” says Gadhvi. “These are all tribals who make a living as farm labourers,” he adds.

Modi kept changing turbans till a group of people dressed in suits put a tricolour turban on his head, which stayed till the end.

Girls came to get autographs on their palms, and there was the doctors’ association representative who came wearing goggles, in a suit with a hands-free Bluetooth device on one of his ears. He turned his camera towards himself, stood cheek-to-cheek with Modi and took a picture. Some Muslims came and put saffron shawls around Modi.

Kalu Maliwad, the former BJP MLA who was accused and then acquitted in the Limbayat chowk riot case, came with a small bouquet for Modi and did not turn towards the cameras till he left the stage.

Modi proclaimed in his speech later how communalism was buried in Gujarat for the last 10 years and the only mantra running the state was development.

There was hardly any presence from Signal Falia or Polan Bazaar, which bore the brunt of violence during the attack on Sabarmati Express. Three boys who came from Signal Falia did not even bother to wear their skull caps.

They watched Modi for a while and then left, avoiding the media. So much for Sadbhavana.


Post a Comment