Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Focus on Gujarat

Focus on Gujarat Absence Of Riots Is Not An Achievement

 Amulya Ganguli
THE timing of Time magazine’s praise of Narendra Modi, once described by former Shiv Sena MP Pritish Nandy as the BJP’s “pet monster”, is intriguing. It has come shortly after the Hindutva camp lauded their Hindu hriday samrat for ensuring a riot-free Gujarat for a decade after the 2002 outbreak.
However, in doing so, the saffronites missed the irony of their own observation since a state free of riots should be the norm and not an “achievement” calling for the showering of rose petals. To indulge in such approbation is like congratulating a head of government for telling the police to maintain law and order ~ and not allow anyone to wreak vengeance, as Modi has been accused of doing ~ since upholding the law of land is the first duty of policemen.
 It is obvious, therefore, that the decade of calm is not the outcome of a transformation of Modi from a minority-baiter to a man of peace. Instead, it points to a realization that as a party in power, the state government has to continue to tread carefully if only because it is still feeling the heat of national and international opprobrium (including Time’s which noted the criticism Modi faces) over the administration’s dubious role during the last outbreak.
Although the Special Investigating Team set up by the Supreme Court hasn’t found any evidence of Modi’s personal culpability in the riots, the Gujarat High Court has held the state government responsible for failing to check the disturbances and look after the refugees. So, Modi will have to take every precaution to ensure that the situation does not go out of control where communal relations are concerned. It is also possible that this responsible attitude is not unrelated to Modi’s ambition to play a role on the national stage. But, that is another story.
What is more relevant is that as a party in power in Gujarat and several other states, the BJP has no option but to act in a sensible manner. Such restraint, however, was not its primary feature when it was in the opposition. As the report of the Jaganmohan Reddy commission on the Ahmedabad riots of 1969 shows, its predecessor, the Jan Sangh, and the paterfamilias of the Sangh Parivar, the RSS, played a leading role in instigating and sustaining the outbreak.
 According to the commission, the communal situation began to deteriorate following a rally addressed by the RSS sarsanghchalak, MS Golwalkar, in which he referred to the atrocities committed on the Hindus in Pakistan during the Partition. The reason why he raked up the issue two decades after the event is not mentioned in the report, but it might have been related to the warning in Golwalkar’s Bunch of Thoughts that the Muslims have “not only got two big slices of this land where they live today as complete masters with plans to conquer the rest of our country, but also continue to remain here in sufficient numbers to act as potential fifth column”. To guard against this traitorous group, a Dharma Raksha Samiti was formed.

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