Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Modi’s hat-trick and Muslims

By J.S.Bandukwala for
Narendra Modi has once again succeeded in securing a huge victory in the Gujarat Assembly elections. This in spite of a split in saffron votes due to Keshubhai Patel, together with the opposition of substantial sections of the RSS family and BJP top leadership. This result is bound to demoralise Muslims, not just in Gujarat but even all over the country. It is essential that Muslims analyse this setback, before deciding on policy options especially in the context of Modi's passion to become the Prime Minister of India.
Foremost in our analysis is to find the core reason for Modi's victory. It does not lie in the development propaganda suggested by many pundits. Gujarat growth has been heavily tilted towards the rich and the upper class. The distribution angle has been missing. The poor have not benefited. This has been borne out in a number of studies that have been published in this election period. Yet Modi has received huge support from tribal, Dalit and backward class voters. The correct reason lies in the feeling among Gujarati Hindu population that “in 2002, Modi taught Muslims a lesson they will never forget.” This is the base of his political success.

Dr. J. S. Bandukwala at his home in Vadodra. [TCN Photo]
Gujarat is perhaps the most communalised state in the country. This predates the horrors of 2002. Non Gujaratis are troubled by the reality of the birth place of Mahatma Gandhi being so deeply anti-Muslim. But we must realise that Gandhi, in his own lifetime, was never a popular figure in Gujarat. Gujaratis were far more influenced by Swami Dayanand Saraswati , K.M.Munshi and the sack of Somnath by Mahmud Ghazni about one thousand years ago. Note that in the immediate aftermath of the 2002 killings, a peace march to Sabarmati Ashram, was prevented from entering inside, by the custodians of the Ashram, who were old Gandhians. What conclusion should we draw? Rather Narendra Modi has been very successful in exploiting this latent anti Muslim hatred into a powerful political weapon to win elections. For with a Muslim population of just under 10%, it is easy to inflame the remaining 90 % on communal grounds. No wonder he was not willing to give even one BJP seat to a Muslim candidate, for that would have diluted his inner appeal to non Muslims. His use of "Ahmed Miya", his wearing saffron clothes at election meetings and raising the issue of Sir Creek, were subtle messages to his core supporters.