Amidst all the cheer for Narendra Modi, there will be dissenting voices—not just Muslims, but Gujaratis of all backgrounds. In some way or the other, because of what they do and represent, Modi’s state has always been hostile to them. Interviews by Panini Anand.
Chunni Bhai Vaidya, 96
“Modi has helped industry grab land from the poor.... But we are not silent victims.”
Modi comes from the RSS school of thought that has as its sole agenda to sully Gandhi and his philosophy in every possible way. They are the ones who killed him. Modi is a brick of the same wall. His ideology is anti-Muslim, anti-Christian. This is completely against Gandhian philosophy. Gandhi was against both—the creation of Pakistan and the existence of the RSS. The RSS has deleted Allah from “Ishwar-Allah Tero Naam”. The only Gandhian thing Modi had in his life was wearing khadi; that too he abandoned. The boy who once helped his family at a tea stall now travels in luxury cars and changes designer clothes 4-5 times a day. If he talked about khadi, Indian culture and swadeshi, it was just for propaganda purposes. When he built the Mahatma Mandir for Rs 1.5 crore, I asked him that before doing so, he should tell people what he thinks about Godse.
Modi’s way of functioning, vision and belief is pro-corporate, pro-industry and pro-MNC. He has helped them grab land from the poor and weaker sections of society; he wants to hand land over to industry against the wish of landowners. I am stopping him from doing that. Even at 96, I am fighting against the state to save the democratic rights of people. In this fight, I and Modi face each other. I have found that his claims about development are false. His efforts have actually benefited mostly the mncs, not the people. The farmers, the landless people, minorities, labour class, and those in rural areas have suffered. He has so far been successful in branding and marketing himself.
We are not silent victims; people have started protesting against this state-sponsored loot, but I feel that the hatred and violence infused in society will take much longer to go.
Kutubuddin Ansari, 38
“Whether Modi is in power or not, I am condemned to live with this sense of fear”
I left Ahmedabad soon after the riots. My photograph was being splashed in many newspapers across the country. The image of fear was on many covers, but it increased my fear, instead of giving me any sense of security. I went to Calcutta and started working with the state government’s support. In 2004, my mother, who still lived in Ahmedabad with my elder brother’s family, was hospitalised. I decided to return. I was missing Gujarat. Moreover, I didn’t want my children to grow away from their state, and with bad perceptions about it. For my family, it was like Partition; I have seen how people affected by it still live with pain and a sense of disconnect. I never wanted the same for my children.
I returned, but lived under the shadow of that photo. The fear was always alive in my mind; I still live with it. At work, I couldn’t distinguish between friend and enemy. So I decided to work from home. I have tailoring machines in my house, ones I got in Calcutta. I make readymade garments with the help of my relatives and family.
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