Wednesday, April 16, 2014

How Mr. Modi is going to stop rise of another Modi?

General elections of 2014 are going on in full swing, their results will be declared very soon (May 2014). Based on several opinion polls BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) is expected to emerge as single largest party in this election. All credit for this performance is supposed to be given to spectacular leadership of Mr. Narendra Modi who also happens to be its prime ministerial candidate. Mr. Modi's name came in national news  for the first time because of infamous 2002 Godhra riots. These riots happened in Gujarat during his first year as chief minister and he faced lot of criticism for the way he and his administration handled that incident which resulted in killing of some 1000 people in his state. He won three consecutive assembly elections in Gujarat since then, but his role in those riots is still debated and some survivors are still pursuing cases against him. These riots gave him certain image which he hardly tried to change, he never even apologized to riot victims. He emerged as conservative, right-wing politician, a self proclaimed Hindu nationalist leader. Very aggressive and well planned media campaign, support of organizational network of BJP and lots and lots of money (donations, party money, etc.) helped him to build this image. Now please don't ask the source of all this money which this big national and regional parties use in India as it's not mandatory for political parties to declare source of all their donations. These organized efforts and extensive propaganda has created certain image of him in people's mind. This campaign tried to maintain his image of conservative Hindu leader but added another dimension of developmental messiah based on some recent economical development in Gujarat. Based on very much debated Gujarat model he is projected as a leader who can solve all problems which India is currently facing. Dismal performance of UPA-2 government headed by Dr. Manmohan Singh, anti-incumbency factor along with number of scams and corruption charges on some ministers helped Mr. Modi to become front runner for next PM's post. 

No one can deny the role 2002 Godhra riots played in helping Mr. Modi to emerge on national scene of Indian politics, at least I heard about him first time after those riots. I also heard lot of praise for him from many people for the way he handled those riots, most of the praise was from so called Hindu conservatives. They were happy that he gave time to Hindus to vent their anger about killing of Godhra train burning incident victims before taking any strict action against rioters. We all know that this cannot be proven in any court, but this was my personal experience and I am writing it based on that, not based on some news article, blog post, book or anything else. These riots helped him a lot to win 2002 Gujarat assembly elections. Now the question which comes to my mind is how Mr. Modi is going to stop emergence of another Modi, who might want to use similar strategy to achieve his/her ambitions? And I am not talking here about something which never happened in Indian politics, there are some examples from recent past where people from same party (or same family) tried to use a similar formula used by their seniors to achieve their own political goals. May be these people thought that why to design any new strategy when they have something which has already been tested and proven to work? This happened with firebrand leader of Maharashtra late Mr. Bal Thackeray, he couldn't stop his nephew from becoming another firebrand leader and launching his own political party using similar strategy which Balasaheb used to launch his own political career in past. Mr. Modi also used tactics similar which his political guru and mentor Mr. L.K. Advani used in past. Mr. Advani was leading political figure in Ram Mandir movement. That movement polarized India that time and created lot of disturbance and violence but it also helped BJP to gain power in center for the first time in 1996. Ram Mandir movement polarized the country and so did the Godhra riots, both incidents either by plan or by accident helped a political leader to become a national figure. Recently even a young leader like Mr. Akhilesh Yadav (CM of UP) is also using similar political tricks which his father used to stay in power.

When aspiring leaders see that particular formula worked very well for someone to achieve his/her aims in very short time then at least some of them cannot avoid temptation to reuse that same formula for their own political benefit and I think here lies the biggest danger. This creates a real possibility of emergence of many such leaders who are ready to travel same path to reach same goals. May be Mr. Modi is a good administrator, may be leaders like him or Mr. Thackeray are really good in decision making, may be they are powerful and know how to control their cadre but the question we need to ask is, do we want to encourage others to use similar methods to become another Thackeray or Modi? If not then how are we going to stop this from happening? Just by hoping that nothing like this will not happen in future, I am sure this is not going to help. Why don't we question these leaders and make them come clean before they occupy any public office? Why don't we challenge the system which results in situation which then encouraged creation of such leaders. Minority or majority appeasement both are wrong, there should not be any appeasement politics at all. We need to object it whenever it happens no matter which party is playing such politics.

No one likes to remember these unfortunate incidents and argue about them again and again. This is not very pleasant experience at least for me and memories of these incidents are also very painful for victim's relatives and survivors of these incidents. But if perpetrators of these type of crimes are not punished and worst if there is no hope that they will get ever get punished then how come someone can forget these incidents? Because of this passive attitude of many people these type of crimes repeatedly happen and every time people who complain or protest are targeted. They are advised to forget and move on or they are reminded that this is not the first time it happened so it's not a big deal that it happened again. Have we become so insensitive? Have we totally lost faith in humanity? Do we value human life only based on religion, race, caste and nationality? Has politics become more important than human life to us? What is the reason that these type of incidents keep on happening and no big politician accused in these riots get ever convicted? Do all these victims lie or there is serious flaw in our investigating agencies and law system which allows these people to escape easily?

No one can deny the need of economic prosperity for any nation, it is required for any country to remain competitive in this world but it should not come at the cost of injustice to riot victims. This post is not about Mr. Modi or Mr. Thackeray or Mr Yadav, I am using them just as a examples because they are from recent past one can take any examples which they want. This is about our passive mindset which makes us keep quiet and ignore such crimes. We behave as if death of 100s pf people is not a big deal at all, it's politics and development that only matters. May be it is not a big deal for some people but for me it's a big deal and some one need to fight until justice is done to Kashmiri Pandits, 1984 victims, 2002 victims or any other riot victims. This is not about some individual or party or some election but about people who suffer in these incidents, if we can't protect them then the at least we can do is to try to fight for their justice and apologize to them so that their pain becomes bearable. No one can understand their pain but at least we can try to reduce it to some extent. Let the best candidate or party win this election but lets not try to trivialize serious incidents like riots which affect lives of many people. Please remember what George Santayana said, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it".

Thanks for reading and please share your views on this topic.

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