The Unreal Times: Uttar Pradesh to be renamed “Gujarat” so that coverage of Gujarat riots can continue unabated
Fresh from launching the proposal to carve a new Telangana state, the UPA government has decided to rename Uttar Pradesh as Gujarat, so that the media can continue to do stellar job of saturation coverage about the Gujarat riots for many more decades to come.
“Things were going awesome so far, what with riots being nearly synonymous with Gujarat 2002,” explained an UPA leader on condition of anonymity,”but over the past few months, this useless Akhilesh has poured water over our hard work with his administrative incompetence. The chap seems to be in no mood to stop the religious divide in his state. Whenever a riot happens, the media does an awesome job by comparing it to 2002, but how long can that go? That’s why we decided on renaming Uttar Pradesh as Gujarat so that the weekly and monthly communal clashes that happen over there can all be considered under Gujarat riots and there can be many more blows to the divisive Modi. Akhilesh can still be the dynamic, charismatic, skull-cap sporting, paragon of secularism.”
Minutes after the decision, news channels were abuzz with headlines about riots in the new Gujarat, with star anchors bending over backwards to do some kick-ass live reporting. Congress president Sonia Gandhi, who had earlier called Modi “maut ka saudagar,” has apparently been thinking of calling him “maut ka udhyogpati”, taking into account all the communal clashes in the new Gujarat.
Meanwhile, the BJP went hammer and tongs at the move, with spokespersons Meenakshi Lekhi and Smriti Irani going ballistic in television debates. Soon, however, a consensus was reached after a meeting of Sonia Gandhi, PM Manmohan Singh and senior Congress BJP leaders like Sushma Swaraj and LK Advani.
– Peace and prosperity after bloodshed in Gujarat
(The Telegraph, Friday, March 2, 2012)
It may sound callous, but there was something patently disgusting about the way the media and activists colluded to turn a grim 10th anniversary of the 2002 Gujarat riots into a celebration of victimhood. From star anchors rushing to Ahmedabad to hug victims to the overuse of the photograph of the unfortunate Qutubuddin Ansari pleading for his life, every tear-jerking potential was cynically exploited. What should have been a solemn occasion of remembrance, perhaps leading to a pledge to make sectarian violence a thing of the past, was, instead, turned into an all-too-familiar Indian tamasha, culminating in riotous television discussions.
The reason for this ugly turn of events should be obvious. Ten years after the arson attack on the Sabarmati Express in Godhra became the trigger for murderous violence throughout Gujarat, the issue of ‘justice’ has been transformed into a political blame game. The activists who have doggedly kept the issue alive, despite the apparent lack of responsiveness in Gujarat, have shifted their priorities markedly. The issue is no longer one of securing the punishment of the rioters and those responsible for inhuman conduct, but the political targeting of one man: the chief minister, Narendra Modi.
The unspoken assumption is that justice will be served if Modi can be prosecuted for personally facilitating the carnage. As an additional bonus, the framing of charges against Modi is calculated to ensure his exclusion from the political arena and consequently bring to an abrupt end any possibility of him being in the reckoning for the prime minister’s post. In short, if you can’t beat him, disqualify him.
Had Modi shown himself to be electorally vulnerable, the need to fight him judicially would have evaporated. A Modi defeat in either 2002 or 2007 would have prompted the self-satisfied conclusion that “Gujarat has redeemed itself”— in the same way as, it is proclaimed, Uttar Pradesh redeemed itself by rejecting the Bharatiya Janata Party after the demolition of the Babri shrine in 1992. However, the prospects of the clutch of activists moving on to the next available cause have dimmed following the realization that not only has Modi strengthened himself politically but that the Congress in Gujarat lacks the necessary qualities to mount an effective challenge. Consequently, the only way they see to fight Modi is to remove him from politics altogether.
There is another factor at work. Over the past 10 years, Modi has transformed Gujarat spectacularly. After winning the 2002 assembly elections in a communally surcharged environment, he has deftly shifted the political focus of Gujarat from sectarian identity issues to rapid economic development. Gujarat was always an economically vibrant state and entrepreneurship is deeply ingrained in the DNA of the average Gujarati. Modi has played the role of a great facilitator by creating an environment that is conducive to the double digit growth of the state’s gross domestic product. He has toned up the administration, improved the finances of the state exchequer, brought down corruption markedly and made every rupee expended on government-run schemes a factor in economic value addition. Modi has been the model rightwing administrator pursuing the mantra of minimal but effective governance. His election victory in 2007 wasn’t a consequence of Hindu-Muslim polarization; it was based on his ability to deliver good governance.
Secondly, Modi successfully shifted tack from Hindu pride to Gujarati pride. This meant that hoary grievances centred on sectarian hurt were subsumed by a common desire to take advantage of the dividends flowing from a prolonged period of high economic growth. The popular mentality of Gujarat has undergone a discernible shift in the past decade. In the 30 years since the Ahmedabad riots of 1969, which left nearly 650 people dead in just five days of mayhem, Gujarat had become a riot-prone state.
With its sharp communal polarization, Ahmedabad epitomized that trend. After the 1969 flare-up, there were riots in 1971, 1972 and 1973. Then, after a period of lull, rioting resumed in January 1982, March 1984, March to July 1985, January 1986, March 1986, July 1986, January 1987, February 1987, November 1987, April 1990, October 1990, November 1990, December 1990, January 1991, March 1991, April 1991, January 1992, July 1992, December 1992 and January 1993. This chronology, assembled by the political scientist based in the United States of America, Ashutosh Varshney, in his Ethnic Conflict and Civil Life (2002) tells a story of unending curfews, social insecurity and escalating hatred affecting the two communities. It was a story replicated throughout Gujarat, including the otherwise integrated city of Surat that witnessed fierce riots in 1993.
Since March 2002, Gujarat has been riot-free. Curfews have become a thing of a distant past. What has occasioned this exemplary transformation? The facile explanation, often proffered unthinkingly by secularists anxious to find fault with Modi, is that Muslims have been too cowed down by the sheer intensity of the post-Godhra majoritarian backlash. Such an explanation presumes that riots are invariably begun by a section of the Muslim community — a problematic proposition and not always empirically sustainable.
More compelling is the explanation that factors in the larger administrative and economic changes in Gujarat over the past decade. First, both the civil administration and the political leadership have internalized the lessons from their inability to control mob violence in 2002. The police have been given a free hand to operate without the interference of small-time politicians attached to the ruling party. There has been a crackdown against the illicit liquor trade and the underworld that gained its muscle power from its proceeds. At the helm, there is an unspoken understanding that another riot, with its attendant TV coverage, would extract an unacceptably high political cost. That is why there is special attention paid to curbing Hindu extremism — a phenomenon that will affect Modi most adversely.
The biggest change has, however, been at the societal level. Gujarat today is a society that is obsessively preoccupied with making money and taking advantage of the economic opportunities that have presented themselves. With the end of boredom, a happy present and an appealing future, the belief that riots are bad for dhanda has seeped into society. This is not to suggest that the bitterness of the past has been replaced by idyllic bonhomie between communities. Far from it. Sectarian conflict persists in cities such as Ahmedabad, and less so in Surat. But there is a distinction that Varshney makes between sectarian conflict and sectarian violence. One need not necessarily lead to the other if contained within the parameters of economics and politics. The Muslims of Gujarat don’t possess the political clout they enjoyed earlier under Congress rule. But this has been compensated for by growing levels of prosperity. Those who argue that the economic development of Gujarat has bypassed Muslims should look at the economic empowerment of communities such as the Bohras, Khojas and Memons.
To many, Gujarat’s obsession with economic betterment may seem an expression of denial for the larger societal involvement in the 2002 riots. This may be partially true, since Gujarati Hindus view the post-Godhra troubles as something they don’t want to be reminded of incessantly — a point which the state Congress has grudgingly acknowledged. But it doesn’t distract from Modi’s undeniable success in changing the agenda dramatically in 10 years to the point where hardened Hindutvawadis now regard him as an enemy of the cause.
The riots of 2002 were horrible. But the important thing to note is that 10 years after the butchery, Gujarat is basking in peace and unprecedented prosperity. Now, that is something to celebrate.
It was not long ago that P.Chidambaram appealed to the Sikh community to put the massacre of the Sikhs at rest and to move forward. This when 100 times more persons of the minority community were massacred-brutalized, raped and killed. Time to move on was his appeal. But when it comes to the Gujarat riots it has to be fixed at that riot incident-Time and again it has been used against Modi. Come elections the NGOs canvass with the CDs of the riots-the wailing and the weeping of the victims and their relatives must be kept ever fresh. Why this double standard? Did the Congress leaders not lead the massacre brigade and supervise the killings of the Sikhs? Did not the Delhi government abet it by silently watching the burning and the killings? Did not Rajiv Gandhi justify this? So what moral right has the Congress to fault Modi and his government? It must be also noted that this is not the first time Gujarat witnessed riots-not only Gujarat but all over India there have been any number of riots. No one person has been maligned as Modi has been.
Vote bank politics has marred every single perception and action of the UPA government. There have been 7 attacks since 2010 after P. Chidambaram became the Home Minister. The Sept 7th bomb blast at gate 5 of the Delhi High court is the 8th attack. This left 13 dead and 88 injured. PC has suddenly become color blind. He who was so obsessed with ‘saffron’ terror suddenly finds just these as terror attacks and is quick also in his briefing to Parliament to caution the country of Naxal terror. No lessons learned. The issue before him is Islamic terror and he is afraid even to term it so. It becomes just terror. And our PM joins in the chorus to mouth hollow words that the perpetrators would be punished. In which terror attack has the perpetrators been punished may we know? So why mouth such promises?
Rahul Gandhi goes to visit the victims of the Sept High court bomb blast at the RML hospital. He has forgotten to think because he had earlier stated after his famous draft reading in Parliament that he took so long to react to the LokPal bill because he had to think. Well one does not know if to read a draft one has to put on the thinking cap and take such a long period of thinking. When he visited the hospital he did not utter a single word. Either he forgot to put his thinking cap on or there were no draft writers by his side. Can this crown prince not spontaneously offer a few words of comfort and listen to the anguish of the grieving victims. And we are promised that this youth icon will bring in much desired change.
This brings up corruption. The Congress advises the rest not to politicize corruption. The same song it sings for every issue ‘Don’t politicize terror attacks’-‘don’t politicize corruption is the litany the Congress leaders chorus. But there is politics in corruption. It is the vested interest of the politicians that gave birth to corruption. It is the greed for power that makes the politicians abet corruption and it is the attraction to status and power that makes the politicians to sell his/her conscience and become corrupt. In the process they corrupt others too. And as long as the Congress is the mother head of corruption one cannot expect the Congress to fight corruption. It is now blatantly stated in the emails which are circulated that “Mrs Sonia Gandhi, the most powerful woman is the most corrupt”. It is not just only one person nay the family too. No wonder it is also said that it took 100 years for Tata to become a billionaire, it took 50 years for Ambani to become a billionaire but it has taken only ten years for Robert Vadra to become a billionaire. From where does this money for chartered planes-treatment in the USA-special facility apartment there et al and lavish spending come from? So it is understandable when one is so filthy rich that Mrs Priyanka Vadra can toss her head and order her two storied house in Himachal Pradesh to be razed to the ground. A new site to be bought and new house to be built. A house in which crores and crores would have been spent is just to be demolished because it did not suit the environment and her fancy. All this after she had been supervising and instructing while the construction was on. Did she not know what materials were used for it? This I narrate only as an example of the arrogance of money power. No second thoughts .We see children by the seaside kick the sand castles and built new ones according to their whims. The same kind of attitude and mindset was displayed by Mrs Vadra which is a dangerous streak and exhibits a disdain for loss of money and labor. The mention of this is also meant to prove that Rahul Gandhi’s multi prong strategy to fight corruption is a farce and mere rhetoric. He has to clean up his own household first.
We had Chidambaram the other day stating that communalizing violence is dangerous. We are no fools and we know what made PC make such a statement. This government will not fight terrorism because it will not embarrass the Muslims. This is clear in it bringing up the Communal violence bill which just will not fight communalism but abets communalism. First the National Advisory Council had no business to draft such a bill. The NAC which is an unconstitutional body acts as a super cabinet and a mini Parliament. This was meant to give a cabinet ranking to Mrs. Sonia and legitimize her face in all the GOI advertisements. Second it has also all Modi bashers and baiters as members. It has a hidden agenda and is biased. Hence the communal violence bill is pro minority and anti majority. How can it fight communalism when the very premise of it abets communalism?
Dr Mrs Hilda Raja,
HC’s go-ahead for probe into doctored affidavits of Teesta
Ahmedabad, 11 July, 2011
Teesta with husband Javed
The Gujarat High Court Monday gave the go-ahead to police investigation into filing of ‘doctored’affidavits by controversial NGO operator Teesta (Javed) Setalvad on behalf of victims of the 2002riots before various courts.
A single judge bench of Justice M.R. Shah rejected a petition filed by the registrar of a sessions court challenging the order of a magisterial court, which entrusted a probe against former aide of Teesta Setalvad, Rais Khan, and others, to the police.
Khan, formerly associated with Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP), had confessed before the various forums and court that he and Setalwad had fabricated affidavits and statements of the riot victims and submitted them before the lower courts and Supreme Court.
Taking cognizance of these, designated judge of Naroda Gam massacre case, S.H. Vora, had asked the registrar of the city civil and sessions court to file a complaint before the magisterial court against Khan and others.
A metropolitan magistrate had subsequently directed the police to probe the case and file a report in 30 days.
However, the registrar sought the high court’s intervention on this, by terming proceedings initiated by the magistrate as ‘erroneous’.
Justice Shah accepted special public prosecutor J.M. Panchal’s arguments.
Panchal, who appeared for the state, had submitted that the magistrate’s order was just, proper and legal.
He submitted that the magistrate had the jurisdiction to order the investigation.
Khan had claimed that the false affidavits of those witnesses and many other victims of the 2002 riot cases were prepared at behest of Setalvad to get the trial shifted outside Gujarat.
He requested the court to summon him as a witness under provisions of Code of Criminal Procedure to prove that the witnesses had falsely implicated him and had lied before the court.
Here is a good article about Gujarat’s progress. Of course, just as it is customary to touch steps of a temple before entering it, for all the media it has become customary to harp on 2002 riots (result of burning of 59 Hindus by Muslim mobs in a train at Godhra) whenever writing about Gujarat or Narendra Modi.- Moderator
A north-western state offers a glimpse of a possible industrial future for India
SO MANY things work properly in Gujarat that it hardly feels like India. In a factory packed with kit from Germany and China, slabs of rubber and bags of carbon black are turned into tyres. After being X-rayed for imperfections, they will be distributed across India or sent for export within three days. Sandeep Bhatia, a manager for CEAT, the firm that owns the project, says it took only 24 months to complete, including the normally fraught process of buying land. There is constant electricity, gas and abundant water. The state government, he says, kept red tape to a minimum, did not ask for bribes, and does not interfere much now.
The tyre plant is not the only sign of prosperity in Gujarat. A nearby village may have fodder strewn all over its alleys and mice scuttling across shampoo sachets in the local store, but it also has satellite dishes poking up from the roofs and power metres on the wall of every house. Most of the men, the villagers say, work for small industrial firms for a wage about 50% higher than they would get in the fields. The road to Ahmedabad, Gujarat’s main city, is privately operated and boasts four lanes. It passes through a countryside that is visibly industrialising.
With a long coastline and too little rain for decent farming, Gujarat has always been famous for its traders. When it was hived off from Bombay to form a separate state in 1960, “the question was how Gujarat would survive,” says Narendra Modi, who has been chief minister since 2001. These days Gujarat accounts for 5% of India’s population but 16% of its industrial output and 22% of its exports. Its growth has outpaced India’s (see chart) and it wins accolades from business people. A recent comparison of Indian states by McKinsey, a consultancy, waxed lyrical about Gujarat. It might yet play the role of industrial locomotive for the country, as Guangdong province did for China in the 1990s. There is lots of excited talk about exporters switching from China to India. Sanjay Lalbhai, the chairman of Arvind, a textiles maker and clothing retailer based in Ahmedabad, says such a move is “imminent” in his industry.
Chinese-style, big-ticket projects are part of Gujarat’s formula, including refineries and ports, but so are networks of smaller firms and foreign companies which have now achieved critical mass in industries such as cars and pharmaceuticals. The state government uses the usual tricks to try to jump-start growth, including special economic zones. But more important, it has provided the bog-standard things that businesses pray for across India but often do not get—less onerous labour laws, passable roads, reliable electricity and effective bureaucracy.
Against the charge that some people have been left behind, Gujarat can point to reasonable growth in agriculture, helped by irrigation schemes. But the state has a black spot, which dates back to 2002 and an outbreak of sectarian violence. As many as 2,000 people (the official toll is lower) were killed in a month of riots, most of them Muslims. Some say Mr Modi and the state government were complicit in the violence or could at least have done more to stop it.
Might prosperity help heal the wounds? In Juhapura, a district on the outskirts of Ahmedabad dominated by the Muslim minority, a young mason grows angry when asked if he feels lucky to make 250-300 rupees a day ($6-7), saying he only gets work for 15 days a month. Others are more content. A bearded man down the road says his party-decoration business is booming. Behind the till of a shop selling top-ups for mobile phones and stationery for the nearby school, a man in a skull cap says life has undoubtedly improved, although his 82-year-old father, sitting in a deckchair, complains that everything went to the dogs when the British left.
Gujarat could be a vision of India’s future, in which manufacturing flourishes, soaking up rural labour. Its economy is expected to grow by double digits, even as India’s rate slows to 7-8% this year. The state may also be a springboard for Mr Modi, who may contest the national leadership of the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party, perhaps after state elections due in 2012. Mr Modi is enigmatic on this subject. He has yet to shed his polarising image, but he has at least built up an enviable record on the economy.
Published: Friday, May 6, 2011, 2:21 IST
By Francois Gautier | Place: Mumbai | Agency: DNA
One hopes that the people of India are not blind to the utter cynicism of some of its politicians. The way they are efficiently and ruthlessly killing the whole Lokpal movement with the help of deceit and slander is frightening. All the while, Manmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi, whose party is not only the main recipient of corruption but has actually institutionalised it, throw decoys at us with declarations of ‘zero tolerance of corruption’.
It is funny how this government is hell bent in preserving what is corrupt, untruthful, inefficient – as symbolised by the deal they have made with Karunanidhi that they will not touch his family – and fanatic about destroying what is free of corruption and is prosperous.
Sonia has been on a personal vendetta against Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi for a long time. She had a useful tool in Teesta Setalvad, who, it is now discovered, has bribed witnesses, filed false affidavits, and committed repeated perjuries in court. Teesta’s usefulness is nearing an end as she may soon land up in jail, so the Congress has now found another willing tool in Gujarat police officer Sanjiv Bhatt to implicate Modi in the post-Godhra riots.
The government has subverted its investigative instruments such that the CBI goes after Modi even as it closes its eyes to the wrongs that chief ministers of the Congress or its allies, such as the DMK, are openly doing.
For example, the CBI requested the judiciary to drop the case against Jagdish Tytler, who was seen by innumerable witnesses leading mobs to murder Sikhs, while it is going all guns blazing against Modi, who at best was caught off guard when the riots in Gujarat broke out in 2002, or at the worst, delayed in calling the army. But did not Rajiv Gandhi do the same thing (“When a big tree falls, the earth shakes,” he had said) after his mother was murdered by her own bodyguards? Rajiv also delayed calling in the security forces.
It is illogical that the legal instruments of Indian democracy are used to pin down the CM of India’s most lawful, and prosperous and least corrupt state, which impresses even non-BJP tycoons such Ratan Tata, when a Lalu Prasad was allowed to loot Biharand keep it in the most desolate state because he was an ally.
Is it logical today that the Indian media only highlight the 2002 Gujarat riots, carefully omitting the fact that they were triggered by the horrifying murder of 57 Hindus, 36 of them innocent women and children, burnt in the Sabarmati Express? Riots of that intensity do not happen in a day; they are the result of long-term pent-up anger and a spark – like the killing of Hindus, whose only crime was that they believed that Ram was born in Ayodhya.
It is widely known that the dreaded Khalistan movement in Punjab was quelled in the ’80’s by supercop KPS Gill in a ruthless manner by a number of ‘fake encounters’ that killed top Sikh separatists. This was done under a Congress government, both at the Centre and in Punjab. Rajiv was the PM then, but he was never indicted. This is so because terrorists have no law and they kill innocent people; and sometimes ruthless methods have to be used against them.
Why is Sonia going so single-mindedly against Modi? Because, he seems to be the only alternative to her son Rahul Gandhi becoming prime minister in the next general elections. We should give credit to Sonia for her cunning and ruthlessness.
It is no good being a Hindu in Sonia Gandhi’s India. It is better to be a Quattrocchi, who was exonerated by the CBI. Or a terrorist like Sohrabuddin from whose house in Madhya Pradesh 40 AK-47 rifles, and a number of live hand grenades and bullets were confiscated, who was declared “Wanted” in five states with 40 cases registered against him. Then you stand a chance to be protected by the government of India, while those who have at heart their country’s integrity go to jail.
Sonia has achieved such terrifying power, a glance of her, a silence, just being there, is enough for her inner circle to act; she has subverted so much of the instruments of Indian democracy and she controls such huge amounts of unlisted money that sooner or later this ‘karma’ may come back to her under one form or the other.