India has moved beyond the past references to Modi’s alleged involvement in the Gujarat riots

Dear Editor,

 

For over a decade, Congress and the western media have conducted a well-orchestrated “Get Modi” campaign, that evokes the all the lessons of the Goebbelsian propaganda principles: create the big lie and tell it so often and so widely, it gradually bludgeons the minds of the unwary into accepting it as “truth”.

Saraswati Ali’s “The Modi disaster for ordinary Indians” (In the Diaspora – Stabroek News, May 19) is almost a caricature of the tactic and regurgitates most of the old fabrications with some new ones following the general elections.

Ms Ali starts off by raising the bogeyman of Modi’s “putative role in the 2002 state-sanctioned massacre of close to 2000 Muslims in the state of Gujarat where he was Chief Minister”. But why does Ms Ali cite this “2000 figure” when as the BBC reported on May 11, 2005, “India has for the first time published detailed figures on the number of people killed in the religious riots in the western state of Gujarat in 2002. The government told parliament that 790 Muslims and 254 Hindus were killed, 223 more people reported missing and another 2,500 injured.”

As Modi said, “The death of a single innocent person, whether Hindu or Muslim or belonging to any other religion, is highly unfortunate and cannot be justified. That more than 1,000 people were killed is highly unfortunate and reprehensible. But that cannot be a justification to exaggerate and inflate the number of people killed to 2,000 or any higher figure.”

But Ms Ali not only repeats the sin of commission through inflation, but that of omission by not mentioning, as all her cohorts do, that the carnage in Gujarat was sparked by claims that a trainload of Hindu pilgrims that had been burnt alive (59 died) was the work of Muslims. One of the accused leaders is now a wanted fugitive in Pakistan.

Ms Ali then says, “In 2012, a Special Investigation Team (SIT) appointed by the courts cleared him (Modi). It wasn’t any “court” but the universally respected Supreme Court of India that later reviewed the evidence and concurred with the clean chit given to Modi.

Not satisfied, on the prompting of the Public Prosecutor Office, on December 26, 2013, an Ahmedabad court (not in Gujarat) which was asked by the Supreme Court to handle the case, cleared Modi of any responsibility for the riots. But to his avowed enemies like Ms Ali, the principle of “innocent until proven guilty” shouldn’t apply to Modi.

Ms Ali then maligns the Indian Judiciary by implying that they are “unable to handle massacres in India”, and mentions the anti-Sikh riots of 1984 following the assassination of Congress Prime Minister (PM) Indira Gandhi. But Ms Ali again hides more than she reveals. The courts do not initiate charges in India – it is initiated by the State via the Public Prosecutor Office – and this institution faces very heavy political pressures – from the state controlled by the Congress Party.

So while all sorts of charges and inquiries were filed against Modi and his aides (one of whom was convicted and imprisoned) none have been made in the 1984 Delhi killings that were in retaliation for the killing of the Congress PM.

What was most disturbing was Ms Ali blaming Modi for the Indian Stock Market rising at the news that he would be the next PM, and Mukesh Ambani’s fortune consequently rising!!! Any other commentator would have been encouraged by the vote of confidence in the new PM but not to the enemies of Modi.

Modi’s election spending was also criticised because India still has a high percentage of poverty. One would have hoped Ms Ali would have criticised Congress, which was in office for the past ten years, for not introducing legislation to cap campaign spending.

For good measure Ms Ali introduced the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) as “ousting the BJP” in the Delhi City elections last year. Since a Congress party member was the incumbent, we don’t understand how AAP could have “ousted” BJP. A better test of AAP’s present acceptability, after they abdicated their responsibilities, was the result at the general elections: AAP lost all seven seats to the BJP – including even Muslim dominated constituencies like Chandni Chowk.

Like the English-speaking elite that Ms Ali echoes, she presumes to speak for the “ordinary Indian” and portentously predicts that Modi will be a “disaster” for them. We guess in their book, the fact that the subalterns spoke at the ballot box and installed Modi by the largest majority in 30 years, doesn’t mean anything.

The BSP of Mayawati, who proudly proclaimed herself as “Daughter of the Chamars” – the archetypical “low caste” – lost all her seats in her home state of Uttar Pradesh, where the Chamars and Muslims practically form the majority.

While Ms Ali’s favoured AAP candidates had banked heavily on a secure Muslim vote bank in Delhi, this reversal in trend across all constituencies in Delhi and elsewhere is emblematic of the fact that the community has moved beyond the past references to Modi’s alleged involvement in the Gujarat riots. It also shows that the minority community is ready to give the BJP a chance at governance too.

 

But not Ms Ali and her ilk.

Yours faithfully,
Ravi Dev

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