I welcome the range of responses to my article, The Modi Disaster for Ordinary Indians, and I especially welcome Mr. Dev’s erudite criticisms of it which was published in Stabroek News on May 22nd. Mr. Dev is even right, if on a single point, that the AAP displaced the incumbent Congress party and not the BJP in the December 2013 Delhi elections. That was a bad slip, but nothing in my argument turned on that observation. Another slip which Mr. Dev did not notice was that the AAP won 4 seats and not 1 seat, all from Punjab. All the other facts in my article are documented and discussed in the copious research and literature available to anyone who can access the internet.
In particular, I urge readers to check out the Stanford University Law 2014 report, The Quest for Justice which documents the abysmally low rates of convictions in Gujarat. A former Director General of Police from Gujarat, RB Sreekumar, has also written his close analysis of the role of the state in the massacre, and this can be found at http://www.countercurrents.org/sreekumar270212.htm. The numbers vary across all of these reports, but 1200-2000 killed seems to be right, not counting those thousands raped and displaced. The interpretation of the facts at large, however, is strictly mine or is part of the anti-Modi brigade, as Mr. Dev prefers to characterize it.
In fact, I have no truck with being anti-Modi, per se. The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), whose founders openly admired Hitler, is one of the few, available avenues in India for an ambitious working class caste-Hindu male youth to gain class and caste ascendancy, and to be able to exert otherwise unimaginable social and public power. I urge interested readers to go to a lengthy discussion of Modi’s deep roots in the RSS before he joined the BJP, a discussion which also provides documentation of my more important point – how Modi managed to win corporate backing after the 2002 massacre in Gujarat. This account can be found in Vinod Jose’s article, The Emperor Uncrowned: the rise of Narendra Modi, available at http://www.caravanmagazine.in/ reportage/ emperor-uncrowned. It was not an easy process. It took media engineering, millions of rupees exchanging hands, and a full commitment to the corporate agenda.
The corporate agenda backing Modi and the BJP is not designed to distribute wealth across India, but to consolidate existing inequalities and hierarchies. My article chose to point out that there is another India, which both the BJP and the Congress cannot lay claim to — which is non-corporate, where religion is not politicized and divisive, which is pro-diversity, which abhors majoritarianism and empty triumphalism, and which is revolted by massacre, inhumanity and the impunity of the financial and political elite.
All that Modi-supporters really can say at the end of the day is that the BJP won the elections – with 21% of the electorate and 31% of the actual voters, and where a 12 percentage point difference in vote share with the Congress translated into a 600 per cent difference in seats. Mr. Dev here raises the interesting issue of how Muslims voted. He is to be excused in assuming that Muslims must have voted for the BJP since he may not have seen the figures. We know now that while in the last six elections, the Congress’s average share of the Muslim vote was 33%, in this year’s election, it went up to 44%. In bipolar states like Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh, the Muslim vote for the Congress rose above 90%. (See the electoral analysis at http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-opinion/not-how-many-but-who-voted-made-the-difference/article6023510.ece). This suggests a sharp polarization in voting in some areas. Even more stark is the fact that this election sees the lowest ever representation of Muslim leadership since 1952, with only 22 Muslims elected to the parliament of 543 seats (source: The Hindu, dated May 17, 2014). The BJP itself ran a paltry 5-7 Muslim candidates, none from Gujarat… and they were all defeated.