The Abject Desperation of the Right Wing
Catching at Straws
Modi and the Congressional Research Service (CRS):
Anyone who has studied American political systems for any length of time would know that American Congressmen routinely employ young men and women from their electoral constituencies to prepare functional research briefs for them.
Invariably compiled from selective inclusions from relevant media interventions from region to region rather than strenuously researched on the ground, these briefs speak neither for the American Houses of Congress nor for the American State.
Put another way, these briefs are, more likely than not, attuned to specific special interests who may, at one time or another, wish either to disparage or laud any particular trend or entity in any part of the world through the aegis of Congressmen and women funded by them.
Thus it is that a CRS report (some 93 pages) has en passant praised the developmental efforts in the Indian state of Gujarat during the tenure of Narendra Modi. Although such approbation of Modi’s “governance” from sources aligned to International Finance and Indian Capital is not new, the CRS reference has provided grist to India’s Hindu Right-Wing mill, as Modi’s party, the BJP, is currently going to town with the polemic that Modi has allegedly now found favour with an uncle Sam who, incidentally, still refuses to issue an American entry visa to this Nero (characterization used for Modi by no less than the Supreme Court of India) of Guajrat.
This groveling need of Modi and the Bhartya Janata Party to obtain from the U.S. a rescinding of his pariah status at the present moment of India’s political effervescence is indeed understandable in more ways than one: widely favoured by the Hindutva hard core as the first among warring BJP leaders for claim to the party’s prime-ministerial candidate, Modi’s leap from his captive constituency in Gujarat to the national stage cannot be effected unless ways are found to neutralize his humungous culpabilities with respect to the carnage of 2002.
As everyday whistleblowers of high rank and unimpeachable integrity come out with bold resolve to set the Modi record straight (see Sanjiv Bhatt’s unprecedented open letter to Modi in The Hindu, Sept.,15), and when , with the latest Supreme Court decision to refer hitherto unadmitted materials pertaining to the Gulberg society massacre in which the then Congress Member of Parliament, Ehsan Jaffri was hacked to pieces alongwith another 63 innocent Muslims, materials that include the original complaint filed by Jaffri’s 75 year old widow, and the Citizens for Justice and Peace, the final report of the Special Investigating Team, and the independent observations and conclusions of the Supreme Court- appointed amicus on the report of the SIT, to the trial court for formal legal proceedings against the persons named in the Jaffri complaint, names that include Modi, the latter’s legal difficulties seem now only to assume the proportions of a formal arraignment. All that contrary to the noisome propaganda that the Supreme Court has actually given Modi a "clean chit." Goebbels would yet again have similed.
Given those contexts, it is hardly any surprise that Modi and the BJP should reach for any straw that offers itself, and manufacture others, however disingenuous or indeed laughable. Thus, sections of India’s corporate media which wish to see the back of the current Manmohan Singh regime in favour of one led by the “nationalist” and “next-generation-of-reforms-friendly” BJP are busy tom-tomming the CRS reference to Modi’s prowess at governance (read his ready willingness to jettison the interests of indigent Gujaratis in favour of the aspirations of private wealth) as the final ringing endorsement by the American State and International Finance who are thought to think a Modi vs Rahul Gandhi contest for prime minsitership as the most likely political scenario for India of 2014, a contest which is also ab initio being touted as a no-contest. Ergo, close your eyes, and Modi is the Indian prime minister as you open them again!
Thus is the future manufactured.
Modi to undertake a three-day fast:
Now to the hilarious bit.
Narendra Modi is to undergo a three-day fast in an obliging , air-conditioned venue at a university in Ahmedabad, beginning Saturday. The fast is to be undertaken for “harmony and brotherhood.” It may be noted that the same university had denied this facility to the Congress party on the grounds that the university does not encourage “political” activity on its premises. So much for the quality of academic independence and integrity under the aegis of the Modi regime.
On both counts, namely, fasting and the desire for harmony, Modi seeks with astounding but rather despicable cunning to take a leaf out of the book of the Hindu Right-Wings’ established bete noir, Mahatma Gandhi.
Throughout his career, the RSS never failed to revile Gandhi for his fasting gimmickries, and most especially when those fasts were undertaken to salvage inter-community harmony. Indeed, you may recall, he was duly assassinated for his heinous secular endeavours by stalwarts spawned by theHindutva brigade.
To this day it is difficult to recall any Hindu Right-Wing leader who ever went on a fast on any social or political issue—not Golwalker, not Vajpai, not Advani, not Deen Dayal Upadhay, not anyone. A record that highlights Modi’s genius at tactical innovation. Having just seen how the Anna Hazare fast allegedly against a corrupt Indian political class drew more than impressive media and middle class support, Modi’s decision to do likewise, albeit for three days, must be considered canny at the least.
As to the “harmony and brotherhood” bit: how cute that a chief executive who presided, and, from all accounts, directed, the anti-Muslim carnage of 2002, under whose continuing watch the Hindu and Muslim communities in Gujarat have now become almost totally segregated, who has to this minute disdained every plea and bit of advice, including from the erstwhile BJP prime minister, Vajpai, to speak one word of regret or remorse, who has to this minute refused to visit the Jaffri widow, for example, and to commiserate with her fate, and those of the thousands who left behind them ruined families, who has without let attempted to subvert every effort of the investigating agencies and of the courts to bring out the truth and furnish redress, who will in all likelihood return to his hate-spewing rhetoric come the next elections, how cute that this unredeemed and unrepentant Nero should speak of harmony and brotherhood and seek to dramatise the same in air-conditioned comfort to a national television audience.
Ah, said the bard, “you may smile and smile and be a villain.”
The Congress party:
Interestingly, the Congress party in Gujarat has hit upon a rather telling way of calling Modi’s bluff. Its leader, Shanker Singh Waghela, is to sit on a parallel fast, an indeterminate one, not at a parallel venue of air-conditioned comfort, but from a well-chosen Gandhi Ashram site.
However disingenuous this fast may also seem, historically the Congress party can claim that fasting has been a long-used recourse in its political and activist repertoire since Gandhi first came to lead it. And, a fast undertaken from a Gandhi-related venue ought surely to find greater salience with the hoi polloi than one that bespeaks a form of luxuriating realpolik from the most unlikely of sources and subjects.
Clearly, one expects that in the days and months to come, the Congress and other secular forces will marshall the factual status of Modi’s so-called incorruptibily (note that the Comptroller and Auditor General of India, or CAG, the very same who has been at the centre of the many recent exposures of corruption in high places, has in a report on Gujarat underscored likely corruption running to some 26,000 crore rupees!) and the unlovely truths of his lauded developmental model, for, as long as it takes, it is truth alone that can best bring Gujarat round to “harmony and brotherhood.”
The Trial Court:
In that context, many millions now look to the trial court in Gujarat with hope; having been given a second wind of life to prove its impartial metal after the unflattering episodes when the Supreme Court was obliged to take one case of atrocity after another away from the legal system in Gujarat to other courts in other states, that court, given the reams of evidence newly incorporated, should find little rationale or justice in exonerating, ab initio, anyone from the list of accused furnished in the Jaffri complaint, or implicated in the substance of the report of the SIT and of the amicus in his independent observations upon that report.
If the sordid story of the Modi years in Gujarat has to find closure, that trial court may have as much to do with it as all those who seek to foreground aspects of the Modi era, most of all the incredibly brave whistleblowers and non-governmental organizations and activists.
To put it another way, the question still remains whether Modi’s Gujarat will shape the future of the republic, or whether the republic will rectify, redeem, and revalidate Modi’s Guajrat.