Deconstructing Modi Part 4

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[Previous part: Part 3]

In my last post on this topic, admittedly many eons ago, I had finished with a reference to Congress as Modi’s biggest polling agent.

Much of Modi’s support outside the BJP’s core base, I would suppose all but the most committed of Modi fanboys would accept this, stems from the performance (and lack of it) of the Congress-UPA government. Only those who have been given a Padmabhushan by this government or hope to be given one in the future would defend its inglorious legacy of slush and paralysis and so I would presume there is no need to put the history of the UPA under the scanner here. The UPA has been Rohit Sharma in New Zealand and most of us can agree with that.

The problem with the Congress is so basic, so deep is the cancer bonded with its DNA, that there is nothing much it can do about it in the near future. Which makes the job so much easier for Modi.

The Congress, ever since Sonia Gandhi firmly took over its reins and relegated reformers like Narasimha Rao to the dustbin of history, has become a party with one single obsession. Namely to perpetuate the Gandhi dynasty. Rahul Gandhi poses the greatest challenge to this, as his public pronouncements and singular ability to shirk responsibility, notwithstanding an army of cheerleaders throwing legs and waving their pompoms, has made him an object of more or less universal ridicule. If there has been something worse than the sight of Rahul Gandhi (he admittedly is funny, in an unintentionally subversive way) trying to act statesmanly, it is the naked display of sycophancy that goes on in parallel, almost like a real-life enactment of the fable of the Emperor with No Clothes (remember how the courtiers keep applauding the king’s excellent clothes even though he is stark naked). In the 70s when people were more enthralled by the Gandhis and in general more respectful of royal authority, this kind of tomfoolery might have had some political impact. Now this just makes people roll their eyes. Of course, such is the web of power inside the Congress, and props to Sonia Gandhi for that, that no single Congress leader, no matter how much more suitable he might be than Rahul Gandhi as a leader, will dare to make a play for the party leadership. Unless Sonia Gandhi chooses him as the next cipher.

Which should make Modi  happy.

What should  make Modi doubly happy is the style of leadership of Dr Manmohan Singh. Leaving aside the justification of the worst kind of corruption as coalition-dharma i.e. realpolitik, Dr Sing’s inability to connect with the population of India, perhaps brought out most tellingly by his failure to inspire a nation attacked on 26/11 (even George W was able to pull that off) with even something as simple as a rousing speech, and the perception of him being a sock puppet, has made India pine for a strong, authoritative leader, with the reputation for not being controlled by anyone else. And that Modi is, though it can be argued, that he goes over to the side of authoritarian from authoritative, but then again in that respect, he is no better or worse than the Mamata Banerjees and the Mayawatis and the Jayalalithas.

This brings us to the 800 lb gorilla in the room. Gujarat 2002.

There are those, and this constitutes most of Modi’s critics, that would say that Modi orchestrated the riots, like a director of a movie, and that throughout he was in full control of the situation. This is an extremely serious charge, and puts him on par with war criminals. Despite the presence of an antagonistic government at the center, nothing that has come remotely close to indicting Modi as a direct conductor of the violence has been established in court.As a result, Modi’s attackers, mostly in the English language media, have tried to press the weaker charge, even while implying the stronger, which is of course a most adroit sleight of hand. And this weaker charge is that Modi did nothing, and by his sin of omission, enabled the carnage of 2002 either because he hates Muslims or because he is incompetent. Either way, he has blood on his hands. Ergo he is unfit to rule. Again, nothing towards this charge has been proven in a court of law but one may argue that the nature of the crime is such that establishing it legally becomes very difficult.

One can take a principled stance and say that in case of riots, the ruler should always be held guilty till conclusively proven innocent, especially when it is his political base that caused the maximum carnage. Since the shadow of doubt hangs over Modi, and will always hang over him, that fact itself renders him unfit for PM-ship. But in essentially a two-way contest at the national level (apologies to Kejriwal fans but Kejriwal needs to do a lot more before he can make it a three-way contest at the national level and if he does he definitely will have an advantage in this respect), this principle can only be applied to cross out Modi only if the opponent is any better. As a matter of fact, the opponent in this case can be argued to be as bad, if not worse.

Wait. Am I bringing up 1984?

One of the many ways the captains of our opinion have stifled an even-handed deconstruction of Modi is by browbeating the mention of 1984. How dare you trivialize 2002 by bringing up another atrocity? How dare you think that 1984 justifies 2002? Sanghi clown.

Of course, the reason why 1984 comes up is not to trivialize or to justify what happened in 2002 but to contextualize and to establish the comparison, which is essential because an election is a choice.

But try telling that to some.

A piece written by a prominent commentator on politics and sport, in the Telegraph, forms a most interesting example of how this comparison is actually spun, as being favorable to the Congress.

The stock response of the Bharatiya Janata Party to the argument that Godhra makes Narendra Modi politically untouchable is “What about 1984?” There are several inadequate comebacks to that question and the best of them is that no one should use one pogrom to justify another

As I was saying.

After saying that one should not use one pogram to justify another (even though that is a strawman if there ever was one), the author kind of brings them up both. But since it is used to establish that the BJP is worse than the Congress, it is fine. Ends justifies the means and all that.

The problem with this response, though, is that it doesn’t answer the questions that fly in close formation behind the “What about 1984?” question, namely, “Why is the BJP worse than the Congress?” and, relatedly, “Why is Narendra Modi any worse than Rajiv Gandhi?” specially given the latter’s infamous comment, “When a big tree falls, the earth shakes,” which seemed, retrospectively, to rationalize the systematic killing of Sikhs in the days that followed Indira Gandhi’s assassination.

These are important questions regardless of who asks them. The fact that they are often asked by Narendra Modi’s unlovely supporters isn’t a good reason for not taking them seriously……

the reluctance of the Congress to purge itself of members accused of participating in the 1984 pogrom, its willingness to field them as parliamentary candidates and to appoint them to ministerial office, doesn’t add up to a record that can be virtuously contrasted with the BJP’s and Narendra Modi’s brazenness after Godhra

Let’s see why.

Let us return to our question, namely, “What makes Modi and the BJP worse than the Congress and its dynasts, given the horror of 1984?” The answer is simple and unedifying. The Congress, by a kind of historical default, is a pluralist party that is opportunistically communal while the BJP is an ideologically communal (or majoritarian) party that is opportunistically ‘secular’. The difference between the Congress and the BJP doesn’t lie mainly in the willingness of the former to express contrition about pogroms it helped organize; it is, perhaps, best illustrated by the fact that twenty years after the 1984 pogrom, the Congress assumed office with a Sikh at the helm who served as prime minister for two terms.

Try to imagine a BJP government headed by a Muslim ten years from now. It doesn’t work even as a thought experiment. And the reason it doesn’t work is that the BJP’s ideology is essentially the encrustation of prejudice around an inconvenient and irreducible fact: the substantial and undeferential presence of minority communities in the republic, specially Muslims who, for the sangh parivar, are the unfinished business of Partition. The idea that the BJP might appoint a Muslim head of government (as opposed to, say, the nomination of President Kalam to titular office) is unthinkable.

And here is the rubber hits the road. The Congress is a good girl that is naughty when she wants. The BJP is however an evil crone putting on a mask of piety only when it suits them. How do we know that? Well because President Kalam is a titular office, holding no real power, a mere prop while Dr. Manmohan Singh is a real authority, a man that functions fully independently. Now the way I see it, the fact that Dr. MMS is the prime-minister is because he is pliant, obeys orders, had a clean image (operative word: had), and has no personal agenda to push and no designs on Rahul Gandhi’s amanaat. That he is Sikh is simply a coincidence. But then again, what do I know?

Okay now we are coming to the core.

But the reason his prime ministership is possible is that the Congress isn’t ideologically committed to anti-Sikh bigotry (despite 1984) in the way that the BJP is committed to Hindu supremacy and the subordination of Muslims. That’s why Narendra Modi so excites the sangh parivar’s rank and file: the Gujarat Model is the BJP’s test run for India, and it isn’t the economics of it that sets the pulses of its cadres racing.

So the reason the dynastic Congress isn’t as dangerous as Modi’s BJP is dispiriting but straightforward: while the Congress is capable of communalism, it isn’t constituted by bigotry. With Modi, even when he’s talking economics and good governance, we get the “burqa of secularism” and Muslims as road kill. It’s not his fault; from the time that Golwalkar sketched out his vision of an India where religious minorities were docile helots, bigotry has been Hindutva’s calling card.

Tavleen Singh in her book Darbar (Page 4) talks about the aftermath of Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination wherein a certain prominent Congress leader, who had been accused of the same crime in 84, came leading a group of Congress workers shouting “Khoon ka badla khoon se lenge” with, and I quote, “Some of the hot-headed in the group said there would not be a Sikh alive in India this time.” At that time these people thought that the Sikhs had killed Rajiv Gandhi and hence the reaction. This shows that even till 1991, the anti-Sikh bigotry had not abated and the threat of violence was as real as it was in 1984.

Here is the thing. The Congress does not have an anti-Sikh bigotry. True. It has an anti-anti-Gandhi family bigotry. If any entity that is vulnerable goes up against their God, then the Congress activist has the potential to be no different from any of the most violent footsoldiers of the fascist Hindu right. Because that’s his way of showing loyalty to the core values of the Congress.

What makes 1984 worse than 2002  is that this clan of the Gandhi is as strong as ever. The liquid center of their religion glows hot. Modi and BJP has at least soft-pedalled on its rhetoric, opportunistically certainly but it has. Even more importantly, Maya Kodnani has been put behind bars. Critics will call her the fall guy, the token sacrifice. So be it. The Congress has not even done that. It cannot, if it wants their hardcore base to be happy.

The problem here though transcends BJP and the Congress. It is the use of violence by all political parties, from the Sena to the Communists, from the BJP to the Congress,  from Samajwadi Party to BSP, to foster a sense of camaraderie, to intimidate opponents, to demonstrate absolute power.  However the narrative by significant sections of the media is so constructed as if violence is only a problem for Modi and the BJP and the evil fascist Hindus. There was a cover, I think for Open magazine where Modi is shown standing on a pyramid of skulls while Rahul Gandhi is shown standing on Sonia Gandhi’s shoulders. In the interest of fairness, they should have drawn a pyramid of skulls beneath her feet also.

But then fairness is a quality in short supply in the English media. And why that is is topic for another day.

The silver lining is, and perhaps I am being optimistic here, is that the kind of violence that we saw in 84 and 02 will not happen again. Both the Congress as well as the BJP have learned their lessons. The core bigotry of their cadre may still live, but the expressions of them will not be as violent. Not because they are better people, but because the electorate is not as tolerant as it once was. So elections this time will not be fought on fear, though the fear card will be played. It will be fought on which leader is perceived to be more able to provide better governance.

And on this Modi is definitely quite a few steps ahead.

At this point, some may ask “What about Arvind Kejriwal?” Well, as I said a while ago, Kejriwal is not a viable third option at this time. The mindspace occupied by Kejriwal due to his continuous presence on the nightly news will not translate to PM-ship unless something really unexpected happens.  Such are the numbers. As a result, come poll day Modi will be judged against Rahul Gandhi and the BJP against the UPA.

But honestly. What about Kejriwal? What about his movement? Even as a thought experiment, how would he compare? Why is he suddenly so popular? Or is he? A deconstruction of Kejriwal and his methods is definitely called for.

Some time in the future.

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54 thoughts on “Deconstructing Modi Part 4

  1. Pingback: Deconstructing Modi Part 3 | Random Thoughts of a Demented Mind

  2. Congress = Mughal Forces, BJP = Shivaji/Marathas This game cannot be won by numbers, only by strategy. While Congress is a past master in politics it might have finally met its match in NaMo. Kejriwal is clearly a Congress pawn to muddy the waters.

    • Bjp has two kind of supporters, first one who want a clean and unbiased government but the other r fundoos who r still living in 15th century, they r paranoid and see Mughal hand in everything that’s ever wrong. Only reason they support bjp is because they hope that once bjp comes to power they will kick out all these Mughal remnants who r responsible for scwering the country

  3. Modi has already become PM. These elections are just a formality now. When BJP leaders could not stand against his rise to the top, what to say for Congress. Such is the hero worship.
    Interesting will be to see how he delivers on his promises like:
    1. Pak and China will not dare play funny games on the borders.
    2. Growth will come back to 9+ rate.
    3. Bijli, Pani and sadak in every corner of the country.
    4. Zero riots
    5. Zero corruption

    And the list goes on. In his own words, all this in 60 months. Bharat banega..”Sone ki Chidiya”..”Vishwa Guru”..”Super Power”

  4. More like Congress = Mughals (there are claims that Motilal Nehru was actually some mughal remnant) and the RSS (Konkanastha Brahmins) represent the Peshwai…the former is unbashedly pro muslim and wants to islamise india gradually (in true mughal fashion) and the latter are status quoists who inspite of having the numbers and the strength do not attempt a take over. Modi is the maverick ..who is hated by congressis and their media pimps and also by some in his own camp. It isnt not going to be a cakewalk for Modi…but he has ruthlessly finished all opposition in Gujarat, lets see if he can do the same on a national level

  5. Excellent analysis, however I don’t agree with some of the points made.
    The Congress of 1984 is not the same Congress of today. The incident that you cite from Darbar is also a good 23 years old. It has run several governments in Punjab since then and even received 41 percent of the vote in the last assembly elections. It is reasonable to infer that a significant number of Sikhs have accepted the Congress. The Modi regime from 2002, on the other hand (including ministers, officers/bureaucrats), with the exception of Kodnani has largely remained the same. Kodnani was shielded by the government until she was convicted by the court.

    The other observations on the monumental hubris of the Congress are spot on.

      • But you have not explained why vast majority of sikhs dont have a problem with Congress..while vast majority of Sikhs have problems with Modi…having said that have to agree that on the whole, your views are balanced …

      • Rajeev Gandhi is dead but Narendra Modi is most likely going to be the prime minister of India. The RSS/VHP cadrer pose a much bigger danger to Muslim community then the risk from Congress cadres to any anti-Gandhi section of the society in PRESENT times . But still you are trying to prove that Congress is a much bigger danger to the society.

  6. But why should Modi have such a problem in saying ‘I fucked it up, it was admin failure, we regret and have learned from that time and made such and such changes so that it doesnt happen again’. A lot of right wing bloggers keep sharing some videos of doordarshan from feb-mar 2002 as proof of what he did/said as proof of regret or asking for peace, clearly the perception is that Modi has not expressed regret or apologized, but why not get his PR machinery to rectify that he does regret, or just come out and say it. Maybe not apology, but at least regret part can be clarified with a bold/underlined/italicized statement just like all his slogan.
    For all other valid reasons for supporting him, this part does not feel right.

    • That will be suicidal to say the least. By doing that, Modi will erase the hardliner image that has made him the darling of all the Hindu fundamentalists. An apology is no guarantee for Muslim’s vote but a certain decrease in Hindu votes will be certain. Remember how LK Advani suffered the image problem once he praised Jinna.
      Modi is well aware of this and will never commit such a grave mistake.

  7. The point I want to emphasise is that the Congress from 1984 is changed much more than Modi’s 2002 regime.

    Congress has no problem with the Sikhs or anybody else as long as they “hail the dynasty”, but more importantly the Sikhs don’t have any problems with the Congress (or the Hindus/Muslims/Christians for that matter). The same cannot be said about Modi led BJP.

  8. There is a “chai pe charcha” in Washington DC area at 5 am or Saturday morning (the events starts at 9 pm on friday.
    @greatbong
    would you like to ask a question to Namo. Washington DC being one of the 5 NRI teashops, and the only one in US, will in all probablity get to ask a question to Namo.

  9. “Only those who have been given a Padmabhushan by this government or hope to be given one in the future would defend its inglorious legacy of slush and paralysis and so I would presume there is no need to put the history of the UPA under the scanner here. The UPA has been Rohit Sharma in New Zealand and most of us can agree with that.”

    I have not received Padmabhushan but I would like to enumerate 3 visible positive impacts on my life in the times of Manmohan Singh.
    1. Making the petrol price market linked and defanging the political fallout. Previously, there used to be a strike every time petrol prices budged. This has stopped.
    2. I have received my last two subsidies of LPG through direct deposit in my bank account. It is a giant leap forward. The same subsidy was delivered differently earlier.
    3. The air-conditioned volvo buses have been a big boon. Commuting by bus is the preferred mode of commute now. The buses are bought under JnNURM budget.

    There is a boat load of stuff that has gone wrong. HOWEVER that does not take the feel-good of 3-bullets (mentioned above) away.

  10. For those asking why dont Sikhs still have a problem with Congress, you may want to visit a few Sikhs in Vancouver who actually still do. In India, the context of the conflict between Sikhs and anyone has long gone. If the Punjab problem was alive and well, things would have been different. The reason that Congressi activists in 1991 were still prepared to do khoon ke badla khoon was because the Punjab problem was still in people’s minds.

  11. Great read!
    You pretty much nailed it man!!

    And I like the way you quote from the book you recently bought.
    PBUY Brother.

  12. Arnab,

    The entire series has been a very good one and quite illuminating. Thank you.

    Even as you say in the piece that both the parties are almost same in how terrible they have been to certain minorities, the point you raise about not even being able to imagine a scenario where a Muslim could be the face of BJP and rise to the position of PM on a BJP ticket. That’s a crucial difference between the two parties. It would be like an African-American woman becoming president of USA on a Republican ticket. Can’t imagine that.

    • The entire question of whether a “Muslim can be the face of the BJP” is a dangerous one, principally because it is exactly the kind of question politicians will want you to ask. Asking it legitimizes tokenism. To your question, whether a Muslim can be the face of the BJP, the answer is: I totally see that happening, precisely because by doing so, they would tick that box of tokenism. However even after having a Muslim as the face of the BJP, its fundamental nature would not change.

      But you can still ask “EVEN then, just for tokenism, would the BJP make a Muslim its face?” The answer is it already has. In the 90s when BJP was much more up-front and aggressive in its agenda of Hindutva, (a face those who support Advani because he is against Modi conveniently forget), the BJP had a very senior leader and spokesman called Sikhander Bakht (Not to be confused with the cricketer of the same name). He would come on TV and make the most provocative statements and he could, because his being Muslim had ticked the box. (He is the only Padma Bhibushan from BJP besides Advani). Now just by having his a spokesman, what did BJP prove? Nothing really. In the last elections, Irfan Pathan campaigned for Modi. Modi attended Yusuf’s wedding as far as I know. It is quite within the realm of possibility, that once one of their player careers are over, they will be co-opted into the BJP for precisely that box-ticking reason and given a very prominent position. Would that change anyone’s opinion on BJP? Would Modi have considered to have atoned for Gujarat 2002?

      Coming back to the Republican party.. The answer is again Yes. I can imagine that. The person would be Condi Rice. Many in the Republican party want her to run (she is ambivalent) because it would tick that box off. Would her running change the fundamental nature of the Reps? No. Would it prove anything? No. The most popular speaker in Republican circles is one Sarah Palin. She is very much loved by the base. What does that prove? The Republican base are not sexist? No. Sarah Palin does not challenge their core beliefs, as a matter of fact panders to them, and thats why they like her.

      The biggest identity in today’s world is money/power. Irfan isnt a Muslim, Palin ist a woman, Condi isnt a black-woman. They are all powerful people and powerful people have doors opening for them. That the doors open should say nothing about the rooms the doors open into.

      • “That the doors open should say nothing about the rooms the doors open into.”. This conclusion is sad but absolutely true IMHO…what a balanced, chilling analysis…

    • I don’t think the two are comparable: A Muslim getting a BJP ticket and a afro-american getting a republican presidential ticket.

      An African american shall be able to stand on the historical proclamation by one of their leaders, the late martin luther king in his speech where he said that he envisions a world where all men are equal.

      I cannot possible imagine that a Muslim leader of some importance make a similar sentence and in doing that be the zeitgeist of the Muslim world. He would most likely be an outlier.

      Also a crucial difference that the African American origins are in slavery, and the Muslim origins in India are of a conquest.

  13. Ok. I teed that up nice and easy for you.

    Going back a 150 years in American politics, it was the Republicans that were pro-abolitionism and it was the southern Democrats that were pro-slavery. It took more than a century for the essential nature of the two parties to basically switch character. In that sense, BJP and Congress could do the same.

    Addressing the point of tokenism, Michael Steele, an African American was the head of the RNC few years ago but as much as it would be a token gesture without a change in the core principle of the base to have an African-American (wo)man to be the Presidential candidate would go a long way assuaging some deep seated suspicions. Similarly, if BJP can make a Muslim their PM candidate and run an entire election cycle with that, it will still go a long way in addressing BJP’s image. I’ll wait for that to actually happen before saying it wouldn’t still serve any purpose.

    Condi Rice might be quite ambivalent about running for president on Republican ticket precisely for the reason that the majority of the party base wouldn’t really be comfortable with it. In a few years time, that might also change, who knows but till that happens, even as a token gesture, I’ll have my reservations about the GOP.

  14. HI Arnab,

    Why such hiatus in writing the blog ? Why Kejriwal is not a impact in this election, you may be mis reading the situation, Delhi for starter ….
    What do you think will change for after Modi in India ?

  15. There are a lot of unqualified assumptions that author has made. Congress is not violent ,ideologically speaking that is, or is not prejudiced against any community – How do you know? What evidence warrants such certitude? The Congress values one thing above all – absolute power; Nehru-Gandhi worship is the easiest means to it. Morals do not play that important a part in Congress power equations. That’s understandable because morals come from beliefs or ‘ideology’, if I may use the word, and Congress has got none. It’s world view has always been utilitarian. Bar a few years under the chairmanship of true stalwarts like Bose and Gandhi, it’s agenda has always been to wield as much power as it can and to achieve that it sides with populist opinions. The point is Congress is bereft of any philosophy or vision and will do anything to survive even if the innumerable compromises make it a hollow existence. Congress is to India what Gollum of the LOTR is to the people of the middle earth. Gollum has no use for the ring of power nor does it know how to wield it properly still it clings to it, suffers indignities and torture for it, forges convenient alliances, fakes friendship and then stabs his ‘friends’ in the back the moment he gets his hand on the ring and when faced with the imminent prospect of losing it turns apoplectic with rage and indiscriminately attacks the threat, all to prolong his wretched existence. The resemblance with Congress is uncanny!
    The Congress is ideologically non-violent because it has no ideology. It stands up for nothing. It sways the way the wind blows and avoids facing up to issues. For such a party non-violence comes easy. But is this the kind of leadership we want ? That is the question and the true parameter on which Cong’s relevance to India has to be evaluated.

    Likewise, the assumption that BJP/RSS are ideologically predisposed towards violence when it comes to muslims is not true at all. RSS has been a much vilified organisation. It harbours no antagonism towards minorities that most liberals/Congis/Media/Commies unfailingly try to convey to the masses. I have been listening to the speeches of RSS heads and reading their literature for quite some time now and all they speak of is cultural nationalism. They want to co-opt the muslims and christians in to their larger vision of an India that continues to keep it’s traditions alive while allowing space for modernity to stretch its legs. All it wants to do is to prevent cultural deracination of India and not chuck muslims out into the Arab sea as intellectuals would have us believe. The grim reality is that there are forces out there that want to subvert and destroy our culture by means of missionaries, as is the case with Christianity, or by inflicting blunt force trauma, as the Islamic terrorists do, or even more insidiously through the control over our academia and other institutions. The problem is such forces project quite a docile image of themselves; a christian priest is the spitting image of benevolence, so what if he indulges in cheap parlour tricks to prove that Ganesha is inferior to Jesus, he gives you a bicycle and 2000 rupees and school admission and other perks; A muslim with a beard is always a ‘Maulana’, an authority on Qur’an and epitome of secularism and bhaichara and generosity, always the victim never the perpetrator, so what if he has problems with uniform civil code or singing Vandemataram or repeated indulgence of his flock in berating Hindus, instigating violence and cheering cricket teams of hostile neighbors, without his blessings multi-culturalism in India will die; Oh no, the monster is that mustachioed Mohan Bhagwat and even though we don’t get the drift of his long winded, chaste Hindi speech it could be nothing but a clarion call for annihilation of muslims! Our minds are made up, sly bulletins issued, hasty tweets fired and indictments from 4 JNU profs and 5 Congis obtained. Let’s not bother with a honest evaluation of his speech or message. Let he who understands Hindi. is non-partisan and has no activist past but only serious scholarship to his credit never be invited to our studios.
    But I digress.

    Coming to the BJP. Congress’s strongest suite is BJP’s kryptonite. BJP has an ideology and it takes offence when that ideology comes under attack. Yes, that ideology is rooted in sanatan dharma and BJP stands by it. It has it’s share of grievances and the gall to suggest that Hindus might be victims too. How dare one take even that away from already impoverished but much mollycoddled minorities. It argues for uniform civil code, teaching of sanskrit, chanting of Gayatri mantra, singing of Vandemataram, protection of tribal cultures, abolition of unneeded reservations, and, in general, wants to revive the glorious bits of our cultural past. It wants to reclaim heritage lost to marauding men of Islam. It wants temple sites in Ayodhya, Kashi, Mathura back from encroachers. It wants to rewrite and teach history the way it happened and not the fantastic fairy tale versions shoved down our collective gullet by unprincipled hacks. Most damaging of all it wants to bring India out of 1000 year old stupor and slave mentality and soul-crushing poverty through an aggressive development agenda. BJP doesn’t take pride in India’s poverty as leftist intellectuals do. It is in fact ashamed and pained by it. It doesn’t go around giving guided poverty tours like lefties. It wants to forge India into a united power with all its citizens proclaiming first and foremost a single identity – Indian, an identity that has deep,strong roots in sanatan philosophies whatever the individuals professed denomination be. Such blasphemy! This is what goes against BJP.

    No other country, even if it claims to be multi-culti, that identifies itself along ethnic and religious lines faces the same backlash and censure by the world intellectuals as India should it correctly identify itself as ‘essentially Hindu’. Why? Because we are a multicultural society where, unfortunately, the majority are heathens and we all know that multi-culti applies only to a mix of desert denominations and they cannot be superceded by heathens. But I digress again :)

    The point is that we are a wounded civilization that must keep up jolly appearances even though it hurts to smile. We are saddled with an increasingly unco-operative minority in the name of multiculturalism and secularism. Such high standards have been forced only on India and no other country. Because we are little more than a curiosity for rest of the world and all of us are Gandhis and we are not supposed to retaliate but turn the other cheek. A few rapes in India qualifies as a ‘troubling trend’ but not at a squeak about the daily atrocities elsewhere. Similarily, a few hindus dying in a bomb blast or arson is not that tragic as a few muslims dying in a riot. And since BJP is a party of Hindus, one act of indiscretion on its part qualifies it as ‘ideologically violent’ . Even though Congress commits more violent crimes they are brushed off as ‘ unintended casualties of secularism’. BJP just utters ‘Ram Mandir’ and that image of a monster leaps up in the minds of the listeners.

    So, I would advise one to be not so casual as to unquestioningly cede to the opinion that Congress is not ideologically violent but BJP is. Its just that BJP raises pertinent questions and takes a stand on issues that have been deemed taboo by opinion makers. In doing so it ruffles the feathers of doyens of liberalism and manages to get negative coverage. If it gives in easily to the ensuing bullying, it is pronounced guilty and cowardly. If it confronts the questioners, it’s branded intolerant and violent. Every which way but lose. Also, what does it matter if it makes a muslim a PM or not? Such empty gestures mean nothing and benefit no one, to whit Congress’s nomination of MMS.
    And how do you KNOW it will not support a meritorious muslim candidate for PM’ship if one comes along? Just a hunch isn’t it? Influenced by propaganda perhaps? Definitely.
    Finally, a test case. Premise: A meritocratic institution is more likely to bring the talent to prominence. Question: Which of Congress and BJP is more meritocratic?

    In passing, I would like to recall a scene from the movie ‘The Kite Runner’ where the father of the main protagonist, upon witnessing his son’s cowardly act, remarks to his friend – ‘ A boy who won’t stand up for himself will inevitably turn into a man who’ll stand up for nothing’.
    BJP makes a stand for 125 crore Indians. Congress gave up in its childhood. Support BJP.

    Oh by the way, your piece was good. Thanks.

    • Excellent reply with good points …There is nothing wrong in correcting the twisted history and set it straight ..

    • Well articulated right-wing view but to your last point on the line from the Kite runner. In their Childhood days Congress (not mahatma gandhi only – subhas bose and others too) was fighting the British and BJP’s ideological father the RSS and the Hindu Mahasabha were sucking up to them. We know what congress and bjp stood for even in their childhood days.

    • Nice post. I totally agree with your assesment of Congress Party. Its the Congress party crooks with the help of media and Mullahs that have kept Indian Muslims in bondage and fear of BJP.

      The Congress party and especially the Gandhi family has not just Indian media at their disposal but the western media and maybe even pak media too. No wonder Rahul Gandhi keeps smiling even after failing his Party in such an embarassing way.

  16. i am guessing that currently he is at his best behaviour and Kejriwal is at his worst ( I could be wrong) and I am trying to compare the two..

  17. I can not make sense in most of your arguments for Congress. The essence of the party is absolute power at any cost and the same principle is followed throughout the party hierarchy. The Gandhi dynasty controls absolute power over the regional satraps, so when a Reddy or a Scindia or a Pilot grows too big for his shoes, his helicopter comes down. Same goes on at the regional level – a Congress CM sitting in Mumbai will cut off the regional Congress leaders of Marathwada or Vidarbha, but would be absolutely subservient to the Gandhi dynasty. It seems more like the Vatican or the Khalipha arrangement, where power is centralized in the hands of only one individual.

    Your assessment about BJP is mostly wrong. Take a look again at today’s composition of BJP. Most of the states where the party is in power, it is divided into two groups. The most popular state level leader is mostly from the OBC group, while the leader parachuted into the state by the central leadership, through RSS proxies, is mostly a Brahmin. For example – look at UP – Kalyan Singh (a Lodh OBC) brought the highest number of seats in assembly and parliament but was bypassed for a Mishra/Tandon through BJP’s Brahmin leadership. Same goes on for Maharashtra – while Munde (OBC) is most popular, Gadkari (Brahmin) gets more powers through RSS. Karnataka – Yeddi (OBC) while Anant Kumar (the single most important person who destroyed the govt) is a Brahmin. Gujarat – Modi (OBC) and Sanjay Joshi (effectively cut down 6 years back by Modi). MP – Chauhan (OBC) vs Pradhan. The pattern is same.

    The RSS was clearly founded on the principles of Hindutva and HiduRashtra, just to balance out the Muslim League’s demands for a separate nation for the Muslims. You can not apply the same principles from 1930s to 2010s. Though there is dotted line relationship between RSS and BJP, the ideologies are different. You completely missed this. BJP is a political party and interested in reaching power through all the possible means coalition politics (like they did with DMK – ideologically on the opposite side of BJP). RSS is a cultural organization and most likely still believes in the Hindu Rashtra theory. Typically the RSS leadership has always been Deshastha Maharashtrian Brahmins since its inception until Rajju Bhaiyya/KC Sudarshan in the 90s.
    Most of the folks who go to the shakhas and proudly associate themselves with RSS are Brahmins (at least in Maharashtra). At the all India level, the Brahmins are no more than 10% of the population. The average popular votes BJP gets in local/national elections is around 25%-30%. Doesn’t it mean that many other groups vote for BJP for something else than its association with RSS/Hindutva? Don;t you think the lower and upper middle class (both blue/white collar) vote for BJP more than they do for Congress?

    Did you compare the average number of riots or the law and order situation during the BJP govt vs the Congress govts at the state levels? The 2002 riot was unfortunate and the Godhra event that led to the larger riots was even more disgusting. Had it happened in any state under any other leader, the reaction would have been similarly violent. Mumbai had 2 riots in 1992/1993 and more than 2000 people were killed. Nobody remembers who was the CM of the state then, but the English media has consistently held Modi responsible for the 2002 events.

    Aren’t you the same person who cheered for Shashi Tharoor, the glib English speaker, despite of any real achievements in public life? Your words like fascism at al are really copied from the Western context, which does not apply to India. Aren’t Bengali parties more close to fascism/maoism than any other part in India? Where exactly have you seen any instance of fascism in the BJP governed states? I am not asking for two, just one. If you think the Ram Sene and Shiv Sena’s nuisance is fascism, your understanding is as deep as Rahulji’s!

  18. Dear Arnab,
    great analysis overall, absolutely spot on. However, in addition to the points taken in consideration, i would have liked a view/point on ‘change in the muslim mindset’ over the years. By this, i mean we all know the view of traditional muslims on BJP and modi and to whom they’ll vote. But what about the views of young muslims, those who are more flexible in their thinking than the traditional ones. Is there any significant change and if there is how will it affect the elections..

  19. As an Indian, I care about understanding the nuances of “why Modi”. As an Indian, I also care about protecting minority and diversity not just of India but of all Human civilization.

    I would give this article 4/5. Not 5, Only because I don’t think you managed to address the 800lb gorila in the room.

    I have a different answer to the 800lb gorila. Unfortunately this turned out to be more verbose. And yes this post is going to be about Islam.

    But first a gedanken:
    If the tables were reversed i.e. a Muslim majority subcontinent, would Muslims of India have given the same treatment to this piece of Land? Don’t go by history, go by the course set by their Gowalkar (sorry no caricature here) which is islam’s default mode of operation !!!

    Almost every crtisism of Islam in the west, has the your-riot-worse-than-mine response in that Christian’s were barbaric too. Christian west has a post-renaissance move away from their crusade hardened past – and to a large extent the Christian world today is very tolerant and has place for merit irrespective of where you come from. The church is important but the law of land supersedes. There may be prejudices in Christian society but I think as a society they are far more open minded now. And to a large extent, an outsider can have a fantastic life in Christian societies. And I don’t see them ever receding back to their religious-persecution pasts. They have hegemonic intentions but it’s not by religions sanctions or the will of god but out of economics. Which is much easier to overcome.

    Islam will never be able to give to the world what it takes from it. Islam may be wonderful for those who are Muslims but it is extremely harsh on those who do not wish to subscribe to it. This fact of Islam being harsh on non-muslims – do Muslim ever care for it. Is that even a question in their collective conscience? Do they ever at their highest levels of collective wisdom willing to concede that Dar-ul-haram may not be as bad and may actually be better than a lot of Dar-ul-islam. And are they even doing anything about changing the original text?

    The problem is that Islam consumes everything that comes in it’s way (e.g. Ayodhya, Somnath, bamyan, jerusalem etc). Analogous to the evil ball of fire in the movie Fifth Element. And in that sense of consuming everything that comes in it’s path, human civilisation looses a precious heritage to Darul-ul-Islam. Is that a loss our liberals care about?

    I personally don’t subscribe to violent reactions to counter islam. Coming back to analogy of the movie, the more fire you through at it the more evil it becomes. But I think there is a conflict between the concept of India and Islam. Choose to ignore at your own peril. But the way I defer here from the Sanghis and the Dals is that this is a war best fought without any weapons and on the basis of a stronger and better idea of Hindu religion! The best part of Hindu religion is that it is not locked in a book written centuries ago and therefore can radically evolve.

    Also when some people say that congress is tactically communal where as BJP’s essence is communal and is tactically secular. I would like to put forth that to me what it looks like is that Indian Mulsim is tactically secular. I don’t see any reason why Indian Muslim should be
    different from the ideal Mulsim. Islam has a dual face. Just imagine you are standing in front of two Muslims – one has a more gentle way to disagree with you and the other has a more violent way of disagreeing with you. Nothing wrong so far. Except that the problem is that both these views are legally sanctioned by Islam. So it’s diabolical. And the non-muslim is check-mated.

    Some may argue that ask any Indian Muslim on this, and my doubts on them will be shattered. But I may say ofcourse that’s not going to happen – afterall do you expect any Clergy to say on face what they really think. But try going to some Mulsim mohala’s as one of them and sit within them to get their deep views. Also even if some part of current Indian muslim is moderate, the next generation of Indian Muslim’s are not going to be so. I think they are being increasingly radicalized and the current youth is borne in a generation of a created victim hood. By default I am the reason for their misery. I am a polytheist, idol worshiper. And Islam has a great heritage, which I as a hindu India am denying it to him. And the only solution to that is a Islamic India.

    So yes, the question for India is not secularism but whether Islam is consistent with Secularism and the idea of India. And therefore if Islam is not secular in it’s true sense can it demand so from non-believers.

    Coming to the 800lb Gorilla. I think Modi was wrong where his administration failed, but I think he was right in thinking that the Hindu pain is true and genuine, and if not addressed it would emotional wreck the minds of Hindus. Something that if not allowed to let out shall
    destroy Hindu’s mentally.

    So I think Modi’s is thinking “fuck you all pseudo-secularist, taqiya is not unique to Islam.”

    I want Modi to treat others the way they treat Hindu’s. So stop the ram sena’s violence against missionaries. Because the Chrstian west is treating Hindu’s well in their land. If Ram Sena thinks they are here for conversion, aren’t our guru’s also doing something similar. Isn’t Iscon, Sri Sri Ravishankar, etc also in a way proselytizing ? Treat other non-muslim religions very well – the sikhs, jains, budhists, chrstians, jews, etc. Then you cannot be non-secular just because you disagree with islam where in fact you are amiable to all other religions.

    I will change my mind if the Islamic clergy apologies for the destruction of Hindu heritage, and removes references to Dar-ul-Haram from their religious disposition – and this as a way forward for all future Muslims. But until that happens I hope to continue my friendship with some of my Muslim friends, and I hope they see where I come from is not really wrong.

  20. A very good evaluation of the facts at hand, but of late, I see Kejriwal turn to all those gimmicks which are the hallmarks of a shrewd politician. Opportunistic, check, propaganda, check, making allegations like a diktat, check. I wonder if these were the qualities for which he gained the admiration and confidence of various citizens, and shouldn’t he focus more on his original agenda of making India a better place that attacking individuals?

    Regarding Narendra Modi, as I wrote once when Delhi elections were nigh (here) after having read an in detail account made at the Caravan Magazine (who later also did a story on Arvind Kejriwal, which makes me think there isn’t too big a difference between the two, only a few more, persuasive and effective, methods adorn Narendra Modi’s arsenal) that he knows what sells and knows what he wants. Men driven by ambition are dangerous.

    Sometimes, I find it fruitless when people associate Modi with just the 2002 event. It is a major part, but still not a whole. Modi is more than that, and when we’ve tolerated so many years of mute leadership, what are the effing odds now which dissuade us from rooting for change? Let’s not just live in the past but in the present too. Past is for taking lessons and finding patterns which might give a hint of what is in store tomorrow, not for digging old skeletons.

    I see you’ve focussed more on BJP, dynasty politics at Congress, political parties using violence as a vehicle towards achieving their ends and of course the Gandhi Parivar, and I also understand that when it is analysis of opinions, as you seemed to do when saying what you said, but somehow, a mere reference of Modi makes the article more about him. Perhaps his demons or his clout are working behind his back too. Good publicity or bad, everything is welcome as log as he’s being talked of, I guess. Perhaps Kejriwal is also doing the same.

    P.S. I talk more in terms of maybes, so please bear. :)

    Regards,
    Blasphemous Aesthete

  21. Definitely looking forward to series on AAP.
    A very unbiased account of Indian political scenario. Hope to read on AAP soon.

  22. It does not take much pick up enmity with imperialist and supremacist religions like Islam and Christianity. Their ideology of “my god or no god” and blind adherence to One book(Bible and Christianity) are recipes for communal tension.

    In this case, hindus and RSS acted like duffers. Instead of analyzing the faith by ideology, they indulged in pointless and emotional violence. This made them look like more cruel than they really are.

  23. Congress learnt the art of proxy war using non-state actors from their Paki friends. It is like “We are the biggest victims of terrorism”. Just as their Paki friends know that they cannot take on India head-on, and that they need these proxy soldiers, Congress has created this proxy. The question is does he require a mention even here? Aren’t the Goswamis and Kanwals enough?

  24. I am not even a tenth as articulate as Arnab-da or even most of the commenters, but let me take a stab at jotting down some of my thoughts.
    The problem/issue/challenge with Modi is not (just) individual events like Godhra, Newton’s-Law comments, core-BJP-values, etc but a combination of them all. In 2 months, we are in all likelihood about to elect a party and a PM who have a self-admittedly communal agenda – building a Ram temple in Ajodhya is still a part of BJP’s election manifesto. As a part of this party, the PM candidate was the head of a government that presided over massive communal riots where most of the victims were Muslims. He is also widely known to be a highly authoritarian and one who rejects any opinion contrary to his own – sometimes retaliating against the providers of those contrary opinions. This habit has translated to his massive PR machinery as well – prominent Modi detractors are viciously attacked on all fronts (remember Amir Khan and Fanaa?).
    And BTW, to me the biggest proof of Modi’s inherently communal nature comes from the rehabilitation situation of Muslims in Gujarat – despite the lofty stories of Gujarat’s growth, a decade after the, most Muslim communities affected are still stuck in slums. These tell the story of a government and leader who wants the Muslims to remain in the fringes of Indian society and economy.
    The combination of all these paint a very scary picture. Modi is a capable administrator – his PM-ship is likely to improve the Indian economy. But I am very worried that at the first hint of any (valid) opposition, he is going to go all Indira Gandhi on us and start announcing Emergencies.
    Congress is corrupt, incompetent, despicable. Kejirwal is not even close and has a strong affinity to fucking himself. And I would move to Quetta or Kandahar rather than have Mulayam as my PM.
    But still I can’t be happy that Narendra Modi is going to be the prime minister of India.

  25. “No single Congress leader, no matter how much more suitable he might be than Rahul Gandhi as a leader, will not dare to make a play for the party leadership. Unless Sonia Gandhi chooses him as the next cipher.”

    The need of the hour for Congress is another Manmohan Singh. RaGa is still not ready to occupy the seat in public. An “operational PM” whose loyalty to the real centre of power can be reliably guaranteed is what the Congress is lacking now.

    RaGa himself said “It’s not important” who the PM is. I think it confirms my assessment.

  26. ‘The Congress, by a kind of historical default, is a pluralist party that is opportunistically communal while the BJP is an ideologically communal’.so nicely choosen words.Main problem here is the writer is trying to view parties and election just on the basis of same old theories english media used like ‘ideology”secular”communal”hindu”muslim’ etc.. The author really don’t care abt our soldiers beheaded, Taj attack,Kashmir pandits,Mujaffarnagar riots,China crossing borders, Nuclear scientists dying mysteriously, Kerala talibanisation,free dole outs to minorities which never empowers instead it actually makes them slaves,MP’s not giving respect to vande mataram and the endless list.So immeture,irrational and childish thoughts ..

  27. Pingback: Deconstructing Modi – part IV | India Policy Watch

  28. Nicely witten article arnab…totally agree for kejriwal.. he needs more time. although his recent gimmicks and the people surrounding him are not too bright.

  29. You have alot of valid points in your series on Modi but got to say, you have fumbled quite badly in drawing an equivalence between the ideology of Congress and the BJPas it relates to mass violence. And,mind you, I say this despite being a Modi supporter and some kind of soft Hindutvite ideologically. Taking your argument at face value Dynasty is the God for Congressmen, what is the risk that you are going to see another major progrom like 1984 getting triggered again. Very low given that the the Dynasty doesnt have a deeply antagonistic relationship with any major Indian community. In contrast. the fault lines between Hindus and Muslims run deep and the risk that BJP would fan flames in case of a major conflagration if they can derive a political dividends from it is quite real. As you pointed out,in the current socio-political climate,major riots would be a losing proposition for any party but that can quite easily change over the next few years. Therefore, on the riot front,one has to admit, if grudgingly, that BJP does pose a meaningfully higher risk than Congress.

    So while I realize that Modi is a flawed choice,I am still going with it because A) as a voter,I am desperate to punish the Congress for its decade of criminal misrule B) I believe lack of economic growth over the long term presents a much higher risk to social stability than communalism and I see Modi as best placed among the various alternatives to deliver on that and C) while BJP’s communalism presents risks, it also presents an opportunity for the polity to move to a truly secular framework as both the so-called secular parties,and more importantly,the Muslim community realize that pseudo-secularism ( a very apt description) is a game of diminishing returns as it drives a counter consolidation of Hindus over the long term.

  30. Please use different typeface or colour for excerpts from Mukul Keshavan article . Most of the commentators are confusing those as your comments.
    I am not competent enough to declare that the riots in India are planned or not but what has surprised me since 2002 is following facts
    (1) train burning has been executed by Congress supporters ( even trial court has confirmed it) ,
    (2) majority of rioters were Congressman ( majority among rioters convicted by court belong to Congress ),
    (3) Mr Jafri , a Congressman , known for involvement in previous riots, was killed by his close aides ( another Congressman) and
    (4) Ms Seetelavad , another Congres supporter, making no stone unturned to delay cases involving rioters belonging to Congressman ( to save the rioters by hook or crook) .

    Now why Gujarat 2002 can ever be taken as blot against BJP or Modi when facts speak otherwise. Why insistence on painting it as a Modi’s failure when Gujarat administartion probed thorouhly so that Court can punish rioters irrespective of political affilaition and Modi never succumbed to Ms Seetalvad’s pressure tactics to bargain “go slow” against Congress -rioters in exchange of stopping “hate-Modi” campaign in English News Channels.
    In fact Congress and Communists are most communal party indulging in wanton killings of innocents since Independence . AAP is version 2012 of communists and congressis. Cannot be trusted.

  31. “Try to imagine a BJP government headed by a Muslim ten years from now. It doesn’t work even as a thought experiment”.. a more interesting question would be to try to imagine a Congress government or any other government for that matter headed by a muslim.

    Technically we have been ruled by muslims (Indira/Rajiv/Sonia/Rahul) for several decades but in the garb of Gandhis after erasing their muslim identity. Even Rahul claims to be a brahmin whenever convenient. There are people claiming to be atheists to wear the garb of secularism and getting rid of their Hindu identity to appease muslims. But it will be a long time before the country is ready to accept a muslim prime minister (just as in the US or any European country). This is because of islamic terrorism and hostility/anti-national elements among muslims which don’t generate trust among the majority. That is the prime reason for any party (including BJP) not nominating a muslim PM, not 2002 or hindu nationalistic identity. Also, even though BJP is primarily a Hindu party, theoretically it may not be so hard to imagine them nominating a Sikh or Jain PM right? Nobody seems to bring that up. So how are they inherently communal?

    As you say, you cannot compare the relationship of Sikhs with the congress and the relationship of Muslims with BJP. However, the relationship of muslims with non-muslims in the country in general is also very different from that of the sikhs with the non-sikhs (atleast at present). That is the elephant in the room which has to be addressed and is no means to claim that the BJP is worse than the congress in secularism/communalism.

  32. Congress specially Rahul was out of picture in election but over exposure by BJP on Congress and Rahul bring them in competitive position. Excess of every thing is bad. Over & over publicity may result in great harm to BJP & Modi. This large scale campaign brought all opposition leaders together to defeat Modi or BJP and it may certainly affect to a extant

  33. “Try to imagine a BJP government headed by a Muslim ten years from now. It doesn’t work even as a thought experiment.”
    I disagree with two very important points you made,

    1. That BJP is opportunistically secular just like Congress is opportunistically communal.

    This sounds like a lazy statement. There is absolutely no comparisn there.
    When BJP leaders say that Hinduism at its root has always welcomed other religions to coexist with it, they are not being conniving liars. If BJP rewards law-abiding muslims with development, isn’t it a giood thing for everyone. Atleast the minorities got something out of it other than socialistic breadcrumbs.

    On the other hand, Congress party’s opportunistic communalism has been deadly not just to the minorities but to every Indian. They don’t mind playing with INDIA’s soverignty if it assures them power. There is not a single sikh who thinks that Gandhi family and Jagdish Tytler have redeemed themself by making ManMohan Singh the PM.

    2. BJP will never choose a muslim leader the way Congress chose their Sikh “leader”.

    By your own logic from the first point, you are saying that its possible for BJP to find a weak muslim leader who will accept the basic essence of Hindutva and do as they say just like Manmohan Singh did as he was told.

    Lets assume that by some stroke of magic, the Muslim Mullah’s of India start believing that they are better off if they coexist with an already secular religion like Hinduism and kind of tone down the desert-style bigoted ideology where every infidel in India must be killed or defeated until INdia becomes an Islamic country.
    A devout Muslim can never do that. A moderate educated progressive muslim like Abdul Kalaam will never be able to lead with that kind of rhetoric.

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