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An Appeal To The ‘Modi’fied Conscience

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By Thomson Chakramakkil:

With the Lok Sabha elections just around the corner, the little birds on blogs and social networking sites have already started chirping about Narendra Modi, the Goliath of the BJP campaign and, considering the present Indian political landscape, the pack’s trump card in the great game called Indian democracy.

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Modi needs no introduction. He has been introduced way too many times. His name resonates through cyberspace like a Vedic chant as the internet priests come together and opine on his mind-boggling deeds. Wherever his reputation is due, the international PR firm APCO, hired by the devil himself, steps in and makes sure that it’s done the right way. NaMo, as the birds have lately come to call him, simply cannot be ignored.

It’s true. If you look at the big picture, it’s impossible to gloss over how the Modi debate divides the country into two neat halves. One half consists of ridiculously unrealistic “anti-development junkies” fuelled by Arundhati Roy articles and hopelessly optimistic Congress supporters guided by, well, gimmickries of the Gandhi dynasty. The other half is relatively homogeneous, being made up of “progress-friendly” citizens struggling to understand the need for reservations in this “class-free”, “caste-free” nation.

Regardless of how often I have been subjected to the entire Secular vs. Hindutva debate, I wouldn’t level it all against those of us who want Modi in India’s most powerful chair. We are all birds too old to be caught with chaff. Considering what the world’s largest democracy has turned out to be, it’s not very surprising that we’ve come to look like off-screen versions of Arnab Goswami.

Congress, with all that they’ve done in the past 10 years, pisses us off. There is not a genuine left-wing party to look up to. By far, there doesn’t seem to be another alternative. As a generation which has witnessed a colossal degree of scandals and the most corrupted politicians on the planet, we want change. And somehow, we have convinced ourselves that Modi is the change we’ve been longing for.

This is the reason why left-inclined intellectuals and Gandhi fanatics fail to convince us. They write 5 page articles on how UN development indicators of Gujarat are against the grand narrative of Gujarat development. They use words like infant-mortality rate and sex-ratio; words which don’t even remotely concern the educated, upper-middle class, city-dwelling Indians fascinated by the fancy multiplexes and shiny bowling alleys of ‘Vibrant Gujarat’. We love what has come to be known as the Gujarat Model Development. In the middle of the entire clamour, the question of whether this development paradigm is equitable has gone unanswered. All we ask, regrettably, is whether all our cities will look like Ahmedabad once Modi is in power. Thankfully for us latte liberals, the other side of the story is not on TV. Even if it was, we wouldn’t care.

Modi’s third term in Gujarat is not a mere stroke of luck. Modi could very well be the political colossus of modern India. The birds on the internet are quite right, Modi isn’t a bad administrator- he’s as clever as any Gujarati businessman. The sheer scale of writing generated for and against him proves how impressive his stature is.

All the same, the skeletons of the Modi’s past have been lost sight of in the tumult of development. History, in just around a decade, has lost its sentimental value. The voices of the ‘othered’ or, as Arundhati Roy calls them, ‘the people who creep along the edges of the society’, are conveniently ignored or tuned out. And luckily for Modi, these people- people with dissenting opinion, people untouched by the development story we have come to celebrate- can’t write in English or be on twitter.

I admit that it’s frightening. It’s frightening because NaMo takes me back to 2002. It’s frightening because he reminds me of the undiluted fascism of a certain German dictator from the 1930s.

You know where my voice is headed. From this point, this entire piece is a cliche we are sick of. There is nothing new or enlightening about it. It raises more questions than answers. To be upfront, this is nothing more than a feeble cry in the dark we’ve grown accustomed to. Nevertheless, I’m compelled by conscience to state the obvious.

I don’t think India, as the secular amalgamation we want it to be, is safe in the hands of Modi or the party he represents. I don’t see how a ‘Hindu Rashtra’ envisaged by BJP is an ideal place for everyone. Right from the time I first read about BJP’s communal agenda in my high-school social science text-book, I’ve been baffled by how a political party with such fundamentalist objectives can be allowed to contest in elections. The “post-colonial” notion that majoritarian fundamentalism is an acceptable political tendency goes completely over my head. I can’t forget the cold-blooded riots of 2002 or the witch hunt for missionaries in the hope of a developed India. I can’t put my conscience at stake for roads without potholes or roofs without leaks.

I don’t feel the need to substantiate my cause any further. There is a distinguishable layer of rust around it. The choice is out there to be devoured by the birds. But, if the BJP and their prince charming is back at the centre deciding what everybody should do with their lives, it won’t be because of my vote.

You must be to comment.
  1. Nirant Kasliwal

    Hi Thomson,
    For beginners, you are forgiven for believing every word in the News Industry that is spoken for/against Modi. Modi is frightening because you were reminded of the deeds his never did.
    I don’t claim that he is secular, what I wish to claim is he wasn’t involved in the riots in the manner he was indicted. The Muslims of Gujarat, who know the truth, voted him back to power. There was no way with 70% voter turn out that NaMo could’ve won in recent elections without their support. He won even in seats where there was a dominating Muslim population which was riot affected.

    We have a saying in Gujarati, which implies, that if you shout a lie a thousand times, even truth can be hidden. The same has happened with Modi; by paid NEWS and spreading mass hysteria, UPA has maligned NaMo strategically.

    If you read by about BJP’s communal agenda in your high-school social science text-book, I am pretty sure you know just half the truth.
    To state it blatantly: There is no secular party in India. If BJP cannot be allowed to contest elections, neither can be Congress or JDU or the Left parties or for that matter, any party. Congress workers burned and butchered Sikhs after Indira’s assassination. They caused permanent rift in India and Jammu & Kashmir by introducing Article 370 of the Constitution. Don’t even bring up Ayodhya as counter-argument of these misdeeds of Congress, I never said BJP was secular.

    All political parties field candidates on seats depending on caste demographics of the constituency. Accept it, no party is secular.

    To cut it short: You don’t need to put your conscience at stake for roads without potholes or roofs without leaks. That is, assuming your conscience is not shaped by incorrect and incomplete information.
    Would love to hear back from you 🙂

    1. Thomson Chakramakkil

      I really appreciate your response Nirant. I understand that no political party in India can be deemed essentially secular in character, and all of them, at different points of time, have toyed with the idea of an anti-national community. Also, the fact that Gujarati muslims are putting their faith in Modi is definitely worth remarking upon.
      Nevertheless, the communal agenda I’m talking about here is not confined to a series of attacks launched against members of minority communities as a response to an act of violence.
      What we are looking at here is years of spreading hatred by manipulating history and instilling in the majority community, a ferocious sense of entitlement. Unlike the Congress, the political agenda of Hindu communalism foregrounded by the BJP itself is severely problematic. BJP and its allies envisage the creation of a Hindu Rashtra in which the rights of the members of other religious denominations will be considerably restricted, as M.S Golwalkar prescribed and the brief BJP rule clearly indicated. Isn’t the notion of Hindu-rashtra itself fundamentally undemocratic? The implications of such a nation-state guided by majoritarian fundamentalism, as suggested by the social and cultural activism of the Hindutva, would clearly impinge on the rights of the everyone who isn’t a Hindu.

      “The same has happened with Modi; by paid NEWS and spreading mass hysteria, UPA has maligned NaMo strategically”
      The riots may have been hyped beyond substance, but it’s impossible to ignore every independent report that says the pogrom against the Muslim community in Gujarat has at best been conducted under the benign gaze of the State and, at worst, with active State collusion. And, interestingly, Modi has never been apologetic about it as opposed to Manmohan Singh. (http://www.thehindu.com/news/the-india-cables/manmohan-singhs-apology-for-antisikh-riots-a-gandhian-moment-of-moral-clarity-says-2005-cable/article1715620.ece) The fact of the matter is, religious bigotry and communal divisiveness is integral to BJP’s design- that’s how Hindutva works.

    2. Veer Subhash

      2005 – 1984 = 31 years. Would you be so benevolent to Modi also, Its only been 11 years of the riots..
      Do you you even remember who was the Maharashtra MP in 1993 riots or Delhi Chief in 1984. Why are you hell bent on selectively picking and crucifying Modi ?

    3. Allan

      Did you even read that comment Veer Subhash?

    4. Thomson Chakramakkil

      Yes, but neither the Maharashtra MP or the Delhi Chief you’re talking about are the Prime Ministerial candidates for the upcoming election. If they were, I’d would have written out against them without hesitation. As I said before, it’s not just about Modi, it’s about all that he represents.
      Please read my earlier comment before launching into a tirade.

  2. Rakesh

    A fancily dressed rant against Modi.

  3. Veer Subhash

    I am not from BJP but tell me which communal agenda of BJP are you talking about ?
    Is it that BJP leaders show solidarity with Sadhus ?
    If that is valid, than what would you say about this –
    http://www.hindustantimes.com/photos-news/Photos-India/mosquedemolished/Article4-650454.aspx

    Where the Samajwadi party ( acknowledged Secular party and congress ally) going to offer Namaj with Shahi Imam Bhukari )

    Are you selectively blind that you cant see such communal acts of so called secularists ?

    This is your first article, and I really wonder that out of all those issues of Rapes, Infanticide, International Debts, Floods, Poverty, Scams , Terrorism , Border Disuputes confronting India, you chose Narendra Modi as the topic of your debut .
    And there are many like you. Ofcourse you have the freedom to write anything about anything, but I am really curious to know the motivation behind such one sided attack against Modi.
    Lastly, I have made an observation, I could be wrong, but nevertheless this is what I have observed –
    I have seen Hindus praising as well as criticizing Modi . But I could never observe a non Hindu ( name) supporting Modi. Thats really not secularism my friend .

    1. Thomson Chakramakkil

      Thanks for the response, but do Google secularism and communalism.

  4. Armaan Shahanshah

    Not an opinion but just an article to show some points.

    http://typedmindstrings.blogspot.in/2013/06/namo-ya-na-namo.html

    Also, it was written when the debate started. So now that Nitish is out. The dynamics deteriorate even further.

    -Armaan Shahanshah

  5. Neha

    Well begun is half done. Any journalist who wants to shoot to fame, starts his career with his opinion on Narendra Modi. Kudos to you for that.
    Even though Modi is regarded as a good administrator, no body disputes his administrative lapses during the riots.At the same time, At the same time, it seems completely unjustified to tag him as a devil or a mascot of death, as an independent investigating has acquitted him. Besides, on record, Modi had appealed to the people to stay calm unlike Rajiv Gandhi in ’84 who justified the loss of life.
    Wonder what makes you think that the BJP would establish a Hindu rashtra here and sacrifice secularism. Hinduism which was at its peak a decade back during NDA rule failed to become India’s prime religion. Today, we are in a different era with declining influence of Hinduism and rise of organized religion. Hence no political party including the BJP would be foolish to pitch for a Hindu rashtra.
    I would be more worried if an organized religion pushed to declare itself a state religion. Middle East and Pakistan show how sharia law can oppress religious freedom of minorities. Fiji also proved that a so-called Western religion was also not tolerant of other faiths by overthrowing a democratically elected government.
    Perhaps, you should talk about Mizoram National Front who show how shamelessly political parties can get communal and insult faiths.
    India is a secular nation and will remain to do so due to (and inspite of) the majority community. Most young supporters of Modi realize this and back him for his good track record.

    1. thomsonchakramakkil

      Oh really? A bit of an idealist, aren’t you? 😀

    2. D

      superb reply Neha…..

  6. sg02

    ‘I can’t forget the cold-blooded riots of 2002 or the witch hunt for missionaries in the hope of a developed India. I can’t put my conscience at stake for roads without potholes or roofs without leaks.’
    and you could easily put behind you the Godhra kaand? other than the much remembered 2002 riot, can you please count off atleast 5 other cases of Hindu-extremism causing major damage to life and property? (you know how many Islamic-terrorist attacks i can tell you of? )
    are you from Gujarat and have faced the brunt of Modi-rule as a non-Hindu?
    as for “secularism”.. i dont live in Google, so Google’s definition doesn’t seem to match with what i see around me.
    please name one political party in India, which, according to you is secular.
    would like to read your response..

    1. thomsonchakramakkil

      What’s with any Modi discussion becoming a Hindu vs. Muslim issue, when it is most clearly not one. I never claimed there are any secular parties in India. Neither is “Islamic-terrorism” or “Hindu-terrorism” relevant to this debate. None of the people who are responsible for the Godhra carnage are running for the position of the Indian Prime Minister. I’m talking about a man called Narendra Modi, with a clearly vile ideological stance and a solid criminal track record, preparing to be the leader of the world’s largest democracy. I rest my case.
      I didn’t expect you to take my definition of “secularism” as granted. If a secular country means a Hindu country to you, I don’t see a point in any further discussion. And, though I’m not from Gujarat, I know plenty of people from Gujarat who were affected, very adversely, by the decisions of the so-called “national prince”.

    2. Abhishresth

      the problem with you is that you criticzed him for 10 years when he wasnt the pm candidate n taking the defense now!!!!!!!!! n i m sorry mr 2002 was not a pogrom !! a person so intrested in google can check that… n another how is manmohan singhs apology justified? he wasnt in the congress at that time!!!!!!

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