Narendra Modi's Crime
Here, I agree with the author. Narendra Modi is often potrayed as a bigoted despot, ordering pogroms agaisnt people he doesn't like. If he is, there is no evidence to show it. What the evidence does seem to show is that Sangh Parivar activists, enraged by the Godhra incident, began a senseless orgy of violence as an attempt to punish the "perpetrators" of the Godhra riots. What Modi did was sat by and watched. This may not be because he agreed with the rioters, or he because he believed that the Muslims of Gujarat needed to be "taught a lesson". It is probably because he realised that the people who were rioting were his supporters, and that he did not want to antagonise them. It may even be that his motives were good, that he had a vision for his state that he did not want to derail by being needlessly (in his mind) severe on his supporters. But the fact is, that in 2002, Narendra Modi had a choice: do the right thing or stay in office. For whatever reason, he chose the latter, and three thousand people died as a result.
But, as I said, look at the difference. Congressman Jagdish Tytler against whom there was a direct charge of instigation by victims, had to be dragged off the Union Cabinet kicking and screaming. As minister for NRI affairs, he toured overseas, including the Land of the Free that is America, and no one saw it fit to rescind his visa.
He was just one; other Congress leaders at whom there was more than a needle of suspicion pointing, did not suffer any indignity.On the other hand, Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi against whom there is no direct charge in the riots but one of presiding over an inactive administration, is blackballed, denied a visa, a hysterical campaign is mounted whenever he tours the country or goes overseas. I hold no brief for Modi or anyone of his ilk, I believe all rioters passive and active should be hanged to death, but I cannot understand this dichotomy in treatment of communal riots.
Now here's the thing, politicians throughout the history of India have faced this exact same choice, and have taken the exact same decision. To the best of my knowledge, the only Indian leader who actually stepped in to stop mob violence at the expense of his political movement is Mahatama Gandhi, who in 1922 called off the Non-Cooperation Movement because of the Chauri Chaura riots. Many Indians curse him for this very thing, they believe that stopping the Non-Cooperation Movement cost India dear, and that the death of a few policemen in Chauri Chaura did not justify it. Perhaps they are right, stopping the Non-Cooperation movement, which was hugely successful upto that point, may have delayed Indian Independance by over two decades. But what would have happened if the movement continued, and the violence escalated? A lot of people would have died in senseless violence between the British administration and Indians freedom fighters, as was happening at that time in Ireland. India would have become independant, but at the cost of many thousand lives. Many people would have ready to pay that price. Narendra Modi certainly would. But it took a great man like Gandhi to sacrifice his movement, his dreams and his freedom to save innocent lives.
So, the point of my rambling article is this: Narendra Modi is a criminal who should be punished for his crimes. But so are a lot of other Indian politicians. They may commit these crimes out of the best possible motives, but they are still crimes. Vilifying only Modi may seem justified, but treating him as a one-off monster just gives other, equally culpable politicians a free pass.
Posted in Politics and Economics.