Gujarat, Modi and Muslims

In early 90s while working for my company’s truck project with Isuzu Motors, I frequently visited Vadodara. It was not having even a good hotel. While traveling from the city to Halol, where the plant was coming up, it used to be always dry even the so called water bodies on the way. Today, Gujarat is one of the best state but with a slur of 2002.

Modi is ruling Gujarat for almost two terms and facing electorate for the third time. Gujarat has become a model of development under Modi who wishes to compete with China in growth rate and in all fields of activities too. With many blaming Modi to be responsible for 2002 massacre, Gujarat story becomes difficult to understand. Particularly, the major minority community is not ready to forgive Modi and unlike other politicians Modi is not ready to seek public apology. Why can’t the country or a state move ahead forgetting and forgiving few? Why can’t all Indians celebrate the unique and incredible India that is a showcase of secularism? More and more development that Modi preaches will make India more secular. Development only can make the secularism sustainable for all the times to come..

The democratic India is exemplarily secular with all its drawbacks. It is only country with a staunch Hindu Brahmin as President, a person of minority Sikh community as Prime Minister, a Christian as the head of the major ruling political party, a dalit as the country’s speaker, and chief justice of the Supreme Court, vice-president and the foreign minister of the country belonging to Muslim community. Still Muslims vote in block to make the party of their choice win. It has made almost all political parties including the ruling and regional ones doing everything to keep the Muslims on their sides. Today and tomorrow, that may cause serious social problems. Modi, as it appears, hardly worries about it and may be sure of his win because of good governance and rapid development of the state.

Intellectuals and thinkers are also divided in two camps rather they are complicating the issue for the people like me and many like me.

Hindustan Times carried a story, ‘That date in history: Gujarat and 2002’ by Ashok Malik, whom I keep on seeing on various news TV channels and consider as a good thinker. I don’t think that Malik or Hindustan Times have any special love for Modi or BJP. And I wish to share his views that need serious consideration by the major minority community of Gujarat:

“The 10-year period since the violence of 2002 has been the longest phase in contemporary Gujarati history that has not seen a major religious riot… Narendra Modi’s role in this has been under-recognized, largely because his critics and much of the national media don’t want to admit there has been any sort of transformation at all…. Gujarat topped the list of states that got back to the Union home ministry with a numerical count of religious minorities in its police…. Gujarat is far less likely to have a riot today (or tomorrow) than ever earlier in free India. Like it or not, acknowledge it or not, that is also an element of Narendra Modi’s legacy.’

Recently, Bibek Debray, an economist by profession, has published a book on Gujarat and Modi’s role in it. Modi’s Gujarat story is unique in another way. It has given priority to manufacturing and agriculture. Gujarat has come from behind and become a big player in auto mobile manufacturing. I shall like to give one example. “Maruti plans to invest about Rs 8,000 crore in Gujarat for building a 1,110-acre production facility. At full capacity, this facility is expected to churn out 1.5 million cars a year.”

However, every one doesn’t think in the same way. Another article today ’No talisman anymore’ by Harsh Mander in Hindustan Times is almost against Modi and his Gujarat story.“The soil of Gujarat once nurtured the inclusive, ethical, non-violent politics of Mahatma Gandhi. Today it is in the grip of another entirely different kind of politics, aptly described by commentator Tridip Suhrud as ‘hyper-masculine’: divisive, pugnacious, authoritarian and surgically efficient.”

I don’t know when the opposition of Modi will end. What will happen in case Modi somehow becomes Prime Minister, if the majority so decides, as all opinion polls have indicated?

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