By Mumtaz Alam
NEW DELHI, April 13 — Perhaps this is the first General Election of Independent India which revolves around persons, not problems of the common man. Though at a national level, three faces are appearing but one of them – Narendra Modi, chief minister of Gujarat and prime ministerial candidate of BJP — has made the entire election campaign person-centric. Mr. Modi has every right to contest the Lok Sabha election and hold ambition to become the Prime Minister of India, but he carries a legacy which is terrorizing a large section of the countrymen and is disappointing them about the future of the country if he becomes PM.
India’s bloodiest ever communal riot took place in Gujarat in 2002 when Mr. Modi was chief minister of the state. Many victims as well as bureaucrats accused him of being involved in the riot that claimed over 2000 lives – mostly Muslims. He was legally made an accused when Zakia Jafri, a riot survivor, dragged him to court. After the lower court declined to accept her plea to challenge the clean chit given by SIT to Mr Modi, Jafri has moved to the Gujarat High Court. So technically speaking, Mr. Modi is a riot accused and will remain so until he is cleared by Supreme Court – the highest court of the country. Due to his alleged involvement in the riot and gross violation of human rights under his regime, United States has continued denying him visa since 2002.
What will be the face of India if Modi becomes PM?
Mr. Modi and his party BJP have launched an unprecedented, massive campaign across the country, particularly through electronic and print media as well as rallies and public meetings, which sends an impressive message about him becoming the next Prime Minister of India.
When some Muslim intellectuals were asked what they think would be the face of India if Mr. Modi becomes PM, they answered on expected line – It will be bad for India, its democracy and secularism and also for his opponents even in his party.
“Having closely observed Modi for over 12 years in Gujarat, I shudder at the thought of his becoming PM,” says Gujarat-based eminent human rights activist J.S. Bandukwala. As a first point, he says Mr. Modi would crush dissent.
“I would briefly list his character as megalomaniac, ruthless, one is with him 100% otherwise he will destroy you. This has been the fate of his own close supporters who did not follow him totally. Keshubhai the veteran CM was totally side-lined. Same fate fell on scores of RSS / BJP leaders within Gujarat. Haren Pandya was murdered, and Hyderabad Muslims were accused of it. They stayed in jail for about nine years, until the Courts released them,” Bandukwala says.
“The same fate awaits Advani, Joshi and Sushma. That is why no outside political party would risk supporting him, unless the price paid is very high, as in the case of Mamata, Mayawati and Jaya,” he adds.
“He has a visceral hatred of Muslims. His speeches in the aftermath of 2002 tragedy bear this out. In particular the speech he gave at the Gaurav Yatra around September 2002, was full of poison. Surprisingly no action was taken against him, either by his party or the Vajpayee Government. I am surprised how Muslim leaders, like Akbar and Sabir Ali have fallen for him. They believe they can ride to glory through Modi. The greater chance is he will use them like a squeezed lemon and throw them away,” he says.
“During his Sadbhavna rallies, he had come to Vadodara. The rally was held near the home of Bilkis Banu, one of the most tragic cases of 2002. I had urged him to visit Bilkis and apologize for what happened to that frail girl. He was not interested.”
Dr. Zafarul Islam Khan, Editor, The Milli Gazette English fortnightly in Delhi says if Modi came to power he will create fear and terror in the country.
“Today secularism is in danger. If BJP and Narendra Modi came to power they will create fear and terror in the entire country as they have done in Gujarat. We must not believe what they are saying. They will cheat the nation as they did in 1992 when they promised to protect Babri Masjid,” says Dr. Zafarul Islam Khan.
Faisal Khan, eminent social activist associated with National Alliance of People’s Movement and Asha Parivar, says outer face of India will remain as it is today even if Modi comes to power, but “the inner side will be changed lot to worse.”
Khan also puts an interesting point. “If Modi does not become PM now then communal forces will become stronger than they are today. It is better he becomes PM once and fails, and he will fail 100%, and then their lies will be exposed to all,” says Khan who lives in Delhi.
Yusuf Zafar Faridi, social activist based in Bihar, says it will be bad for India if Mr. Modi becomes PM. “It will be first time in the world that a terrorizing personality will become PM,” says Faridi.
Bandukwala says Mr. Modi will only help Adanis and Ambanis as he did in Gujarat.
“On the economy the less said the better. Modi believes in opening the state finances to top corporates. No wonder Adani, Ambani, Mittal and Tatas describe him as a king among kings. But the Gujarat debt has gone through the roof in the last 12 years. Health workers, Primary and secondary teachers, sweepers, etc have to live on a monthly total salary of 4500/-. No wonder Gujarat ranks near the bottom on child mal nutrition, female anaemia, dropout rate in government schools, etc.,” says Bandukwala.
Aware of the fears of Muslims, BJP perhaps for the first time has made some specific promises to Muslims in its election manifesto.
Dr. Zafarul Islam Khan, who is also president of All India Muslim Majlise Mushawarat, does not take BJP’s promises to Muslims seriously.
“We cannot take BJP manifesto promises for Muslims seriously. Due to their past deeds, we cannot take their words seriously. We do not have any problem with words like BJP or Modi. We won’t have any problem with them if they become secular,” says Dr. Khan. –India Tomorrow