Millennium Post

Poll-dancing to new tunes

One wonders if Narendra Modi may not himself become an election issue in the run up to May 2014 Lok Sabha polls. The evident from the way the Gujarat chief minister is bashing the Congress, and with the Sonia Gandhi-led party and the non-BJP leaders, in turn, hitting out at him. The war of words between the ruling UPA and BJP’s election campaign chief Modi is getting louder and fiercer every day. As the campaign proceeds, the chances are that it may boomerang on him. He may win a few verbal battles but loose a war.

Facing growing ire of the people over corruption, inflation, diarchy and dynasty, the one straw the Congress can clutch is secularism. And, Modi is giving the Congress this opportunity with remarks involving puppies, burqas and the like. Far from showing gravity, such remarks treat a vital matter with lightness it does not merit. They have given rise to concern even in the BJP, as evident from senior leader, Yaswant Sinha’s, pointed comment that, as head of the campaign committee, Modi should concentrate on real issues. A time may come when voters may get tired of the wordy duel between the Modi and the Congress leaders.

According to CPI-M leader, Bindra Karat, Modi’s concern for puppies is as touching as Hitler’s love for his dog. In 1933, the German government enacted one of the most comprehensive animal protection rights legislation in the world, as a first step in a series of laws to protect animals, ranging from anesthetising fish before they were cut up, to ensure that lobsters were killed swiftly rather than having to experience of being boiled slowly. In the moral hierarchies born and bred in Nazi minds, there was no conflict between care of animals and genocide of Jews, since, in Nazi reading, Jews were subhuman beings lower than most animal species, comparable to vermin. Similarly, the Gujarat chief minister, brought up in schools of thought that preach hatred towards minorities in theory and practice, can find it easy to express sadness for a puppy run over accidently, but cannot bring himself to directly express sympathy for thousands of Muslims including women and children who were butchered under his watch in 2002.

The analogy, says Brinda, is inappropriate for another reason too. There was nothing accidental about carnage. Incontrovertible evidence is now available in voluminous records of Special Investigative Team to show the culpability of the state. The result of Muslim bashing by Modi is that the minorities have turned totally against the BJP and may side with the Congress in the coming general election. Let us see what the minority and non-BJP leaders have to say. Minority leaders and critics have slammed Modi over his ‘perverse’ puppy analogy, dubbed him as power-crazy politician and drew a Hitler parallel. Zafar JIlani, member of All India Muslim Person Law Board, reportedly said his the comment ‘reflects his perverse mindset and shows he has no regard for personal lives’. All India Christian Council secretary-general, John Dayal, said Modi has never apologised or expressed any sincere regret for killing so many Muslims in 2002. This would hound him forever.  Mohammed Ahmed, national general secretary of Jammat-e-Islami Hind, described Modi as a fascist and accused him of trying to polarize the country along communal lines ahead of Lok Sabha elections.

Zafurullah Islam Khan, who heads the All India Majlis-e-Mushawart, said Modi believed in divisive politics and his analogy reflects his perverse thought process. ‘What he has said is beyond condemnation’. Father Cedric Prakash, a human rights activist based in Ahmedabad criticized Modi for called himself as ‘Hindu nationalist’. ‘How can someone call himself a Hindu nationalist when our Constitution is based on secularism? By doing this, he is showing his true colour. He has no option but to go back to Hindutva agenda of the RSS ahead of the election’. Strident criticism of Modi came the BSP leader Mayawati. She condemned his Kutte ka bachcha analogy in the context of Gujarat riots. The BSP supremo who had earlier declared Modi unfit to become Prime Minister, also slammed his statement that he is ‘Hindu nationalist’. ‘How can he project himself as a Hindu nationalist? He should study the Constitution, which does not speak of one religion. It speaks of tolerance of many faiths’. The BJP has, however, forcefully defended the Gujarat chief minister, insisting that his analogy of puppy being crushed under a car for 2002 Gujarat riots, had been misinterpreted. Party spokesperson, Nirmala Sitharaman, said it was despicable to say Modi had compared a community with dogs. Modi himself tried to check the negative fallout of his comparison and said ‘In our culture every form of life is valued and worshipped … people are the best judge’.    

No doubt Modi’s speeches are pungent and, at the same time, hateful but, even his adversaries both in the Congress and the BJP, admit that he is a powerful and natural speaker. There is no one in the Congress to match him. Most of the leaders including Sonia Gandhi and the prime minister read out from the prepared text and audience gets bored. It is not so with Modi: he can keep listeners spellbound with his rhetoric. IPA
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