SoniaG UPA’s Modi-phobia — R. Upadhyay. Modi not guilty — Gautam Sen

The politics of hate in India–An extension of vote bank politics?

Paper No: 5519                            Dated 28-June-2013
By R.Upadhyay
Generally we avoid writing on the internal developments in India.  The reason is that however much we may try to be objective, yet it is likely to misconstrued as supporting one party or other.  Mr. Upadhyay has consistently been writing on the dangers of “vote bank politics” that is being practised by almost all parties in India.  To me, it appears that he is fighting a losing battle.  So long as we have the “first past the post” system where the winner takes all, vote bank politics will continue to play havoc with our democracy.  Demonising an individual as Hitler or an Asura will not help. Confront him with your own ideas on the political, economic and governance fronts.
Upadhyay’s opinion is his own and not that of South Asia Analysis Group.   Director
The incessant and the longest running hate campaign against Narendra Modi launched by the  secularists, caste-ists, communists, religious extremists and left-liberal NGOs, social activists, media and academics since the communal riots in Gujarat in 2002 suggest that the political class which cannot think beyond the vote bank politics are scared of Modi-phobia as the latter seems to have posed a challenge to the prevailing political culture in the country. He is perhaps viewed as the anti-thesis of this politics.
The entire discourse of this individual-centric hate politics is first of its kind in the political history of post-British India. Ram Jethmalani in his article in on line Sunday Guardian observed, “No politician in independent India has been demonised in such a relentless, Goebbelsian manner as Narendra Modi, and no politician has withstood it with as much resilience and courage as him, notwithstanding the entire Central government, influential sections of the media machinery and civil society arraigned against him” (…
Leaving apart the much deadly communal history of Muslim and British India, hundreds of riots have taken place all over India.  But none of them created the “individual centric hate politics” we witness today on the Gujarat riots.
Take for instance the 2012 communal riots in Assam.  The Bodo-Muslim clash in August 2012 resulted in  thousands of victims killed or uprooted from their houses. The Chief Minister of Assam is said to have delayed the deployment of Army, but no one launched any hate campaign against him.
The height of hate campaign was seen in Kerala in April last when Congress and Communist leaders refused to attend Sivagiri Mutt event for which Modi was invited. But the people thought it otherwise and a large number attended..
Though the hate journey  against Modi though started in 2002, its upsurge was noticed at national level after his ascension as election campaign chief of the BJP followed by the break of the 17-year old Janata Dal (United) and the Bhartiya Janata Party alliance which ended the coalition government in Bihar.
Whether Narendra Modi will be the next Prime Minister or not is not the issue here.  It is not my concern either.  But what pains me is the systematic “hate” campaign being mounted when he is projecting himself as an efficient and pro development politician.
A divisive politics with a strong divisive hate campaign is not good for Indian democracy.  It is a danger to India’s trusted faith in secularism. For these politicians the Gujarat riots alone matter and nothing else.
Vote bank is a political reality in secular India since Independence and has in fact become a part of the vocabulary of Indian politics. With the spread of regionalism, proliferation of political parties and unprincipled alliances, elections in India are hardly contested on the basis of political ideology.
Almost all the political parties have used this vote bank politics according to their political convenience. Although, its character varies from state to state on the basis of caste, ethnicity, language and regional factors, unfortunately only the Muslims are being targeted.   May be that though they may not be in a position to win the seats by themselves but they are in a position to tilt the electoral balance in a number of constituencies. Hence the community is being wooed though one may wish that some senior leader of the community could get up and say “Leave us alone.”
Muslims constitute about 15 percent of country’s population. With over 20 % of electorate in 95 Lok Sabha constituencies (Electoral Politics and General Elections in India 1952-98 by M. L.Ahuja, 1998, Page 277), they are said to have the potential to play a decisive role in the outcome.  This is what makes them easy prey to vote bank politics of other parties.
Initially, the Congress inherited this divisive politics from the colonial rulers and maintained its monopoly over Muslim votes for many years and remained in power.
Subsequently, following the footsteps of the Congress most of the political parties also emerged as champions for the cause of protecting the religious identity. They raised  issues like Muslim personal law, article 370, Urdu language, Ayodhya and now Narendra Modi but never offered any remedial solution for the modernised education for the Muslim masses. Instead, to allure the community they bribe some hand- picked Islamists with foreign ancestry by offering some share in political power. Understanding the weakness of the political parties, these Islamists consolidated the community into a reserve vote bank and became its self made directors.
The RJD in Bihar and SP in Uttar Pradesh, which could emerge as a political force on the basis of caste and vote bank politics of minorities took advantage of the situation and aggressively propagated against the danger of communalism from the majority community. The Muslims of these States found in them as the saviours of their religious identity
With the objective to break the Muslim- Yadav alliance of Lalu Yadav who ruled Bihar for fifteen years, the BJP having influence in upper castes joined hands with Janata Dal (U) under the leadership of Nitish Kumar who consolidated the none-Yadava backward castes and won over the Muslims with the same strategy of winning over the leaders of the Muslims belonging to the ajlaf (low born Muslims) who constitute a much larger percentage of the  community in the country. Thus with the support of extremely backward castes, caste Hindus and the Ajlafs, the BJP and JD (U) alliance came to power in Bihar since 2005.
It is the allure of the vote bank politics that has influenced Nitish Kumar to breakaway from the NDA and go on his own hoping that the minority community would vote for him in the next general elections.   It is too early now to predict how the minorities would vote for him or not in next Lok Sabha election, but he is taking a chance!
It is a pity that the political leadership in Independent India never took serious note to resolve the consistent bitter relation between the two major religious communities. On one hand the political parties continuously scared the community against the imaginary danger to their religious identity at the hands of the Hindu nationalists and on the other the leaders of the community never allowed them to integrate in Indian society. Modernisation of Muslims which is a key to development was never an issue of concern for either the political or community leadership of the country.
A section in the community might have full faith in democracy but their voice is so feeble and weak that they are unable to bring out their community from their religion-centric identity. In a wider context of Indian society, modernisation of Muslims is possible only with their modernised education. But assertive institutionalisation of the communal distinctiveness  by their leaders obstructed them to think independently about their overall development as a part of Indian society as a whole.
Indian politics has changed over the past decades. New generations of political leaders have emerged, but the status of Muslims in India remains virtually unchanged. The community has not seen any perceptible improvement as the largest minority in the country. Progress in the fields of sports, entertainment and, to some extent, in education is the result of individual talent, efforts, and support from private organizations. The government’s contribution to these individual successes appears to be almost nil.
The level of education is consistently low in the Muslim community, especially among the female population for which they are themselves responsible.The Union minorities affairs minister K Rahman Khan during his interview with Saudi Gazette (January 5, 2013) honestly blamed Indian Muslims themselves for their educational backwardness. Citing the example of civil services examination taken by about 400,000 candidates every year he said that not even 4,000 Muslims sit this exam but secure about 40 out of 700-800 successful candidates.
The purpose of democratic system is to stimulate competition, increase prosperity and improve standards of living. Political parties playing vote .bank politics generously dispense freebies to minorities for their votes, but, it is very important for the people to understand that every benefit has its cost. These donated benefits make them and their future generation barren, less motivated, uncompetitive and, eventually, permanently dependent on government handouts. In a democratic system, most people make their own choices and they flourish and prosper. However, there are people who don’t mind being the victims of vote bank politics, and this is the second biggest pitfall of democratic system.

The pro-development politics of Modi is a new development and should not be dismissed off hand.   If it could break the trend of the strong vote bank politics, it will be a great contribution to Indian democracy, no matter whether he wins or loses.

Not guilty


Narendra Modi is one of the nation’s most misjudged public figures.

By Gautam Sen (28 June 2013)

London: It is unlikely that even Narendra Modi’s most determined opponents believe that the unrelenting hate campaign against him is exclusively prompted by the tragic riots following the Godhra killings in February 2002. If they do so, it is because they have little knowledge of the history of communal riots in India or the profoundly abhorrent dynamics of Indian political life. It may be safely conjectured that few politicians in India care at all about ordinary people dying, even in large numbers. The disgraceful politicking and insouciance in the aftermath of the Uttarakhand disaster raises doubts about the prevalence of any basic sense of decency. Atal Behari Vajpayee was one exception because he was genuinely distraught at the mob killings following the Sabarmati Express carnage. It reinforced his deeply-held conviction that such events would destroy India, in addition to their inherent wickedness. No one with a modicum of common sense or humanity would dissent from this view. Does Narendra Modi care about ordinary people dying? I personally believe he does, but that is neither here nor there.

It really is not credible that Narendra Modi exulted at the blood being spilt or that he joined political life with a diabolical impulse to preside over a tragedy such as the Gujarat riots. He had only been in power for a short time and any politician with the remotest concern for political survival would not wish to be associated with such horrendous events. They are extremely politically inconvenient, at the very least. And the unending persecution of Narendra Modi should convince his opponents that he would have been a complete fool to somehow contrive sponsoring the riots. He may or may not be many things, but he has surely demonstrated that he is no political novice and his instinct for political survival is clearly acute.

The charge against Narendra Modi has transmuted, after the instant demand for his head, in the immediate aftermath of the killings, to an accusation of direct complicity or incompetence. On the latter issue, the accusation is without foundation because he inherited a police force that clearly proved inadequate, although the scale of the riots would have proved forbidding for all but the most effectual. However, Narendra Modi could not have reformed the police in the very short period he had been chief minister before the riots. The charge of complicity is much more serious and requires reliable evidence, not the ranting of Teesta Setalvad and her schooled witnesses. In any case, she is indubitably a weapon of choice in the hands of a cynical Congress party rather than a purely self-motivated human rights activist. The hand-picked Supreme Court SIT concluded there was nothing to justify the accusation against Narendra Modi and there the matter ought to have been laid to rest. There is no higher body in India that can adjudge the issue unless one wishes it to be decided by the United States, as some Indians have apparently sought.

This brings back the question why Narendra Modi is being pursued without respite and with resort to gross villainy. This is entirely to do with votebank politics and, specifically, the interests of the Congress party and the totally opportunistic and amoral organization it has become under the current leadership. The leadership lacks the instinctive feel for the welfare of the country. Sonia Gandhi herself is preoccupied with the future of her dynasty. This state of affairs must be brought to an end, but that is another matter, to be decided in 2014. The Congress political calculation is transparent and utterly indifferent to collateral cost. The competition for the minority votebank, against all-comers, especially in the Hindi heartland, requires the mobilization of a fearful and polarized minority community.

This dreadful goal is being pursued by demonizing Narendra Modi and indeed the people of Gujarat itself, despite the danger it may eventually pose to the integrity of the Indian Union. In callous disregard of the security of India and its people, the post-Godhra riots have been allowed to encourage terrorism by the systematic portrayal of them as a crime without historic parallel. The misuse of terms like genocide merely underlines the gravity of the endangerment that has been brought about, with every terrorist citing Godhra as their rationale for murder. Indeed there is a strong suspicion that some Hindus alleged to have committed terrorist acts are being set up to complete the picture of a terror constituency within the heart of the majority community. Indeed, insiders are dumbfounded at the grievous misuse of the Ishrat Jahan case for the narrowest of partisan ends. The deluded heir apparent also affronted the majority community, usually the victims, by identifying them to the US ambassador as posing the real threat of terrorism.

Equally dismaying is the eagerness of some reputedly decent and nationalist politicians to take advantage of the situation by jumping on the bandwagon to harass Narendra Modi. Their motivation seems to be no different from the Congress party’s to protect its own patch and advance sordid political careers. The Indian voter needs to take a deep breath and recall the countless worse communal riots that occurred before the advent of Narendra Modi as chief minister of Gujarat. Many, many lives have been lost, with the police often mute spectators or colluding and politicians callously indifferent. The Indian voter should ask who was held responsible for them and suitably punished. The worst of these was the mass killings of Sikhs in Delhi in 1984. The evidence of official complicity in this instance is the most pronounced of any example since Indian independence, but its protagonists have remained unpunished.

Dr Gautam Sen has taught Political Economy at the London School of Economics.


About janamejayan

A Viraat Hindu dedicated to spread the message of Paramacharya of Kanchi
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One Response to SoniaG UPA’s Modi-phobia — R. Upadhyay. Modi not guilty — Gautam Sen

  1. Hemen Parekh says:

    UPA 3 or NDA 2 ? What is your Choice ?

    Our country is facing a long list of Economic and Social problems
    Many of these require enacting new legislation
    Equal number require strict implementation of existing laws
    Solutions of quite a few problems , need bold / innovative and often , unpopular steps demanding deep sacrifices from different sections of our society

    All of these need,

     A heightened sense of co-operation ( National interest comes first )

     Willingness to reach compromises ( win some / lose some )

     An acute sense of urgency ( get going now / improve along the way )

    Unfortunately , during the past few years , hardly any progress could be made towards Political / Social / Economic reforms , since no single political party got an absolute majority in the Lok Sabha
    And , unless the Indian voters understand the shortcomings of the Coalition Government and decide to give one party ( it does not matter which ) , an absolute majority in the forthcoming 2014 national elections , we can expect repetition of the history !
    No Government which has to hopelessly depend upon its coalition partners , can carry out the desired reforms
    I believe , any major national party ( only Congress and BJP ? ) , which gets less than 275 seats in Lok Sabha , will continue to be blackmailed by its coalition partners
    And it would make absolutely no difference whether Rahul Gandhi or Narendra Modi heads UPA 3 or NDA 2 , as the Prime Minister !
    Either would be an impotent puppet of “ Coalition Dharma “ where corrupt partners dictate the shape of reforms !
    It is simple
    Either we give 300 seats to a single party or we continue to suffer for another 5 years !
    Remember , an imperfect decision is any day better than No Decision !

    • hemen parekh

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