The Fast and the Spurious

By Shoumeli Das 
How do you refrain from cynicism when Narendra Modi decides to go on a sadbhavna fast for unity, peace and communal harmony? Nine years too late, one would say!

This political circus in Gujarat started when the Supreme Court handed over further investigation of the accusations against Chief Minister Narendra Modi in the Gulbarg Society case to the Special Investigation Team in Ahmedabad. Immediately equated to getting a clean chit, as the judiciary found no evidence of involvement of Modi in the communal riots of 2002, the Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) began celebrations. After all, their prospective Prime Ministerial candidate has now been rid of years of ‘false’ accusations!

Narendra bhai, immediately pens a rather emotional open letter to his “six-crore Gujarati brothers” discussing unity and communal harmony in the state. His words cannot be ignored. “Hate cannot be conquered by hate”, he says. Thought-provoking indeed. Are we to understand that now that his portion of the hate has been expressed (through the riots) no one else must spew venom (at him, of course)?

The monologue promptly turns into a dialogue when suspended IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt retorts with another open letter. While Bhatt’s accusations against Narendra bhai and his logical deduction of why this is not the end of the case may be the last ray of hope for Zakia Jafri (the widow of Gulbarg Society victim Ehsan Jafri) and thousands of others, their doubts cannot be erased completely.

As much as one would like to believe him, the obvious question lingering in everyone’s mind is how much autonomy does the judiciary in Gujarat enjoy? Does this Supreme Court ruling actually imply what Modi is out to claim?

Even as victims and their families are trying to get over what is in fact a mockery of justice, Modi added insult to injury with his three-day sadbhavna fast. While fasting to prove a point has become the order of the day in the country, there are numerous reasons, including Prime Ministerial aspirations, that could be the reason for this move.

Ironically, none of them are remotely related to communal harmony. At this point, one cannot help but wonder on what grounds L.K. Advani decided to use the argument of ‘misinformation propaganda’ to support the Chief Minister. A little more foresight, when it comes to issuing statements in favour of Modi, may take the party a longer way.

Narendra Modi left no stone unturned during this community-unifying fast in clarifying to the Muslim community their worth in the state. After having accepted head gear in all forms and colours from every community, he refused the skull cap that Maulana Sahi Sayeed Mehendi Husain offered to him. Of course, when something works against Modi, the BJP immediately terms it as a “non-issue”, but the message was loud and clear. Aptly described as the Poster Boy of Hindu Politics in India, the agenda and success of his fast to promote unity and communal harmony now speaks for itself.

One cannot help but shudder at the thought of this undemocratic megalomaniac as the next Prime Minister of the largest democracy of the world. Unlikely maybe, but the very fact that it is up for consideration should be a reason for worry for the electorate. It is hard to believe that Indian leadership is facing such a major crisis!

For the people of Gujarat, there is only thing that matters as of now. Justice. Unfortunately, the Realist does not see it being delivered in any form, any time soon.