Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Good Modi, Bad Modi

By Naseer A Ganai

India seems divided these days. It is divided between those who bash Modi and those who praise him. Those who support Narindera Modi say that India has moved on despite 2002 pogrom. They say Muslims are happy in Gujarat. They are breathing, they are eating. They are walking. They have been seen living. They have moved on, so should others, they argue.

Let us talk about development model of Modi. Puppies get under Land Cruisers, trucks, even scooters. That is part of life. There is no big deal in it.

However, anti-Modi camp is outraged that Modi can become Prime Minister. They have forgotten everything about Congress. Ask them about 1984, they say, “some riots took place in the country following the murder of Indiraji. We know the people were very angry and for a few days it seemed that India had been shaken. But, when a mighty tree falls, it is only natural that the earth around it does shake a little.”

They argue, they have moved on since 1984. They have moved on despite Nanavati commission report, which says, attacks on Sikhs in 1984 were “made in a systematic manner and without much fear of the police; almost suggesting that they were assured that they would not be harmed while committing those acts and even thereafter.”

The report adds, “male members of the Sikh community were taken out of their houses. They were beaten first and then burnt alive in a systematic manner. In some cases tyres were put around their necks and then they were set on fire by pouring kerosene or petrol over them. In some cases white inflammable powder was thrown on them which immediately caught fire thereafter.”  And Congressmen were leading this bloodshed.

They have also moved on from 1989 Bhagalpur.

Bhagalpur riots took place when the Congress was in power in Bihar and Jagannath Mishra was the chief minister and Rajiv Gandhi was the prime minister. It is said during his visit to areas affected by riots, Rajiv Gandhi, the prime minister, ordered transfer of the then superintendent of police, K S Dwivedi, for his controversial role in anti-Muslim riots. The transfer order triggered protests from the VHP and Gandhi had to rescind the order. That year in Bhagalpur around 1,000 Muslims were killed. According to a researcher, Muslim men, women and children were hacked with machetes, entire families were killed and dumped in ponds, or people were locked inside their homes and burnt alive.

Life moved on. Congress, which didn't show courage to transfer a S.P. in Bhagalpur, now reminds us about 2002 Gujarat.

If Congress can rule India despite 1984 and 1989, despite hundreds of anti-Muslim riots across the length and breadth of India since 1947, why can't Modi. The idea of India is to move on despite pogroms, crimes against minorities and denial of right to self-determination to Kashmiris. Idea of India is AFSPA, which is in vogue in Nagaland since British handed over India to Congress in 1947.

People move on. Intellectuals in India move on. That is why this hate-Modi campaign sounds outrageous. It is ironical that intellectuals, NGOs and all outraged people, who are unnecessary outraged over Modi’s elevation in BJP, are sad over dumping of L.K Advani by the BJP.

On December 6, 1992, it was Advani’s Rath Yatra that culminated into demolition of Babri Masjid. But now Advani is a secular leader to them. They have never expressed any outrage against a "decision of indecision" of the then Congress Prime Minister PV Narasimha Rao who was praying in temple all the while when the mosque was being razed to the ground by the ‘moderate, elated and enlighten Hindus.’

Rao is known for his famous quote; "It is not that I don't think about it (a decision). I think about it and make a decision not to make a decision."

His indecision was his decision on December 6, 1992, when a 500-year-old Babri Masjid was pulled down at Ayodhya. But they remember Rao for economic liberation, not for demolition of Babri mosque. So if others want to remember Modi for development, not for 2002, what is wrong in it? If Nitish Kumar can be secular despite elevating K S Dwivedi in 2011, why cannot Modi be counted as secular? After all it is question of puppies. If Advani is acceptable to them despite December 6, 1992, why is Modi unacceptable? Selective memories are not the domain of a single party.

They will not be outraged if BJP tomorrow chooses L.K Advani as its Prime Ministerial candidate. He is liberal to them now. After all he went to the mausoleum of Jinnah and wrote some words of praise for him.

Amartya Sen is the latest intellectual to join Modi bashers.
Leading intellectual historian, Perry Anderson, beautifully sums up Indian intellectual while explaining Sen’s dilemma. He says: “In late 2010, readers of the Indian press could find a headline ‘Nobel Laureate takes India to task for tolerating tyranny.’ Where would that be? Below, Amartya Sen uttered a plangent cry. ‘As a loyal Indian citizen,’ he exclaimed, ‘it breaks my heart to see the prime minister of my democratic country – and one of the most humane and sympathetic political leaders in the world – engaged in welcoming the butchers of Myanmar and photographed in a state of cordial proximity.’

Then Anderson explains it this way: “Moral indignation is too precious an export to be wasted at home. That the democracy of his country and the humanity of his leader preside over an indurated tyranny, replete with torture and murder, within what they claim as their national borders, need not ruffle a loyal Indian citizen. If we turn to Sen’s book 
The Argumentative Indian, we find, in a footnote: ‘The Kashmir issue certainly demands political attention on its own (I am not taking up that thorny question here).’ Nor, we might infer from that delicate parenthesis, anywhere else either. Nobel prizes are rarely badges of political courage – some of infamy – so there is little reason for surprise at a silence that, in one form or another, is so common among Indian intellectuals."

Modi phenomenon is not something unusual. Modis have been always there. They have been favourites of Congress, but only when they were in Congress. But this Modi is not part of the Congress. He is not under the fa├žade of secularism of Congress. He is blunt. He says what he means. He is a Hindu nationalist like Congress men and women. He says proudly that he is a Hindu nationalist and Congress men and women don’t say it. They prove it by their indecisions. Rao is an example.

Modi is a threat to the Congress. That is why this Modi is not good for them. That is why he should be denied visa to USA. That is why he should be reminded of 2002 again and again, that too by those who have no regrets about 1984, 1989 and Kashmir. This is really outrageous.


Monday, July 8, 2013

Omar, Akbar and Congress

By Naseer A Ganai

OMAR Abdullah speaks well. Indeed, he only speaks! His dialogue delivery is perfect. He doesn't miss a point. He uses Akbar Lone’s awe and strike method. But he adds some sophistication to it.

When Akbar Lone strikes, he abuses, he brings archaic abuses, which no longer are in usage, into the public domain. He adds some spice to them, puts them in context, and then he hurls them at his opponents with all his force. That is why it is difficult to tolerate “Lone abuse.” It can exasperate anyone. It takes the opponent some time to realise when in history such and such abuses were in vogue. Either the opponent walks out or he leaves space open for Lone, or her gets very angry. This way Lone achieves his objectives.

Omar, when feels cornered, brings historical facts of Kashmir dispute and then states them with force. He adds context to his speech. The opponents have to either leave open space for Omar, or get angry or accommodate his concerns about his party. In Lone’s case there is no space for reconciliation or accommodation.

Though he has not done something substantial for the State for past five years, Omar has only worked with Congress. Congress did all the work. So much so that three of its’ cabinet rank Ministers accuse each other of corruption and all Congress leaders write to the UPA Chairperson, Sonia Gandhi, who among them is more corrupt.

 But now Omar feels Congress is over-working.

It seems Omar feels that Congress has a plan to oust both the National Conference and the Peoples’ Democratic Party from the scene. So the grandson of Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah directly took Congress to pre-August 9, 1953. He talked about autonomy and sought financial autonomy, talked about 20,000 MW power potential of the State, called for dialogue with Pakistan, and he also talked about PDP's self-rule. And then he talked about killings by army and hanging of Afzal Guru.

He then gave some context to his speech. He mocked at all those who “consider participation of people in Panchayati elections, qualifying of IAS and other All India Competitive Examinations by Kashmiris or selection of a local youth in Indian Cricket team have solved the basic political issues.” He described their mindset as ‘small’ and ‘unfortunate.” Then he warned them: “People in Kashmir may exhibit restrain and patience over various provocations…but that does mean that their patience will always be taken for granted.” In Lone’s case you can quickly react. Here you have to first understand his meaning.

It will take months for Congress to react to what Omar did to its 'IAS , Cricket and Udaan' in Jammu and Kashmir with just one speech.
From Kashmir University to Budgam villages, Congress has a method. It wants to be everywhere. It has ambitions. It has started thinking seriously about forming its own government in Jammu and Kashmir in 2014.

With BJP in disarray in Jammu, new political parties coming up in the Valley, and Omar’s National Conference has nothing to show to people except his speeches, Congress started riding the high horse.
Congress is hopeful of its dream coming true. The dream of Indira Gandhi that Congress should have its government in Jammu and Kashmir.

Congress wants to rise in India and wants to take off from Jammu and Kashmir.  And the party seriously thinks that it can. That is why at a function to start work on a State run Ratle Power Project in Kishtwar, the Chief Minister’s name was missing from the plaque.

When the Qazigund-Banihal rail tunnel was inaugurated, Omar’s name was missing. At the function Dr. Manmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi talked about development in Jammu and Kashmir and asked people to vote. But Omar expected them to talk politics and pre-poll alliance with the NC.  They did not. Then he took refuge in L.K Advani’s statement about Article 370 -- to show to the Congress that he knows how to speak. And on Sunday he delivered the whole speech perfectly.

Speeches matter here.  You can dismiss them but Kashmiris cannot. Why is Omar’s government confining whole separatist leaders to their homes? Because Omar knows what speeches can do! They make people aware of themselves. People start thinking. And who tolerates thinking people.

From his speech Omar has played a bigger game. He told Congress selection in IAS, Cricket and other things are good but we should talk about Kashmir dispute first. He also told Congress that development, howsoever massive, cannot bring a change. That is true. That anytime anything can happen. That Udaan and other such things are immaterial until political aspect of Kashmir is resolved and that one speech can ground any Udaan here.

Omar conveyed to Congress you better be NC’s ally, pre-poll and post-poll. He has not criticized Peoples’ Democratic Party. It looks strange, but then it might be seen as a move to reach out to the PDP. Options are open here. They always are in Kashmir politics.

By asking New Delhi to initiate meaningful dialogue with Pakistan and asking New Delhi not to equate poll participation with Kashmir solution, Omar tried to reach out to both Pakistan and pro-freedom leadership. That Assembly election is fine but it doesn’t mean Kashmir dispute is over.

Such nuances can never be seen in Akbar Lone’s rapid fire sessions, which start with accusing politicians of being horse thieves at a time when they are driving Land Cruisers and ends at charging them of ‘polygamy’ without entering into marriage with all twelve wives. And revealing that he has only wife. That too from Bachpan say.