Narendra Modi’s speech yesterday in Godhra is a reminder, if one was needed, that the great setback to Indian secularism that was unleashed by razing to ground the Babri Masjid on December 6, 1992, continues unabated. There is still celebration in Mr Modi’s stable regarding the Gujarat pogrom of 2002. A lesson that the Hindutva family learned soon after 06 December was that feeling apologetic about brazen attacks on minorities in general and Muslims in particular is uncalled for. There is enough support among the middle classes for this kind of politics for them to rejoice and take pride in such demolitions.
The Janus faced Vajpayee had proclaimed on the eve of the demolition that zameen ko samthal karna padega (literally- the ground has to be evened out, in other words, the Masjid has to be razed to the level of the ground). Narendra Modi yesterday called for meting out street smart justice a la Bal Thackeray, to anyone that he considers to be a guilty.
Here is the video from 5 December, 1992 instigating the kar sewaks.
and here is Modi speaking in Godhra yesterday, justifying the killing of Sohrabbudin.
‘The Centre talks of imposing Article 356 in Gujarat but the Gujaratis will give me AK-56 to fight it,” he said. (link)
During the days of terrorism in Punjab in the 1980s, year after year the people were denied elections in the name of disturbed conditions in the state. Ditto for Kashmir. But in Gujarat, the country not only has a ‘vibrant’ state but tolerates an unrepentant fascist regime to continue to make a mockery of law and constitution day in and day out. The only time now that the ruling elites make noises over democracy is when it becomes a ‘hindrance’ to neo- liberal ‘reforms’, like when Manmohan Singh expresses his frustrations while releasing a book by his commerce minister, Kamal Nath, and praises the Chinese:
I sincerely pray and hope that we remain a functional democracy. But democracy has certain disadvantages….Now consider this in our system. Time is not valued, whether dealing with government files or applications for doing business, doing this, doing that, our system doesn’t value time and that’s one weakness of the Indian system that worries me a great deal….
I think the best that we can do is to help transform the mindsets and this is where people like Kamal Nath, Sharad Pawar, Chidambaram, Montek have been a great help to me.
But no one even in his party, except the admirably courageous Mrs Sonia Gandhi, is worried about the BJP and its unrelenting assault since the demolition of the Babri Masjid in 1992!
It is no wonder then, that it is Jawaharlal Nehru, the man who cautioned us against equating minority and majority communalism and stood for a secular and democratic India has been much attacked and reviled all these years by the left, right and center.
But the question is whether, in the midst of all this, he will outlive the current breed of Hindutva politicians? I would have liked to answer this with a resounding ‘yes’ but find myself shuddering. I remind myself of Antonio Gramsci’s statement that there may be a pessimism of the mind, but there is an optimism of the will.
But sometimes the will is only as good as the mind. Today, yet another 6 December, is one of those days.
- Review of 6 December 1992 by PV Narasimha Rao
- Kaifi Azmi’s nazm Doosa Banwas
- Review of Anatomy of a Confrontation- The Babri Masjid Ramjanmabhoomi