By Sushil Kutty
It couldn’t have been slip of tongue. Was it a boast, or a dare? Perhaps, a warning, a straightforward reminder, to vote-bank to stay put because you don’t do that, and communal rioting will follow. Union Home Minister Amit Shah’s statements spelled out that Gujarat 2002 was the watershed that separated the years of communal rioting from permanent peaceful settlement since then.
That the reminder came at an election stump rally and that, too, in the run-up to an election being closely fought told its own tale. Will there be a twist at the end of tale? Did the ‘Shah of Gujarat’ want to caution the electorate of a repeat of Gujarat 2002 if the Congress is returned to power?
Shah concentrated his firepower on the Congress, ignoring the AAP like it never was. Arvind Kejriwal should light a lamp, and pray. Shah not mentioning AAP while holding forth on Congress and rioting was high praise following all the bad press the AAP got after the vulgar display of Satyender Jain’s gluttony behind bars.
That said, Amit Shah does not miss a chance to remind people of the benignly tough nature of the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party. And one of most transformative actions of the BJP had been to put a halt to communal rioting, and restoring “permanent peace” in Modi’s and Shah’s home-state.
Gujarat 2002 was one of the highlights of Shah’s life in public glare. Now we know Shah’s favourite pastime is to lose himself in the reverie of Gujarat 2002. A couple of bogeys of the Sabarmati Express were set on fire with the passengers still in them and some people ratcheted it up to communal flare-up, which then became a public-private crackdown on communal rioting.
Amit Shah has now taken the credit, on behalf of the BJP, for “teaching a lesson” to the rioters with ‘Gujarat 2002’. This Union Home Minister is the sort who can scare the clock to a stop. What did Shah mean when he said the BJP ended communal rioting in 2002, and “peace” has prevailed since then?
Why does Shah have to remind people of the bad old days? The majority of the ‘then’ people of Gujarat must have forgotten the dastardly scenes of 2002 and moved on in life? Half must have died in their sleep; others must have been lost to nature
The majority of the now living were unborn in 2002. Why resurrect Gujarat 2002 to such a wide cast of people? To people who had nothing to do with the Gujarat of 2002. All of a sudden, for no ostensible reason, Shah retrieves ‘Gujarat 2002’ from the dustbin of history, why?
It has everything to do with the Gujarat elections 2022? Maybe Gujarat 2002 has acquired election issue status. Maybe, for the first time in 20 years, the BJP is in need of an election issue; one that raises the hackles just thinking of it.
Gujarat 2002 was undoubtedly the scariest issue any political party could pull out of its hat in a 100 years. The bloody pictures are there in the photo archives of veteran news photographers, those who survived time and tide and, most recently, Covid-19. Bilkis Bano and Zakia Jafri would not have forgotten Gujarat 2002.
The Hindutva face of Gujarat 2002, a ferocious looking trident-wielding saffron headband, is now an impoverished cobbler doing his cobbling from an Ahmedabad street. He, too, must not have forgotten Gujarat 2002.
Shah has brought back memories—of the macho-masculine give-no-quarters kind and of those which leave people in tears. For Amit Shah, Gujarat 2002 must have been the class to teach a lesson to the rioters, to lakhs others it was rape, rapine, and blood in the streets.
Imagine, killing an infant by swinging her by the feet and banging her head-first on a wall? And 20 years later, the perpetrator gets a remission, and reparation! Amit Shah’s “taught a lesson” was not for the 11 gang-rapists of Bilkis Bano.
Elections are supposed to be joyful events, a celebration of democracy played out after regular intervals. Why do politicians have to reduce them to anniversaries of petty albeit bloody conquests? What should people make of “such a lesson was taught in 2002 to those engaging in communal riots” that it led to “akhand shanti” in Gujarat?
Will the historians of the future write about Shah’s brag? Are they an indictment of the Gujarat government of 2002? People brag only about well-planned vents, with well-enacted outcomes, those carried out with deliberate intent. Union Home Minister Amit Shah has all but admitted that there was a BJP hand behind ‘Gujarat 2002’ that brought about ‘eternal peace’. (IPA Service)