By Arun Srivastava
With the assembly elections in Gujarat reaching its last leg, the BJP Chanakya Amit Shah took to the trusted lane of communalism, this time with the precise goal to communalise the Gujarati youth. With this mission he even dug up the past and did not hesitate in telling the people that the Narendra Modi government established peace in the state and “taught lesson” to the anti-social elements or rioters in 2002.
Obviously Shah was pointing to the Gujarat riots in which nearly 2000 Muslims were killed. If what Shah told is to be believed the incidents of riots and violence were common in Gujarat as the Congress party encouraged it but once BJP government led by Modi came to power peace returned to the state.
Notwithstanding the fact even while deposing before the Supreme Court appointed probe body, Modi had outright denied his involvement in the riot or providing patronage to the marauders. But Shah’s observation makes it explicit that Modi had played his role of teaching lessons to the civil activists and individuals opposed to Hindutva politics. Shah must be applauded for the confessional narrative.
Yet another reason which has forced Shah to come out with this threat is the fear of opening up several criminal cases that are gathering dust. Already the opposition parties have been demanding the review of several cases that took place coinciding with the Gujarat pogrom. Two recent cases which have shaken the trust of the people in the government as well as judiciary are; one relating to release of convicts who had raped Bilkis Begum and killed her kinds, the second is the refusal to have the killing of the Congress Lok Sabha member reinvestigated by an independent agency. Besides these two there are many other cases.
There is little doubt an opposition party coming to power would order for review of the cases. Sanjiv Bhatt a senior officer in Gujarat Intelligence bureau had said that he attended a meeting at which Modi alleged to have said that the Hindus should be allowed to vent their anger. In a sworn statement to the Supreme Court, he said that his position allowed him to come across large amounts of information and intelligence both before and during the violence, including the actions of senior administrative officials. He had also alleged that, in a meeting in the night before the riots, Modi told officials that the Muslim community needed to be taught a lesson following an attack on a train carrying Hindu pilgrims.
It is not that while making this comment Shah was unaware of the implications of it. But even then he resorted to this tactics. The importance of Gujarat election for Modi could be gauged from the simple fact that Modi has been consistently camping in the state, ever since the elections were announced. He desires to win the Gujarat election at any cost.
With electoral stakes quite high he had no options. At least two compulsions forced him to reveal the fact; and project Modi as the Hindu patriarch who can bring stability, peace and prosperity for the community. With the traditional voters showing their averseness towards BJP, desperation was growing to get the younger to replace them. This could be achieved by arousing the communal feelings to win over the vast population of the first time voters.
The urgency to reach out to this new electoral force was driven by youngsters’ particularly in the urban areas of the four big cities getting enamoured to the election promises and agenda of the AAP. It was their leaning towards the AAP that the entire leadership and workforce of AAP had descended in Gujarat. The BJP during its initial phase of campaigning was emphasising on development and growth. But with youths showing their like for AAP forced the BJP to amend its strategy and takeout the Hindu-Muslim leaf out of its old book.
To win the trust and support of the youngsters it is imperative from BJP arouse their Hindu feelings and emotions. But how far Shah’s machination would succeed in achieving the motto is not sure. Experts also feel that just a week ahead of the first round of votes projecting Modi as the Hindu Hridaya Samrat would not serve the interest of the BJP. The youths of the state are quite angry with the Modi government for not doing anything to create employment avenues and opportunities during its 27 years of rule. Some election watchers feel that Shah resorting to this nature of daring inventive to induce the first time voters would not work.
Shah is absolutely right riots used to happen during the days of Congress, but once the BJP came to power not in Delhi but also in other states number of riots have declined sharply. An insight into the historical backdrop of riots would make it clear that almost all the riots were engineered by the RSS. Shah’s remark is quite loaded; “They tried to create a problem for [Prime Minister] Narendra Bhai [Modi], but he taught them such a lesson that they have not dared to do anything till 2022”. Gujarat riots was one of India’s worst outbreaks of religious violence.
Shah is quite certain that enumerating the economic achievements or counting the growth projects is not going to ensure the victory. To win it is imperative that communal emotions are aroused. With this the development plank has taken the back-seat. J.P. Nadda, the party’s national president, on Saturday promised to launch an “anti-radicalisation cell to identify and eliminate all threats of destabilisation as well as the sleeper cells of radical groups, terrorist organisations and anti-India forces”. At a time when “permanent peace” was prevailing in Gujarat as Shah had claimed it is quite intriguing what made Nadda to set anti-radicalisation cell. As if this was not enough Nadda said that “a new law will be brought to help identify those who damage private and public properties. These anti-India forces will be identified and penalised.” (IPA Service)