So the puppy died, crushed underneath Mr. Narendra Modi’s Hindutva nationalist wheel and after more than a decade, he is finally feeling sorry for it. However, I am still not sure whether he is sorry for the wheel or the puppy. NaMo, in a very callous statement speaking to the Reuters news agency said that “even if a ‘puppy’ comes under the wheels of a car, one feels sad.”
He was talking about the Gujarat riots, condemning the killing of Muslims. Being Human, one is bound to feel sad for any kind of killing, may it be a puppy or hundreds of people in a riot was his intended remark. The debate that followed the remark was very interesting – touching on morality, ethics and culture – sense and sensitivity.
Does Narendra Modi truly regret the 2002 riots?
When asked about whether he regrets what happened in the 2002 riots, NaMo cleverly brought up the Supreme Courts Special Investigating Team report which had given him a ‘thoroughly clean chit’. The court had given him a clean chit on his immediate role in the riots, but what about his role as the administrator or the Chief Minister of Gujarat?
Former Supreme Court judge Justice P.B. Sawant conducted an inquiry into the 2002 Gujarat riots and found Chief Minister Narendra Modi guilty and disagreed with the report submitted by Special Investigation Team. Even Senior Advocate Raju Ramachandran’s report on the 2002 riots differed from the SIT team. Ironically, the same SIT report claimed that Congress leaders could have provoked the rioters by firing on them.
One simple argument is that a Court can punish you for what you have done but not for what you haven’t done. An administrative lack by NaMo is a lack of appropriate action for which the court can admonish, but cannot punish.
By allowing the rioters to carry out the massacre, the Chief Minister and his ‘efficient’ administrators did exactly the same as the rioters on the ground. The Sawant committee reported that Modi’s offences were prime facie inciting communal dissonance and failing to maintain harmony.
The ‘burqa of secularism’ and ‘naked communalism’
NaMo didn’t stop there; within a week he showed us how he debates between secularism and communalism. In a statement characterizing his superficial ways and fuzzy thinking, he blamed the Congress of hiding behind the burqa (veil) of secularism. The statement invited fiery litany from many Congress leaders including Shashi Tharoor, who tweeted, “Modi says we hide behind the burqa of secularism. Preferable, surely, to the khaki shorts of intolerance & hatred that he now tries to hide?”
The Hindu nationalist NaMo honestly surprised many commentators including me by his burqa remark. There are so many other terms in our Hindu lexicon like chunri, saari that he could have used, why opt for a term related to a particular community. But then, this is NaMo – fond of controversy and disputes.
Unfortunately his remarks are taken so seriously in the media, they probably fortify his position and an unapologetic Hindu leader.
Narendra Modi’s Use of the Word ‘Sorry’
One thing is clear. His latest sense of being ‘sorry’ has absolutely no hint of repentance. His remark that he had done ‘absolutely the right thing’ during the 2002 riots shows how he still is not willing to take responsibility for whatever happened then; even when high-profile leaders including Maya Kodnani, a 57-year-old former minister was charged of inciting violence. His words utterly dismiss the fact that it was the right-wing Hindutva groups who did maximum damage to the fabric of humanity under his umbrella.
The word seems to be intentionally chosen to bring in a different meaning to it, suited to the reader’s comprehension ability. The word is ironically oxymoronic in a sense that it sends a message of being sorry for the Muslim community, and at the same time sending Hindu voters a message of an inferior status of the Muslims in Modi’s eyes. The word was purely a political gamble which Modi and his international PR agency wanted to cash in on it. It not only brought back the debate of Modi as the new face of BJP, it also gave sleepless nights to the supporters of so-called secular parties.
Why do politicians feel sorry for national tragedies only at the time of elections?
The only answer is that there is political gain, there is political mileage and above all there are vote banks. The way Narendra Modi and BJP are defending the ‘puppy’ remark by terming it as his sensitivity and compassion for an insignificant creature like a puppy shows how desperate they are to win the Muslim vote banks as well as keep their Hindu vote bank intact.
The use of the term puppy for Muslims has created a political storm where media and the political parties are aligning themselves either with Narendra Modi or against Narendra Modi. It is about generating a pre-poll affinity based on ideologies and appeasement policies. The way the Congress and the Samajwadi party have condemned the puppy references shows their fear of losing their long-term Muslim vote bank.
It is also time to contemplate upon our sense of humanity and sensitivity as voters and as citizens of this country. Can we stand together and bring in the change we need to bring in for a peaceful future in a situation where politicians play dirty games with our communal identity and then say sorry by comparing us with puppies?
By: Gaurav Kumar
Image Source : IANS