Like all successful politicians Narendra Modi is very fast to learn lessons of practical politics. He has learnt the value of the Gandhian fast too quickly. But he won’t dare to undertake a fast-unto-death like the real Gandhi or his present day imitation aka Anna Hazare. Modi may be afraid that if he starts a fast-unto-death, people may actually let him die so that India will be rid of another satanic politician. So he has limited his fast to three days.
And he gave much publicity to that fast spending crores of rupees of the tax-paying Gujaratis [or black money that comes easily to any Indian politician worth his salt] whose further welfare will be taken care of by him if and when he becomes the Prime Minister of India.
On 17 Sep Modi gave full page colour advertisements in all major newspapers [including the Malayalam newspaper that I subscribe to!] titled Sadbhavana: a prayer for togetherness. “Today, I begin my 3-days [sic] fast… It aims at Unity, Harmony and Brotherhood among all….” [emphasis not added by me]. Thus begins his Sep 17th ad addressed to “My dear Brothers and Sisters!” [the exclamation mark belongs to the ad].
The ad is obviously an effort to change the public image of Modi as a killer of Muslims in Gujarat. I thought that it was just another usual trick of an ambitious politician and would have ignored it but for the ad that appeared in today’s newspapers, with the exception that my Malayalam newspaper did not care (not paid for that?) to translate the ad unlike on the previous day. Today’s ad claims that Gujarat “with just 5% of the country’s population and 6% of its geographical area, contributes to 10% of India’s GDP.”
At whose cost?
How many Muslims have been driven out of the state by Modi’s policies? How many poor Hindus have lost their little bits of land and the huts in them for the sake of the economic policies pursued by Modi? Can every citizen in Gujarat claim to be a beneficiary of the prosperity that Modi claims to have brought to his state? Can the hundreds of the Muslims who fled from the state in 2002 return and live happily there? Can Modi assure his citizens, all of them irrespective of religion, caste [keeping in mind his own caste!] and such absurd divisive factors on which he thrived as a politician?
Modi’s ad circus reminded me of another similar full page ad he had paid for with the money of his tax-paying citizens [or black money] earlier this year. The ad sought to showcase Modi’s achievements by showing a picture of Muslim girls in burqas working on computers. The slogan was: “The Muslim community in Gujarat is advancing much faster than in other parts of India.” However, the harsh truth was disclosed later by the same media that published the ad: “the picture was taken from a college in Azamgarh, UP.” [For the report, see Frontline, May 20, 2011]
Of course, Modi’s crime with respect to the burqa-clad Muslim women [anyone can be photographed with burqas and labelled as Muslim women] is not as cynical as what the BJP government in Karnataka did this very same year. Yeddyurappa, whose villainy can only match Modi’s, published an ad showing a farmer named Nagarju, who holding a sugarcane and a sickle, smiled to say how his fortune changed after the BJP government came to power in Karnataka. The same media that had taken the Karnataka tax-payers’ money via Yeddyurappa [or black money] unearthed later that Nagarju had committed suicide on May 27, 2009 due to debts that he couldn’t pay back.
I shall wait for the day when the same newspapers in which Modi has placed his ads paying huge sums of money that rightfully belongs to the poor citizens of his state will come up with reports of Modi’s arrest for all the heinous crimes he has committed in the name of religion and development. [Of course, Modi will get an air-conditioned room in the prison!]
PS. Fasting is nothing new for Narendra Modi. On 11 April 2011 he posted in his blog an open letter to Anna Hazare which said: “On the eighth day of fasting in the Navratri, I am inspired to write to you early at 5 o’clock in the morning. When you were sitting at fast in Delhi during that period, I too was fasting on the occasion of Navratri, the period that symbolises the embodiment of Divine Shakti. I was pleased indeed that by the grace of Maa Jagadamba, I happened to be a co-traveller in your crusade, albeit indirectly.”
The equivocation about Anna’s and Modi’s fasts won’t be lost on any discerning reader.