Home arrow Archives arrow Events and Issues arrow Events and Issues 2007 arrow Factionalism in BJP:IS MODI INDIA’S FUTURE?, by M D Nalapat,26 November 2007
News and Features
INFA Digest
Parliament Spotlight
Journalism Awards
Factionalism in BJP:IS MODI INDIA’S FUTURE?, by M D Nalapat,26 November 2007 Print E-mail


New Delhi, 26 November 2007

Factionalism in BJP


By M D Nalapat

(Holds UNESCO Peace Chair, Prof, Geopolitics, Manipal Academy of

Higher Education, Ex-Resident Editor, Times of India, Delhi)

Indians seems to be unusually curious about their leaders. How many of us know that Sonia Gandhi has two sisters, and that the three completed secondary school in Italy before finding work? How many are aware of the domestic arrangements in the life of Atal Behari Vajpayee? Almost none. And a similar ignorance is manifested about an individual who, if he wins once again in Gujarat, could emerge as the main challenger to Sonia Gandhi's ascendancy in 2009, Narendra Modi.

Rather than the 16 per cent growth rate of his State, the Gujarat Chief Minister is defined in the media by the post-Godhra riots, the rest of his record being ignored as completely as those who were torched to death on the Godhra train.  The act of violence that sparked an inexcusable pogrom against innocents from the next morning. Interestingly, most of those directly involved in the violence are now on the anti-Modi side, being backed by a Congress Party which is aware of the danger its minority votebank faces from a Modi victory next month

The riots themselves followed a three-stage pattern, and sadly, this pattern has gone unnoticed by the media. The first stage was a frenzied public reaction to the torching of the train compartment that manifested itself in the form of attacks on members of the minority community. After two days, the victims organized themselves and began to retaliate, so that in this round, it was mostly members of the majority community that lost their lives.

The next and final stage of the post-Godhra riots was the most vicious, and according to some accounts, the funding for the well-orchestrated killing during this round came from members of a (majority community) mafia that wanted to break the monopoly that another mafia ( which was populated by members of the minority) had over the illicit liquor trade in Gujarat.

As in the ill-advised attempts to bring back Prohibition into Haryana, the banning of alcohol in Gujarat has not stopped the consumption as much as it has spawned the growth of a vicious mafia to run the trade, which nets an estimated profit of Rs 3200 crores in unaccounted money.

Almost all the deaths during this “majority” mafia-funded phase of the Gujarat killings were caused to the minority community. And by the conclusion of the carnage, the "minority" mafia had been driven out of the liquor trade in favour of the "majority" mafia. This battle for spoils was  behind the third and most brutal phase of the killings.

Clearly, it is a matter of shame that the Central and State Governments were unable to prevent either this or the second and third stages of the post-Godhra murders from getting played out. Prompt action would have saved 90 per cent of the lives lost in the Gujarat orgy that has blackened the face of India.

But equally with Narendra Modi, the then Central Government headed by Atal Behari Vajpayee needs to be faulted for its failure to prevent the killings of hundreds of innocent citizens, most of them members of the minority community.   

Moreover, exactly as the 1992 Ayodhya incident had shadowed the Congress Party, the post-Godhra killings since 2002 have significantly affected the BJP's ability to bring together a coalition of parties under its leadership. The TDP and the AIADMK being just two examples of major political parties unwilling to risk their minority votebanks by aligning with the Saffron Party.

True, Modi has become anathema to liberal and secular India, but what has yet to be attempted is a full examination of his life. Who, for example, is aware that the teenager Modi spent nearly two years of his life at the foothills of the Himalayas, seeking wisdom? Or, as acquaintances say, that he was married off against his will at the age of 14 by his father to a girl two years younger, whom he never saw subsequently? Because of the age factor, this wedding was not legal, and the young girl in question is today a schoolteacher in Gujarat, living out her life in obscurity.

Modi's father had apparently been afraid that his headstrong son would become a sanyasin, and hence sought to tempt him into a householder life. However, the strong-willed Modi refused the conjugal bed and has since kept away from his would-be spouse, by not meeting her even once after the "kanyadan”. In an era when politicians live lives of luxury, the Gujarat CM stands out for a sanyasin-like austerity  

Because Modi has stopped the spoils system, in contrast to Keshubhai Patel, under whom a culture of deal-making flourished, he is unpopular with the many who see politics as the surest path towards enrichment. Unlike in the past, these days, officers in Gujarat --- whether in the police or in other branches of the administration --- work without fear of punitive action by politicians angered by their refusal to entertain suggestions for graft.

These days, the surest way to sudden tax-free wealth is to be an anti-Modi BJP functionary, and the Congress Party is known to be generous in its assistance to such elements. A check of the funding behind the numerous anti-Modi rallies and gatherings would be instructive.

Over the past six months, a crescendo of criticism has been heard about Narendra Modi, as much from within his Party as also from the Congress, with the intention of causing his defeat in the forthcoming State Assembly polls. Should the BJP return to power in Gujarat, the credit for that will go to just one man, Narendra Modi.

Precisely what many within the top rungs of the BJP are afraid of. These "second tier" leaders have prospered through compromise and adjustment, with most having more friends in the Congress ranks than within the BJP. They have come to hold high offices not because of grass-roots work, but because of the patronage of the two patriarchs of the Saffron Party, Vajpayee and Advani, and have spent almost all their time in "durbar" politics.

A Modi victory would represent a challenge from the grass-roots to the coterie system that has been in control of the BJP almost since the Party's inception, certainly since the mysterious death of Deen Dayal Upadhyaya.

With a third Assembly triumph in Gujarat under his belt, Modi would emerge as the most popular and therefore most powerful BJP leader, eclipsing Vajpayee. Over the past five years, he seems to have moved away from religion-based politics into issues of development, embracing both the English language as well as the MNCs in his push to make Gujarat a state as affluent as California.

Should he win, hopefully he will make it a priority to reach out to the minority communities, for only an inclusivist India can be a prospering India. Should he win, the next official post that Modi may occupy is that of Prime Minister of the Republic of India. ---- INFA

(Copyright India News & Feature Alliance)

< Previous   Next >
  Mambo powered by Best-IT