ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Illusions and Disillusionment

What began as a silent whisper after the 2002 atrocities in Gujarat has reached a crescendo over the past six months: Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi as a serious contender for the post of the prime minister of India. The powerful (and dubious) media management strategies of Modi have made him, in the eyes of his followers, a front-runner six months ahead of the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. A high profile also brings with it greater scrutiny, and what is coming out week after week is adding up to an authoritarian personality who is narrow in his vision for India, who does not care to reach out to all Indians, who can subvert the law for personal ends, and, who, in the nature of US-style politicians, can be economical with facts (often to hilarious effect) and focused only on building an image.

Not once has Narendra Modi sought to dispel the notion that he has benefited in Gujarat from a cynical consolidation of the Hindu vote that followed the events of 2002. (Let us, for the moment, set aside the accusation that there is evidence of Modi’s complicity in the bloodbath of Muslims in the state.) The constitutional head of the government in Gujarat has not once apologised for the inability of his administration to protect citizens from violence; at best he has said that one feels sorry just as when “puppies” are accidentally crushed by a moving car. It required the intervention of the Supreme Court to obtain a measure of justice for the victims of 2002 because Modi’s government did not show any seriousness about getting justice done. Modi has not once nominated a Muslim to stand for election to the state assembly on behalf of the Bharatiya Janata Party and not once in his recent campaigns outside the state has he specifically called on all groups and classes to join him in a journey to build a better India. There can be no question that Modi is the most aggressive face of Hindutva that an elected holder of constitutional office has ever exhibited.

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