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'Modi is a Raktabij -- he gets stronger when hurt'

Last updated on: December 13, 2012 08:16 IST

'Modi is a Raktabij -- he gets stronger when hurt'

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Kinner Acharya

Senior Gujarati journalist Kinner Acharya explains Chief Minister Narendra Modi's 10-year rule through his own experiences.

When I had been staying in a caravanserai (roadside inn) in the Kankhal region of Haridwar, Uttarakhand, our driver got to know from our conversation that we belonged to Gujarat.

"Are you from Gujarat?" he asked.

"Yes," I answered.

"How fortunate you are! After all Modi is there!" he exclaimed.

"Of course."

Being a Gujarati, it was not at all a new occurrence to me. Ranging from Badrinath to Bengaluru and Mumbai to Gangtok, Gujaratis often hear such dialogues. Sometimes it is an auto driver, or maybe a hotel receptionist or a tourist guide. That driver was not an exception too.

"How fortunate you are!"

His words kept recurring in my ears when my eyes fell on a vast grove of trees. A little ahead was the sight of the beautifully-flowing Ganges. There was a tinge of cold breeze around. We stopped by the side of a motel on the smooth road. I looked around to find water flowing freely from government pipelines.

"How fortunate you are!"

The driver might have perceived this 'fortunate' as something which co-exists with development. My perception -- our perception rather, is a bit different. I live in Rajkot, located in the Saurashtra region of Gujarat. Rajkot is one of the four mega-cities of Gujarat. It makes up about one-third of the total area of Gujarat. Rajkot, with a population of 22 lakh, does not have a perennial river.

The house, where we live was bought 12 years ago. We got a pipeline three years later. There was a water tank in the courtyard at the back and a drinking water outlet in the kitchen. Both were recently discarded because water has never reached the water tank in all these 12 years! But yes water streamed through the kitchen outlet once. I remember that even today. The entire family gathered around to see the sight.

Now we have the gas pipeline too at home. It supplies gas 24x7. But water comes only once in three days and that too for 20 minutes into the water tank out in front. The tank is fixed at ground level so that water can fill easily.

Our mega city has water cut for the last 20 years! It's a part of our routine. It's something which has become part of our lives.

The same is the case with districts like Amreli and Surendranagar in Saurashtra.

"How fortunate you are!"

Yes, we are fortunate because we get water once in three days for 20 minutes. I remember when I was small; we used to get water every day for an hour. Gradually, it diminished to 45 minutes, then half an hour and finally 20 minutes.

Gujarat Assembly Elections 2012: Complete Coverage | Gujarat Election 2012: Rediff Sentimeter

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Image: Gujarat's Chief Minister Narendra Modi addresses an election campaign rally
Photographs: Krishnendu Halder/Reuters

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'Definition of development varies from region to region'

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The Nano came here, Ford came and even Adani and Reliance have invested here. Television news-channels discussed a lot about Narandra Modi. He is considered the hero and the villain as well. Everyone believes that Gujarat is heaven.

The definition of development varies from culture to culture and region to region. But the basic fundamentals of development are set by the advancement of time for every civilised society. What do we need at first? Light, water, roads, safety, health, employment, shelter...

People of other states are impressed by the roads of the state. We have come across many times to such connotations like "the roads are wider and good in the state..." But unfortunately, good roads do not provide water, clothes or shelter!

"How fortunate you are!"

It has to be so. If we are not rich or happy how can the price of flat and bungalow reach 5 crore and 15 crore respectively! We must be rich! Even national ministers and politicians and the Planning Commission admit that inflation is a symbol of wealth and development.

The irony of this region is very strange. All the years of the last decade were good in terms of rain. The farmers have earned well, two crops and vegetables as a bonus. The money from the rural areas drained to the urban areas, this money has caused inflation.

A new vicious trend has come to the existence: to sell half the land of the village and to give away another half to the labour from the Godhra region. Selling land, they earn crores and buy a good home in the city, a car and motorcycles, a shop, and the remaining amount is deposited in a bank as a fixed deposit.

The grain for the entire year comes from the village and 50 percent income from the farm allows them to live the life of a 'retired collector' in the city. The son handles the shop as no one is ready to marry the guy who lives in the village! They don't have any reason to complain about the inflation. Whenever I write articles on subjects like inflation and price-hike, these people call me and say...

"Why do you react when the prices go up or inflation takes place...?"

"The price of 1 kg of potato should reach Rs 50...!"

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Image: Villagers stand under a power generating windmill turbine at Kalasar village in Gujarat.
Photographs: Amit Dave/Reuters

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'Between the extreme opinions of people lies reality'

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"How fortunate you are!"

Yes, we feel so! The home we bought in Rs 6 lakh 10 years ago is valued at Rs 50 lakh today. The other home which was bought for Rs 4 lakh is valued at Rs 45 lakh today. But it's not safe to keep it empty. A few days back an NRI came back and found that some 3-4 unknown young people were staying in his home. The land-mafia declared that it is their home. The NRI got back his home with great difficulty after many negotiations and using all his local influence.

Another NRI found that the plot he has bought had disappeared! He checked documents and found that his land had been taken over by someone else and there were two houses on his land! Both these cases are there in the police record, and there many such applications. People have settled issues paying money to get back for their own property! These settlements take place with the blessings of the policemen!

"How fortunate you are!"

Yes. If you are uneducated and a labourer, you are really fortunate! A friend of mine who works in a marketing yard says that there is no labourer who earns less than Rs 500 every day and the earning reaches Rs 1,500 during the peak season (when crops like groundnut, cotton, sesame come to the yard)!

Two masons came to repair the water-tank at my home. They started work at 9 am and finished by 12 noon. They charged Rs 1,400 (Rs 700 each). These skilled men earn around Rs 800 every day, a mason who fixes tiles charges Rs 1,200 per day. The carpenter and the electrician earn Rs 1,200 daily.

"How fortunate you are!"

Here if you are out late at night, you don't need to be afraid of criminals, just take care of the police. Being a common man, I sometimes feel, "Isn't the Nath (god) of 6 crore Gujaratis aware of all these facts? Is his projection as a strong leader nothing but an illusion?"

There are two types of people in Gujarat. One type is dedicated to Narendra Modi. And the other is less in number but that group is very expressive. Between both extremes of their opinions, lies reality. One group finds development in every corner of Gujarat, and the other group finds injustice and insecurity in all the directions.

Some leftists find all the programs like 'Vanche Gujarat' to 'Jyotirgram' and 'Beti Vadhavo' farcical. The truth is that, electricity and roads have improved in the state. I still remember the reign of Keshubhai Patel -- electricity was not consistent in our area. Today electricity is regular and reliable. The Gujarat State Road Transport Corporation has recently started Volvo buses with a GPS system! In our city, every year one or two joggers' parks are opened for the people and maintained well.

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Image: A farmer signs agreement papers to hand over his land to the GIDC (Gujarat Industrial Development Corporation) for the development of an industrial zone at Sanand town in Gujarat
Photographs: Amit Dave/Reuters

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'Opposing Modi is the bread and butter for many'

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"How fortunate you are!"

Indeed. In this country nothing changes at once. The people of Saurashtra understand it that transformation can't be brought overnight. Saints like Narsinh Mehta to Ganga Sati and literature have awakened the people to a new world-view.

These people are different from other Gujaratis. Their language is bit different; the food is also slightly different and the attitude to life is also different. Here people read a lot -- magazines, newspapers, books as per their taste... But reading is one kind of tonic.

Politics is their favourite subject. Even a small village, having a population of 1,500, gathers late evening to talk about politics and politicians. They know who is asking for votes spreading casteism, who has done good things... Traditionally Hinduism/Hindutva has always attracted them and Modi is a hero for them. They have seen the reign of Congress and they are fed-up of it.

"How fortunate you are!"

The demand for a separate Saurashtra comes from time-to-time. This demand has never grabbed much attention here. And it's not going to catch attention. Here, people never expected much from the local minister. The minister, who is in the lime-light at the state-level, is seen as their minister. Narendra Modi is not the exception.

'Change is the law of nature'. Unchangeably, change is the law of nature but a stream cannot bring the change. Change is a process. The seed doesn't just grow up into a tree suddenly and the river doesn't change its flow suddenly.

This truth, although, is not accepted by everyone. Modi is a Raktabij (Indian medieval sculpture portrays a character who get stronger with every wound) who comes out strongly when he is hurt. But there are some fools who forget this fact and keep attacking him. Here, everyone praises Modi and if you carry on with the popular notion, no extra benefit is acquired by anyone. Yes, if you oppose him, there are benefits. To oppose is the bread-butter for many. It is an earning business requiring no investment or even hard-work!


Image: Muslims shout anti-government slogans as they burn an effigy of Narendra Modi
Photographs: Pawel Kopczynski/Reuters

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