rediff.com

NewsApp (Free)

Read news as it happens
Download NewsApp

Available on  

Rediff News  All News 
Rediff.com  » News » 'More Modi appeals in Gujarat, less he appeals outside'

'More Modi appeals in Gujarat, less he appeals outside'

Last updated on: December 10, 2012 11:18 IST

'More Modi appeals in Gujarat, less he appeals outside'

     Next

Next
Sheela Bhatt in New Delhi

Author and historian Ramachandra Guha tells Sheela Bhatt that Narendra Modi's victory in Gujarat won't be a turning point in Indian politics because he is far too polarising.

I think there is something tragic about Gujarat. When regional pride gets into chauvinism, it's very sad," says Dr Ramchandra Guha, historian and author, while talking about the developments in Gujarat under the leadership of Chief Minister Narendra Modi.

He spoke to Sheela Bhatt in New Delhi on the occasion of the launch of his new book, Patriots and Partisans.

Gujarat Election Coverage | Check out the Rediff forecast

During the interview, he discussed his book and also spoke on Modi. He said, "(Former executive editor of New York Times) Joseph Lelyveld wrote this book on Mahatma Gandhi and the only state that banned it was Gujarat. I mean, Gandhi's state? What is going on? Aamir Khan said something about the Narmada Bachao Andolan and you don't let him show his film? And people accept it!

"Gujarat needs to introspect. Modi is a very polarising figure. He still has some admirable qualities, he's courageous, he's not corrupt. But he is also polarising, sectarian and I think ... he has a kind of megalomania -- main hi hoon, aur koi nahi hai."

Please click NEXT to read further...

 


Image: Narendra Modi addresses supporters at a campaign rally in his Maninagar constituency (Inset) Ramachandra Guha
Photographs: Courtesy: Narendra Modi's website

     Next

'Muslims of Gujarat are different from the rest of India'

Prev     Next
Prev

Next

Guha argues that Muslims of Gujarat are different from the rest of India.

"I mean that was the only part of India where the Muslims spoke Gujarati and not Urdu. In Kerala, too, they speak Malayalam. But if you go to Bengal and ask a Muslim his mother tongue he may say Urdu. But how did that kind of separation happen (during the 2002 riots)?

"I have a long connection with Gujarat. I fell in love with Gujarat. My wife is from the National Institute of Design in Ahmedabad and I met her in 1979. And also, now I am writing a two-volume biography on Gandhi so I do visit Gujarat. Some tragic things are going on in many parts of India but I think this kind of militant, muscular Hinduism is a mistake."

When asked whether contemporary Indian politics see a turning point if Modi wins the assembly election with flying colours, Guha replied, "No. He will win (the election). He might win with 2/3rds majority. My view is that the more he appeals in Gujarat, the less he appeals outside Gujarat."

Please click NEXT to read further...

 


Photographs: Amit Dave/Reuters

Prev     Next

'I don't think Modi can run a country as diverse and complex as India'

Prev     Next
Prev

Next

Because the rhetoric he uses is that of regional pride and a paranoia -- they are against you and I will save you. He's telling the Gujaratis that the rest of India, the secularists, the jihadis -- they are all against you and I will save you. So that appeal makes Gujaratis, out of fear and admiration, cling to him. And even the BJP recognises this. The allies won't come along with Modi. So I think it can't be a turning point (in Indian politics) because Modi is far too polarising. And the examples of LK Advani and AB Vajpayee tell you this."

Asked if the all round failure of governance in India will help Modi to establish his credentials as an able administrator and help dilute his Hindutva identity, Guha rejected the possibility.

He says, "That will appeal to certain sections of the middle-class who have a yearning for a dictator. But India is far too diverse and complex to be run by the danda (stick). I haven't forgotten Indira Gandhi's Emergency. It was claimed that the trains ran on time during the Emergency and there were no strikes. I think the idea of governance has to be different.

"I am sure Modi will talk of governance, but it is farcical when he says 'Today everyone will do yoga, every IAS officer must do surya namaskar.' It's bizarre. I mean, what kind of culture and governance are you creating with this fear and intimidation. I mean, what are we talking about? He is a peculiar man and I don't think this kind of person can run a country as diverse and complex as India."

Please click NEXT to read further...

 


Image: Supporters wish Narendra Modi in Ahmedabad
Photographs: Courtesy: Narendra Modi's website

Prev     Next

'Modi doesn't understand reconciliation'

Prev     Next
Prev

Next

Guha thinks Modi's emergence will divide and fragment Indian society. "He may be elected and then there will be trouble."

Guha explains that Modi is incapable of reconciling. "I will tell you a story. When we won the cricket World Cup, there were three Gujarati Muslims in the team, he was advised to go to the airport and garland them. If he had gone and garlanded them at the airport, it would have been an apology for 2002 . But he didn't do that. He said, come to my bungalow, I will give you three plots. Modi doesn't understand reconciliation, and what it means to reach out is beyond his understanding.

"He thinks if I say governance, people will forget. But no, you have to find a way of reaching out. And you can't say that my chest is 56 inches. That may appeal to the Gujaratis, but that will not appeal all over. It's not as if the whole of India has some fantasy of some muscular man who will lead us. He requires psychological analysis."

Guha has hardly any doubt that Modi will win in Gujarat. He said, "It is fine if the Gujaratis want him and let him give them good governance. But he has shown no signs in 12 years that he has learnt anything from 2002. Even Sonia Gandhi went to the Golden Temple and apologised to the Sikhs. The apology may be fake, may be totally for cynical and political mileage, but Modi has shown no signs of reaching out."

Guha points out that Modi's style and speeches are the issue as well.

Modi had dragged in Italian businessmen in the debate over FDI to taunt Congress President Sonia Gandhi's country of birth.

"You may criticise FDI as much as you want, but to ask that how many Italians will get jobs -- just tells you about the character of the man. He might have bad advisors, but some amount of repentance is necessary if he wants the rest of India to accept him."

When asked, "Do you think Modi is a product of the culmination of many historical events in Gujarat? In the sense this fear factor...", Guha said, "Modi has consolidated and deepened this fear, whereas Gandhi was trying to conquer this fear. Gandhi knew about Somnath and Mahmud of Ghazni. He knew all of that, but he was trying to conquer his fear and to get over that fear he said the past is the past. Muslims of today are not responsible for what was done 800 years ago. So you're right. He's a product of the history of Gujarat. But Gandhi, who was also from Gujarat, showed us a different way to understand this fear."

 


Image: Narendra Modi addresses a function in Ahmedabad
Photographs: Courtesy: Narendra Modi's website

Prev     Next

TOP photo features of the week

Prev     More

Click on MORE to see another set of PHOTO features...



Tags: PHOTO , MORE , TOP

Prev     More