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'Modi thinks he is above party, beyond democracy'
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October 15, 2007

Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi is facing the heat. His detractors have upped the ante against him, especially after the announcement of poll schedule in Gujarat. Gordhan Zadaphia, general secretary of the Bharatiya Janata Party's Gujarat unit, who is leading the rebels against Chief Minister Narendra Modi, spoke to Aasha Khosa on why Modi has nothing to do with Hindutva. Here are some excerpts:

How would you describe the situation in Gujarat?

Governance in Gujarat has failed in all spheres. Take the much-hyped Jyotigram 24 scheme that Narendra Modi claims ensures round-the-clock electricity to farmers. It is a sham. In Keshubhai Patel's tenure as chief minister, 43 per cent power was diverted to agriculture and that ensured 14 hours of power supply every day.

In 2007, generation is down and only 26 per cent power is being diverted to agriculture. So how can farmers get 24 hours of power supply?

The electricity tariff has gone up from Rs 500 per horse power to Rs 850 per horse power. So far, 402 farmers have committed suicide in Gujarat. All this came out in an application filed under the Right to Information Act.

Interestingly, the state government has spent all the money allocated for power generation in the 10th Plan. The target was to add 8500 Mw capacity but only 392 Mw was added. Do you know where this money has gone? In buying energy from private players.

So far, Rs 11,000 crore has been spent to buy power from companies like Essar, Adani Energy and Torrent Power [Get Quote]. The cost of private power is Rs 5.32 per unit as against Rs 1.67 per unit from the national grid. I am not saying this because Modi does not like my face but to expose his propaganda that the state has made great progress under him.

Modi has been giving out figures to say law and order has improved.

This is Narenderbhai's jugglery with figures. He is very good at presenting a misleading picture with the help of incorrect comparative figures. The fact is that more than 2005 rape cases have been registered in the last two years. School children are being kidnapped. Elderly people are being waylaid and robbed in broad daylight. Those accused in the rape and murder of three girls in Junagarh are still at large.

Your description suggests the situation is very bad. I wonder why nobody spoke so far and why it took you so long to raise your voice?

We are 130 legislators in the BJP and I know a majority of them are unhappy. But if anyone dares to speak up, he faces the threat of being labelled a rebel. For him (Narendra Modi), the thumb rule is, 'Pray to Modi or face the threat.' Look what happened to Haren Pandya for speaking out against the chief minister. His political career was blocked before he died. A number of MLAs who have not spoken out openly have warned me.

What do you think will happen in the assembly elections?

Gujarat is passing through a phase when truth is not being allowed to manifest itself. Forget about the BJP MLAs, even the Congress did not play its role as Opposition due to Modi's terror. The fact is that the BJP won a landslide victory by winning 128 seats in the 2002 assembly elections. But in the 2004 Lok Sabha elections, when the NDA was riding the India Shining wave, the Congress performed better than the BJP in 94 assembly segments, while the BJP dominated in only 88 segments. Then the BJP was united. Now it is split into caste camps: The Patels, the Kolis and the Brahmins.

What do you dislike most about Modi?

He thinks he is the greatest, above the party, beyond democracy. He did not allot a single penny for the tribals in his budget, but now, he has hijacked grants under a central scheme and renamed the scheme after himself. The Governor has seen through this and has called officials to explain this brazen misuse of funds to further the political career of one person. So far, he has spent public money amounting to Rs 700 crore on billboards promoting himself. There is no mention of either the government or the BJP on these billboards.

Like Modi, you are also from the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. What makes you suddenly disown Modi, who has been the mascot of Hindutva for the Sangh Parivar so far?

Modi has nothing to do with Hindutva. He showed his true colours when he supported a leader like LK Advani for his remarks on Jinnah. The RSS and the Sangh Parivar had no objections to Advani visiting (Mohammad Ali) Jinnah's mausoleum and paying him tributes. But calling Jinnah secular and a nationalist was unacceptable. Everyone in the Sangh felt outraged but Modi alone supported him. In fact, people like Modi have nothing to do with Hindus or Muslims. They are opportunists.

Does that mean the Sangh Parivar will not give political support to Modi?

He is totally isolated in the Parivar. In the coming elections, the RSS has decided not to support him. There has been no contact between Modi and the RSS leaders, not even a phone call, for years.

You have raised a banner of revolt against Modi, but how does your hatred for Modi translate into votes?

We are 10 legislators who have been holding public rallies to expose Modi for the last three months. Our campaign has mobilised a huge public opinion. We are working out caste combinations like getting the Patels, the Kolis and the Brahmins together. We are ready to have an alliance with other parties. It is a matter of turning just five per cent votes against Modi and he will be finished.

Haven't you been seeing the party leaders in New Delhi? Why are you not able to convince them?

Earlier, I would. But they are also under the mesmerising spell of Modi, who has convinced them that he will win. The BJP leaders clearly told me they would wait for the results and not intervene now. I do not see them any longer.

In hindsight, do the RSS and the BJP feel that making Modi the symbol of Hindutva after the 2003 riots was a bad strategy?

This is the propaganda of pseudo-secular NGOs. Everyone knows Gujarat has been a communally sensitive state. Then, things got out of control. But that is now in the past. We have come to terms with it. A great effort is needed to bridge the gap between Hindus and Muslims. In big cities, things are nearly normal, but in smaller towns, we are still making efforts. Ultimately, Muslims are a part of us. Let bygones be bygones.

Is Gujarat heading for an election where it could be Modi versus the rest?

It is going to be "autocracy versus democracy" and "truth versus propaganda."

Modi is a threat to democracy. I am tempted to tell you another instance. He sent police officers on duty to get the signatures of the party MLAs on questions they should raise in the assembly. We were shocked and the matter was taken to the privileges committee. This must end.

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