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Should Modi's burden be India's too?

By Faisal Kidwai
September 13, 2011 12:20 IST
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I do not know if Narendra Modi is personally responsible for the killings and rapes of hundreds of Muslims -- that is for the courts to decide -- but I do know that being the chief minister he is at the very least morally responsible, says Faisal Kidwai.

A pregnant woman is dragged from her house, her stomach is ripped open with a knife and her still-to-be-born baby is set on fire.

A man is hacked to death right in front of his family, including his young children.

A girl is raped and then burnt alive while the mob cheers.

Now, if I were to tell you that it was Muslims who had ripped that woman's belly, or that it was Muslims who had hacked that man to death, or that it was Muslims who had cheered that rape, would it make your blood boil?

Well, if it does, then relax: It wasn't Muslims, but those claiming to be Hindus that were carrying out this carnage in Narendra Modi's Gujarat in 2002.

Feeling better now?

On Monday, the Supreme Court, hearing a case filed by a victim of the Gujarat pogrom, deferred its decision on the verdict, and out came the supporters of the chief minister claiming victory.

Firstly, the court has not announced a decision on the verdict, so the victory claim is pretty out of place.

Secondly, even if Modi is given a clean chit, which would not come as a surprise considering that the Congress -- read the UPA government -- was never serious about pursuing Modi, thanks to party insider Ahmed Patel's view that going after Modi would hurt the Congress party's prospects in the state, how does that become an event to celebrate?

I do not know if Modi is personally responsible for the killings and rapes of hundreds of Muslims -- that is for the courts to decide -- but I do know that being the chief minister he is at the very least morally responsible.

The vicious attacks of 2002 confirmed, if at all confirmation was needed, a couple of things.

Whenever Modi's name comes up, his supporters point to his governance record as proof of his leadership quality.

Well, frankly, the governance benchmark has been lowered so much in India, especially by the likes of Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati, that any leader who performs even a little bit can claim to run a good, clean government, a case in point being Nitish Kumar of Bihar.

The second claim Modi's supporters are never tired of repeating is how much investment he has brought to the state.

By giving credit to Modi, they are unknowingly doing a great disservice to Gujaratis.

Whether you go to the Middle East, Africa or the United Kingdom, you would see that when it comes to business, Gujaratis do not need anybody's help or assistance, they are more than capable of making money on their own.

What the 2002 massacre also reveals is that there is not much of a difference between Muslim extremists and Hindu extremists; both murder, rape and loot in the name of saving their community and both claim to be the true followers of their religions.

The fact is that no Hindu Holy Book either defends or preaches killing another human being. Forget about human beings, they look down on killing even an insect.

Lastly, Modi's supporters think he would change the face of India if he becomes the prime minister. I do not know whether he would or not, but the fact is that discriminating against any community, labelling it or trying to sideline it, would only hurt India.

The community would not only become more of a burden on the economy, it could also take to other means, such as terrorism, to vent its anger and frustration.

So, those of you sitting on the sidelines cheering Modi should take a deep breath, pause and really ask yourself whether you want a leader under whose chief ministership hundreds were killed, who has by extension linked Hindus to terrorism and who did not even have the decency to resign, even though maintaining law and order is every chief minister's top duty.

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