The life of Modern Nero

Book: The NAMO Story, A Political Life Author: Kingshuk Nag Publisher: Roli Books  Pages: 188
In the year 1992, we shifted to one of our uncle’s home, as there was widespread belief that troops will unleash violence on the population to make Murli Manohar Joshi’s “Ekta Yatra” successful. He was supposed to wave the Indian tricolour on 26th January in Lal Chowk. For 15 days our family was scurried along with my uncle’s family.  On 26th Jan 1992, amid curfew and unprecedented military cover the Indian tricolour was finally unfurled at Lal Chowk by Joshi. Although pro secessionist people were successful in firing rockets and gunshots, but the might of the State was comically successful in waving its flag in Lal Chowk, albeit briefly.

Years later, in 2008, while doing a story on biggest congregations held in Lal Chowk I saw the picture of then BJP President, Joshi, along with a black bearded man. Instantly it was clear that Narendra Damodardas Modi was the man accompanying Joshi and, as per Kingshuk Nag, main architect of “Ekta Yatra”.  Before that he was the master organiser of LK Advani’s ‘Ram Rath Yatra’ in Gujarat. “The choice of beginning the journey at Somnath and ending it at Ayodhya had another significance,” writes Nag in his book about the ‘Ram Rath Yatra’ that was ironically held in Toyota vehicle, “It linked the Shaivate tradition with the Vaishnavite tradition, thus seeking to unite Hindus of all spectrums.” “Rath Yatra” was mainly responsible for breaking KHAM (Kshatriya, Harijan, Adivasi and Muslim) coalition of the Congress in Gujarat. The breakup of KHAM coalition was a lesson for Modi which he used to good effect in future. He learnt that development doesn’t matter as long as emotions of people can be unleashed with ferocity. Modi became aware that in democracy getting votes depends on mood swings. He also discovered that most journalists fell to the charms of powerful persons. These things he aptly used when BJP was losing ground in Gujarat by the end of 2001.

Born to tea stall vendor, Modi, used to spend his childhood in helping his father, going to school and attending RSS training camps. Modi is a married man but doesn’t live with his wife. Modi’s mother also doesn’t prefer to stay in his house. These things he never discusses. Owning to his meticulous strategies for his party Advani took keen interest in him. Advani became his godfather rescuing him many times from quagmire situations.  The qualities that separate Modi from other politicians, writes Nag, is his keenness to hear you out. He scans newspapers early in the morning and if they are not available then he makes sure that downloaded copies of many papers are handed over to him. Behind the camera he is humble and polite, writes the author. He would call reporters and editors himself whenever need arises. He, in fact, writes a blog under his name, for ‘Times of India’. Modi, writes the author, has temerity to say exaggerated figures and put them in ads. Most newspapers do not counter check the claims of politicians.

During the Gujarat pogrom of Muslims, Modi, writes Nag, used to confine in private to journalists, “Aapko pata nahin Muslamanon ke liye merey dil main kitna dard hai”.  But the person, called modern day Nero by Indian Supreme Court, never appealed for peace in public. In fact he retorted Newton’s third law when asked about the carnage carried out by the Hindu mobs against Muslims.  Nag, who was then working for ‘Times of India,’ recalls moments when intellectuals and industrialists verbally tonked him for giving ‘undue’ coverage to the Gujarat carnage.  However, as an author he fails to explain how and why a well-organised pogrom happened against Muslims. Atul Kohli, explains this by stating, “Nothing facilitates the unity of Hindus better in India than mobilising anti-Muslim sentiments.” Writing further he observes that BJP was on a lookout for an occasion to strengthen its Hindu support base in Gujarat to maintain power.  “(W)ith rapid economic growth, a powerful business community, and huge numbers of poor and marginalised groups,” writes Kohli in ‘Poverty amid Plenty in New India’, BJP needed to mobilise and maintain Hindu support. The growing economic stratification “led it to neutralise the state apparatus as its storm troopers mobilised Hindu mobs—often unemployed youth—to kill Muslims, further benefitting the BJP in subsequent state elections.”  Gujarat Muslims who had earlier supported Dalits and other marginalised Hindu groups found to their dismay that the same people attacked them in 2002. The pogrom was done in military like precision where RSS and VHP activists distributed maps to mobs in which Muslims property was clearly marked. Since then Gujarat has become a model state of prosperity for India. Gujarat post Muslim massacre has developed a corrupt free system. This is his Gujarat model that he is trying to replicate in whole India. Since 2002 violence against Muslims, industrialists are making beeline to the state. And it is no wonder that Anil Ambani and Sunil Mittal have said it publicly that Modi will become a good Prime Minister of India. Industrialists have this wont of supporting a ‘strong headed person’. One who takes decisions. This fascination led to the rise of Hitler in Germany and Mussolini in Italy. In Modi, Indian industrialists are finding their best bet. History supports them that his rise will give business class a greater say in the affairs of India.

A look at the history of India reveals that after pogroms carried out against minorities, political parties who orchestrated them get power. Sikh slaughter in 1984 resulted in Congress sweeping Parliament election. Mumbai riots against Muslims saw power going into the hands of Shiva Sena. Babri Masjid demolition and subsequent violence against Muslims handed over power to BJP at New Delhi. Nellie massacre of Muslims in Assam saw the emergence of Prafulla Mahanta as Chief Minister. Gujarat carnage of Muslims led BJP to power in three more consecutive terms. For Modi to become Indian Prime Minister he needs to manufacture another pogrom that will see him seated in New Delhi. And going by the religiosity experienced in India it may not be long before carnage takes place that will sing pendulum toward Modi. There is other wave that is going in favour of Modi but will take time. The burgeoning middle class of India is restive. It wants its political class to establish India as strong and powerful nation. Modi fits in that scheme. In his rallies during Gujarat elections he took dig at China and Pakistan consistently. He is being portrayed as a man who had to fight a Dharmic battle—in which he has to purge system from the unwanted elements, which may be wrong but is a necessary evil for the larger cause of the nation.

Nag has written this book keeping in view the coming elections in India. Being a journalist he has tried to balance and, as is the wont of many journalists, not to delve deeper into the issues. His book is primarily written to catch the popularity of Modi. For those who have not read about Modi the book comes in a slick package. Although he brings the personality of Modi to the fore but as an author, Nag, leaves most things to the judgement of the readers. Despite knowing what Modi is he puts him in grey shades. It must be said that most Indian media in one way or the other are pushing an image of enigmatic Modi before the people. His media managers are craftily building his image. But Modi is not enigmatic figure, as the Indian media would like to make people believe. In fact enigma and Modi are oxymoron. Modi is clear in his priorities. This he displayed when he refused to wear skull cap offered in symbolic gesture by Gujarati Muslims. His media managers are trying hard to make him in enigmatic figure. The book is also an exercise in that although the author may vehemently disagree with it.

Inam ul Rehman is a failed journalist