The Modi Revolution Galvanizes India

By Arun Jatkar, Monroeville, PA 


Arun_JatkarMany months ago I heard Damodar Prabhu, an energetic and wiry octogenarian of Pittsburgh, animatedly telling someone: “You want progress in India? Make Narendra Modi the prime minister!”  I was not as intimately familiar with the political events in India as I would like to be. So I did not take it seriously. But then Harilal Patel, another long-time resident of Pittsburgh, one day said to me that he had been thinking about what “we” could and should do to get Modi elected as India’s prime minister.

As I mulled over these words, I kept saying to myself, “I can see the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), winning hands down in Gujarat; but how is BJP going to get a decisive victory in the elections across the length and breadth of India?  If BJP alone or in alliance with other parties does not get the majority in the parliament, how would Modi become the prime minister? Modi becoming the prime minister is a pipe dream.”

So I was even more astonished when BJP announced Narendra Modi as the party’s prime ministerial candidate. Everyone has read about the communal riots of February 2002, just months after Modi became the chief minister of Gujarat and how Modi has been ceaselessly blamed ever since for those riots in the Western as well as in the Indian media.

When one reviews all the facts around the Ahmedabad riots of 2002 in the light of several other communal riots in India, it becomes clear that the media, both in the West and in India, have been conducting a callous, sly and wholly unfair campaign against Modi. Some organizations undoubtedly played a lead role in perpetrating and perpetuating this colossal calumny. Eventually the charges of “genocide” and “pogrom” against Modi took on a life of their own. The Congress Party in power in New Delhi had a vested interest in keeping the drumbeat going on against Modi. Many well-funded non-Hindu organizations in India and abroad also stood to gain by relentlessly vilifying Modi in the media. The left-leaning pseudo-secularists, having drifted away from the letter and the spirit of secularism, also joined the bandwagon of Modi-bashing. This, I thought, was a formidable alliance, very hard for Modi and BJP to defeat.

This was in spite of the Special Investigation Team (SIT) appointed by the Supreme Court of India unequivocally saying in its report that Modi was not responsible for what happened before or during the riots in Gujarat in February of 2002. And yet the anti-Modi megaphones kept on spewing out their jaundiced opinions, hoping that by loudly repeating the same lie a thousand times it might become the truth.

Modi was appointed chief minister of Gujarat in October of 2001 by his party. Though the media kept on blaming Modi for the February 2002 riots, the voters in Gujarat were not swayed by the anti-Modi blitz let loose by the media. They voted Modi and his party into power in 2002, 2007 and 2012. During the period of 12-plus years from October 2001 till May 2014, Modi brought about the Wirtschaftswunder (the economic miracle) in Gujarat, the state that was struck a deadly blow by a massive earthquake  in January of 2001 that killed 20,000 people, injured 167,000 and destroyed 400,000 houses. Modi’s state government gave top priority to the rehabilitation work. Today, Gujarat is an example of progress, peace, and religious harmony; there is no bureaucratic sloth and no corruption in high offices — the two endemic problems in India. Modi’s Gujarat model is working very well.

People least likely to support came to defend Modi: Zafar Sareshwala is one of those people. He is a member of the Tabitha Jamaat, a puritanical strand of Sunni Islam and a successful businessman. His family is from Gujarat. Since some of his family members were victims in the riots of 2002 and his family suffered a huge financial loss in the riots, Sareshwala wanted to have Modi tried in the International Court at the Hague. However, after a long meeting with Modi in London in which a London-based Islamic scholar also participated, Sareshwala became convinced (Reference 1) that the real Modi was different from the image portrayed by the Indian English language media. He wanted Muslims to work with Modi, and he became a spokesperson for Modi. Naturally, Sareshwala was vilified by many Muslim organizations.

Another supporter of Modi was Madhu Kishwar, a prominent New Delhi-based academic-cum-social activist-cum feminist and a journalist with integrity. In the long investigation she conducted (Reference 2), she met with a wide cross-section of people in Gujarat including Muslims. What she heard in Gujarat was very different from what was portrayed in the English language media. She proclaimed that Modi was not the villain in the 2002 riots as the English language media was portraying.

 I had gone to India in February this year. When I tried to talk to my friends and relatives on Indian politics, most were reluctant saying they had no interest in politics. Those I goaded said they did not believe the BJP alone or in alliance would win a clear majority.

On my return, my attention really perked up when I read that in Amethi and Varanasi people waited for hours for a darshana of Modi. It stirred up a memory from my own childhood. I was at my uncle’s place in Vité  in Southern Maharashtra during the sultry summer of 1954.  One day, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru’s motorcade was going to pass through Vité and I was one of the hundreds of folks standing along the roadside for a darshana of Nehru. That sort of popularity and halo of respectability were being conferred on Narendra Modi, much to the chagrin and grief of India’s pseudo-secularists and Media Māntriks’ (magicians), whose black magic was unable to stop Modi’s march to victory.

On May 16, Indian voters spoke loudly and clearly. They gave Modi and the BJP a decisive victory, and rejected the Congress Party’s dynastic democracy imposed on the nation by the Nehru-Gandhi family. When the results streamed in, there were spontaneous celebrations of the astounding victory of BJP all over India, and also in North America.

To the more than 100 people gathered in Monroeville’s India Garden restaurant, its owners Shinghara Singh and Davindar Kaur sponsored the dinner and Harilal Patel brought in the fireworks. It was Diwali in mid-May!

On a large TV in the banquet hall of India Garden, Modi was speaking in Hindi. What impressed me was his plan for Bhārat vikās: “Mahatma Gandhi made independence of India a matter of personal concern for every Indian. The Mahatma’s message ensured that whatever one did was done with the conviction that he or she was working for India’s independence. Similarly, I will ensure that my one-hundred-and-twenty-five karod (1 karod = 10 million) brothers and sisters will make this nation’s vikās their first and foremost priority. Bhārat-vikās will not remain simply a project to be planned and implemented by the bureaucracy in New Delhi… …”

This was a welcome radical change in India. Modi is the first politician in recent times to have traveled all across India speaking to audiences in many states about their deeply felt concerns. He also talked about a plan for taking the entire nation into the twenty-first century. He said he is going to do it by making it a priority project owned by the people, implemented by the people for the benefit of the people. I prayed, “May the Force be with Modi!”

This election was not just an election. It was, indeed, a ‘velvet’ revolution, a genuine triumph of democracy. Modi has achieved what seemed impossible only a few months ago. Now he is poised for a role for which the People of India, the Bhāratīya Janatā, will sing his praises in the years to come, if he does it right.

One hopes that Modi gets the political courage and moral rectitude to lead India to prosperity, peace and harmony for all. This is a once-in-a-life-time golden opportunity people have handed to Modi. Modi can ill-afford to squander it away on anything of lesser importance.  ♦


1. Sareshwala-The-Muslim-who-bats-for-Modi/articleshow/26290224.cms

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