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Vedanta’s Anil Agarwal wants Narendra Modi govt to unlock natural resources’ potential and violate tribal rights ?

PTI | New Delhi | Updated: May 21 2014, 14:44 IST
'We expect the NDA government to have clear reforms and forward looking policies on top of their agenda,' says Vedanta Resources Chairman Anil Agarwal.‘We expect the NDA government to have clear reforms and forward looking policies on top oftheir agenda,’ says Vedanta Resources Chairman Anil Agarwal.
SUMMARYVedanta Resources Chairman Anil Agarwal expects MOdi govt to adopt reforms and forward-looking policies.

Vedanta Resources Chairman Anil Agarwal expects the new governmentto adopt reforms and forward-looking policies for unlocking the untapped potential of the country’s natural resources sector.

“We expect the new government to have clear reforms and forward looking policies on top of their agenda that can open up this sector’s potential to contribute and strongly impact the GDP growth of the country,” Agarwal said in a statement.

Though the country has abundant reserves of oil & gas, bauxite, coal, iron ore, copper and gold, it is spending multi-billions of dollars on imports, he said.

India’s imports dipped 8.11 per cent to USD 451 billion in 2013-14.Natural resources, including oil and gas, contributed a significant part in the total basket.

A new government with Narendra Modi as Prime Minister in the Centre is slated to take office on May 26.

“We should explore, produce and utilise our natural resources optimally in the most sustainable and environment friendly manner. Hundreds and thousands of large, medium and small scale industries can be set up across the nation to process our raw material and build infrastructure, this can create significant opportunities for employment,” Agarwal said.

The London Stock Exchange-listed Vedanta Resources has business interests in areas such as oil and gas, aluminium, zinc, copper and iron ore, among others.


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For India’s Persecuted Muslim Minority, Caution Follows Hindu Party’s Victory


Muslim women with a portrait of Narendra Modi, the candidate from the Bharatiya Janata Party, on Friday in Varanasi. Allies say there is no reason for Muslims to fear a government led by him. CreditSanjay Kanojia/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

NEW DELHI — Like real estate agents the world over, Rahul Rewal asks his clients if they have children or pets, since both limit options. But there is another crucial but often unspoken question: Are they Muslim?

“I tailor the list of places that I show Muslims because many landlords, even in upper-class neighborhoods, will not rent to them,” Mr. Rewal said. “Most don’t even bother hiding their bigotry.”

Discrimination against Muslims in India is so rampant that many barely muster outrage when telling of the withdrawn apartment offers, rejected job applications and turned-down loans that are part of living in the country for them. As a group, Muslims have fallen badly behind Hindus in recent decades in education, employment and economic status, with persistent discrimination a key reason. Muslims are more likely to live in villages without schools or medical facilities and less likely to qualify for bank loans.

“Fear is a basic part of politics, and it’s actually how politicians gain respect, but for us fear also comes from the general public,” said Zahir Alam, the imam of Bari Masjid, a mosque in East Delhi, in an interview Friday. “The meaning of minority has never been clearer than it is today.”

The B.J.P. is led by Narendra Modi, who is widely expected to become India’s next prime minister. Mr. Modi — a Hindu, like a majority of Indians — has a fraught relationship with Muslims, who make up about 15 percent of the country. He was in charge of the western state of Gujarat in 2002 when uncontrolled rioting caused 1,000 deaths, mostly among Muslims. He has also been linked with a police assassination squad that largely targeted Muslims.

But Mr. Modi ran a campaign that focused on promises of development and good governance, and that largely avoided religiously divisive themes. His allies say there is no reason for Muslims to fear a national government led by him, and in interviews on Friday, many Muslims said they believed that.

B.J.P. candidates won in 102 constituencies where Muslims make up at least one in five voters, up from just 24 of these seats in 2009, according to aReuters analysis. Mohammad Sabir, 25, who supplies parts for fans at a business in Varanasi, said that while he did not vote for Mr. Modi, he did not fear an administration led by him.

“He is now a national leader, and he needs to focus on nation building,” Mr. Sabir said. “If he cannot take everyone along, then he cannot succeed.”

Mr. Modi’s victory came in large measure from India’s aspirational urban electorate, who yearn for a better future for themselves and their children. Christophe Jaffrelot, a professor at King’s College London, said that rapid urbanization and a growing middle class were softening barriers among Hindu castes, but that the same forces had increased divisions between Hindus and Muslims.

“In the village, you are bound to meet Muslim families because it’s such a small universe,” he said. “In the cities, you have these vast ghettos.”

Mr. Modi won a huge majority in the electorally critical state of Uttar Pradesh, in part because of deadly riots last year that broke a traditional voting alliance between low-caste Hindus and Muslims. But now that he has won, Mr. Modi must reassure India’s Muslims, said Neerja Chowdhury, a political commentator.

“Many people in India and around the world will be watching whether he reaches out to minorities in the coming days,” Ms. Chowdhury said.

Tavleen Singh, an Indian author and admirer of Mr. Modi, said that critics of Mr. Modi focused on his ties to rioting and assassinations without pointing out that such violence has long been part of Indian society.

India was born in 1947 amid the blood-soaked horror of partition, which split British India into Muslim-dominated Pakistan and largely Hindu India. Riots in New Delhi in 1984 after Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s assassination by her Sikh bodyguards led to the killing of thousands of Sikhs, with leaders of the Indian National Congress participating. Violence among castes has long been a regular feature of rural life in India.

“It’s an ugly Indian reality,” Ms. Singh said.

But that is exactly why Mr. Modi is such a poor choice as prime minister, said Siddharth Varadarajan, the former editor of The Hindu, a leading Indian newspaper. Many among India’s liberal intelligentsia see Mr. Modi as a threat to India’s secularism, which is enshrined in its Constitution. It is a characteristic that distinguishes India from Pakistan and binds a nation of extraordinary diversity.

“Many of the things that are evil about India are not going to find their solution with Mr. Modi,” Mr. Varadarajan said. “If anything, they’ll get worse.”

In recent months, residents of a well-to-do Hindu neighborhood of a small city in Gujarat have protested outside a home purchased in January by a Muslim, saying his presence would disturb the peace and lower property values — the same arguments used for decades in the United States to exclude blacks from white neighborhoods.

In Mumbai this year, a ship captain credited with helping to rescue about 722 Indians from Kuwait after the 1990 Iraqi invasion said he was unable to buy an apartment in an affluent section of the city because no one would sell to a Muslim.

Zia Haq, an assistant editor at The Hindustan Times, said it had taken him nearly a year to find an apartment in New Delhi several years ago because he kept looking in neighborhoods dominated by Hindus who refused to rent to him. He finally found an apartment in a Muslim slum.

“This is the story of every middle-class Muslim who moves to a city in India,” Mr. Haq said. “Sometimes landlords are very upfront and say they won’t rent to Muslims. Others have excuses, like they have decided not to rent the place at all.”

But some Muslims say that such experiences demonstrate that Mr. Modi is hardly unusual in his difficulties with Muslims, and that his economic credentials make him worthy of leading the nation.

At Hyderabad’s Moazzamjahi Market, a crenelated stone complex with a mix of businesses run by Hindus and Muslims, Syed Jaleel, 56, the owner of a fruit and vegetable stand that sells produce from his farm, said he was delighted by Mr. Modi’s victory.

“Riots don’t matter because they happen all the time,” he said, clutching a lemonade to help cool off in the heat. “What matters is business development — just look at how Modi developed Gujarat. They don’t even have power cuts. He’ll do the same for the country now.”

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How Narendra Modi can benefit from the Gujarati ethic

What makes Gujaratis so successful?
How Narendra Modi can benefit from the Gujarati ethic

Zaveri Bazaar, Mumbai, is the mainstay of Gujarati jewellers. Photo: Saurabh Das/AP
What makes Gujaratis so successful? If we look at the Forbes list of billionaires in India, about half are originally of Gujarati and Rajasthani origin. At a literary festival a few years ago, I discussed this with Deepak Parekh of HDFC. He said the west of India was always oriented towards trade given its ports. And that the establishment of banking and money markets in Mumbai accelerated the process after the coming of the British. Gujaratis, who were around or had been brought in, thrived.
This is a good geographical explanation.
I would say there is another thing, and it is that Gujaratis have a mercantile ethic, like Max Weber’s Protestant Ethic. A group of people with values coming to them from their culture and religion.
What are these values? The writer Achyut Yagnik and I were talking about it once, and he said something that I thought was quite profound. That the mercantile culture of Gujarat was essentially Jainic, not Hindu. The vegetarianism, the stress on non-violence were manifestations of this Jain influence.
Another important manifestation was the stress away from a literary culture. There was no proper book store in Surat when it was a city of four million. Yagnik has written in one of his works that Gujaratis use the word Sufiana as communicating something airy-fairy rather than sublime. Quite true.
His speculation was that because the Jain texts were essentially in Pali, there was no stress on Sanskrit in Gujarat. And because of that, not much on sanskriti (culture) either, and so little focus on literature. I thought that was a brilliant explanation.
An interesting story was reported in The Indian Express earlier this month. It read:
“Succumbing to political pressure from the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena, the Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport Undertaking (BEST) began removing posters of the Gujarati newspaper Sandesh from its buses Friday.” This happened after Raj Thackeray’s party “had demanded authorities remove the posters which claim that the Gujarati community has solely contributed to the financial and intellectual development of Mumbai.
“The advertising line, Mumbai ni arthik pragatima, baudhik vikasma kon?Aapne Gujrati (Who has contributed to Mumbai’s economic progress and intellectual development? We Gujaratis), was splashed on 200 bus display panels and bus stops.”
I would like to know what intellectual contribution Gujaratis have made to Mumbai. Efficient at raising and managing capital, yes, but intellectual stuff? Let me say only that our best literary contributions have been towards writing saas-bahu dramas.
Anyway, the most important aspect of a mercantile culture is its spirit of compromise. This does not easily permeate and only the most sophisticated cultures have it. Compromise is the ability to see things from the other’s perspective, and without emotion. If one is only interested in one’s own side, if one cleaves unbendingly to principle, compromise is not possible.
This is the one great gift the Jain mercantile tradition gave Gujaratis.
There is a reason that of the four greatest leaders of the subcontinent at Partition, three were Gujaratis. Gandhi, Jinnah and Patel all had that ability to negotiate and compromise. That, more than anything else, forget what the historians tell you, explains their spectacular rise and success. When Jinnah let compromise go, being surrounded and influenced by non-Gujarati Muslims, he made his fatal error, damaging his community grievously. He acted heroically, as the Muslim is wont to do.
Heroism is uncompromising. Heroism cleaves to principle and honour. Its opposite is not cowardice, which is a judgement, but compromise.
Describing Narendra Modi’s character, I once wrote that he acted not as a trader but as a shopkeeper, which was the profession of his caste. The shopkeeper operates on fixed rates and doesn’t need to compromise.
When one is right, and Modi certainly thinks he is right, one has no need to look at the other side. Modi has inherited some aspects of Gujarati culture, the rigid vegetarianism and dislike of meat-eaters, and the lack of interestin literary things. When I finished translating his works, I realized that I could remember encountering only a single literary reference (Shakespeare’s line on a rose smelling the same by any other name) he makes. There is no other indication that Modi has read anything, an alarming thought.
The important, valuable aspects of Gujarati culture, Modi does not have. In large part, that accounts for his success.
The Gujarati male has always thought of himself as being soft and unable to stand up to the Muslim. His love of Modi comes from this aspect, this awe of a hero who has comprehensively reversed the equation.
The superb campaign he has run and the mood he has been voted in on is heroic. It promises quick and immense change that comes from his intervention. From the idea that only he can deliver.
But in Delhi, and I write this on the assumption that the exit polls are correct and that he has won, Modi will need to do something he has not needed to. He must break out of character and tap his latent, mercantile side. The Gujarati ethic.
It will mean having to appreciate the position of others, to be flexible, to sometimes go against principle. It will also mean discarding all the self-referencing (Moditva, Modinomics, NaMo, etc).
He has been the most successful politician of our generation in following the style that comes naturally to him. It will be quite something if he can also succeed in doing it the other way.
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#India – If Modi Becomes The PM….


Irfan Engineer

It is unlikely that Narendra Modi will be elected as the PM of such a diverse and vast country like India. In his election campaign, Modi’s PR machinery’s objective seemed to be to reach out to the electorate with the ideology of Hindutva and deepen and widen the politics of Hindu nationalism. It did succeed to an extent in this objective. However, Modi’s electoral campaign did not remain limited to the core agenda of Hindutva. The other strategy was to unite Hindus even while confusing and dividing the minorities by making them wear skull caps in burkhas in their rallies, meeting their religious leaders and trying to confuse the community that a section was supporting the BJP, particularly the Shia sect. Finally the campaign also tried to hard sell the image of Modi as a strongman, who would talk tough with Pakistan, and would bring lot of development and jobs to the economy. Modi’s campaign made many contradictory and insincere claims before different sections of the populace with the sole intention of garnering votes. People are likely to see through these contradictory claims and vote wisely. Modi’s camp has also begun to display the nervousness betraying its lack of confidence in winning in 300 plus constituencies. It is now willing to break bread with Mamata and Mayawati after attacking them bitterly during the campaign.

Having expressed our sincere doubts about victory of Modi at the husting, in the unlikely event that Modi is able to form the government, what would be the scenario and what would be the options available to the liberal democratic forces? The answer to the aforesaid question depends on the strength of BJP in the Govt.

If BJP on its own is able to get 272+ we will have aggressive leadership and an authoritarian Govt. with little respect for democratic institutions, neo-liberalism and market ideology will be the dominant discourse and the corporate sector that was the major contributor to Modi’s Rs. 50 billion campaign would want to get its pound of flesh. Hegemony of the north Indian, patriarchal upper caste would further strengthen and benefit most from the governance largesse. Sexual minorities, dalits (not the political elite Ram Vilas Pawans and Ramdas Athawales and Udit Rajs but the landless rural and urban unorganized labouring dalits), adivasis, women, workers and religious minorities would be further marginalized and face increased violence. Hindu Nationalist discourse would try to obfuscate this process of marginalization. As Mahatma Phule put it – hegemony of shethji-bhatji alliance would be strengthened. Among the agendas that would be pushed are rethinking on article 370 of the Constitution giving special status to J&K, (this would require 2/3rd majority in Parliament – very unlikely), rethinking on the nuclear doctrine of “no first use”, Uniform civil Code and Anti-cow slaughter legislations too may be on the cards. The Sangh Parivar cadres would be less fearful of law and rogue elements among them would be more intolerant and intolerable. Individual liberties under the Constitution would be restrained even more than the present under the pretext of national security and offensive to the faith of the “majority” community. Many creative work of art and expressions would have to pass the test of whether it is critical of and/or threat to the hegemony of upper caste and patriarchy and if it is, the doctrine of it being offensive to the beliefs and culture of the majority community / nation could be invoked to suppress such expressions.

If BJP gets 200+ and the NDA not more than 250, it would be relatively easy for the NDA to win over new partners but lack of absolute majority will make Modi’s leadership a little vulnerable to pulls and pressures and force him to engage with other stakeholders. However, he would be able to by and large push his important agenda – shethji-bhatji hegemony – albeit a little weakened, as it will have to negotiate with other stake holders. In both the situations, the RSS backed agenda would be to keep key ministries of Human Resource Development (as through it, it could recognize Sangh Parivar run schools, re-write the textbooks and curriculum with Hindu nationalist perspective as they had done under Vajpayee and large budgets of govt. grants for research etc. would flow to organizations with Sangh Parivar affiliation or subscribing Hindutva ideology). School textbooks in Rajasthan (during BJP’s earlier term) and Gujarat praised Hitler to be a nationalist. In MP school curriculum include compulsory teaching of Geeta, Yoga, Saraswati Vandana.

The other ministry that Sangh Parivar normally bays for is Ministry of Defence and Home Affairs. That is to give prime postings for its points persons in security forces. We have seen the use of security forces in Gujarat during Sohrabuddin, Kauser Bano, Ishrat Jehan and other encounter cases where Modi was lionized as heroic fighter of terrorism while his security forces were killing ordinary Muslims and control over the security forces was crucial during the 2002 pogrom. Regular news of terrorist is a good diversionary tactic while the wheelers and dealers operate for financial benefits and it helps present Muslims as a disloyal and anti-national community as a pole to mobilize the Hindus against. Ministry of Information and broadcasting, cultural ministry are other key ministries the RSS would be eyeing and controlling.

If BJP is able to win less than 170 seats and is the largest party, Modi’s leadership will be considerably weakened. Other regional parties would set their terms and conditions to form a coalition Govt. which may force the BJP to elect another leader to run a more inclusive government on the basis of consensus.

Role of Civil Society:

Struggle for secularism is not an isolated struggle from all other issues of people. It is a struggle for more liberties and for a society that embraces diversity. Secularism and democracy affords some space to even the weakest sections of the society to get organize and influence policy making. Our foremost task will be to organize the workers, landless labourers, marginal and small peasants, fisher folk, for security of their livelihoods. These are the spaces where people belonging having varied identities of caste, language and religion come together and share common plight of marginalization. Implementation of MNREGA is one example of a space that affords opportunity to organize the labourers.

Even in the unlikely event of a NDA Govt. being sworn in after 16th May 2014, the struggle for democracy, accountable state, defence of Constitutional liberties, communal harmony, pluralism and defence of secular values, social justice, economic justice, environmental justice, gender justice and equality will be continued by the civil society organizations. In fact the democratic struggles would, if anything, have to be intensified. While carrying on these struggles, our strength would be the Constitution of India and the legal framework.

Women, dalits, adivasis, workers, landless agricultural labourers, fisher folk, marginal and small peasants and religious minorities are likely to face further marginalization, dispossession and violence. There will be increased resistance to marginalisation of these sections. The state will be more repressive than hitherto as it will be prompted by the Hindu nationalist cadres and Hindutva ideology. Therefore we will have to be prepared to struggle for justice for those resisting marginalization through engagement with criminal justice system. This will require strong and easily accessible network of legal aid clinics, para legal workers and awareness among the community about their democratic and constitutional rights.

Documentation of discrimination, marginalization and resistance is an important task that we will have to undertake. We also need to document hate propaganda and the processes of building prejudices against the marginalized sections of the society. We often lack proper and meticulous documentation which can be an important weapon in our fight against hatred. We need to train activists willing to document.

Right to Information could be extensively used to get information from various government departments and that could be a tool to educate the people on governance issues, including discriminations being practiced. Civil society organizations working on right to information and making the government more and more transparent would have to organize more trainings and network of activists using the Act. We could have national, regional and zonal centres having experiences of using the Act and strategies to guide those who want to use the legislation.

Solidarity from international networks defending human rights and working for gender, environmental, social and economic justice would be crucial. Those linkages would have to be strengthened.

Judiciary with all its limitations of delays and the dominant class-caste, rich and powerful being able to influence the outcomes more in their favour, will be another institution to fall back upon as it still commands respect among the citizens of the country. Judiciary has the constitutional role of being a watchdog of Constitutional guarantees of liberties and freedom of faith. Judiciary still enjoys its independence from the executive wing of governance.

With all our limitations, the civil society organizations have always been working towards rectifying the prejudices against the religious minorities, dalits, women and adivasis. The prejudices against these sections are growing in spite of efforts of the civil society organizations. Our efforts to rectify the prejudices will have to continue but we need to evolve strategies for better communication and wider outreach. For wider outreach, various forums will have to be used, including the social media, educational institutions, social gatherings and festivals, community forums etc. Short and crisp messages are communicated more easily than long ones. Our work in education and awareness will finally have to be sustainable through a chain of sustainable institutions.

Democratic struggles for justice, inclusion and empowerment of the marginalized are launched to address issues of different sections in isolation. For example, dalits mobilize for atrocities on them, while other marginalized sections are laid back and likewise, Muslim organizations fight when Muslims are targeted, Christians for Christians and so on. Expressions of solidarity are either non-existent or a weak voice. The solidarities will have to be strengthened and participation in each other’s struggles. The solidarities though not easy, the challenge is how do we convey that violence against or targeting one section/community is threat to the Constitutional guarantee of equality itself and will affect all marginalized sections with same intensity. We will have to learn to deepen democratic values of respecting diversity and ensuring social justice.

Culture is another area that we will have to increasingly engage with. Progressive and democratic cultural movement creates its own symbols and helps deepen the values of liberty, diversity, equality, justice, human solidarity, human dignity and love. Critiquing feudal culture symbols and traditions that justifies all forms of birth based hierarchies – whether caste, class, gender or communal, and promoting progressive literature, fine arts, documentary and fiction films, theatre, and organizing such platforms in various towns, cities and rural areas could help us reach wider sections.

We will also have to reach out to the middle classes and win their hearts and minds and draw them into the struggles for defending democracy, liberalism and secularism. One way of achieving this is going to the schools and colleges and use the institutional fora like debating societies, literary societies, film clubs, extracurricular activities, lectures etc. to inculcate, convey and deepen the values of liberalism.

Though this may appear like a laundry list of tasks before us, collectively we will have to work towards a common goal of deepening democratic and liberal values irrespective of who wins in the elections.

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Should only Minorities be Worried over #Narendra Modi

MAY 8, 2014
Sanjay Kumar,

(Photo Courtesy :

Guest Post by Sanjay Kumar

By stealth, wealth, and media barrage a phalanx of powerful interests is trying to create a public opinion favourable to Mr Narendra Modi. It appears the entire privilegenstia of the country, the super rich capitalists, professional elites, entrepreneurs of the religion, top bureaucracy, including retired army men and police, upper castes, media pundits, even NRI academics, are united in their enthusiasm for Mr Modi. From Ratan Tata to Ramdev, people have been told how the man is the only saviour of a country in crisis. What exactly do this bunch of rich and privileged, but discontented people hope from Mr Modi as PM is important for the future of the country. The moot point here is the difference between declared intentions and actual motives. Perhaps even more important is the response of Mr Modi’s political opponents, because that indicates the kind of resources the country can fall back upon when confronted with the reality of him in power. The moot point here is a lack of understanding of the significance of the usual, non-Modi type politics for ordinary Indians. The stakes are high indeed. Far from what the phalanx and its ideologues claim, it is actually this politics which is their target, and which they wish to change under Mr Modi.

The most prominent charge leveled by Mr Modi’s opponents is that he is communal and divisive, and will alienate minorities. From Mr Lalu Prasad to Prof Amartya Sen, that appears to be the chief misgiving. If the charge against Mr Modi is so framed, then by implication it also appears to be asserting that if there had been no Gujarat 2002, Mr Modi and the kind of politics his party represents will be as good or bad as any other party politics. Are minorities’ misgivings about Mr Modi’s the only fact that the rest of Indians should worry about? Is the hesitation of minorities about him the only legitimate concern that may stop the man from reaching the PMO?

It would really be stupid of the majority of Indians if the minorities, who constitute about 15% of Indians, were the sole social group which may prevent the ascent of Mr Modi. Because in reality the man is dangerous for most Indians. Among many, here are a few reasons.

The Man and his Character

First, the man’s persona. Individuals do not make history. However, tinkering with a system, or wrecking and destroying it are far easier than making, and here individuals have played a big role.  Mr Modi is pompous, arrogant, aggressive and too much taken in by himself. The moral economy of neo-liberalism in India promotes precisely these qualities among humans, a partial reason for his popularity. Such personalities can be found among property agents who lie through their teeth, many drivers in urban India who violate every rule of traffic and get violent if they do not get their way, and loud TV anchors given to hyperbole and falsification. To understand full public implications of such a personality type consider the recent incidence when Mr Modi after voting showed his party symbol near a polling booth, against which an FIR was lodged under orders from the Election Commission. What was his response? In a press conference in Tirupati the next day he went like, ‘What wrong did I do? I only showed a lotus’. This is like the reply of children who have learnt the art of lying but have not yet internalised the important lesson that facts of any matter have durability which cannot be wished away by turning one’s eyes away from them. Our man though is not only a seasoned liar, but also seriously believes that he can turn any set of facts his way. He sincerely believes that he can make no mistake, and that whatever he does is actually the best. It does not take much to realise how dangerous such men can be in public office. If a property agent lies one can be reasonably sure of other sources of information to filter out his falsehoods; one can adapt one’s driving and accept as norm the behaviour of drivers in urban India; but what can one do if such men come to occupy the most powerful seat in the country! The point is, when small fries violate rules, their actions can still be judged, and possibly corrected because the framework of rules, at least in the abstract, still stands. The PM of the country does not violate rules, s/he actually makes, or bends them. Mr Modi, who sincerely believes he is the only source of wisdom, will try to wear authority so thoroughly as to make him unaccountable to any institution.  Let us not forget he made Gujarat government spend crores in legal fees up to the Supreme Court (where he lost the case) because the judge picked up by state’s Governor to be the state Lokayukta was not to his liking. He will wreck any system of governance based on division of power. He has dystrophied the Gujarat state assembly, has done the same with his party in the state, and is in the process of doing it on the national level. He has not allowed an autonomous state Lokayukta to function. All Indians who feel a stake in the Constitution should be mighty worried about what the man will try to do to the system of authority mandated by it.

A bunch of academics and journalists, Ashutosh Varshneys and Shekhar Guptas are claiming that the liberal institutional structure of governance in India is sufficiently robust to tame any individual, (they have argued so to mainly buttress the claim that Mr Modi cannot be as communal as a PM as in the past). Well, country’s governance from the PMO to the tehsil pradhan is riddled with corruption, country’s judiciary has failed to convict anyone of substance for mass crimes of Nellie (1983), Delhi 1984. destruction of Babri Mosque (1992) and Gujarat 2002. One wonders what institutional safe guards these people are thinking of. All they can reasonably claim is that given a dejure liberal governance structure in place it won’t be easy for Mr Modi to be as authoritarian as some of its opponents claim. Reification of institutions and laws is the favourite stratagem of status-qouist intellectuals. Rest of the Indians, who actually are agents in the making up of their country, rather than mere apologists for the status quo, need to face a much more straightforward question. Why should they let a threatening bull in the china shop in the first place?

Everyday Morality against Self declared Saviours

Now, why persons like Mr Modi are popular public figures.  Arthur Rosenberg, left historian of Nazism, in his perceptive ‘Fascism as a Mass Movement’ identifies authoritarian conservatism as the ground support of Fascism. This support exists as diverse illiberal attitudes and ideologies with deep roots in popular cultures. Caste, religion, misogyny, property and nation are the main sources of authoritarian conservatism in India. We witness a union of these tendencies in the phalanx of pro Mr Modi priviligenstia referred to earlier. Ordinary folks though, at least till now, present a mixed picture.  There is an utter lack of appreciation of citizenship rights in the popular culture of India. Political parties in power that have indulged in open violence have been returned with resounding mandates, both in 1984 and in Gujarat after 2002. The largest sustained popular campaign after independence was for the destruction of Babri Mosque. However, if these dark chapters were the all and all of Indian popular culture then the continuing existence of liberal democracy in the country cannot be explained. The key lies in the everyday life of ordinary Indians. This life would have been much more violent and conflict ridden if the personality types of Mr Modi were the norm. The everyday life of majority of Indians is lived through informal networks requiring continuous negotiations, but most importantly also, accommodation. This life is essentially an exercise in sustaining life; it abjures extremes as they lead to possible break-downs. This life appears opportunist and unprincipled to a rational gaze, it is exasperating to a revolutionary looking for sparks of rebellion, it has little place for citizenship rights if looked from a liberal framework, yet its quality of accommodation is one factor that has contributed to the sustenance of liberal governance. Notice how flexible Indian governance has been in accommodating articulated group interests, of castes secularised as electoral bodies, regional aspirations of sub-nationalities and linguistic groups, or of religious minorities, even while it has shown scant regard for citizenship rights of individuals. This character appears more sharp when viewed in comparison with experiences of other nation states, or even liberal democracies of the West. The electoral politics, whose protagonists are ridiculed by middle classes and upper castes, is the key arena where county’s governance gets stamped by its popular culture. This arena has given space to diverse social forces seeking political representation, making it a mela (of democracy , according to the late Arvind N Das). Hence, rather than the state, a formal institution with coercive power, transforming everyday life through its regimes of governance, it is the informality of everyday in India that has put its definitive stamp on the politics of governance.

The accommodating aspect of everyday life is called ‘Bhal-Maansiyat‘ in Hindi. The bhale maanas (noble soul) everyday Indians may not openly challenge the likes of Mr Modi on streets and bastees, yet they certainly do not approve of them. In fact somebody like Mr Modi as a PM of the country should be a moral affront to them. They form the largest number of Indians, much larger than minorities, whose moral world is in danger from the politics of Mr Modi. The paradox is that a significant number of Indian bhale maanas may think they can accommodate to Mr Modi too. Given the moral degeneration of political opponents of Mr Modi, no one of them has been able to penetrate or establish a dialogue with the moral world of ordinary Indians. The only exceptions seems to be the AAP. A critical opportunity to bring out contradictions between the everyday public morality of ordinary Indians, and Mr Modi’s politics appears to have been lost.

What is at Stake

Now, to the politics and policies of Mr Modi. Violence against minorities in fascist programmes  is actually a stepping stone for larger goals. Fascists want to redefine the majority political community on the basis of religion, ethnicity, or langauage. Their programmes’ very premise is against the inclusive citizenship concept of liberal constitutions. The progress of these programmes is episodic (riots, pogroms, demolitions), as well as incremental, which appears to be worming its way legally. Here we will take only one example of how the Hindutva forces are using these elections to try to change the meaning of electoral democracy in a subtle way. It is well known that the BJP has tried to transform the current elections for the Loksabha(parliament) into a presidential style contest. Indians should realise the motive behind it and its ramifications. That India adopted the parliamentary style of rule was more of a result of colonial hangover, than serious thought. However, the system turned out to be well adapted to the diversity of the country and has allowed progressive integration of oppressed social groups in state politics. Within its framework the regional and oppressed caste mobilisations have managed to find a stake in the system, leading to its overall durability. Given its fascist heritage the BJP has always clamoured for a ‘strong’ state under a ‘strong’ leader, and it has viewed many accommodations of the Indian state as signs of its weakness. In fact the BJP is paranoid over the so called unity of the country. It was wary of even state names like Uttarakhand and Jharkhand (the word khand in Hindi translating as division) and preferred Uttaranchal and Vananchal (aanchal in Hindi translating as region). The kind of strong state desired by Hindutva will kill the inclusiveness and flexibility needed to deal with the diversity of our sub-continental country under the force of brute majority. Hence, all Indians who think that their regional, caste or religious identities (including smaller Hindu sects) are important for them should be wary of Mr Modi.

The last and the most important reason ordinary Indians should oppose Mr Modi is the reactionary class and caste character of his programme, the reason why the phalanx of Indian privilegenstia is so wedded to him. The declared motive of these people is the need for a strong and decisive leadership. Actually they want Mr Modi to bend and make rules for their benefit, without fear of opposition, genuflection before judiciary or tribunals, and negotiations with agitationists, the way they believe he has been doing in Gujarat. The Modi raj in Gujarat, of course is many things to many people. What people at large, and not just the minorities, need to have is a critical gaze sorely missing from fawning economists and journalists. Here is just one data about the Modi raj not serve, making it very clear whom it does not serve. According to a Labour Bureau, Oct 2013 report, mentioned in TOI 3rd May, 2014, the wage rate for unskilled male agricultural labour in Gujarat is lowest in the country. Yes, it is lowest in Gujarat, there is no mistake here. The all India average is Rs 192/ per day, in Gujarat such a worker gets Rs 129/, which means an agricultural worker anywhere else in India on average earns fifty percent more than in Gujarat. In Kerala he earns four times more. Even in backward states like Bihar, UP, Orissa, or Assam, he earns more. Nor is it the case that only unskilled workers are lowly paid in the high tech economy of Gujarat. A tractor driver too has the lowest wage in Gujarat than anywhere else in the country, fifty percent less than the national average. Agricultural economists of the ilk of Prof Ashok Gulati (TOI, 24th April 2014) have waxed eloquent over the agricultural growth rate of Gujarat, proclaiming it to be the best bet for inclusive growth. Well, if wage rate is an important indicator, it seems the rest of India is already more inclusive than Gujarat. The question of concern, perhaps not to paid professional economists, but certainly to the people at large should be why despite enjoying the highest growth of agricultural sector, agricultural wages in Gujarat are the lowest? Or to put it in another way, what are the rules of the political economy of Modi raj in Gujarat for such phenomenal wage depression?

Reasons for wage depression in Gujarat are many and complex. Ordinary Indians however, need not wait to be convinced of any of them. The very fact of wage depression should make them wary of the so called Gujarat model of development advertised by Mr Modi’s sales agents. Nevertheless, there is one reason for low wages which should make Indians take immediate notice. Gujarat under Mr Modi is a society with entrenched casteism. This has been shown amply in a three year study by the Navsrijan trust of Ahmedabad; more than ninety five percent of villages practice untouchability in one form or another, in more than sixty percent of villages dalits are not allowed to use common water resources. The social exclusion and weakness of Dalit castes in Gujarat has a direct bearing on their bargaining power as wage workers, and they, like everywhere else in India, form the bulk of agricultural labour force. Mr Modi cannot be held responsible for casteism in Gujarat, but the class and caste character of Modi raj has certainly contributed to the weakness of anti-caste mobilisations in Gujarat.

All successful experiments in Fascism have relied on popular mobilisations behind a charismatic leader. It seems for the first time the Hindutva fascism in our country has found some one with that potential in Mr Modi. The privilegenstia of the country has made its mind. Mr Modi’s political opponents are addressing the remaining Indians, telling them of his role in the 2002 pogrom. It is a sign of the weakness of anti-fascist forces in the country that they have continued to harp on his anti-minority record only, and have failed to develop a generalised critique of the man and his politics. In reality there are enough reasons, even without the 2002 pogrom, for ordinary Indians to be worried over the rise of Mr Modi.

(Sanjay Kumar teaches Physics at St Stephen’s College, Delhi, and is associated with New Socialist Initiative)


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Narendra Modi: India’s Jekyll and Hyde #NaMo #Feku #NOMOre_2014

April 30, 2014 9:19 amby Edward Luce, in Financial Express

If you want the best case for Narendra Modi, you can do no better than read my colleague Gideon Rachman’s latest column – India needs a jolt. After a decade of prevarication under Prime Minister Manmohan Singh (to put it politely), India’s economy is languishing and investors have lost confidence in its reform story. Delhi is almost permanently mired in corruption scandal and politics has turned into a national joke. India desperately needs a change. Who better than Gujarat’s chief minister to give the subcontinent the decisive governance it craves?

That, in a nutshell, is the rationale much of India’s secular elites have backed themselves into. It is a counsel of despair. Mr Modi is certainly a decisive leader. In contrast to Mr Singh’s style of operating, which has been dilatory and weak, files rarely gather dust in Gujarat. Investments get swiftly approved. Projects are executed on time. And bribes are rare. Gujarat continues to outpace most of India in terms of its investment flows and per capita income growth. By electing Mr Modi, India’s middle classes hope he can transpose Gujarat’s story to the national level.
That is the hope. It should also be the fear. Much like Jekyll and Hyde, there are two sides to Mr Modi’s character. And the dark side is very dark indeed. In addition to presiding over its impressive economic performance, Mr Modi has killed the spirit of Indian secularism in Gujarat. The region of Mohandas Gandhi’s birth has become a shrine to Nathuram Godse, the Hindu nationalist who assassinated him in 1948. Twelve years after more than 1,000 Muslims were killed in one of India’s most brutal pogroms, Muslims are treated as second class citizens in Gujarat. Tens of thousands have fled the state altogether.
Mr Modi’s apologists point out that India’s Supreme Court cleared him of direct involvement in the 2002 riots. But absence of proof is not the same as innocence.
I was living in India in 2002 and remember very well the inflammatory rhetoric Mr Modi deployed on the day that 85 Hindu pilgrims burnt to death in a train fire in Godhra. The incident was immediately blamed on the Muslim tea-sellers who hawked their wares at the train station where the horrific accident occurred. A subsequent exhaustive government inquiry absolved the tea-sellers of any blame for the fire, which was thought to have been caused by kerosene.
Mr Modi did not wait for any inquiry. Just a few months before facing re-election in a contest he was by no means certain to win, Mr Modi seized on the Godhra incident to show how decisive he could be. Citing Newton’s Third Law: “Every action has an equal and opposite reaction”, Mr Modi gave the rioters the cue they needed.
No one, Indian or foreigner, who covered the following, gruesome, 72 hours, was in any doubt about the meaning of Mr Modi’s signal. For three days and nights, mobs of fanatics went from house to house armed with electoral rolls (to identify the religion of each household), dragged women and children out of their homes, poured kerosene down their throats and ignited them to crowds of cheering onlookers. The police in Ahmedabad and other Gujarati cities did not intervene. After 72 hours, the police intervened and the rioting stopped. Defenders of Mr Modi would have us believe that he lost control of his own police force. That would make him a weak leader, which contradicts his principal selling point. I do not believe that explanation. Six months later Mr Modi won re-election in a landslide. As he put it at the time, the Hindu majority had awoken.
Apologists also point out that Mr Modi has mellowed since 2002 and discarded the harsher sides of his communal ideology. They forget that he is a life-long member of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, the quasi-fascist Hindu militant group to which Gandhi’s assassin also belonged. He is a life-long celibate in the cause of Hindutva – literally Hinduness – to which the RSS subscribes. Given Mr Modi’s reputation as a Hindu nationalist, he can afford to tack to the centre as far as he likes. He will never lose the Hindu nationalist vote. This is the risk India’s beleaguered secular classes are taking. They want the sunny Dr Jekyll and pray the nocturnal Mr Hyde has been put away for good. It is big bet.
For my part, I believe Mr Modi is a brilliant tactician who is saying and doing what it takes to reach India’s top job. After that, who knows? Apologists say he could never afford as prime minister to repeat the kind of communal hatred he has institutionalised in Gujarat, since he would head a coalition government that would quickly fall apart. They may be right. Deepak Lal, the distinguished Indian economist, asks whether Modi is a Margaret Thatcher or an Adolf Hitler. He concludes that Modi is probably a Thatcher. If so, as Gideon Rachman has rightly argued, a dose of Thatcherism is precisely what India needs. They may be right. I suspect they are wrong. Either way, I would rather not take the risk of finding out.

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All the Modi men

Who are the men who are quietly orchestrating Narendra Modi’s electoral campaign? Radhika Ramaseshan zeroes in on a disparate group that’s come together on a one-point mission: to see the Gujarat CM installed as Prime Minister

The young women are in their tank tops and jeans; the men, hair gelled into spikes, peer at their screens wearing jazzy shirts. Plastered on the walls are pie charts, highlighting facts and figures that they need to keep on their fingertips.

It’s not, as you would suspect, a call centre at work. It’s the buzzing headquarters of the Bharatiya Janata Party’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi, the brainstorming nucleus at the BJP headquarter in Lutyens’s Delhi.

Unless you seek it out, the single-storey structure resembling a boxed-in military barrack escapes notice. A signage warns that only “authorised” persons with a special pass can enter. There’s nothing forbidding about the place that smells of samosas fried in recycled oil and blends with the grotty look of the BJP campus.

A sneak peek opens up another world. In Modi’s functioning hub, spread over four large work spaces, beat nearly a hundred hearts and minds, eyes fixated on their computer screens, looking up occasionally on the pie charts which pack in the Modi narratives. Ishrat Jahan, says one chart — referring to a young woman allegedly killed in an encounter in Gujarat. Madhu Kishwar is the header on the chart that zeroes in on the feminist-writer morphed into a Modi votary. Narmada, defence, education, corruption — ready figures are all on the charts to buttress the argument that Modi is the man for the nation.

  • ON A WAR FOOTING: (From top) Narendra Modi’s machinery includes Ram Madhav, Suresh Prabhu, Ramlal, Amit Shah, Piyush Goyal, Arvind Gupta and Manoj Ladwa

The legion of youngsters — men and women in their 20s and 30s — is Modi’s constituency, and a crucial part of his campaign as well. Freshly minted out of universities or on a break from plum jobs, they are out to “fulfill a mission” — and that’s “Mission 272+”, the BJP’s tagline for the target it has set out to achieve to be able to form a government at the Centre.

One such campaigner, who was 13 in 2002 when Gujarat erupted into sectarian violence, admits that he battled peer hostility when he teamed up with the “Modi mission”. He headed the students’ union in one of Delhi’s premier colleges and had friends with differing political persuasions. “They asked me, are you going to be associated with a mass murderer? I Google-searched everything there was on the Gujarat violence and the legal cases that followed thereafter. I was relieved when the Supreme Court-monitored special investigation team gave Modi a clean chit. I told my buddies the law is supreme. I function without a baggage,” he says.

His colleague, an IIT-IIM product who threw up work at McKinsey’s for Modi, was less bothered by 2002. “To me, the spur was Modi’s speech at the Shri Ram College of Commerce (SRCC) last year. One sentence he said about maximum governance and minimum government struck me as radical because it came from a mainline politician. It hit me there must be something distinctive about the guy.”

The dream to see the Gujarat chief minister installed in South Block has brought disparate people together. Among them is Prashant Kishor, a core member of Modi’s pit crew who winged his way from Africa two years ago. He headed the UN’s strategic planning and social policy group for eight years and is now Modi’s prime event ideator-cum-executor and political resource person.

Even a year ago, few would have thought that Modi could ever be pitched as a Prime Minister. But his campaigners clearly are eager to take the bull by the horn — as John F. Kennedy’s band of men did in the Sixties in the United States, and as, almost 50 years later, a new group came to the aid of Barack Obama. The similarities are evident — the core group in each case had or has just one mission: to see their leader occupy the throne. But unlike the court at Camelot, consisting of men such as Robert Kennedy, Robert McNamara, Dean Rusk, McGeorge Bundy, Ted Sorensen and Arthur Schlesinger — where the advisors often clashed with one another, Modi’s men — so far — are a well-yoked team.

And, no, Kishor stresses — Modi’s team is not patterned after Obama’s campaign team of 2008 that had a cast of now legendary characters such as David Axelrod and Rahm Emmanuel. “Here, individuals have party-led support and in the US presidential election run-up, an individual propped up the party,” he holds.

The party-individual equation has evolved into a machinery that works on three tiers: ad makers, speechwriters and assorted spinners managing Modi’s image and campaigns; the field operatives who find the votes and deliver them to the booths; the strategists whose job is to zero in on mid-course flaws and blunders and try and plug them.

At the helm is Modi. “He manages only up to the point when he trusts you completely. But that might take time. He’s a perfectionist,” an aide says.

Not everybody, of course, is convinced that Modi’s men will ensure his victory. “Modi’s campaign has not touched the lower social strata and the non-Hindi speaking states,” says former BJP ideologue K.N. Govindacharya. “It has only swayed people in the urban and semi-urban areas, including those from the upwardly mobile backward caste communities who have, over the years, aligned themselves with the upper castes and classes.”

But in the room where the Modi campaign is being honed every day, Govindacharya — along with party veterans L.K. Advani or Jaswant Singh — represents yesterday. Here, the buzz is today, and there is work to be done.

“Every member is an over-worked bee but the bees work willingly because they know that at the end of the day they will get a government they are yearning for and a Prime Minister they badly want,” a BJP office bearer maintains.

A glimpse at some of the busy bees:

Amit Shah

Be afraid, be very afraid. His heavily-lidded eyes, imperturbable demeanour and languid speech do not tell you that Shah is the most — read MOST — important person in Modi’s brain trust. Over a year into his assignment as the party’s general secretary minding Uttar Pradesh, even Modi’s detractors grudgingly acknowledge that Shah brought “immense professionalism” into straightening out the shambolic state of affairs in the state BJP.

Shah — born in Chicago into a business family — worked as a stock broker and served the RSS and the Sangh’s student front, the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, in Ahmedabad.

The RSS spotted his talent for crafting political strategies and managing elections and asked him to work as BJP leader Advani’s constituency manager in Gandhinagar. Shah delivered victory after victory for Advani in a seat that was never an easy one for the BJP at the best of times.

Not surprisingly, when Modi fought his first election in Gujarat under the cloud of the 2002 anti-Muslim riots, he drafted Shah as his principal political aide. From then on, there was no looking back for Shah. Though arrested for a series of “fake” encounters and sent out of Gujarat for fear that his presence could influence the investigations into the encounters, Shah was allowed to return shortly before the last Gujarat elections. He contested from an Ahmedabad seat and romped home with a bigger margin than Modi’s.

From minding Maninagar, Modi’s constituency in Gujarat, to micro managing the state elections, playing nanny to the bureaucracy and taking the rap in choppy situations, Shah is Modi’s man for all reasons and seasons.

Prashant Kishor

Behind Modi’s encounters with people over a cup of tea is this shy and skinny man who heads a group called the Citizens for Accountable Governance (CAG) — a platform for youths to “engage with the political and administrative establishment to usher in an era of greater accountability and better governance”.

Kishor, 34, has been associated with Modi for over two years and now runs an elite team drawn from Ivy League schools and the IITs and IIMs. Many of Kishor’s team members either left marquee jobs or are on a sabbatical. Like him, they work pro bono.

CAG came into the limelight last October when it hosted an event called “Manthan” (or churning) at Delhi’s Thyagaraja Stadium to follow up on Modi’s rock-star showing at SRCC in January, 2013. It pulled in nearly 7,000 students who played policy wonks for a day. Modi sat through the morning-to-night function, without saying much but hearing out everything.

But the Ballia-born strategist’s brief transcends event management and cyber connectivity — he is into the minutiae of constituency assessments and social equations and has done the spadework for choosing candidates. All the while, he remains invisible — no, thank you, he doesn’t wish to be photographed.

Piyush Goyal

Goyal has old ties with the BJP — his father Ved Prakash was a party treasurer and minister in Atal Behari Vajpayee’s Cabinet and mother Chandrakanta was a member of the legislative Assembly in Maharashtra. Goyal, a chartered accountant and a lawyer by education and training, was an investment banker until he became a Rajya Sabha MP. He also inherited his father’s job as the BJP’s treasurer.

The 49-year-old loyalist was among the first to bat for the idea of Modi-as-PM — when his contemporaries were beset with doubts. He now heads the Information Technology (IT) communication sub-committee, a constituent of the BJP’s overall campaign committee, and liaises with individuals and groups working on Modi’s agenda to conquer cyber space through sites such as NaMo for PM and Mission 272+.

Arvind Gupta

Among those pulling the Modi juggernaut is this first generation politico from a business family who now heads the BJP’s IT cell. “Politics is the biggest instrument for making policy changes. At present, the BJP is the most effective instrument of that change. That’s why I am there,” says Gupta, a product of IIT-Banaras Hindu University and the University of Illinois.

Gupta, who sold his software firm in 2009 and started working for the BJP, is in charge of websites, uploading videos of rallies and meetings, sending them to media houses, posting comments and releases — and rebutting opponents on the Net. If you see a shot of a pensive Modi in Varanasi — with a maze of buildings behind him — or looking natty in a blue linen kurta while leading foreign dignitaries, you probably have to thank Gupta for it.

Kuniyal Kailasanathan

Modi’s chief principal secretary is a retired IAS officer who worked for long years in Modi’s secretariat. “KK” — as he is known — has been helping the CM reach out to disparate groups and individuals. A Tamilian settled in Kerala, he put him in touch with Amritanandamayee, the guru of Kerala from the fisherfolk community. In April, 2013, KK facilitated Modi’s appearance at the Sivagiri Math in Kerala that was founded by social reformer Narayana Guru, worshipped by Dalits and some backward castes.

In Gujarat, KK actively supervises the government’s outreaches to tribals, who traditionally have formed a Congress vote bank, and keeps an eye on the re-distribution of forest land.

  • PROMOTION IS ALL: Rajesh Jain (above) and B.G. Mahesh

Rajesh Jain and B.G. Mahesh

With the thrust on new media, there is always a demand for people who know the subject. Jain is a low key, media shy Mumbai-based entrepreneur who helped revolutionise Internet use in India with his IndiaWorldWeb portal. With Mahesh, he handles Modi’s campaign on Twitter and Facebook with 100 techies. His newest big bang idea aims at maximising voter turnout through the Internet. Registered voters have to dial a particular number with their voter ID number and they will instantly receive the details of their polling booth.

Jain studied at Columbia University and now runs a mobile data solutions company called Netcom Solutions. Mahesh, who lives in Bangalore, is the founder of Greynium Information Technologies which owns OneIndia, one of the first regional language news portals. In 2010, Jain’s Netcom acquired a majority stake in Greynium.

In June, 2012, Jain proposed in a post that the BJP work towards creating a wave in 2014 across India and more so in the 330-350 seats where it was in competition. The BJP’s focus, he said, should be on maximising its strike rate and seats and not on pre-poll allies.

The two men are behind the Modi promotion sites Niti Central and India272. Niti — an acronym for New Initiatives to Transform India — has teams working in the digital media space on elections, with former journalist and PMO official Kanchan Gupta as its editorial director. It broadcasts Modi’s public appearances real time on its website. India272 enlists volunteers from the 150 million new voters in the 18-22 age group in the “Vote for NaMo crusade”.

Manoj Ladwa

Support from overseas is being harnessed by the British Gujarati solicitor who is a partner at MLS Chase Corp Advisory, a management consultancy firm in London. He has worked pro-actively among Britain’s huge Gujarati-speaking diaspora and beyond to polish Modi’s credentials. Ladwa is believed to be among those who sold the “Vibrant Gujarat” investment powerhouse dream to Britain and persuaded the establishment to look at Modi through the economic prism.


Ram Madhav wears two hats; one as an RSS office-bearer and the other as a think-tank “specialist”. A pioneering techie in the Sangh, Madhav is a member of its central executive and the deputy chief of its outreach cell. He is also the director of the India Foundation, a Delhi-based strategic studies and international relations think-tank that recently organised an interactive session between Modi and representatives of corporate India.

Suresh Prabhu

Originally a Shiv Sainik and now a member of Madhav’s think-tank, Prabhu has more or less decoupled himself from the Sena. The chartered accountant with a law degree was one of A.B. Vajpayee’s favourite ministers when he held the power portfolio at the Centre. The energy sector is on top of Modi’s agenda — and the CM appreciates the fact that Prabhu is unabashedly pro-reform.

The former MP was also the first to cry off his speaking engagement at the economic forum sponsored by the Wharton Business School in 2013. The provocation was Wharton’s decision to cross Modi’s name off the list of distinguished speakers.


Modi and his band of men are shaping up a gigantic wave. Will the wave sweep across the nation, or will it ebb?

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Narendra Modi ‘butcher of Gujarat’; 9 Mythbusters on 2002 post-Godhra riots

Tuesday, 29 April 2014 – 1:14pm IST | Agency: DNA
For those who have developed “selective and motivated” amnesia about the truths of 2002 riots in Gujarat and are suddenly buying into the myths being perpetrated by Narendra Modi‘s PR machinery, here are a few myth-busters to refresh your memory and perhaps your conscience

Myth no 1: Post-Godhra violence was brought under control within 2-3 days by Narendra Modi’s government
Truth: “The violence in the state, which was initially claimed to have been brought under control in seventy two hours, persisted in varying degree for over two months, the toll in death and destruction rising with the passage of time.”
Source: Final Order of the National human Rights Commission chaired by the very respected Justice JS Verma, available here

Myth no 2: Gujarat Police acted fairly by taking action against rioters from every side
“We women thought of going to police and telling the police as in the presence of police, the houses of Muslims were burnt, but the police told us ‘to go inside, it is doom’s day for Muslims”
Source: PW219 testimony which was admitted as part of Naroda Patya judgment that led to conviction of Mayaben Kodnani, Narendra Modi’s cabinet minister who led murderous mobs during 2002 riots. It is available here.

Myth no 3: No conspiracy by the Gujarat government; post-Godhra violence was a spontaneous reaction
Truth: “A key state minister is reported to have taken over a police control room in Ahmedabad on the first day of the carnage, issuing directions not to rescue Muslims in danger of being killed.”
“Voter lists were also reportedly used to identify and target Muslim community members”
Source: Report of Human Rights Watch, April 2002, Vol. 14, No. 3(C). Available here

Myth no 4: Modi allowed a fair prosecution of those accused in rioting and hence even his cabinet colleague Mayaben Kodnani was convicted
Truth: “The modern day ‘Neros’ were looking elsewhere when Best Bakery and innocent children and helpless women were burning, and were probably deliberating how the perpetrators of the crime can be saved or protected.”
“Law and justice become flies in the hands of these “wanton boys”. When fences start to swallow the crops, no scope will be left for survival of law and order or truth and justice. Public order as well as public interest become martyrs and monuments.”
“From the facts stated above, it appears that accused wants to frustrate the prosecution by unjustified means and it appears that by one way or the other the Addl. Sessions Judge as well as the APP (Shri Raghuvir Pandya, the public prosecutor in this case at the time was a member of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and contested elections from Ward 20, Vadodara in the 1996 Corporation Elections on a BJP ticket!)  have not taken any interest in discharge of their duties.”
Source: Supreme Court in Zahira Habibulla H Sheikh And Anr vs State Of Gujarat And Ors on 12 April, 2004 CASE NO.: Appeal (crl.) 446-449 of 2004. Available here

Myth no 5: Narendra Modi never justified post-Godhra killings
Truth: “Responding to queries regarding various statements attributed to him by the media, Mr Modi denied citing Newton’s law. Nor had he spoken of “action-reaction”; he had wanted neither the action (at Godhra) nor the subsequent reaction. When we cited footage in Zee to the contrary (Annexure 4A), there was no reaction from Mr Modi”
Source: Editors Guild Fact Finding Mission Report dated 2002. Available here

Myth no 6: Narendra Modi speaks only about development in his speeches. Even after 2002 riots, his speeches were never laced with communal poison
Truth: Narendra Modi’s reported speech: “For several months, the opposition has been after me to resign. When I did, they did not know what to do and started running to Delhi to seek Madam’s help. They realised that James Michael Lyngdoh, the Election Commissioner of India, is their only saviour.Some journalists asked me recently, ”Has James Michael Lyngdoh come from Italy?” I said I don’t have his janam patri, I will have to ask Rajiv Gandhi. Then the journalists said, ”Do they meet in church?”. I replied, ”Maybe they do.” James Michael Lyngdoh came and visited Ahmedabad and Vadodara. And then he used asabhya basha (indecent language) with the officials. Gujaratis can never use such language because our rich cultural heritage does not permit it. Then he gave a fatwa ordering that the elections can’t be held. I want to ask him: he has come to this conclusion after meeting only members of the minority community. Are only minority community members citizens of India? Are majority community members not citizens of this country? Is the constitutional body meant only for the minority community? Did he ever bother to meet the relatives of those killed in the Godhra carnage? Why didn’t he meet them? Why didn’t he ask them whether the situation was conducive for polls? Why? James Michael Lyngdoh ( says it slowly with emphasis on Michael), the people of Gujarat are posing a question to you.”
Source: Reported speech of Narendra Modi, September 30, 2002. Available here

Myth no 7: Narendra Modi never applied for a US Visa (when it came to light that he was denied one)
Truth: “The Chief Minister of Gujarat state, Mr. Narendra Modi, applied for a diplomatic visa to visit the United States. On March 18, 2005, the United States Department of State denied Mr. Modi this visa under section 214 (b) of the Immigration and Nationality Act because he was not coming for a purpose that qualified for a diplomatic visa. Modi’s existing tourist/business visa was also revoked under section 212 (a) (2) (g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act. Section 212 (a) (2) (g) makes any foreign government official who “was responsible for or directly carried out, at any time, particularly severe violations of religious freedom” ineligible for a visa to the United States. The Ministry of External Affairs requested that the Department of State review the decision to revoke his tourist/business visa. Upon review, the State Department re-affirmed the original decision.” This decision applies to Narendra Modi only. It is based on the fact that, as head of the State government in Gujarat between February 2002 and May 2002, he was responsible for the performance of state institutions at that time. The State Department’s detailed views on this matter are included in its annual Country Reports on Human Rights Practices and the International Religious Freedom Report. Both reports document the violence in Gujarat from February 2002 to May 2002 and cite the Indian National Human Rights Commission report, which states there was “a comprehensive failure on the part of the state government to control the persistent violation of rights of life, liberty, equality, and dignity of the people of the state.”
Source: Statement by David C. Mulford, US Ambassador to India, March 21, 2005. Available here

Myth no 8: Vajpayee never asked Modi to observe “Rajdharma”, did not rap him for 2002 riots
Truth: “In comments which appeared to back criticism of the state authorities, Mr Vajpayee said he would speak to political leaders about allegations that they had failed to do their job. “Government officials, political leaders, need to respond to the task. The constitution guarantees equal rights for all,” he said.The state government is controlled by the BJP, and the Chief Minister, Narendra Modi, has come in for particular attack over the way the authorities reacted to the violence. At the Shah Alam camp in Gujarat’s commercial capital, Ahmedabad, Mr Vajpayee said that the Godhra attack was “condemnable” but what followed was “madness”. “The answer to madness is not madness,” he said in an emotional speech.”The duty of our government is to protect the property, life and honour of everybody… there is no scope for discrimination,” he said in an apparent reference to allegations that local officials had turned a blind eye to the killings.”
Source: Vajpayee says riots “shameful” – BBC News report April 4th 2002. Available here

Myth no 9: It’s not sheer opportunism that well-known Modi-baiters like Smriti Irani, have today become his cheerleaders
Truth: “Smriti Irani who unsuccessfully contested from Delhi’s Muslim-dominated Chandni Chowk constituency in the April-May parliamentary elections, blamed Modi for BJP’s recent electoral reverses. “Whenever people mention Gujarat they only talk about the riots and try to corner the Gujaratis on the issue. So, in order to maintain the respect that I have for Atalji and the BJP, I won’t hesitate to take this step( of going on a fast to seek Modi’s removal) ,” she said.”
Source: Times of India report dated December 12, 2004. Available here

These myth-busters took me just one hour to compile. So it’s quite surprising that none of the stalwarts who interviewed Modi, (some of whom saw the events of 2002 unfold in front of their very own eyes), never counter-questioned him further and exposed the glaring gaps in his “rebuffed” narrative. Much like Smriti Irani, I guess, each night they must be saying to themselves “Hey Ram”….


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Did Paresh Rawal just call Narendra Modi a dictator?

Monday, 28 April 2014 – 12:59pm IST | Agency: DNA Webdesk
  • Paresh-Rawal

Actor-turned-politician Paresh Rawal has turned heads with his most recent statement endorsing “benevolent” dictatorship as viable form of government,

In his most recent interview, Rawal, who is contesting for the Lok Sabha elections from Ahmedabad on a BJP ticket, stated, “A benevolent dictatorship is what India needs.”

The statement was made with direct referrence to BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi, who is often called ‘dictatorial’ by his opposition. However, Rawal seemed to admire the quality, adding, “This man is the sort that if he can’t do work, he will leave. And if he gets work done, he’ll get it done only his way.”

ALSO READ: Paresh Rawal likely to play Narendra Modi in upcoming film

He explained, “In Modi’s government, there is only one centre of power, but he has to head a majority government, otherwise people will be shouting that ‘he’s a dictator’. But I say,  we need a benevolent dictator—one who is well-meaning, thinks about people, their welfare, one who understands. That’s the best combo.”

Rawal, who is close to the Modi, also suggested that the prime ministerial candidate will not head a coalition government. “Things will have to be Modi’s way, or he’ll take the highway. If the results throw up a coalition, Modi will not head a government that’ll be pulled in various directions by various leaders,” he said.

In an earlier interview, Rawal made it clear that making Modi the prime minister was on his priority list. “To make Narendra Modi our next prime minster is the most important agenda for me and people of my constituency during this election.”

Rawal replaces seven time MP Harin Pathak as the BJP candidate from Ahmedabad (East).

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Kavita Krishnan’s comments to Barkha Dutt on her article on Modi

Kavita Krishnan, Fcaebook

Mesmerised by Modi’s “masterful” campaign strategy and the frenzied saffron surge at his nomination rally at Banaras, Barkha Dutt writes that “the weakest link so far is Modi’s failure in bridging the gap with India’s Muslims,” and suggests that now, in his triumphal ascent to power, he should initiate a “compassionate dialogue” with Muslims. (

I find this proposition outrageous and even obscene at many levels.

First, the calculated anti-Muslim hatred that Modi’s campaign deploys isn’t some ‘weak link’ in an otherwise healthy and acceptable chain. It’s at the heart of the Modi model, deployed by him to hide and deflect attention from a multitude of weaknesses, such as BJP’s own track record on corruption, any probing questions on the actual state of Gujarat’s development, or any analysis of his economic policy.
Modi’s election campaign has been communal, every step of the way. Muzaffarnagar was no accident – as Amit Shah’s series of election speeches there shows. When Amit Shah says that “Beggars have become millionaires running slaughterhouses and BJP will stop it”; when Amit Shah says that BSP has given tickets to 19 persons from “the community that insults our mothers and sisters”; when a Jat leader next to Shah asks BJP to control the population, makes a sign indicating a beard under his chin and says “our votes won’t count and they will be present everywhere”; or when Modi gives speech after speech exhorting Yadavs and Hindus against ‘pink revolution’ causes by subsidies to meat industry, the communal signalling is deliberate and well-planned. (See videos of Amit Shah’s speeches here – 2002 and the series of fake encounters are not an embarrassment for Modi – they are his badge of pride, proving he can crush the ‘terrorists’, whom he takes care to identify with the Muslim community.

Second, there is a yawning ‘gap’ between Modi and democracy – not between Modi and Muslims. Barkha’s piece itself isolates Muslims, by suggesting that the rest of Banaras and the country are either part of a delirious Modi frenzy or have made their peace with the inevitability of his ascent to the PM post, and that there’s only this mildly regrettable ‘gap’ with Muslims that Modi can now correct. As long as Modi’s culpability for Gujarat 2002, and the series of fake encounters that Gujarat cops staged to make Modi look like a hero, Amit Shah’s hate-speech, and Snoopgate go unpunished, how can this country’s democracy be at peace?

And finally, the idea that the answer to what Barkha politely calls ‘Muslim vulnerability’ is ‘compassion’ from Modi is preposterous. What can she mean, when she says that “with the strength of numbers on his side”, Modi should initiate “a more compassionate dialogue with a community that remains fearful of the BJP and of him”? Can there ever be egalitarian ‘dialogue’ between a triumphalist Modi backed by frenzied crowds – and a vulnerable, fearful minority? Can that ‘strength of numbers’ for Modi ever mean anything but a reminder of weakness and humiliation for the Muslims? Are we now telling Muslims that they, as a minority in India, cannot expect justice or equality, but must remain at the mercy of the compassionate – or cruel – whims of a hate-monger whose entire brand has been built on venom and violence against Muslims?

Modi has undeniably shown his strength in Banaras. But it is just possible that Banaras might show him his own vulnerability, rather than his confidence in the vulnerability and irrelevance of those who fear what he represents. I am not questioning the authenticity of his show of strength. But there is a strong undercurrent against Modi – and not just among Muslims, but among other sections of society: small vendors, dalits, and backwards for instance. In the face of open saffron thuggery that seeks to silence the smallest question about Modi expressed in public spaces, these sections are muted – but definitely mutinous. Undercurrents can become waves too, it is in their nature.
Moreover, regardless of the outcome in Banaras, Modi’s road to the PM chair too isn’t all too smooth as of now. For instance, NDTV’s opinion poll that gave BJP 30 (later 24) out of 40 seats in Bihar, for instance, is certainly being belied by the voters of that state. In UP too, the Modi ‘tsunami’ isn’t quite working out, at least as yet.

Journalists in a hurry to declare Modi’s ‘new innings’ should take the precaution of waiting to make sure he isn’t bowled out first. And if indeed he does eventually begin an innings as PM, all those who are truly the body and spirit of our democracy won’t be expecting him to bestow ‘compassion’ on us; we’ll continue to seek to bring him to justice for every crime against humanity.

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