Bad for all poor, worse for Muslims (December 12, 2012)
MYTH & REALITY-3
This is like stating the obvious, but it needs reiteration here. There are two types of BJPwallahs: those who have come straight to the party, and those who have come via the RSS. As the RSS is the holding company of BJP, it naturally controls this party. A BJPwallah from the RSS is thus far more well-entrenched in the power structure of the party than his non-RSS counterpart. Quite obviously, the person with RSS background is more vicious and anti-Muslim. Narendra Modi is RSS man in BJP. That explains his enduring animosity against Muslims as evident in the anti-Muslim pogrom of 2002.
Being driven by the fascist ideology of RSS, Modi has no respect for rule of law, no regard for judiciary’s due process, no concern for the standard practices of bureaucracy’s working, no care for the neutrality and impartiality of police functioning and law enforcement. It is on these counts that nearly two dozen US Congressmen have reaffirmed their opposition to US grant of visa for him. Earlier he had been denied visa by the US State Department on the ground of his role in the 2002 killings and his attempts to destroy evidence, subvert the law and punish officials trying to follow the law. Earlier also, the same Congressmen had opposed visa to him.
A few months before the assembly elections were due he aggressively started a campaign to win back the Muslims alienated from him in 2002 after his clearly green signal to goondas to kill as many Muslims and destroy as much Muslim property as they could. His opposition to relief camps for Muslim victims on the ground that they were “child-producing factories” is particularly unforgotten. So is his remark to teach a lesson to “Mian Musharraf” in the pogrom, which did not mean that he was to start a war against Pakistan where Pervez Musharraf was the president, but to teach Indian Muslims (who in his and RSS eyes are Pakistanis) a lesson. BJP-RSS-Bajrang Dal and other Sanghis used to openly call Muslim areas in Gujarat “Pakistan” and the land separating the Hindu areas from them the “border”. In the Aaj Tak sting the perpetuators of the mass murder are seen and heard speaking this language.
For the last few months Modi has been busy trying to whitewash the blood stains with talks of “development”, sadbhavna (goodwill) and promises of a prosperous future. A particularly visible tactic has been getting himself photographed surrounded by bearded Muslims with skull caps. However, the game was given away during his sadbhavna gimmick when he accepted every sect’s headgear, but publicly refused the offer of a “Muslim” cap. The veneer of Modi’s goodwill towards Muslims is very thin, so thin that it will not last beyond the elections.
In fact, the veneer is already coming off with his latest declarations that reaffirm his old position. He has started knowing that neither the Muslim vote nor the secular and liberal vote can be attracted with false promises and token gestures. Besides, for the Constitution to survive and the country to remain integrated those guilty of mass murder must be brought to justice, howsoever high and mighty they could be. Elections and election process come and go, but justice and rule of law must remain. The law cannot be hoodwinked.
To give Modi has due, he is unfair to all poor and weak as shown by our last two papers, but he is far more unfair and inimical to Muslims. In that particular sense he is the real khaki shorts person, incorrigibly bellicose and hostile to Muslims. However, side by side with his anti-Muslim perspective he shares the attitudes of a sizeable section of Gujarat’s well off castes about the weaker people, including lower orders of Hindu society. The most stark example of this general social malaise was evident in the Gujarat earth quake before the pogrom. Poor, lower-caste Hindus were openly complaining that relief trucks were never allowed to reach them and they were emptied by the powerful groups before they could lay their hands on any relief material.
From the mid-1990s the position of Gujarat had begun to decline in the Human Development Index, which has continued over the years. The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS) has been designed to help the poor. However, when it was evaluated, Gujarat was found to be at the bottom of the large Indian states. On the other hand, Rajasthan was at the top, followed by Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Tamil Nadu. This shows Modi’s indifference to the weak.
As per conclusions based on data from the NSSO, the NCAER’s Human Development surveys and information gleaned from the Sachar Committee Report, poverty among the urban Muslims in Gujarat is eight times greater than among high-caste Hindus and about 50 percent more than Hindu OBCs and SCs/STs. It is worthwhile to note that about 60 percent of the Gujarati Muslims live in urban areas and are the most deprived social group in the state.
On the other hand, rural poverty is two times more than high-caste Hindus. Unlike a few large states, Gujarat has not provided any specified quota in employment and higher education to Muslims.
While Muslims have bank accounts proportionate to the size of the population, the bank loan amount outstanding, an indicator of financial inclusion, is only 2.6 percent. These are some of the stark truths that cannot be changed with cosmetic sadbhavna and election propaganda.
The security situation of Muslims is already known to much of the world. That it is virtually impossible to bring major perpetrators of violence to justice in Gujarat is also known as well as how badly the government has hounded out fair and impartial officers. However, what is less known is that Muslims are the greatest targets for petty thefts and their girls are subjected to harassment more often than girls from other communities as per the Sachar Report.