Shifting Sands of Siyasat by DR. MOHAMMAD MANZOOR ALAM (DECEMBER 01, 2007)


DR MOHAMMAD MANZOOR ALAM on the fast-changing Gujarat scenario

Siyasat (politics), we are told, is an unpredictable, treacherous, no-holds-barred game. Gujarat politics is more so, particularly because it is the “laboratory of Hindutva”, as proudly proclaimed by men like Praveen Togadia and Ashok Singhal. This is the laboratory that produced the infamous Gujarat 2002.

How quickly shifting the Gujarat situation is can be gauged from the chameleon-like Uma Bharti’s stance. Till yesterday she was the avowed opponent of Moditva, and today she is paving the way for its victory by withdrawing from competition.

Whatever way we look at it, the situation is extremely fluid. In the final analysis, the Sangh is a large conglomerate of like-minded folk. Most of the time the division in their ranks is about sharing power, not difference in principle. Uma Bharti’s withdrawal can be understood in that light. The rebellion in her party is also explained thus: the 60 candidates of her party who were fielded for assembly polls would not like the chance of entering legislature to slip by. Yet there would be some who would like to stand by her through thick and thin.

Even her withdrawal can be ascribed partially to pressures from formal Hindutva groups and their sympathisers outside formal organisation. Men like Gordhan Zadaphia are still opposed to Modi, as are others with Muslim blood on their hands. We may recall that soon after the Godhra episode Zadaphia, who was the Gujarat minister of state for home, had publicly announced that he would teach Pakistanis a lesson. Within the next few hours the state-sponsored anti-Muslim pogrom began. In BJP parlance, Muslim areas of Gujarat are “Pakistan” and their inhabitants “Pakistanis”. A secular dispensation cannot be created with such people.

Zadaphia was an eager sponsor of the violence. Today’s BJP dissidents like Zadaphia would like us to believe that they will not support Modi to form a government if they and their friends are voted to reach the assembly. Nobody can be sure about such things. We have the example of Uma Bharti. Before that we had Kalyan Singh of Babri Masjid demolition fame in UP. Singh too had raised the banner of revolt, only to go back to the party later.

Gordhan Zadaphia, minister of state for home during the 2002 killings, is estranged from Modi today. Influential swamis like Asaram Bapu, Pramukh Swamy and Chaitanya Maharaj are out of the Modi camp. There are at least 70 important godmen like them who would not like to be seen dead in Modi’s company.

The situation, as I said at the beginning of this piece, is volatile. Congress-led secular formation should exercise caution.

(Watch this space)


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