ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Modi's Gujarat and Its Little Illusions

On the assumption that Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi is going to be re-elected in this month's assembly election, he is being touted by many in the Bharatiya Janata Party as the party's prime ministerial candidate in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. Gujarat is assumed to have benefi ted from Modi's administrative acumen and its economic performance is much praised. However, on a number of social and human development indicators, the performance of Gujarat is abysmal, especially where tribals, children, women and minorities are concerned. Civil society in the state also seems to be struck by a kind of paralysis in the face of state violence against the minorities. What then does such "growth" mean?

For some unfathomable reason, the Gujarat elections are being show-cased as if they were a run-through of the 2014 general elections. If Chief Minister Narendra Modi, it is predicted, wins, not only will he stake claim to the prime ministerial berth, he will also straddle it, preferably wearing a jewelled crown. His party, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is going about this task in the same methodical way it prepared Gujarat as a laboratory for Hindutva in the 1980s. But when last checked, the map of India had not changed. Gujarat had not expanded geographically and become coterminous with India, and neither had India shrunk to the size of Gujarat. Apart from geographical vastness, substantial parts of India remain committed to demo­cracy and diversity, to secularism, to toleration, to pluralism, and to just letting people be.

Politics can be unpredictable, but as of now the assumption that there is some inescapable link between winning elections in a state that has been hammered into homogeneity, and winning national elections in a country as diverse as I­ndia, seems an adolescent’s dream. For one, many have not forgotten 2002. Even if we were to believe that the BJP government did not mastermind the p­ogrom, it did stand by and watch while 2,000 people died brutal and premature deaths. That should not be forgotten, for those who cannot remember the past, Santayana reminded us, are doomed to repeat it.

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