Statements ‘PM Candidate’ Narendra Modi would like to forget

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Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi is greeted by BJP President Rajnath Singh after being appointed as BJP’s Prime Ministerial Candidate. (Image: HT Photo)

Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi was officially anointed as his party’s Prime Ministerial candidate by the BJP Parliamentary Board on Friday. Arun Jaitley, Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha stated that the decision was a formal recognition of the overwhelming desire of millions of party supporters and the party cadre. Following Modi’s elevation, party patriarch and veteran leader LK Advani went into a sulk and shot off an angry letter to Party President Rajnath Singh in which he criticized his style of functioning. There are two principal conclusions which can be drawn from the political show which has been playing out in front of our television screens since Modi’s elevation. First, the top brass of the BJP and RSS is firm on their choice of Modi as ‘the’ leader who is capable of wresting power from the Congress lead United Progressive Alliance in 2014. Second, any revolt to Modi would eventually be stonewalled from Nagpur by some means or the other just as LK Advani was persuaded into withdrawing his resignation by RSS Sarsangchalak Mohan Bhagwat following Modi’s appointment as BJP Campaign Committee Chief earlier this year.

Modi’s meteoric rise among the political circles of India has already changed the dimensions of the Indian political spectrum but many are still wary of the saffron leader’s secular credentials and are calling for alignment of secular forces to take on the Hindutva hardliner. Here, we take a look at some of the controversial things done and said by the Gujarat CM which could very effectively be utilized to dampen Narendra Modi’s claims of “not just being the leader of Hindus”.

1. Praise of MS Golwalkar – MS Golwalkar served as the Sarsangchalak of the RSS for 33 continuous years. His three decade long journey with the socio-cultural organization generated many controversies. MS Golwalkar opined that the country had three problems: Muslims, Christians and Communists. He also stated, “In this land, Hindus have been owners, Parsis and Jews the guests and Muslims and Christians the Dacoits.” The current Hindu Hriday Samrat ie Narendra Modi has written an entire book dedicated to the life of MS Golwalkar titled ‘Shree Guruji: Ek Swayamsevak’. The hefty praise which Narendra Modi has laid on the controversial leader could well turn out to be very costly for him in the times to come.

2. Hum paanch, humare pachees – Narendra Modi mocked the Muslim community in one of his speeches during the Gujarat Gaurav Yatra held shortly after the carnage in Gujarat. He said, “What should we do? Run relief camps for them? Do we want to open baby producing centres? Hum paanch humare pachees (We are five and we will have 25 offsprings).

3. Ambedkar converted to Buddhism not Islam or Christianity – In April 2010, during the release of a book titled “Samajik Samarasta”, Narendra Modi said, “Ambedkar gave up Hinduism but did not convert to Muslim or Christianity. He converted to a religion, Buddhism which originated in Hindustan like Hinduism.”

4. Clash with ‘Christian’ CEC JM Lyngdoh – During a rally in Baroda, Narendra Modi hit out at former Chief Election Commissioner JM Lyngdoh for rejecting BJP’s demand for holding elections in the state of Gujarat in the aftermath of the 2002 riots. Modi made repeated references to his Christian background and his association with Sonia Gandhi for being the reason behind this well calculated move of the Election Commission. Unlike his past theatrics, this one did not go unnoticed and Prime Minister Vajpayee issued a statement pulling up the Gujarat CM for his denigration of the CEC. He said, “I am distressed by the undignified controversy involving the chief election commissioner and the chief minister of Gujarat in the context of the Assembly elections in Gujarat. Both are high Constitutional authorities and they must be given the respect that is their due.”

5. Statement Against Conversions: In a television interview to a Hindi news channel, Narendra Modi spoke of the need to ban conversions by stating that even Mahatma Gandhi was critical of the practise. However, when pressed upon to state his position in regards to reconversions to Hinduism, Modi said that there was no problem in connection to that as people ‘return to their old homes and it was a natural process’.

6. Miyan Musharraf – When erstwhile Pakistani dictator General Pervez Musharaf threatened raising the issue of Gujarat pogrom at the United Nations, Narendra Modi hit back by saying, “Stop doing this Miyan Musharraf or five crore people of Gujarat will chop off the hand which has this dirty finger which you are pointing towards Gujarat.”

References:
Golwalkar – The Guru of Hate by Ramachandra Guha
Concerned Citizens Tribunal – Gujarat 2002: An inquiry into the carnage of Gujarat

Weblinks:
Narendra’s Modi’s remarks despicable: Lyngdoh  http://www.rediff.com/news/2002/aug/23guj.htm

PM raps Modi for remarks on Lyngdog
http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2002-08-24/india/27319645_1_gujarat-chief-minister-james-michael-lyngdoh-improper-language

Narendra Modi on conversions
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0l2UAJG7EMU

Narendra Modi on BR Ambedkar’s Conversion
http://deshgujarat.com/2010/04/27/ambedkar-didnt-choose-islam-or-christianity-for-conversion/

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Advani’s Jan Chetna Yatra

Black money is a big concern and this concern was raised by veteran BJP leader LK Advani in his Jan Chetna Yatra. The Yatra wasn’t a big success but following that Mr Advani moved an adjournment motion against the Government in the Lok Sabha which was swiftly defeated by the Government. The debate on black money was a bit disappointing for me as it came to a very timid ending. Plus the response from both the Government and the Opposition wasn’t very encouraging. They were indulging in scoring political points instead of addressing the issue. Only a few looked really committed to the cause.

The first issue which was put on the table was the one concerning the revealing of the names of all those who had a Swiss Bank Account. The Government turned down the request and rightly so. The Government has got information of these accounts by means of international treaties which it signed alongside many countries. These treaties are governed by strict secrecy laws. The Government cannot make public the names of the account holders. If it will do so to fulfil the political appetite of a hungry Opposition, then it will violate an international treaty and won’t get any further information regarding accounts held by Indians in Swiss banks thus bringing to an end India’s search for its lost billions in the form of tax evasion. Naming the ones who feature on that list is not the solution to the problem. Effective measures need to be enacted to punish those who’ve committed the crime.

Secondly, the list also comprises of the names of a few legitimate account holders. The Government cannot make public the names of all those who have a legitimate bank account overseas. It would violate their privacy. In fact it cannot even make public the names of the illegitimate account holders because of (a) International treaties and secrecy agreements the treaty is governed by (As I stated earlier) (b) Because of citizen’s right to privacy. Recently a court in India instructed Delhi Traffic Police to stop posting the photographs of all those who broke traffic rules on Delhi Traffic Police’s Facebook page as it amounted to breach of privacy.

The second issue which was raised was regarding the amount of black money stashed abroad and the size of the Indian Black or Parallel or Shadow Economy. Organizations including the BJP Task Force have come up with estimates on this but it’s something which is based on assumptions rather than on facts and numbers. The Government has no record of this. It just has the names of those who have Swiss bank accounts, not the amount of money held inside them. The Government has assigned the job of predicting the amount of black money stashed abroad to a number of financial organizations operating under its umbrella. Mr Pranab Mukherjee, the Hon’ble Finance Minster, said that India entered into a pact with Switzerland in which they assured the Indian Government of prospective information in relation to Swiss Bank Accounts starting 1st April 2011 but denied them retrospective information in relation to bank accounts of Indians in their country. I side with the Government on this particular point too.

The third issue was regarding the steps taken by the Government to tackle this issue. I would like to criticize the Government a bit on this. Even though Mr Mukherjee highlighted the work done by the Government in relation to black money but I wasn’t convinced. Mr Mukherjee even promised Mr LK Advani a white paper on black money but that isn’t enough. He quoted financial experts who said that the Indian Government has made a huge progress within no time on this matter but the fact remains that there are serious loopholes. Till now the Government should have clearly categorized the names of the account holders under two categorizes, legitimate and illegitimate. The Government should have tried to analyze the accounts of all the illegitimate account holders. What kind of wealth (tax evaded money, ill gotten money, money earned by indulging in illegal businesses) could be inside that account? I am sorry to say that the Government hasn’t done that. The Government needs to expedite the process and progress immensely. The UPA Government cannot escape the blame by saying that the NDA during its regime did nothing about it. The UPA Government is a sovereign government with a great set of duties on its shoulders. It needs to operate with efficiency and honesty. It shouldn’t try to look out for an escapist route. They’ve been elected to address issues like these. If they’ll fail to do so then they’ll also be shown the door just like the NDA was by the electorate of India.