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.”
Golwalkar – The Guru of Hate by Ramachandra Guha
Concerned Citizens Tribunal – Gujarat 2002: An inquiry into the carnage of Gujarat
Narendra’s Modi’s remarks despicable: Lyngdoh http://www.rediff.com/news/2002/aug/23guj.htm
PM raps Modi for remarks on Lyngdog
Narendra Modi on conversions
Narendra Modi on BR Ambedkar’s Conversion