Gujarat Today, And Tomorrow…?


Gujarat Today, And Tomorrow…?

Chatterjee, Ashoke

This is the morning after the night before. As I write, newscasters are announcing the sweep to power in Gujarat’s mid-term elections of Narendra Modi, riding a wave of right-wing rhetoric that has enormous portents for India’s future. Mr Modi came to power about a year ago, selected by the high command of his Bharatiya Janata Party (the BJP, which leads India’s ruling coalition: the National Democratic Front) to strengthen the party’s hold over Gujarat. This was after state after state had rejected the BJP, leaving Gujarat as its sole bastion. Gujarat had suffered the devastating January 2001earthquake, and two years of drought. Anxiety and tension have been high, fueled by the ruling party’s relentless support to those who promote the notion of India as a “Hindu state”. Their projection of the Muslim minority as a pro-Pakistan, terrorist Trojan Horse has drawn liberally on. September 11 and the events that followed it, including the attack on India’s Parliament House last December. All these have been cleverly manipulated to reinforce a sense of siege among Hindus, demanding an end to “appeasement” of potential traitors. Coalition politics have meant that BJP leaders in New Delhi, particularly Prime Minister  Atal Behari Vajpayee and his Deputy, L K Advani, have to play the role of moderates. Militant rhetoric has been largely left to the Rashtriya Sevak Samaj (RSS) and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), the BJP’s ‘sympathisers’ who are also its storm troops. The main pot kept on the boil by the RSS and the VHP has been their demand for a Ram temple on the site of the Ba...


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