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October 28, 2007
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October 28, 2007

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Home > 2007 Issues > October 28, 2007

[We reproduce the report in The Telegraph on a film on Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi.]

?BJP settles Bengal score on screen?

The BJP has rubbed salt into the Left?s Nandigram wounds with a propaganda film that paints Narendra Modi?s Gujarat as a peaceful, industrially thriving state and contrasts it with a violent, hartal-cursed Bengal.

The film highlights the unrest in Bengal over industrialisation and special economic zones, implying obliquely that Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee?s state is more violence-prone than riot-tainted Gujarat.

It appears to scoff at Bhattacharjee?s drive for industry by saying Bengal?s small industries are dying and that the state accounts for 60 per cent of the mandays lost to strikes in India.

The film quotes Mukesh Ambani as saying: ?We have lost not even one manday in Gujarat.?

Bengal labour secretary Subesh Das said the figure of 60 per cent was ?an exaggeration?.

But the film, screened for the media at the BJP headquarters at New Delhi, has another punch to land. Ratan Tata, who has faced mob resistance to his small-car plant in Singur, is quoted as saying: ?Gujarat is the most progressive state.?

Congress-ruled Maharashtra, too, is shown in poor light but the film is harshest about Bengal, the CPM?s vaunted ?oasis of peace?.

One of the BJP?s obvious aims in shooting India Tomorrow: The Gujarat Miracle is to get back at the communists for their attacks on Modi over the 2002 riots, which are not mentioned at all.

Months after the riots, the Bengal government had tried to embarrass Modi by inviting and rehabilitating Qutubuddin Ansari, the tailor who had become the face of the pogrom after he was photographed with pleading, fearful eyes and folded hands.

Ansari set up a tailoring shop in Calcutta with government help and was paraded at meetings where he contrasted peaceful, harmonious Bengal with Modi?s Gujarat. His business didn?t do well, however, and he returned to Gujarat two years later.

In Calcutta, CPM leaders said the Gujarat genocide could not be compared with the violence in Nandigram and Singur. ?Two thousand people died in the Gujarat violence and the Modi government faced strictures from the apex court,? a leader said.

?So far as the data are concerned, it?s a figment of imagination,? Nilotpal Basu, a CPM central secretariat member, said.

The film makes no mention of Hindutva, and Modi stays away from anti-Muslim harangues. BJP leaders? rhetoric is given the go-by and the film tries to make its point by quoting business leaders, journalists, bureaucrats, professionals and ordinary citizens.

Kumarmangalam Birla is shown praising Modi?s dynamic leadership, and commerce minister Kamal Nath says: ?When we showcase India, we showcase Gujarat.?

The Godhra train is never shown. As the film talks about the opposition to Modi from some among the highly educated, the background picture is of fake-encounter victim Sohrabuddin Sheikh.

Modi is shown boasting that the whole of Gujarat is one SEZ. ?In Gujarat, ?s? stands for spirituality, ?e? for entrepreneurship and ?z? for zing,? he says.

(Courtesy: The Telegraph, October 14, 2007)

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