Nothing is more sickening than Bihar Chief Minister’s cheap attacks on Narendra Modi in recent times that reflect a mixture of rank jealousy, consuming hatred, massive ignorance of past history and pure selfishness of which one can find no parallel in India’s long and turbulent past. Nitish Kumar wants to capture the Muslim vote in his state by book or by crook. And he thinks that this is best acquired by targeting Modi as a blatant communalist. Most unjustly Modi is charged with inciting riots following the bestial killings of 55 plus innocent women and children in a Sabarmati Express coach at halt in Godhra. Deliberately forgotten is the fact that Modi had summoned army assistance to help control riots within 24 hours of the first incident. Two facts are forgotten, when Indira Gandhi was assassinated, Rajiv Gandhi took his own time to summon the Army.
Two, no Hindu was ever killed in the gruesome and deliberately organised anti-sikh riots. In Gujarat the riots took a heavy toll of Hindus as well. Nitish Kumar, it seems, has purposefully forgotten these facts. The trick is to paint Modi as a killer and thus make him detestable. Goebbels, Hitler’s propaganda minister would have surely applauded Nitish Kumar’ s technique, so closely associated with the Nazis. Over and over repetition of a lie raises it to believable truth.
What is appalling is Nitish Kumar’s praise for the skull cap that Muslims now wear-an example of determined communalism that deserves the strongest condemnation. It is as if the community is openly saying “We are Muslims, first and last. We are different from you. Realise it”. No more communal a stand can one envision. But Nitish Kumar wants Modi to accept it as a token of secularism! One does not know whether to laugh or cry at this idiocy, wearing a skull cap is a calculated assault on the oneness of India and is a rampant exhibition of separatism, which must be exposed. Do Hindus indulge in such sartorial displays? Do Christians? Or Jains or Buddhists or any other minority in the country?
Incidentally, since 1947 there have been riots after riots in India mostly in states administrated by – who else? – Congress, with Congress leaders serving as Chief Ministers. Think of the following: 1964 riots in Jamshedpur, Bihar. Numbers killed: 2000 (Chief Minister then was a Congressman K.B.Sahay). 1980 riots in Moradabad, Uttar Pradesh. Numbers killed 200 (C.M. V.P.Singh, Congress) 1969 riots in Ahmedabad: Numbers killed, 2000 (C.M. Hitendra Desai, Congress), 1983 riots in Nellie, Assam. Numbers killed 2,200 (C.M. Hiteshwar Saikia, Congress). Unofficial figures for those killed exceed 5,000. 1989 riots in Bhagalpur, Bihar: Numbers killed 1,150 (C.M. Bhagwat Jha Azad, Congress). Some 50,000 people were displaced and 11,500 houses torched. And property worth crores of rupees were destroyed.
One of the worst riots in the country took place in Mumbai 1992/1993 when over 1,788 people were killed and the Chief Minister was Sudhakarrao Naik, a Congressman. The 1984 anti-Sikh riots lasted fifteen days. It involved Congress politicians and police have got away. The 1987 Meerut riots lasted two months. It took a 13,000 strong Army detachment to restore peace.
Is Nitish Kumar aware of all those riots under Congress regimes At no time was any Chief Minister charged with dereliction of duty. But then they were all Congressmen. Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi himself turned a blind eye to the anti-Sikh riots claiming that when a large tree falls, the earth is shaken and no more impudent an excuse has ever been made. Rajiv Gandhi got away with it. And Jagdish Tytler is still free.
Nitish Kumar has to be put in his place and must be told in clear language that blackmailing in politics is not acceptable. A poll taken by the Times Group suggests that if elections are held tomorrow, neither the Congress nor the BJP will get the required majority to assume power. Further, according to the poll, between them, the non-Congress and non-BJP political parties will get 272 seats. The king-makers will be Jayalalitha, Mamata Bannerjee, Mayawati and Orissa’s Biju Patnaik and a worse tragedy would be hard to imagine, if Nitish Kumar joins the gang.
The BJP has three options: Give up Narendra Modi as NDA’s Prime Ministerial candidate to retain JDU support. Retain Modi and risk losing JDU – and, by implication the chance of capturing power – to maintain one’s self-respect. BJP, needless to say, has already told off Nitish Kumar in no uncertain terms. Considering that in normal circumstances the election is scheduled to be held a year later, there is time for the BJP to re-invent itself and present a united face, Nitish Kumar notwithstanding, to capture the nation’s heart.
Narendra Modi popularity is on the rise, especially among the young and women. BJP can survive Nitish Kumar’s invidious duplicity. But the Times Group poll must be taken as an early morning warning to BJP to pull up its socks. Intra-party differences must be settled and it may be a wise thing for Sushma Swaraj to call up Uddhav Thackeray and tell him that she is not interested in getting nominated to the Prime Ministership.
The Shiv Sena is attempting to divide the BJP. Modi’s stature should get increasing support and he must be told to go on a nation-wide tour, just as Jawaharlal Nehru did prior to the 1937 general elections, to win the hearts of people by his sheer personal presence. It will work. But it is going to be tough assignment.
Gujarat need not necessarily be presented as a model for economic development. But consider this: In 2001, the per capita income in Gujarat was Rs: 17,227. Now it is Rs 57,508. In Bihar the same PCI in 2005 was Rs 7,914 and now it is Rs 15, 268. The poverty rate in Gujarat in 2001 was 23%, now it is 16.8% – a solid achievement. In Bihar, in 2005 it was 54.4%, now it is 53.1%. In Gujarat, in 2001, the upper primary School drop-out rate was 37.22% now it is a low 7.9% whereas in Bihar, in 2005 if that rate was a high 74.69%, now it is 55.14%.
In Gujarat in 2001 the investment in industry was to the amount of Rs. 66,068 crore but now it is a mighty Rs 2,005,000 crore. In Bihar the same in 2005 was Rs 40,730 crore and now it is Rs 319,000 crore. In 2001 in Gujarat the installed power capacity was 4,888 MW while now it is 23,437 MW. In Bihar in 2005 the same installed power capacity was a mere 598MW while now it is 1,850 MW. Do these figures mean anything?
Nitish Kumar is free to play to the gallery, but he is only becoming a figure of ridicule. The man cannot hold a candle to Modi and the sooner he is exposed, the better will be for all concerned. India has to be saved from the ravages the UPA has wrought and Modi, it must be made clear, is the one who could do it.