Why Modi Should Go

Mr Modi failed his constitutional and moral obligations

Tehelka has carried out a sting operation in which many of the accused in Gujarat 2002 have recounted in grisly details the horrible killings, rioting and rapes which marked one of the worst riots in modern India. The B.J.P has reacted characteristically, dismissing Tehelka’s findings as a hatchet job, and has linked it to the impending elections in Gujarat.

Tehelka’s ideological leanings are also well known and so is its closeness to the Congress party. It is also true that most of the rioters haven’t directly named Modi–rather, they have implicated themselves. No doubt, Tehelka’s claim of ”irrefutable proof” must be taken with the pinch of salt and it is quite likely that none of the evidence will stand the test in a court of law.

But does that absolve Modi?

What is the primary responsibility of the state vis-a-vis its citizens? It is to secure and guarantee the life and liberty of its citizens. Equally, in times of strife, the state must be a neutral arbiter–indeed a moral one–which makes no distinction between its citizens. It must strive to secure justice for all. A state which fails to fulfill this function loses the moral authority to govern.

Therefore, it is useless nitpicking to examine if Modi actually gave the orders for the riots; whether the police was explicitly asked to stand by while hundreds were butchered in acts of senseless and wanton violence. The point is that Modi could have done more–much more. He chose not to. Most of those who have been implicated in the riots were men who held high positions in Modi’s government or in his party. It is difficult to believe that an efficient administrator like Modi would be completely unaware of the situation at hand. Yet, he remained silent. Why?

But what is more galling is Modi’s refusal to come to terms with what has happened. He may have reinvented himself as ”Mr development”, his rhetoric may have changed to Gujarat’s asmita, but it is doubtful that if he is any different from the Modi of 2002. Has he ever taken any pro-active role in punishing the rioters? Has he admitted to his administrative failures? Instead, he has attempted to paint the riots as something which happened eons ago and which simply doesn’t matter anymore. But surely the process of forgetting–of reconciliation–would be much harder for those who suffered during the riots. Modi has done absolutely nothing to ease the process.

Many of my friends on the Right (and indeed on INI) endorse Modi brand of politics. It is regretful. Notwithstanding Modi’s administrative acumen and pro-market policies, he can never emerge as the mascot of the Indian Right. After all, the starting point of any such movement must be respect for the individual irrespective of his community allegiance. A chief minister who presided over an administration where people were killed only for the religion they professed can never lead a movement which would place the individual at the pinnacle.

Modi brand of politics with its emphasis on hatred, its violation of constitutional guarantees and obligations, and its utter disregard for the sanctity of human life is dangerous for India’s future.

It is high time Mr Modi is asked to leave.

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