Narendra Modi, perhaps one of the most polarizing figures in India political history. The name itself evokes hope and contempt at the same time subject to the listener. After all the man boasts of economic miracles under him which may or may not overshadow a glaring black spot, the 2002 Gujarat riots. It is imperative to talk about the riots which occurred 12 years ago whenever you talk about Modi. The hype around his anti-secular credentials means he will always have to carry this weight of persecution with him. The longest-serving chief minister of Gujarat, the most favorite Prime Ministerial candidate of the country has a charismatic persona which can woo most of his observers.
He is feared by a section of the society for his dictatorial attitude, so oft described by his biographers as a quality acquired during his childhood. His term in office has brought out his stubbornness, frustrating most of his colleagues. So much so that the party had to ban him from Gujarat to stop him from interfering in the erstwhile government, which he wasn’t even a part of. When he got the job of leading Gujarat, Gujarat was a relatively poor state, lacked infrastructure, rocked by religious tension every now and then and was recently overcoming a devastating earthquake. Under his leadership, the state underwent a major transformation. Growth shot up, agricultural production went through the roof and Gujarat became the only power-surplus state in the country. However, the ghost of the 2002 riots never left him. It is alleged that his decision to parade the bodies of the kar sevaks, who died in the Godhra train massacre, incited violence throughout the state. Some good Samaritans then knocked the doors of the Supreme Court for justice which instituted an SIT for the purpose. Since then, the SIT hasn’t found enough evidence to prosecute him and the Supreme Court has quashed petitions to review this inquiry. Must we, as so-called wise citizens, proclaim a man, acquitted by the Supreme Court, as guilty? Who are we to question the wisdom of the Courts?
What must be seen is that after 2002, in the last 12 years, there haven’t been mass murders and large-scale riots, which occurred so frequently in the religiously polarized state in yesteryear. Nothing can be obtained by harping on this subject and opening old wounds. Convictions have taken place unlike other riots and even prominent personalities have been jailed.
Some people see it fit to tarnish the reputation of a prominent and prospective leader vying for the top job. The fact remains that Modi projects perhaps the least malicious government after a disastrous UPA term. Foreign media criticizes us for prioritizing growth over secularism. The Congress government has shown that it is incapable and clueless when it comes to managing the economy. Nor does it occupy the moral high ground when it comes to secularism. It is pseudo-secular at best. It has no clues about inflation, CAD or GDP. So what option does the predominantly youth populace have. Do we sacrifice a better standard of living, jobs and economic growth because of an incident that took place 12 years ago? Do we hold responsible a person, with an immaculate growth record, for something that the Supreme Court believes he didn’t do? Shouldn’t we be held in contempt if we doubt the judgment of the Court? It is important to realize that as Indians are at a major crossroads in our life. A slowing economy must be revived soon enough for our billion plus population to prosper. It depends on the voters to choose the right man for the job. India has bigger fish to fry than harping on the past.