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Mainstream, VOL XLIX, No 49, November 26, 2011

Narendra Modi adds a New Lesson to the Fundamentalists’ History

Sunday 27 November 2011

by ANAND MUTTUNGAL

The constitutional experts say that the Chief Minister who rules the State on behalf of the Governor before going for a fast in any nature will have to seek the permission from the Governor; if the Governor refuses permission then he /she has to resign to take up fasting. It is not clear whether the Chief Minister has obtained permission. Whatever may be the constitutional position, Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi began his fast with the words: “May God give me strength to not to have any bitterness or vengeance ever for anyone.” We must remember that these are the words of the man who spit venom against the minorities. He built up for himself a hardcore Hindutva image. A good number of people in the country believe that he sponsored the country’s worst communal riots since independence in 1947. The 2002 riots claimed more than 2500 lives, mostly Muslims.

Even though a considerable number of Muslims, a few Christians and Sikhs were present at the venue of the fast, the Muslim clerics from Lucknow called it a political stunt and made it clear that the community will not forgive him for his alleged role in the riots. It is a fact that most politicians and secular activists in the country call it an effort by him to reinvent himself as a national leader fit for the top job in the country. The branded Hindutva-poster boy further said: “We want to move together and sadbhavana (harmony) will be our strength. Development is our only motto. We will be a model for the world on how development can be achieved with peace, harmony and brotherhood..… unity, peace and harmony have a major role to play in our success, our development.” It sounds like the Confession of St. Augustine who wrote after his conversion: “Too late, have I loved Thee, O Beauty so ancient and so new.”

Probably it might give a lesson to those who directly promote violence and those who indirectly support it by pretending to be initiating action against the perpetrators of violence. It is not only that the Muslims are being targeted but Christians, Dalits and Scheduled Castes too. The political equation in the country reveals that the North-East, Kerala, UP, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Orissa, Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra etc. have a decisive role for the minorities. Even though the opponents interpret Modi’s fast as politically motivated, it has a strong point worth noting—that to rule this country political parties need the support of the minority communities. It might be true that he realised this a bit earlier than we thought because usually leaders comprehend only after God uses the stick silently upon them.

WHAT is important to be noted is that whether his fast is the result of his genuine repentance or political stunt, it is clear that anyone who wants to be the real leader has to shun violence. Violence will not yield long-term results. He has realised that violence has no place in the country. It is very easy to create a fundamentalist image but it makes more foes than friends. We have two types of leaders, one purely fundamentalist, the other fundamentalist in the garb of secular attire in the secular organisations, and both use the opportunist officials. I believe that both will take this expert advice from Narendra Modi.

It can also be interpreted as the faith of a sinner who undergoes mental tension and depression; then he decides to turn to the mercy of God for forgiveness and absolution from his grave sins committed against the innocents. So that he can start afresh a new life dedicated to serve the people regardless of creed, class and caste. It gives us hope that all those fundamentalists who used violence to harm and kill innocents too may undertake fast and ask for forgiveness. Let the whole world call it a political stunt but in the coming days the so-called sadbhavana (communal harmony) concept projected by Modi is going to be playing a central part in the religio-political history of India.

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