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Saturday, 15 March 2014

The Moral Line of No Return

The Moral Line of No Return

The Hypocrisy of “Secular” Commentators

Written by Dr. Seshadri Kumar, 15 March, 2014

Copyright © Dr. Seshadri Kumar.  All Rights Reserved.

For other articles by Dr. Seshadri Kumar, please visit http://www.leftbrainwave.com

Disclaimer: All the opinions expressed in this article are the opinions of Dr. Seshadri Kumar alone and should not be construed to mean the opinions of any other person or organization, unless explicitly stated otherwise in the article.

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Abstract

There have been concerted attempts to portray Narendra Modi as a villain responsible for the 2002 killings.  These continue even after Mr. Modi’s exoneration by the Supreme Court of India.  There are two wrong conclusions that are consistently floated:
  1. That if Narendra Modi were to actually become the PM in 2014, India would "cross the moral line of no return," and
  2. That even if we were to accept Modi as not having orchestrated the riots, his failure to prevent them makes him ineligible.
In this article, I show how both these statements are hypocritical, because India has had several major riots in the past, in which important political leaders, including past prime ministers and chief ministers, were both clearly implicated as well as shown to be incompetent in controlling the violence.  Yet, they were often voted again to power and hardly faced any criticism in the media for their complicity or failure to control the riots.

If none of these past leaders were judged ineligible at the time for either having orchestrated riots or other atrocities, or having failed to control riots, or both, then there is no reason why Narendra Modi would be ineligible for the Prime Ministership in 2014 because of the 2002 riots.

Therefore, it is very clear that those who accuse Modi of either having orchestrated the 2002 riots or blame him for the failure to control it are being hypocritical.  Their criticisms can safely be ignored as political posturing and be seen as bereft of any principle and any rational or moral force.  The only reason for these criticisms is political – a dislike for the BJP and an objection to the BJP assuming power.

Executive Summary

In the last two years, a focused attempt has been made by many self-styled “secular” people who are opposed to the ever-increasing likelihood of a BJP-led government at the centre.  These people print blog posts, publish media articles and participate in TV debates to argue that since the 2002 riots occurred under Narendra Modi’s watch, and since Modi is likely to become Prime Minister if the BJP comes to power, India is set to experience a period of religious intolerance and bigotry, and that Muslims will have much to fear under a Modi-led BJP government.

The central underpinning of these arguments is the assumption that the 2002 riots were unprecedented in religious violence, and that negligence of the kind seen in 2002 is also unprecedented; and therefore those in responsible positions who either orchestrated these riots or failed to control them are ineligible to become Prime Minister of India.

I use 9 case studies to disprove this thesis:

1.                   The 1969 Ahmedabad Riots (Hitendra Desai, Indira Gandhi)
2.                  The 1975-77 Emergency involving Indira Gandhi
3.                  The 1980 Moradabad Massacre involving VP Singh
4.                  The 1983 Nellie Massacre involving Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi
5.                  The 1984 anti-Sikh pogrom involving Rajiv Gandhi
6.                  The 1987 Meerut riots involving Rajiv Gandhi
7.                  The 1989 Bhagalpur riots involving Rajiv Gandhi
8.                 The 1990 Hyderabad riots involving Rajasekhara Reddy
9.                  The 2012 Kokrajhar (Assam) riots involving Sonia Gandhi

In all these events, the principal people who were responsible, either for instigating riots or other atrocities, or failing to act appropriately to stop the riots, or both, faced almost no consequences for their sins of commission or omission.  Many of them (e.g., Indira Gandhi, VP Singh, and Rajiv Gandhi) went on to win elections that led to them being elected Prime Minister later; Rajasekhara Reddy went on to become a two-time chief minister, and the most popular chief minister, of Andhra Pradesh.

Equally importantly, no one in the media ever accused any of these principals of having led India to cross a “moral line of no return” in the way Narendra Modi has been repeatedly accused of having done in spite of their (in some cases repeated) failures.  The common denominator in all these cases is that the principals in them belonged to the national party that likes to call itself “secular.”  This is clear evidence of a double standard among the “secular” commentators; their claim that sins committed by the so-called “secular” parties, such as the Congress, are not sins; faults of “non-secular” parties, such as the BJP, will make India cross a “moral line of no return” and push India down the slippery slope of communal hatred and endless violence that will split asunder the country.

It is this hypocrisy that this article uncovers.

Introduction

In a recent debate on facebook about Narendra Modi, one of my FB friends shared an article by a young American dilettante on India.  The article was provocatively titled “India crosses the moral line of no return if Narendra Modi becomes prime minister.”  The central point of the article is captured in the closing paragraph: “If you truly believe Modi is innocent, then you are excused. You then only have to reconcile with having a prime minister who is obviously incompetent at maintaining law and order in a nation where Naxals abound and multiple secessionist movements are ongoing. But if you believe he may be guilty of either ordering the riots or not preventing them, then you cannot comfortably ignore that judgment just because it is convenient to your privileged view of India’s future. To do so is nothing less than cowardice.”

This piece and its conclusions are complete nonsense, but the author is not alone in peddling this kind of inconsistent trash.  Many so-called, self-styled “intellectuals” in India pride themselves on bandying this brand of dishonest morality; including, unfortunately, my good friend.  I will explain why this is so and why their acceptance and preaching of this kind of logic is nothing but hypocrisy.

First, a word about the author of this piece is in order.  This is written by a certain Thane Richard (Thane rhyming with sane, not with the place Thane in Maharashtra), an American who is young enough to have gotten his BA in 2009 in the USA, who then suddenly developed an affinity for India and decided to visit India in 2009, then decided he knew more about India and its entire independent history than all Indians; enough to start preaching about India to its own people.  I don’t know if Mr. Richard has given up his American citizenship for an Indian one, so I find his statement in the above article that “For myself, I don’t want to cast my vote for someone who requires that learning curve at all” quite puzzling – Mr. Richard, are you even eligible to cast your vote in India?

I found it ironic that my friend would choose to quote Mr. Richard to support his own position, which I think is identical to Richard’s, considering that my friend is on the same side as Rajiv Malhotra, who resents the arrogance of foreigners who talk down to Indians about their own traditions, practices, and thought processes on the basis of half-baked knowledge.  Reading Mr. Richard’s article makes it amply clear that this gentleman has extremely limited knowledge of India’s political history, and chooses to make very broad generalizations on the basis of this narrow knowledge base.

Now, I wouldn’t pay any attention to this kind of swill, had it not been that Indians (or people of Indian origin, such as my good friend) who should have more confidence in themselves, choose to judge themselves by the yardstick of someone who doesn’t even understand India (or maybe my friend and his RSS/BJP-hating ilk will reach for anyone who echo their own beliefs, no matter how questionable their credentials).  

In addition, Richard’s article is guilty of doublespeak, for he doesn’t recognize the same contradictions that he mentions within his own country, America.  America has a long history of moral ambiguity and dubiousness.  Just as an example, their presidents routinely lie to their own people in order to conduct wars on foreign soil, sacrifice American lives for big corporate interests, and violate international law and the sovereignty of independent nations; and yet the American people re-elect them again and again.  One could write a series of articles about how hollow the American public’s morality is.  

But I will restrain myself, as the purpose of this article is to discuss Indian politics, not American.  However, I must mention that it is easy to talk sanctimoniously when you are judging another country, as Mr. Richard has done, especially when the residents of that country (India in this case) have no mind of their own and are intellectual slaves.

So, to the substance of my argument.  What did Mr. Thane Richard get wrong?

Before I address that, let me correct a misperception that my friend seems to have had in the preface to the article he posted, which I reproduce below: 

Some of my friends, like Seshadri Kumar, truly believe that Modi is innocent. Such people are not the subject of this article. What the author is pointing out is the danger of the moral vacuum that makes voters decide that economic considerations trump basic morality.

As can be seen, my friend said that I was convinced that Modi was not guilty and so this article does not apply to me.  Let me clarify this a bit.

Modi’s innocence in the 2002 riots is NOT A MATTER OF BELIEF.  Thane Richard and my friend both overlook this central fact.  He has been exonerated by none other than the Supreme Court of India.  This is a closed chapter.  So it is not that I, Kumar, believe that Modi is innocent; the Supreme Court of India believes it, and what the honourable Supreme Court believes is good enough for me, even though it may not be good enough for my friend or for Thane.  For those who respond to this by saying that Modi’s innocence is only legal, I will respond with Jack Nicholson’s priceless line from “A Few Good Men”: “Is there any other kind?”

Next, to the meat of Thane’s argument: that if you believe Modi was either guilty of orchestrating the riots or incompetent in controlling them, but still support Modi, your morality is suspect, for you are putting economic greed over morals.  And the very title of his piece: “India crosses the moral line of no return if Narendra Modi becomes PM.” 

Really?  Let’s take a few examples from Indian history (other than Gujarat 2002), shall we, and see how uninformed this statement really is?

Case 1: The 1969 Ahmedabad Riots, Hitendra Desai, and Indira Gandhi

In 1969, Hindu-Muslim riots took place in Ahmedabad under the rule of Congress Chief Minister Hitendra Desai.  The riots resulted in the deaths of 660 people (officially; more than 2000 dead unofficially).  One of the important reasons for the high death toll was the fact that state policemen looked on without taking any action as mobs were busy killing Muslims.  This was noted by the Justice Jaganmohan Reddy Commission which was formed to investigate the riots afterwards.  I quote from the Wikipedia page:

“It found around six instances of Muslim religious places adjoining police lines or police stations being attacked or damaged. The police defended themselves claiming these police stations did not have adequate strength since the forces were busy quelling the riots at other places. However, the Commission refused to entertain this argument, since there was no report of damage to a Hindu place of worship near any police station.”

In other words, the state was complicit in the violence.  Also from the same Wikipedia page:

“The journalist Ajit Bhattacharjea accused the police of not taking any “firm action for the first three days", and stated that "this was not a matter of slackness but policy.”  An unnamed senior Congress leader told him that their government was reluctant to use force because it was afraid of losing power to Jan Sangh in the next elections in case it did so.”

There have also been widespread rumors of a conspiracy theory, that Mrs. Indira Gandhi, who was the Prime Minister at the time, deliberately engineered the riots to bring down Hitendra Desai, because he was closely allied with Morarji Desai at the time, who was an important rival to Mrs. Gandhi.

But, in spite of all this, what was the fallout for either Hitendra Desai or Indira Gandhi?  None whatsoever.  Desai did not have to quit his chief ministership; in fact, he was chosen to serve for another term starting in 1971.  The Gujarat Congress web page proudly highlights Mr. Desai as one of their past chief ministers.  Should we conclude that the Gujarat people and the Congress party chose winnability over morality?  We probably should. 

Was the moral line of no return crossed when Hitendra Desai not only did not resign but took oath again as chief minister after the riots?

Case 2: The Emergency (1975-77) and Indira Gandhi

The founder of the current Congress Party, Indira Gandhi, committed electoral fraud in winning the Allahabad election in 1975.  When this was determined by the Allahabad HC, she decided to impose the emergency to avoid going to jail; then passed laws that would make it impossible for her to go to jail for her crimes; imprisoned all the political leaders of the opposition and suspended democracy; started a massive, forced sterilization programme that targeted Muslim men – this programme forced 5.4 million Muslim men to get sterilized against their will; illegally detained, imprisoned, and tortured tens of thousands that Mrs. Gandhi and her henchmen or henchwomen had a score to settle with; abused government media like Doordarshan and All-India Radio by subverting them for government propaganda; carried out a forced eviction of slum-dwellers in Delhi, fired on those who protested, killing at least 150, and displacing 70,000; and many more unpardonable crimes.

Yet, within just over 2 years, Mrs. Gandhi was again re-elected to office after the Janata Party collapsed due to internal frissions.  What should we make of this?  Shall we say that the Indian public put political stability over morals?  Where was the so-called Indian intellectual’s outrage over morality then?  Many of the people who make a living criticizing Modi today were strong supporters of Mrs. Gandhi in 1980.  What about hypocrisy then?

Where were all these defenders of human rights and upholders of Indian morality when Indira Gandhi was elected to power in 1980 despite her crimes?  Where was their sense of moral outrage then that is so much in evidence whenever Modi is mentioned?

Was the moral line of no return crossed when Mrs. Indira Gandhi was sworn in as Prime Minister in 1980 in spite of her crimes during the emergency? 

Case 3: The Moradabad Massacre of 1980 and VP Singh

The Moradabad Massacre of 1980, which happened under the rule of VP Singh as Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, was a massacre initiated by Muslims in Moradabad and Aligarh over the presence of a pig in a prayer area, and led to the killing of at least 400 people (official count), whereas the unofficial estimate is over 2500. 

An enquiry committee, the Justice Saxena (of Allahabad HC) Committee was constituted to look into the violence; the report indicted Muslim groups and VP Singh for the violence. 

The fact that VP Singh was held responsible for the deaths of at least 400 people did not seem to hinder his political progress one bit; he went on to become, in turn, the Finance Minister and Defence Minister in Rajiv Gandhi’s cabinet, and then on to become Prime Minister after the 1989 elections

I do not recall a single person saying that his involvement or incompetence in handling terror in the Moradabad riots made him ineligible to hold public office, or that people who voted for him were bereft of morality. In fact, it was all quickly forgotten and VP Singh became a hero when, as finance minister, he conducted raids on Ambani and Amitabh Bachchan.

But Mr. Modi can lead Gujarat to 12 years without a single riot in the state, and to great prosperity, and critics like Thane Richard will claim that he is unfit to be PM because the 2002 riots occurred under his watch.  This is not called morality; it is called hypocrisy.

Case 4: The Nellie Massacre of 1983, Indira, and Rajiv Gandhi

In 1983, local tribesmen in Assam conducted a pogrom directed at Muslims in the village of Nellie who were suspected of being illegal immigrants from Bangladesh.  The violence was brutal in the extreme, and it is suspected that more than 5000 people were killed in a 6-hour period.  The massacre happened in the backdrop of the Assam Agitation, which was directed against illegal Bangladeshi immigration in Assam.  The principal political players were the All-Assam Students Union (AASU) and the All-Assam Gana Sangram Parishad (AAGSP), and after a protracted struggle, they got the Indian government, under then-Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, to agree to the well-known Assam Accord of 1985, an accord which gave favoured status to those who were regarded as original residents of Assam.

Assam was under President’s Rule at the time of the massacre, which makes Indira Gandhi, who was the PM at the time, directly responsible for the massacre.  But neither Indira Gandhi nor the Assam Parties paid a price for the massacre.  The AASU and the AAGSP merged afterward to form a political party called the Asom Gana Parishad, which has won elections twice in Assam.  No one ever said that Indira Gandhi should quit political life because the worst pogrom in India occurred under her watch; nor that Rajiv Gandhi should quit politics and go to jail for shielding the criminals who conducted the pogrom; nor that the AGP should apologize for the attack or for shielding the culprit tribals.  In fact, as part of the Assam Accord, the Government agreed to drop all charges against those accused of perpetrating this massacre.  As one of the principals involved in the Assam Accord, Rajiv Gandhi is directly responsible for letting the murderers of more than 5000 people go scot-free; and, as the person in charge of Assam, Indira Gandhi is directly responsible for failing to stop the killing of up to 5000 people.

I have not heard “intellectuals” say that Rajiv Gandhi, and the party he represented, the Congress, should have quit politics as a measure of apology towards the victims of the Nellie massacre, whom he disenfranchised by even dropping all charges against the murderers who killed them in the interest of political expediency. 

Has Mr. Richard even heard of the Nellie massacre when he says that Indians will cross the moral line of no return if they elect Modi?

Case 5: The 1984 Riots and Rajiv Gandhi

Mrs. Gandhi was assassinated in 1984 for leading the storming and desecration of Sikhism’s holiest shrine, the Golden Temple, earlier that year.  Her son, Rajiv Gandhi, who was hurriedly sworn in as PM following her death, orchestrated riots (or failed to control) widespread riots in New Delhi and elsewhere in North India, that led to the deaths of (officially) nearly 3000 Sikhs (unofficial figures are as high as 10,000).   When questioned about the riots, which were allowed to continue unabated for 3 days after Mrs. Gandhi’s killing, Rajiv Gandhi said, in what must be one of the most indifferent and cynical reactions to genocide in any democratic country, “When a giant tree falls, the earth must shake.” 

In spite of all this, in the elections in December 1984, Mr. Gandhi received a massive mandate from the Indian people.  What should we make of this?  It was widely suggested that Mr. Gandhi won the election because of a “sympathy vote” – a feeling of sympathy for him because his mother had been so brutally murdered.  So, is it okay for people to overlook morality if feelings of sympathy interfere?  Or is it okay only if these feelings of sympathy pertain to the Gandhi family, the first family of Indian politics?

Moreover, many of the principals from that event are still active in Indian politics; none of the major Congress politicians who orchestrated the 1984 pogrom was ever punished; two high-profile Congressmen, Jagdish Tytler and Sajjan Kumar, recently got off scot-free when the government-controlled Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) concluded that they did not have adequate evidence to prosecute them; one of the ministers in the current Congress cabinet, Mr. Kamal Nath, was alleged in court testimony by victims to have personally directed mobs to the homes of Sikhs to be murdered.  Mr. Nath was indicted by the Nanavati Commission, formed to investigate the 1984 riots; but no action was taken against him.

To date, I have never seen an article saying that Mr. Rajiv Gandhi was unfit to hold the office of Prime Minister in 1984 because his hands were stained with the blood of Sikhs by any of India’s so-called liberals or its army of human rights activists, living both in India or abroad (such as my good friend).  I have not heard anyone saying or read anyone writing that, in view of the fact that today’s Congress organization is materially the same as that which governed in 1984, this party had no right to rule the country in all the years that it has been in power since then.

Had Thane Richard even heard about the 1984 riots before he concluded that Modi was morally unfit to be PM?

Case 6: The Meerut Riots in 1987 and Rajiv Gandhi

The Meerut Riots of 1987 were the direct result of the Babri Masjid controversy, and led to the deaths of an estimated 400 people, between Hashimpura, Malliana, and Moradnagar
While the Babri Masjid controversy is taken by most people who are ignorant of history to be only associated with the BJP, the RSS, and the VHP, due to their central role in its destruction, few also know that the match that lit the tinderbox that would lead to thousands of deaths in India in the years since 1986 was thrown by none other than Rajiv Gandhi, who was the Prime Minister of India.  Mr. Gandhi can therefore be held responsible for all the violence that stemmed from the Babri Masjid dispute in the following 10 years and the ill-feeling that continues even today.

A little background is necessary to understand why this is so.  The Ram Janmabhoomi had been a disputed site for a long time because it was the site of a mosque built by the Moghul emperor Babar on the site of an existing temple by demolishing the temple.  The temple was claimed to be the birthplace of the Hindu God Rama.  For centuries the site had remained out of bounds to Hindus.  In 1949 a group of Hindus installed idols of Rama and Sita in the temple premises, but the Union Government quickly reacted and locked up the place.

This was the situation for decades until the early 1980s, when the Hindu right began demanding that the locks be removed.  The matter went to court, and a district court judge ruled in 1986 that the locks should be opened.  Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, in his eagerness to garner the Hindu vote and not lose the initiative to the BJP/VHP/RSS, decided not to fight the case even in the UP High Court, let alone the Supreme Court.  Within a matter of hours of the verdict in the district court, the Rajiv Gandhi government ordered the locks on the Babri Masjid opened.  It was again, Rajiv Gandhi, who gave permission (through the Uttar Pradesh government, which was Congress-ruled) for the VHP to perform a shilanyas (stone-laying ceremony) at the site in 1989, which, in turn, triggered LK Advani’s Rath Yatra, which would lead to an explosion of violence in the following years.

But that was in the future.  The immediate consequence of Rajiv Gandhi giving the order to open the locks of the Babri Masjid for Hindus to pray in 1986 was that riots, instigated by Shahi Imam Syed Abdullah Bukhari, began in Meerut in February 1987, in the locality of Hashimpura, where an estimated 100 people were killed.  The Muslims were opposed by the Hindus, who were supported by the local police and Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC) in this armed fight. 

The PAC also revenged themselves on the Muslims in Maliana and Moradnagar, where this supposed government law-and-order agency actively massacred more than 180 people in Maliana and more than 100 people in Moradnagar.  The Chief Minister of UP at the time was Vir Bahadur Singh of the Congress, and the violence was a direct result of inflammatory actions by the Prime Minister, Mr. Rajiv Gandhi.  Mr. Vir Bahadur Singh faced no punitive action for allowing the Meerut riots to happen; instead, after the completion of his term as CM, he was rewarded by moving to the centre to become Union Minister of Communication.

As for Rajiv Gandhi, he was awarded the Bharat Ratna.

Case 7: The Bhagalpur Riots, 1989, and Rajiv Gandhi

The Bhagalpur riots were among the worst post-partition riots in Indian history at the time, leading to the deaths of 1070 people, injuring 524 people, and displacing 48,000.

The riots happened during the tenure of Congress Chief Minister Satyendra Narain Sinha.  The background again was the Ram Janmabhoomi controversy, which led to tensions in the city when a Hindu procession shouting anti-Muslim slogans such as “Hindustan is for Hindus; Mullahs go to Pakistan” went through a Muslim-dominated neighbourhood, Tatarpur, leading to the Muslims retaliating by throwing bombs at the procession.  The Hindus regrouped and the situation became extremely violent.  One of the important aspects of these riots was that the Superintendent of Police, KS Dwivedi, took sides openly and sided with the Hindus in killing Muslims.  In view of this, the Chief Minister of Bihar, Mr. Sinha, ordered Mr. Dwivedi to step down and hand over his charge to Mr. Datt on the same day. 

I quote from the Online Encyclopedia of Mass Violence entry on the 1989 Bhagalpur riots (the encyclopedia itself is a compendium of all known news sources at the time):

“On October 26, eighteen persons were brutally murdered by a mob in the area of Jamuna Kothi. Trains were also attacked: passengers, whose names were identified as Muslim on the reservation charts, were killed. The police and their superintendent, K. S. Dvivedi, participated actively in the killing of Muslims. Their involvement was so extensive, that Bihar’s Director General of Police had to call for Dvivedi’s immediate replacement. But during a visit for his electoral campaign, on October 26, Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, after having listened to complaints from local policemen, declared that Superintendent Dvivedi would not be transferred, thereby legitimizing a continuation of violence. The Ramanandan Prasad Commission condemned, in the most severe terms, the partiality and active participation of the police forces -particularly that of the Bihar Military Police (BMP).”

Also from the same website:

“The Ramanandan Prasad Commission also reported that on October 27 a four-thousand-strong mob streaming in from adjacent villages attacked the village of Lugain for nine hours, with the active complicity of the assistant sub-inspector of the Jagdishpur police station. Two hundred persons were killed.”

“The conspicuous partiality of the district and police administrations; and the state government’s delay in reacting were stressed by several commentators. Five days before the riots, the Congress-led state administration had received a letter from a local officer, requesting the removal of the superintendent of police, Dvivedi, and the district magistrate, Arun Jha, who had previously acted irresponsibly in their handling of communal tensions. The state government simply ignored the proposal. That proved to be a terrible mistake.”

“A belated trial took place in 2007: of the considerable number of persons originally charged, only twenty-four were eventually judged. Fourteen of them, including two police officers, were found guilty.”

Satyendra Narain Sinha resigned for his failure to control the riots.  The Wikipedia entry on the Bhagalpur riots notes that “In his autobiography Meri Yaadein, Meri bhoolein, Sinha accused his Congress colleagues of "fanning" the riots out of personal jealousy and ill-will, specifically mentioning the former chief minister Bhagwat Jha Azad and the former speaker Shivchandra Jha. He also accused the Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi of overruling his order to transfer the then superintendent of police K S Dwivedi without consulting him, although Dwivedi had completely failed to control the riots. He alleged that the decision was "not only an encroachment of the Constitutional right of the state government but also a step detrimental to ongoing efforts to ease tensions".

In spite of all this, did Rajiv Gandhi pay a price? Was he even charged with a crime?
Exactly when did India cross the moral line of no return?  Or have these events so  convinced Mr. Richard of the high morality of the Congress Party that it will take much worse to cross the moral line of no return?

Case 8: The Hyderabad Riots of 1990 and Rajasekhar Reddy

Hyderabad, with a mixed population of Hindus and Muslims, and home to the radical All-India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM), a party formed from the remnants of the militant Razakars (the private militia of the Nizam of Hyderabad), who had been responsible for some of the bloodiest massacres since partition, has always been a hotbed of Hindu-Muslim tensions.  This perennially-volatile situation in the old city of Hyderabad has been exploited by generations of Congress party leaders in their games of one-upmanship for control of the state of Andhra Pradesh.

One of the best examples of this kind of cynical behaviour was the 1990 riots in Hyderabad, which happened during the tenure of Congress Chief Minister Marri Chenna ReddyAbout 200-300 people were killed in these Hindu-Muslim riots, more than half of whom were Hindus.  It was common knowledge in Andhra Pradesh that the riots were engineered by Chenna Reddy’s Congress rival, YS Rajasekhara Reddy, in a (successful) attempt to bring down Chenna Reddy’s government.

What was the effect of all this on the fortunes and legacy of YS Rajasekhara Reddy and the Congress?  He eventually went on to become a very popular, two-time chief minister of Andhra Pradesh until his untimely death in a helicopter crash.  His success and popularity stemmed from his welfare schemes, which were enacted much after his ghastly role in some of the most horrific riots in Hyderabad – but no one seemed to remember them.

Did India cross the moral line of no return then? Not according to Mr. Thane Richard.  No. We will only cross that line if we elect Mr. Modi as the prime minister.

Case 9: The Kokrajhar Riots in Assam in 2012 and its Aftermath, and Sonia Gandhi

As will have been already evident, the problem of illegal Bangladeshi immigrants in India is an old one and has led to many riots in India.  The year 2012 saw yet another manifestation of the resentment against illegal immigrants, when ethnic Bodos in the state of Assam attacked Bengali-speaking Muslims in a series of attacks, leading to the deaths of 77 people and the displacement of 400,000.

The Government in power was the Congress, led by Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi, who blamed the Congress government of Sonia Gandhi and Manmohan Singh at the centre for failing to provide him support in a timely manner.

The repercussions of the Kokrajhar violence were felt far and wide across the nation.  About three weeks after the violence, a massive meeting of Muslims was held at Azad Maidan in Mumbai to protest the killings.  Although the meeting was held under the pretext of being a peaceful protest, there was planned violence executed, resulting in two deaths and injuries to 54 people, including 45 policemen who were seriously injured. 

People from the North-east were attacked in retaliation in Pune, Chennai, Hyderabad, Bangalore, and Coimbatore. Students and workers from the north-east, fearing for their safety, were scrambling to take the next train back to their native states from all places in India to escape the persecution that was set in motion because of the law-and-order failure in Assam.

Yet what was the fallout of all this on the people who must ultimately be held responsible, the Congress party?  Absolutely none.  Tarun Gogoi continues as chief minister of Assam to this day, and Manmohan Singh continues to serve as Prime Minister of India, with the backing of the Congress party under Sonia Gandhi, to this day.  The so-called intellectuals who keep flaying Narendra Modi for his failure to control the bloodshed in Gujarat were nowhere to be found when it came time to criticize the Congress government for this egregious failure.

And yet, the tenacious moral line of no return of Mr. Thane Richard continues to hold; such minor infractions as these will not help Indians cross that line.  It will be, and only be, the election of Mr. Modi as PM which will qualify to cross that moral line of no return.

Analysis

From the above, it is clear that various important personages in Indian political history have been guilty of egregious crimes – crimes, which according to the standards of the so-called “secular” and “humanist” political commentators of today, would have completely disqualified them from further political office, had the standards of behaviour that people pretend to hold in the media today with regard to human rights been upheld:

1.              Indira Gandhi would never have become prime minister in 1971 and 1980, in light of her failure to control the 1969 riots (and possibly for her role in instigating it for political benefit) as well as for her role in the repressive emergency of 1975-1977.
2.             Rajiv Gandhi would have been removed from political office, faced criminal prosecution, and been sent to jail for his many crimes in office: the 1983 Nellie massacre (failure to prosecute the perpetrators), the 1984 anti-Sikh pogrom, instigating the Ram Janmabhoomi firestorm by opening the locks of the Masjid in 1986, the 1987 Meerut riots, and the 1989 Bhagalpur riots. 
3.             VP Singh would never have become either the finance minister or the defense minister, and never allowed to become PM in 1990.
4.             Rajasekhara Reddy would never have been allowed to contest elections again and should have been behind bars for a long time.
5.             The Congress Party of today, which essentially is comprised of the same faces that accompanied Mr. Rajiv Gandhi during his prime ministership, and which includes key members who have been accused of complicity in some of these crimes (e.g., Mr. Kamal Nath in the 1984 riots), and which, in the years since Rajiv Gandhi’s death, has done its utmost to protect the perpetrators of the 1984 violence (as well as the other riots listed) from criminal prosecution, would have been seen as morally bankrupt and having acted in support of perpetrators of genocide, and hence ineligible to hold power in any government since – whether in 1992, 2004, 2009, or 2014.  Allowing the Congress party to establish a government, in light of its crimes of commission and omission, would have been seen as unacceptable and crossing a “moral line of no return” in 1992, 2004, and 2009.
6.             Sonia Gandhi would have had to publicly apologize for her failure in Assam as well as its failure to protect citizens of the Northeast in different parts of India, and the Congress government would have handed in its resignation for its moral failure.  Since the failure is particularly galling in view of the fact that the Prime Minister, Mr. Manmohan Singh, represents Assam, Mr. Singh would have resigned immediately following the riots for his failure to control them.

Of course, as any Indian who has not lived under a rock for the last 30 years knows, none of what has been suggested as the appropriate course of events (with a concern for human rights, ethics, and propriety) actually happened.

That it did not happen is not so surprising and reflects the venality of our times in India, due to which any politician is able to escape consequences for his misdeeds by bribing the appropriate people (by cash or by promises of rewards).  What is more shocking is that these suggestions (that someone was unworthy to remain in office and should have resigned) were NEVER MADE by anyone in the years that they should have been – in newspaper articles, in magazines, on TV channels, and (in more recent years) on the personal blogs of opinionated private citizens until the 2002 riots happened.

1.              Indira Gandhi went on to contest elections in 1971 despite her failing to control the riots in 1969.  It was not even raised as a point of ineligibility against her, and her party went on to win 352 seats under her leadership, and elected her prime minister.  No one ever suggested that the mismanagement of the 1969 violence made her ineligible for re-election.  There was no mention of “Raj Dharma” and the need for Mr. Hitendra Desai to resign because of the riots; he happily continued as CM and took office again in the next election.
2.             Indira Gandhi went on to contest the 1980 elections despite her misdeeds in the emergency, and won 374 seats in a landslide victory.  After the emergency, there was general agreement on the need to punish Mrs. Gandhi for her misdeeds.  The Janata Party government that took power tried to prosecute Mrs. Gandhi for her crimes and even imprisoned her, but the prosecution was inept and Mrs. Gandhi was acquitted of all charges.  NO ONE suggested that although Mrs. Gandhi was legally not guilty, she was MORALLY GUILTY.  No one suggested that because Mrs. Gandhi was still a criminal in the court of public opinion, she was ineligible to run for election again.
3.             Rajiv Gandhi contested the elections in December 1984, a couple of months after the assassination of his mother and the ensuing anti-Sikh pogrom in which he and many of his party workers were implicated.  Far from being considered ineligible for the election because of having the blood of thousands of Sikhs on his hands, Mr. Gandhi in fact went on to win the election resoundingly, winning 414 out of 533 seats in parliament, due to what was widely interpreted as a “sympathy wave” for him because he lost his mother.  I do not recall any “liberal”, “secular”, or “humanist” commentator talking about how India was sliding down the abyss of state terrorism and immorality when Mr. Gandhi won the election.
4.             Following his assassination, Rajiv Gandhi was conferred the nation’s highest honor, the Bharat Ratna, in 1991.  Hardly anyone talked about the inappropriateness of the Bharat Ratna being conferred upon someone with so much blood on his hands from so many different incidents.
5.             VP Singh became the finance minister in Rajiv Gandhi’s government, acquired fame by prosecuting Ambani and Amitabh Bachchan for tax evasion; then moved to the defense ministry, and became famous for exposing scams in defense procurements; and went on to become the Prime Minister in the 1989 elections.  No one suggested (I don’t remember reading a single negative thing about VP Singh in those days) that Mr. Singh bore the moral responsibility for the deaths of 2500 people in Moradabad and therefore had no right to take up the prime ministership with the blood of so many people on his hands.  VP Singh was considered a hero and a model of integrity at the time, and his role in the 1980 riots was forgotten as a thing of the past.
6.             Rajasekhara Reddy became chief minister of Andhra Pradesh in 2004, and was re-elected in 2009, becoming arguably the most popular CM of AP in its history on the back of his welfare schemes for the poor.  His instigatory role in the deaths of 300 people was never talked about.
7.            The Congress Party won elections and formed the government in 1992, 2004, and 2009.  The 2004 and 2009 governments were spearheaded by Mrs. Sonia Gandhi, the widow of Mr. Rajiv Gandhi who stands accused of so much wrongdoing.  Mrs. Gandhi did not become PM herself; but the reason for her not doing so was not that there were serious charges against her late husband, but rather the fact that she was not born Indian.  In the last 20 years, I have not read a single article or seen a single program that talks about the Congress Party’s involvement in several past serious riots making it ineligible to hold power in the future.
8.            Sonia Gandhi and Manmohan Singh continued in government despite the 2013 Assam riots with no owning of moral responsibility.  Very few media outlets have commented on the moral responsibility that the Congress has in failing to prevent the riots in Kokrajhar and the fact that there should be consequences.

Conclusions

1.             The so-called liberal media has never judged past prime ministers or chief ministers for their orchestration of or involvement in extremely violent and serious riots.
2.            They have not thought it necessary to call for the disqualification of people or parties associated with events as serious as the Emergency, the 1969 riots, or the 1984 riots.
3.            They have not even worried about India’s loss of moral values because of a failure to bring the people associated with such serious lapses to account.
4.             Hence, the obsession of the so-called liberals, the so-called defenders of human rights, and the so-called secularists with the 2002 riots is NOT BASED on principle.
5.             The opponents of Mr. Modi are not concerned with the welfare of minorities; had they been so concerned, they would have raised their voice against the governments of the day when riots happened that targeted minorities in the past.
6.             Had they been so concerned, they would have opposed the present Congress Party taking power in 1992, 2004, and 2009.  As they did not do so, their opposition to Modi in 2014 is not credible.
7.             Those objecting to Mr. Modi’s candidature for the Prime Ministership in 2014 are doing so ONLY because they are implicitly opposed to a BJP government at the centre, and not because of any concern for minorities.
8.             This opposition is couched in the form of high-sounding moralistic pleas in order to make it more respectable than it really is.
9.             It is as if history began and ended for these commentators only with 2002.
10.          In view of the one-sided, inconsistent, and duplicitous nature of the criticism against Mr. Modi, one can safely ignore it with no peril to the nation or its minorities.





2 comments:

  1. Thank you for this brilliantly researched takedown of the anti Modi cottage industry!

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  2. The most funny article I came across in recent times. You start with a fallacy and then go on at lengths to prove it correct. Supreme court has not given any clean chit to Namo. SIT is an investigation agency just like police or CBI or any other appointed committee. The trial has not even started in Supreme Court. Stop spreading lies so confidently. Instrumental rationality is what you process but not epistemic. Alas you claim everybody else who is against Namo is at best ignorable and at worst punishable in itself a proof that you are unable to see pathetic fallacies of your argument.

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