Modi’s Teflon Is Wearing Off

10374.modi-teflonHartosh Singh Bal in Open:

In August 2004, I went with a colleague to the office of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) in Ahmedabad to meet its general secretary Dilip Trivedi, who was also the Government Pleader of Mehsana district. We were asked to wait outside a room, where a meeting of senior VHP leaders was underway. The discussions could be heard clearly. My colleague who spoke Gujarati told me they were expressing a real fear that the Supreme Court could hand over investigation of riot cases to the CBI, and the VHP was working out a strategy to preempt this. As the meeting finished, we were surprised to see a correspondent for a leading national weekly troop out. My colleague, who knew him, said he was an active participant in the discussion. Eight years later, week after week, I still find him writing pieces praising the rapid pace of development of Gujarat under Narendra Modi.

It has left me with a deep suspicion of all those who attempt to separate Modi’s governance during the riots from his achievements as an administrator. Such disingenuous attempts always begin by a passing reference to the 2002 massacres and end by extolling him.

For one, they are wrong on facts. Modi’s Gujarat has done no better than many other large states, and in fact it has done better under earlier chief ministers. For another, Modi’s Gujarat has managed the unenviable feat of economic growth without alleviating the day-to-day living of its citizens. Its record on basic human development indicators places it among the worst states in the country.

But even if the commentators were granted their falsehoods, the case for separating communal violence from governance while including economic growth is so absurd that it can only be made with an intent to justify the events of 2002. It comes from an intellectual complicity in murder.