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Congress, BJP Flex Muscles over Katju’s Remark on Modi

Policital Jiggery Pokery

, by MOHAMMAD NAUSHAD KHAN

A statement on Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, whether good or bad, particularly after 2002 Gujarat riots, is most likely to have some retaliatory remarks by those who like or dislike him. Recently, an article by Press Council of India Chairman Markande Katju on Modi has created some ripples in socio-political circles. Earlier, statements made by Katju on various issues may or may not be gospel truths, but what he has said about Narendra Modi resembles more or less the general perception of all secular and peace-loving people of our country. Katju’s stand on Modi has been equally endorsed by many dignitaries, including Muslim leaders.

The word ‘Modi’ in the lexicon of Indian polity could be more or less attributed to his flamboyant politics, aggressive Hindutva and authoritarian rule. Many believe that Modi is determined to force his way of functioning on RSS and BJP and is generally characterised as anti-Muslim and projected by his self-proclaimed peers as protector of Non-Muslims and Gujaratis. After Katju’s statement Congress and BJP began flexing their muscles in order to score political points. Sonia Gandhi at one point of time had described him as ‘maut ka saudagar’, Ghulam Vastanvi ultimately had to quit for speaking in favour of Modi and Shahid Siddiqui had to face the ire of his party for interviewing him.

Katju in his article “All the Perfumes of Arabia” in The Hindu (15 February) has raised some pertinent questions like: 1. People clamouring for Narendra Modi should realise the only policy which can take India on the path of progress is equal respect and treatment for all communities. 2. Muslims in Gujarat are terrorised and afraid that if they speak out against the horrors of 2002 they may be attacked and victimised. In the whole of India, Muslims (who number over 200 million) are solidly against Mr. Modi (though there are a handful of Muslims who for some reason disagree). 3. It is claimed by Modi supporters that what happened in Gujarat was only a ‘spontaneous’ reaction (pratikriya) of Hindus to the killing of 59 Hindus on a train in Godhra. I do not buy this story. First, there is still mystery as to what exactly happened in Godhra. Secondly, the particular persons who were responsible for the Godhra killings should certainly be identified and given harsh punishment, but how does this justify the attack on the entire Muslim community in Gujarat. 4. The only policy which can hold India together and put it on the path of progress is secularism — equal respect and treatment to all communities and sects. 5. The killing of thousands of Muslims and other atrocities on them in Gujarat in 2002 can never be forgotten or forgiven. All the perfumes in Arabia cannot wash away the stain on Mr. Modi in this connection. 6. Today, 48 per cent of Gujarati children are malnourished, which is a higher rate of malnourishment than the national average. In Gujarat, there is a high infant mortality rate, high women’s maternity death rate, and 57 per cent poverty rate in tribal areas, and among Scheduled Castes/Backward Castes. More than a third of adult men in Gujarat have a body mass index of less than 18.5 — the seventh worst in the country. 7. A UNDP report in 2010 has placed Gujarat after eight other Indian States in multiple dimensions of development: health, education, income levels, etc. Towards the end, Katju has also asked the people of India to consider all this if they are really concerned about the nation’s future. Otherwise they may make the same mistake which the Germans made in 1933.

Soon after Katju’s article on the Narendra Modi, BJP leaders made a bee-line in television studious to defend Narendra Modi and also demanded that Katju should resign. So far Katju is firm on what he has said. After seeing, vociferous attack on Katju by many BJP leaders, Congress leaders lined up to defend him. AICC general secretary Digvijay Singh defended Katju by saying that he had always been impartial, and criticised Arun Jaitley for attacking Katju simply because he owed his Rajya Sabha seat to Narendra Modi. Lok Janshakti party chief Ram Vilas Paswan has supported Katju and criticised Jaitley for his unjustified anger against Katju’s remark on Modi.

Muslim groups have also supported Katju and urged all like-minded people to defend Katju in order to strengthen secularism and democracy. Noted jurist Fali S Nariman in an email sent to Justice Katju, which was released to the media by the PCI chief, said the article was “outstanding”. “I already telephoned and told you how pleased we were with the article, but I must place it on record. It is an outstanding (article) it needed to be said by a person who doesn’t merely pretend to support human rights, but lives it every moment of his life,” Nariman wrote.

However, this is not the first time that many would believe that he is more Congress than the Congress Party or an advocate of minority or the like. Katju’s thought on Urdu, minorities, media or on a host of issues is known to one and all. Earlier, Katju had compared the Urdu language to be a shining gem in the treasury of Indian culture and had expressed concern for its utter neglect and almost looked at with suspicion. To him injustice to Urdu is based on some false notions propagated by some people with vested interests that Urdu is a foreign language and it is the language of Muslims.

On Media, his views are that media diverts people’s attention from real issues to non-issues because almost 90 per cent of its coverage is on entertainment and only 10 per cent slot is for the real issues. He has also criticised media for biased reporting after every bomb blast. Within hours of any bomb blast media often starts showing that an e-mail or SMS has been received from Indian Mujahideen or Jaish-e-Muhammad or Harkat-ul-Jihad-e-Islam claiming responsibility. Surprisingly the name will always be a Muslim name. These days an e-mail or SMS can be sent by any notorious individual who wants to propagate communal animosity. Katju is also of the opinion that in the past there had been a deliberate attempt to project history in a manner that Muslim rulers were intolerant. Surprisingly Katju’s statement that 90 per cent of Indians are idiot and earlier his Talibanisation remark on beard did not match his persona and was uncalled for.

Very recently, Maulana Mahmood Madani, general secretary of Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind is in the eyes of storm in Muslim circles for his thought that there is a perceptible change in Muslims’ attitude towards Modi. Most of the Muslim leaders have rejected his stand by saying that his is not the representative voice of the entire Muslims. Khalid Rashid Firangimahli, member of the All- India Muslim Personal Law Board, in an interview, has said that it is unfortunate that some Muslim leaders are unnecessarily trying to create hype for Modi. Muslims do not want development at the cost of murder of Muslims.



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