Vibrancy And The Gujarat
Volcano Would Explode
By Digant Oza
23 October, 2003
anybody realizes or not, Mody's Gujarat is seating on Volcano today.
Majority of Gujaraties were never with him, not even during the legislative
assembly polling, but now, they are up against his government.
One who observes
present scenario of the so called Hind Rashtra of Gujarat would realize
that thirty year old history of Navnirman is being repeated both in
letter and spirit.
Recently, with lot
of funfare the state Government, who leaves on overdraft and cutting
planed expenditure, spent huge amount on celebrating Navratri and festival
called Vibrant Gujarat. The idea was to attract Non-Resident Indians(NRI)
for investments in the state, it was also an effort to make good the
economic losses to the state due to last year's communal carnage.
The so called "Hindu
Hriday Samrat", popularly known as "Namo", Chief Minister
and his officials were bracing for a Mega Event to host their expected
number, around ten thousand NRI's and foreign investor guest, during
festival of Garba and Raas but the festival finally turned into fiasco,
with arrival of hardly thousand and odd guests including relatives,
many came because they were attracted by special air-fare concessions,
the local police officials and their family members got vintage seats.
At the Ahmedabad's Sardar Patel international Airport Government officials
were garlanding arriving air passengers only to know that they were
local Ahmedabadi's who had gone abroad to see their children or relatives.
The list of MOU's
and proposed investments is dominated by known local Industrialists.Despite
Congress publicly demanding transparency of details the Government is
silent. It is a different issue that the past history of such investors
meet has recorded only half or less than that of MOU's signed being
actually getting implemented. Thus, Namo Government's purpose of synchronize
and celebrate vibrant Gujarat to attract foreign capital failed miserably
in actually vibrating.
of Gujarat have been vibrating with anguish, agony and anger against
Mody Government, ever since Congress and other secular parties presented
on silver plate power in Gandhinagar to Bhartiya Janta Party, thanks
to their stupid strategical mistakes.
Mody could become
Chief Minister once again with only 31% of the total Gujarat electorate(5
Crore Gujaraties). Thus 69% of total citizens of Gujarat were not with
BJP at the time of last assembly elections in 2002.
Assembly elections 21different By-elections have taken place in Gujarat
at local self Government level. Out of these 21 By-Elections, .Mody's
Hindu party has lost only 19 and won 2, can you believe?.
And now, the formation
of Maha Gujarat Navnirman Front without formal support of Sonia Congress,
people are preparing themselves for a possible mass movement against
Mody Government which is expected to usher-in from 23rd of Nov when
a rally has been planned.
But the beginning
is with the Bhartiya Janta Party whose workers attacked its district
President Mr, Dilip Trivedi in Kutch, Dilip bhai had to be hospitalised
along with several others and Mody's Police was forced to register cases
against BJP workers. The story is being more or less repeated in different
districts of Gujarat because of the groupism within the ruling party.
Chief minister wants to have his say in every singular selection and
it is being resisted by rank and file within the party. Keshubahi Patel's,
former Chief Minister, silence is more dangerous than his eloquence.
So is union Rural Development Minister Kashiram Rana.
A decade after the
Nav Nirman movement, Senior Journalist Tushar Bhatt did a story for
SUNDAY magazine on a decade after the agitation. He interviewed a lot
of people, including late Chimanbhai Patel, who had been toppled by
the agitation to find out what lessons had been learnt from the traumatic
The text of that
article is not handy today but Tushar still remember a revealing half-answer
Chimanbhai gave. He said he had learnt that a ministry could not afford
to have all members doing talking and loud thinking. It needed some
members who put in solid file work in key areas of development and law
order. He implied that his Ministry in 1973 did not have enough hard-working,
administratively capable Ministers. The unanswered part of this was
that a ministry cannot survive if it did not have efficient men of public
stature which he did not have. The same story can be repeated for the
present Mody Government.
Some of the observers
surmise at that time, as also now, is that the agitation did more harm
to Gujarat than good. First of all, it was an anti-politics agitation
and a democracy cannot function without political parties. There were
complaints against individual politicians but the grievance was blown
up into a general contempt for political system. It led to alienation
of youth from the political mainstream and political parties did not
get ever thereafter enough bright and capable young workers who could
replace the old guard. The alienation has not ended even today. Consequently
there is a dearth of young blood in both the BJP and the Congress as
also in public life. Every young man of potential started saying politics
is the last resort of the scoundrels and kept away from it. Nav Nirman
was a nihilist movement which branded all political parties bad. Election-based
democracy can not thrive on such a premise of destructiveness. However,
Nav Nirman did change a duly elected Govrnment, it was thrown out through
violent street action which atleast Mody would remember, because he
and his party were part of street action called " NAVNIRMAN".
BJP and Narendra Mody, and fortunately for the state of Gujarat, Navnirman
history appears to be repeating itself after three decades, different
sections of society are joining the agitation for their own demand and
reasons, and repression by NAMO's police is helping the agitators to
of people feel bereft of a human regime, while expressing their ire
on different issues through marches and demonstrations. For the first
time in history, perhaps, entire minority community recently observed
a total Bandh in Ahmedabad, without any formal call by any organization
or individual, against arbitrary arrests of not just alleged terrorist
accomplices but also some prestigious Muslim businessmen under POTA
by the police, creating a reign of terror among this community.
Much more angry
with the Mody administration here is the mass of farmers, who are waging
a long-drawn agitation against heavy mark-up of electricity charges.
They are worked up because of a violent police attempt to suppress this
agitation recently at Vadodara. One farmer died after police beating.
They are at present marching in thousands on foot from South Gujarat
town of Dandi to reach Sabarmati Ashram by Oct. 2, reminiscent of Mahatma
Gandhi's march in the 30's on the same route.
Look at the students
of universities. They are talking aloud to resume their old 'Navnirman'
movement to oust the Mody regime, as they did in 1974 kicking out the
then chief minister Chiman Patel. Students at the Gujarat University
are burning the effigies of their Vice-chancellor demanding reduction
in increased fees. Professors and teachers of various colleges of the
same university are out on the streets against the education department's
"callous attitude" in not implementing their earlier assurance
on demands Teachers and students have actually joined hands against
the government shouting such slogans as "We reject work-to-rule
only for the teachers, but why is there no rule for Mody government?"
All the fire directed
against Mody hardly makes any difference to him. But their time seems
to be running out, looking at a crushing defeat at the hands of the
Congress in the last week's by-elections of Municipal and Panchayat
bodies, winning only two seats. Their way of governance is because of
anger and disappointment within the Legislative Wing of Bhartiya Janta
Party, many of them are opposing the extra tight security. The Governance
which many critics here call neo-fascist perpetrating a wide divide
between Hindus and Muslims engineered by them since the bloody days
of carnage in 2002. This is despite the caustic remarks passed recently
by the Supreme Court asking Mody to quit if he couldn't facilitate justice
to the victims of carnage. Mody has chosen to remain silent on this.
If it was in his power, he would have lambasted the chief justice also
as a 'hypocrite secularist.'
Leave alone a secular,
but so far as the Gujarat's dire need for a humane and democratic governance
is concerned, two issues draw much criticism here: state government's
failure to form a women's commission and equally its refusal to form
a human rights commission, proposal for which is pending since BJP came
to power five years back.
Even a deaf and
dumb would realize how much a women's commission was needed in the state
looking at the report of atrocities on women. There were 262 rapes,697
kidnapping, 269 murders, 35 deaths on account of dowry and to cap it
all - some 1,799 suicides by women in 2001!
It was declared
by the government that the 'newly to be formed' women's commission would
work under social justice department. Later they formed a separate office
of women and children's welfare but no chairman or members of the commission
were appointed. The government even issued an ordinance for such a formation
but it never was followed up by actual formation of commission!! Only
woman minister in Mody Cabinet, education minister Anandibahen Patel,
later told the media that "our government was new and many other
appointments were yet to be filled up in public sector institutions
was reminded by various women's organizations two years back that Rajasthan,
Madhya Pradesh, Tamilnadu and such other states had already formed their
own commissions but why not in Gujarat?
Most shocking fact
happening in the state was an increase in child-marriages. There were
17 such marriages registered in police record of 1998, but it became
26 in 1999. Cases of mental tortures on women registered were 2989 in
1998, which rose to 3365 in 1999.
Another even more
shocking is the incidence of fetus death has brought Gujarat as number
two all over the country in decreased number of girl child per a thousand
births- 878 girls for 1000 boys! Clearly, the age old practice of killing
girls before they are born or even after they are born in a few cases
is still prevalent here, with slogans of 'new bright Hindutva' dominating
the socio-cultural landscape.
So far as the formation
of human rights commission is concerned, the state government has simply
stayed any action on this score. Some officials say in hush-hush tones
that the chief minister is not able to find out a pliable chairman for
the same and that is the reason, while some other sources assert that
the ruling BJP is afraid of being trapped once they form such a commission,
which could be flooded with complaints from various sections of society-
from Dalit victims of atrocities to members of minority community who
have been continuously making noise against human right violations by
the ruling party and its police.
who celebrated Navratri perhaps do not remember that Dussehra also marks
the end of Pandava's exile in the Mahabharata and the return to reclaim
their Kingdom. Little wonder, Dusshera is celebrated in different ways
in different regions of the country, albeit with a common theme- triumph
of good over evil. Gujarat may not proof any exceptions in this rule
and would soon see good over evil. Ends.