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Little More Vibrancy And The Gujarat
Volcano Would Explode

By Digant Oza

23 October, 2003

Whether 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.

However, people 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.

After Legislative 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 experience.

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".

Unfortunately for 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 solidify themselves.

Various sections 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 also.

State government 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.

Incidentally, those 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.


Digant Oza
B-1,Neeldeep Aptt.,
Opp. Sandesh Press,