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Can We Resist Fascism
With Indignation Alone

By Jawed Naqvi

30 October, 2007

Suppose Narendra Modi, the chief minister of
Gujarat, is called a fascist, which he is, and it
translates into more votes for him in the coming
state elections. How does one respond to this
possibility, which, as many have concluded, is in
fact the bitter truth? This is the backdrop we
have to keep in mind about Tehelka's otherwise
skillful and daring expose with concealed cameras
of the manic Hindutva hordes that raped and
killed at will in Gujarat in 2002, and their
cheerleader, the chief minister himself.

Suppose all the gory revelations captured on the
camera by the grittyjournalist Ashish Khetan are
turned into a vaudeville, which can happen to any
burning issue in India today with generous help
from the corporate media. What happens next?
Remember the lines of the woman inmate in a
Chicago prison in the movie of that name? The
woman, June, was one of several female prisoners
serving sentences for killing their boyfriends,
husbands, lovers and so on. June's lines in a
song drenched in black humour went thus: " I'm
standin' in the kitchen, carving up a chicken for
dinner, minding my own business, when in storms
my husband, Wilbur, in a jealous rage. 'You've
been screwing the milkman,' he said. He was
crazy, and he kept on screaming, 'You've been
screwing the milkman.' And then he ran into my
knife... he ran into my knife ten times."

June's lines were relived the other day by a key
character caught in the Tehelka expose. Gujarat
government counsel Arvind Pandya resigned from
his post and has filed an FIR against the
reporter who conducted the sting. But he needs to
be heard to be believed. "They came to me and
said they were making a serial. And to give a
touch of reality, they wanted me to play a role.
I would initially be portraying a negative role
and later a positive one. I was given a script
with all dialogues and I just had to read them.
They also made me practise my lines,'' he

What did Pandya's 'rehearsed' lines say in the
role he says was assigned to him by Tehelka?
Remember he is the man representing the state
government in the commission of inquiry headed by
Justices Nanavati and Shah. In fact Pandya is
Gujarat's Advocate General.

Tehelka: Who was at the forefront during the riots?

Pandya: It will be wrong to say some were there and some were notŠ

Practically everybody who went to the field was
from the Bajrang Daland the VHPŠ

Tehelka: Did Jaideepbhai (VHP vice-president Jaidee Patel) go to the field?

Pandya: Jaideepbhai had also goneŠ Which leaders
went where, who had a role, who had a suspected
role - we have before the Commission all these
details, all the mobile numbers, who went whereŠ
We have the locationsŠ

Tehelka: Yes, some controversy also took placeŠ

Pandya: It's still onŠ And I know whose mobile
numbers were thereŠ who talked to whom, from
which locationŠ I have the papersŠ

Tehelka: So can there be some problem for the
Hindus because of thatŠ for Jaideepbhai etcŠ

Pandya: Arrey bhai, (Hey fellow) I am the one who
has to fight the caseŠ don't worryŠ don't worry
about this, there will be no problem here. If
there will be a problem I'll solve itŠ I have
spent all these years for whomŠ for my own blood.

Tehelka: Can the commission's report go against the Hindus?

Pandya: Nahi, nahi (no no)Š it can create some
problems for the policeŠ it can go against themŠ
see, the judges who have been selected are from
the CongressŠ

Tehelka: Yes, NanavatiŠ and Shah

Pandya: That's the only problemŠ our leaders at
the time got into a controversy in a hurryŠ what
they thought was that since Nanavati was involved
in the Sikh riots... that if they use a Congress
judge there will be no controversyŠ

Tehelka: So is Nanavati absolutely against you people?

Pandya: Nanavati is a clever manŠHe wants
money... Of the two judges, KG Shah is
intelligentŠ woh apne wala hai [he is our man]Š
he is sympathetic to usŠ Nanavati is after moneyŠ

Pandya: I have been the government's special AG
(Advocate General) in these riotsŠ I kept note of
just two thingsŠ I told the VHP that none of you
have to come to the Commission everŠ you keep in
touch with me, that's allŠ I told the BJP too to
keep in touch with me, that's allŠ I have also
told the Sangh that whenever I hold camps at
various places don't come there with a big
strength and don't bring a known face. You keep
in touch with me on phoneŠ If I'll need anything,
you'll just receive a call, not moreŠ I also went
to all the places where the camps were held. I
also held my own camps. I went to the camps to
win the local people's favourŠ how it should be
done, what is to be done.

Pandya's comments captured on camera are of
course not greatly revealing beyond a point. If
anything they are a reaffirmation of what we
mostly know about the way judiciary works in
cahoots with the state, including a rogue state
or a fascist one for that matter. What is
significant is that fascism stays and flourishes
in Gujarat, regardless of any expose and the
moral indignation it brings about.

Why it has struck roots in Gujarat and not in
other BJP-ruled states like Rajasthan or Madhya
Pradesh is a valid question. The answer perhaps
lies in the corporate support fascism enjoys in
one of India's most prosperous regions, not too
different from the role assigned to the Shiv Sena
in Mumbai, India's financial capital. Like Bombay
of yore, Gujarat was the hub of leftist labour
unions. They have been smashed and decimated.
Instead we now have politically influential
corporate clubs whose roots go right up to the
Indian expatriates in the United States. The
India-US business partnership launched by Prime
Minister Manmohan Singh features tycoons like
Ratna Tata and Mukesh Ambani, both viceforous
public supporters of Modi, their model chief

But the Tehelka expose never aimed to tackle the
corporate support for insidious fascism inherent
in Gujarat's economic progress. At the same time
it is equally true that the nation's ruling
party, the Congress, which had the potential to
challenge Modi's sway has a problem of its own to
tackle - its own economic planners have
themselves declared unalloyed affection for
Modi's growth model for the state.

Moreover, the strategy to fight religious fascism
in the framework of a still breathing (or
gasping) democracy is to go to the people with a
secular agenda. The Congress has done just the
opposite. It has gone about poaching BJP's
leaders, wooing them to swell its own ranks,
including people who are known to have led the
wild mobs against Muslim women and children. This
method is expected to deplete the electoral
resources of Modi. Can you imagine Churchill
planning to undercut Hitler by wooing Goering,
Himmler etc to his side?

Be that as it may. The Tehelka expose, available
in detail on the website , deserves to be seen
and read and discussed widely, not because it
will bring down Modi's fascist rule in Gujarat.
Nor is the expose important for bringing out all
the gory details of the rape and macabre murder
of many innocent victims, the way Ehsan Jaffrey
was cut to pieces, or a woman disembowelled and
her foetus smashed in the womb. It is also not a
revelation that Hindutva activists are imbued
with the same sense of missionary zeal as any
suicide squad among Muslims or any other faith.

The expose is important because the rape of
Gujarat failed to budge the conscience of the
great patron of democracy, the United States. We
had to pointedly ask Assistant Secretary of State
Christina Rocca to comment on the violence before
she gave a grudging lukewarm disapproval of the
mayhem there. Later Ms Rocca told the US Congress
that Gujarat's legal authority was robust and was
pursuing the criminals of the violence.

That was before Pandya slipped up before the
hidden cameras of the Tehelka reporter. Ms Rocca,
are you there?


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