Narendra Modi versus Katju and his king-sized ego

Yesterday, all-knowing Justice Katju shared his views on development in Gujarat with the world, publishing a new post on his blog.

Titled “On Gujarat's Development”, Justice Katju seems to have decided to write as a result of the pressure of popular demand for his views. “I have been asked my opinion about Mr Modi. Till now I avoided commenting on him since I thought that my views may be misconstrued as if I wish to influence the Gujarat elections. Now that the elections are over I may speak out.”

The increasing megalomania of Justice Katju has now reached gargantuan proportions. Misusing the attention he receives thanks to his appointment as chairman of the Press Council of India, Justice Katju has made his opinion known on an array of issues completely unconnected to his official capacity. He suggests that he does so unselfishly.

“I have been asked my opinion about Mr.Modi,” is how the latest blog post begins. “I have been asked my opinion by many people about the recent gangrape of a girl in a bus in Delhi,” was how the previous post began.

So each time Justice Katju is “asked his opinion” (asked ‘for’ my opinion would be correct English) he chooses to deliver it to the world. Increasingly, it seems, his opinion is sought on all subjects under the sun. The latest request for his opinion is on development in Gujarat. Why anyone would want the opinion of the chairman of the Press Council of India on development of anything other than the press is beyond me, but, for a moment, we’ll leave that aside. Justice Katju could have shared his opinion on Gujarat’s development as soon as it was requested, but, “Till now I avoided commenting on him since I thought that my views may be misconstrued as if I wish to influence the Gujarat elections. Now that the elections are over I may speak out.”

A Modi supporter after this victory in Gujarat 2012 Elections. AFP

This is spectacular megalomania. Does he honestly think that his clearly biased opinion on Gujarat’s development could have affected the outcome of the elections? Would Modi have been trounced by the Congress if Justice Katju’s blog post had been published in November?

The megalomania is in his belief that his opinion on anything matters. His opinion on Bollywood will not make moviegoers shun the multiplexes, his opinion on Page 3 news and content will not cause the newspapers to stop printing them or advertisers from advertising in them or readers from reading them. His opinion on superstition will not transform the country into a country of rationalists; his opinion that 90 percent of Indians are idiots will not make 90 percent of the population feel that they are idiots.

All that Justice Katju has done with his latest ‘opinion’ is that all those who have read it are clearly aware of the fact that he doesn’t like Narendra Modi. Consider his selective quoting of data:

• “Child malnutrition at 48 percent in Gujarat is higher than the national average.”
• “The infant mortality rate in Gujarat is 48 per thousand, which is the 10th worst in India.”
• “More than a third of Gujarat's adult men have a body mass index of less than 18.5, the 7th worst in India.”
• “Gujarat has a high maternal mortality rate.”
• “Education, health and income levels in Gujarat place it after 8 other Indian states.”
• “Rural poverty is 51 percent  in Gujarat, 57 percent among STs, 49 percent among STs, and 42 percent among OBCs.”

Which are the states which fare worse than Gujarat on these parameters? How has the state fared since Modi first became chief minister of Gujarat? It is only when this data, too, is shared that Katju’s opinion begin to be meaningful.

More importantly, what is the point he is trying to make? Should Gujarat be the leading state by every single measureable parameter in development before citizens vote for Narendra Modi? By that logic, not a single chief minister in India deserves to be in office.

Justice Katju, it’s not enough to have an opinion. Just having one is easy. What is difficult is to have and articulate a considered, well thought-through, responsible and unbiased opinion.

It is only then that one has influence.

Today, you demonstrate shallow opinion — and, as a consequence you have no influence. You could have written your rant on Gujarat’s development the moment you were asked for it and Modi would have won just as many seats as he did. Not one seat less.