Modi might have been hailed as the next national leader in the halls of Sri Ram College of Commerce in Delhi, where he delivered a speech yesterday, but does anyone other than Modi buy that?
Not really, said senior journalist and columnist Aakar Patel. Speaking to Rajdeep Sardesai on a late night discussion on CNN-IBN, he said, “This kind of nonsense (that everything positive in Gujarat is credited to Modi) is not believable. If they (the youth of the country) believe that, then they should go back to their books.” He also stated that before claiming to feed people in Singapore, he should feel all the people in Gujarat first.
“Modi is a polarising figure. He might be a good administrator. But he is hardly a youth icon. He antagonises a section of the population wherever he goes and that is not good for the national leader,” said Taniya Bhardwaj, the same student from Kolkata whose question had Mamata take offence and walk out of a CNN-IBN show.
According to Adil Mehdi, professor from Jamia Millia Islamia, this speech was a cleverly positioned PR exercise that was designed to woo youngsters.
He said, “He is a PR man. He pays a lot of money to the PR firm that he has hired. If he is that popular, he wouldn’t pay them a lot of money.This is to pitch him outside Gujarat.”
“It is a very narrow blinkered approach to look at him. The riots of Gujarat have not stopped at 2002. The harrowing nightmare has not stopped,” said Mehdi. Hundreds of Muslim youth are rounded up and are routinely tortured and Muslims are marginalised in the state even today, he added.
However, youth representatives on the show from Ahmedabad and Bangalore did not agree with him and said that one must move beyond the 2002 riots and look into his development agenda.
A development agenda, that according to Aakar Patel, is sorely missing in Gujarat. Muslims have been completely ghettoised in colonies like Juhapura, the perpetrators of the 2002 massacre are still scot-free and the human development indicators of the state are nothing to be proud of, he added.
“Middle class loves dictators. What is this hope and aspiration? Is it the repository of Gujaratis? If a man tells us he is giving hope, then they should ask him what it means,” he said.