A biography of Imran Khan, former Pakistani cricketer and politician, talks about how Khan was “nauseated” when he was suddenly asked to shake hands with Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi at a public event in 2006.
Imran Versus Imran’s Indian author, Frank Huzur, tells the story thus: “When Imran saw Modi, a feeling of nausea hit him as he took his seat on the panel. It was overpowering and worsened when, to his dismay, he noticed Modi sprinting towards him… The Gujarat Chief Minister stood right in front of him, and Imran tried to look away, but Modi wasn’t deterred. He took Imran’s hands and shook them warmly….”
Imran’s fears on being seen and photographed with Modi are similar to the kind of fears other secular politicians harbour when they have to break bread with Modi. Nitish Kumar came close to damaging his alliance with the BJP when Modi published a picture of him and Nitish together at an opposition rally. Nitish was offended enough to return Modi’s cheque for flood relief in Bihar.
When Anna Hazare talked about the achievements of Modi in Gujarat, there was a secular outcry against him. To redeem himself, Hazare had to go to Gujarat to proclaim that it was one of the most corrupt states. Clearly, when it comes to Modi, you have to feign disgust.
When Amitabh Bachchan was chosen as Gujarat Tourism’s brand ambassador, he was criticised as though he had personally supervised all the 2002 killings in Gujarat.
When the new Darul Uloom Vice-Chancellor, Maulana Ghulam Mohammed Vastanvi, had the temerity to say earlier this year that “all communities" were doing well in Gujarat and that there was no discrimination against “the minorities in the state as far as development was concerned," he was almost hounded out of his job. He had to backtrack and paint Modi as a villain.
Imran Khan, Nitish Kumar, Anna Hazare and Ghulam Vastanvi can be forgiven for treating Modi as a pariah because they have their own constituencies to cater to. Imran Khan had no option but to be “nauseated” by Modi because a photograph flashed back home of him shaking hands with Modi could have damaged his career – not that it was going anywhere at that point of time.
Ditto for Nitish Kumar. Or Anna Hazare.
India’s secular mafia have perpetrated a labelling system whereby any good word for Modi is like signing your political death warrant or sending in your resignation from the Good People’s Club. You will them be lumped with the Sangh parivar and labelled for life. You become a fascist. A card-carrying member of murderous Hindu mobs.
This is hypocrisy and illiberalism at its worst. For what it is worth, let me state upfront that what Modi did in 2002 (or did not do, ie, protect the minorities) was no worse than what Rajiv Gandhi did (or did not do) 18 years earlier. This is not the first time this comparison has been made, but it bears repetition precisely because of the similarities.
How these men got into trouble for praising Narendra Modi:
One, both communal incidents (the anti-Muslim riots in Gujarat and the anti-Sikh riots in Delhi) were triggered off by a traumatic event. In Rajiv Gandhi’s case, it was his mother’s assassination by her Sikh guards. In Modi’s case, it was the incineration of 60 Hindu activists in the Sabarmati Express, with a mob outside pelting stones and imprisoning them long after the coach was set on fire (or had caught fire accidentally).
Two, in the aftermath, neither Modi nor Rajiv Gandhi showed remorse. Modi was supposed to have said that every action would have a reaction (though he denies it), and Gandhi said when a big tree falls, the earth shakes.
Three, both Modi and Gandhi used the trauma for electoral purposes – to gain a big mandate. Modi used the 60 Sabarmati Express deaths to instill the fear of Muslim mobs among Hindus and romped home. Rajiv Gandhi used his mother’s assassination to tap into latent Hindu fears about Sikh terrorism – then running rampant.