We have been taught to praise what merits praise; give the good its due. But, recent history has also taught us that those who have dared praise Modi have not only been taken to task but also been ostracized in every possible way and had their credibility come under question.
This is a glaring example of how selective we have become in our notions of free speech and liberal democratic principles. Unfortunately, the people that drive this sort of hate campaign are a very small syndicate of committed nuisance mongers who have become well entrenched in the media and some social groups. Instead of waking up to the realities around them, they continue with their shameless vilification of a performance oriented mass leader.
That anyone or any body praising Narendra Modi risks losing its intellectual credibility was exposed very recently when TIME magazine put him on their cover page in their issue dated 26th March 2012 and when Brookings Institution wrote a wonderful piece on Gujarat’s development. After this, their intellectual repute did not prevent them from being trashed in Indian TV studios. One eminent journalist even said he would have been happier to see Modi being covered with ‘The Economist’. He was clearly oblivious of the fact that Modi’s Gujarat has featured in that magazine not once but thrice in one year!
TIME and Brookings have been the most recent but, not the only victims. The most horrendous example remains that of Maulana Vastanvi, a moderate cleric form Gujarat who was chosen to head Darul Uloom, Deoband that is the most reputed Muslim seminary in India. But, luck did not remain on his side when he said that Muslims do not face discrimination in Gujarat and that they should forget 2002. This paved way for a lethal witch-hunt and Vastanvi had to lose his job. Today, he sits on the sides facing obscurity. Vastanvi has since changed his stand, but it is too late…
Vastanvi found a company in AP Abdulakutty, a Muslim leader from Kerala. In 2009, he was a sitting CPI (M) MP when he declared Narendra Modi must be given “full marks” for development. This was enough for his party to demand an explanation leading to his eventual removal from the party. Ironically, the Congress that stoked the fire behind the scenes gave Abdulakutty a ticket in the 2009 Lok Sabha elections that he won. Nonetheless, praising Modi did take a toll on his political career.
Even popular actors have not been spared. Today, the entire nation, is talking about Amitabh Bachchan’s stellar efforts in showcasing Gujarat has a tourist destination but things have been so easy the veteran actor. No sooner did he agree to become Gujarat’s brand ambassador than the dirty tricks began. Matters reached boiling point when then Maharashtra CM Ashok Chavan refused to share a platform with him in Mumbai. The moral of the story- forget Modi, even if you endorse Gujarat you will have to face the music!
Modi bashers have shown that when it comes to Modi, even the judicial process and government officers wont be pardoned. Unhappy with the process of justice in Gujarat, they demanded that the Supreme Court set up a SIT to probe matters. When the SIT was finally appointed they showed their true colours- till the SIT arrested one of Modi’s ministers, it was a just, fair and secular body, but today it has become the butt end of an orchestrated smear campaign against Modi only because they have not found evidence that comes as music to these people’s ears. It seems even the Supreme Court will not be forgiven to settle personal scores.
The head of the SIT RK Raghavan (a former IPS officer) has gone through tremendous personal slander, as well. He has been accused of everything from being ‘soft to Modi’ to cutting deals with corporates with interests in Gujarat. Another senior IAS officer Shankar Aggarwal was instantly transferred from the post of Additional Secretary IT when he lauded Modi’s IT initiatives and leadership skills at a seminar in Gandhinagar. The otherwise policy paralyzed party and their cohorts took no time in reading the riot acts to these officers. When even the services aren’t spared, one cannot but lament at the sad times we are living in.
So much is this small group’s clout that even Anna Hazare didn’t escape their watch. When Anna called Modi a ‘model CM’ asking others to emulate him little did he know what was coming their way. ‘Conscience keepers’ from his own team such as Medha Patkar began to attack him aided by a pro-active media forcing him to backtrack. If anything, he has also begun taking swipes against Modi.
There are also a variety of people who cite memory lapse when it comes to acknowledging Modi’s good work. It took minutes from the NIC to prove that Mehbooba Mufti praised Modi’s ability to lure businessmen from other states to invest in Gujarat. Sheila Dixit said Modi worked thus got elected, but the rigid Congress structure made her backtrack her statements.
In conclusion, one must say that criticism if constructive is fair. But never before has a completely discredited minority of people that keep active links with the likes of Ghulam Nabi Fai been allowed to wreck such havoc in minds of free thinking Indians. That Gujarat has developed under Modi cannot be disputed but the negativity by a few people is sometimes overshadowing it, leading to anyone praising Modi being treated like a virtual pariah. Its high time we let Gujarat be let it develop in peace without any fear…