Book Review: Nirendra Dev's "Modi to Moditva – An Uncensored Truth" Takes Readers to Gujarat & Indian Political Backstage

By WBRi Special Correspondent

New Delhi, Sep 9, 2012 (Washington Bangla Radio) What did Narendra Modi say after Vajpayee-Musharraf Agra Summit failed? What did Modi say when Atal Bihari Vajpayee asked him to implement ‘Raj Dharma’ in 2002 aftermath the riots?

Understanding the dynamics and complexities of Gujarat state and politics of Modi has perhaps become more important now than ever before when the political atmosphere is surcharged over Coalgate and Gujarat is heading towards another photo-finish assembly polls. Well, the new book by New Delhi-based scribe Nirendra Dev titled, 'Modi to Moditva - An Uncensored Truth' could be a revealing page-turner.

The book discusses various facets of Modi’s politics especially in last 10 years and underscores that Narendra Modi has perhaps emerged as an architect of change. He also wants to sell the development card to his voters and the rest of the world. The story of Gujarat in the last decade is the story of Modi, it says.

Dev feels like a writer with a divided sensibility but also deliberately raises a few uncomfortable questions.

He also throws a rather mystifying question: "If Modi is a pragmatic politician, how can he be faulted? (for Hindutva chauvinism) After all, which chief minister can go against the overwhelming near 90 per cent voice of his people?”. “Look at what Manipur chief minister did in disallowing Naga rebel leader Thuingaleng Muivah from visiting his native village? I call this phenomenon the ‘collaboration’ of the state with communal organizations,” says Dev, also a keen northeast watcher. “Modi is simply playing back to the gallery,” writes the author of ‘The Talking Guns: North East India’ published in 2008.

The new book ‘Modi to Moditva’ also points up the obvious that the state’s principal opposition Congress is also trying to “play back to the audience without offering itself as a viable ‘secular’ alternative”. “While Sonia Gandhi’s party goes overboard in appeasing Muslims and also pinning the Sangh Parivar for Malegaon and Hyderabad blasts, it has turned to an ex-RSS man Shankersinh Vaghela to take on Modi. The party’s best known RSS-baiter Digvijaya Singh has maintained a silence on it.” In this context, he further says, so much has been Modi’s success in these endeavours that onetime Hindutva zealot Pravin Togadia has been “forced into oblivion” after a failed battle of wits with Narendra Modi. “While Modi and BJP are in power for more than last 10 years in Gujarat, a key frontal organization of the Sangh, the VHP has been rendered rather into playing a second fiddle if not totally out of scene.” It goes without saying that prior to the Modi phenomenon in Gujarat, the VHP used to call the shots.

Analyzing in some details, Dev, who has also authored another book on Gujarat, ‘Godhra – A Journey to Mayhem’ says even as constant efforts are on to market the Modi-brand as a pro-development card to garner votes, essentially Modi-brand is only “a Hindutva brand”. Narrating how the controversial Gujarat chief minister is trying to reinvent himself to gain “wider acceptability”, the book says, “It is perhaps with this issue in mind that his (Narendra Modi’s) poster was put in Ahmedabad airport, albeit for the first time, to wish good luck to the Haj pilgrims”.

On the post-Godhra riots, Dev says the anti-Muslim mayhem had a ‘salutary effect’ in uniting the Hindus. Such unity in a caste-ridden Hindu society in Gujarat was no mean achievement for the believers of Hindutva. Modi was strongly regarded as someone who stood by the Hindus and thus in no time, he emerged a local hero and Sangh Parivar propagandists rightly called him ‘Hindu Hridaysamrat’.

Dev feels in 2002 and after the “polarization of Hindu voters suited him (Modi)” but the manner and the speed with which it came, even Modi was left surprised. According to some police and administrative reports, the Gujarat government thought the retaliation could go on maximum for 72 hours; that is 3 days. But it went for three months. “Modi had to justify the reaction of the majority voters. This endeared him to Hindus irrespective of caste factors,” says the book.

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