Fifth Column: Election Redux

It is an election about “vikas” and “parivartan” and Modi is seen as the magician who can make these things happen.

Written by Tavleen Singh | Updated: May 11, 2014 12:09 pm

This election really has gone on much too long. The stress of the campaign and the horrible, horrible heat are beginning to affect everyone in most peculiar ways. So last week we saw a celebrated TV anchor ask Narendra Modi who was going to be in his cabinet, seemingly oblivious to the fact that he is not yet the prime minister. We saw spokesmen of our oldest political party try to establish that Modi is really not as low caste as he claims to be. Does it matter? And why the sudden need to change his social status when just till the other day he was mocked by venerable Congress leaders for being just a chaiwallah? “He can come and serve tea at the next meeting of the AICC,” said a proud devotee of the Gandhi family. Remember?

Heat and stress are also beginning to affect those noble representatives of the ‘common man’. So on the day that Modi stormed Benaras yet again last week, we saw a very sulky and cross Arvind Kejriwal accuse him of making a “tamasha” just to stay in the media glare all day. From the master of this particular tactic, that is a real compliment. And then there was the madness of that “jan sailab (flood of humanity)” washing through the streets of Benaras for a glimpse of the man they hope will bring development and change.

Mercifully, the silliness and the personal attacks have not obscured the main message of this election. It is an election about “vikas” and “parivartan” and Modi is seen as the magician who can make these things happen, with the flick of a wand, if he is given the chance to be the prime minister. Nobody else, not even the BJP without Modi, is seen as capable of bringing about the change that India’s first middle-class election wants. What is sad is that the only group of Indians who are not participants in this outpouring of hope and aspiration are Muslims.

For them, the mood is sullen and scary. Wherever I have gone during the campaign, I have made it a point to seek out Muslims to understand why what happened in Gujarat in 2002 resonates so much more with them than more recent communal violence in Uttar Pradesh and Assam. I have stopped in small villages in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh and asked why the absence of electricity, clean water and roads should not be as important to them as it is to their Hindu brethren and I have asked the same questions of mullahs in urban mosques. Everywhere, there has been a standard answer. Modi cannot be trusted because of what happened in 2002 and because more recently he refused to wear a Muslim skullcap when a maulvi offered it to him.

Later, when I have come home and poured over my notes, I have been intrigued not just by the sameness of the answers but by how much harm Muslims could be doing themselves by remaining stuck in a time warp that could perhaps be no longer relevant. It is true that all our “secular” political leaders have used Modi to frighten Muslims into voting for them and this includes Kejriwal. It is also true that Modi has not worked hard enough to convince Muslims that he is not the monster they think he is, but there is a new element that I have detected in the Muslim mood in this election. Having spent many of my years as a reporter covering communal violence, I learned long ago to detect fear in a community and this time I saw no sign of it among the Muslims who said they would not vote for Modi.

What I saw was something much more worrying and this was a sense of power. It was almost as if they knew that in the name of secularism they would always be important to a certain kind of political party and that this would be their weapon to remain relevant. There was something deliberate in their resistance to Modi’s “India first” idea and something sad about the way they seemed to need to make it clear that for them religion was always going to be more important than such things as vikas and parivartan. They admitted that they had been let down by the political parties they had supported but they said they were determined to not let this come in the way of their conviction that the BJP would never be there for them.

So, mingled with the silliness and the political nonsense what we saw in the last days of this interminable campaign is the sad reality that an important section of India has not shared in the hope and excitement of this election. For this, every political party is to blame, both secular and communal.

Follow Tavleen Singh on Twitter @ tavleen_singh

For all the latest India News, download Indian Express App now

  1. P
    PN
    May 12, 2014 at 11:42 am
    Very well written and analyzed Tavleen! India needs to address this systematically by not allowing negative campaigning/ baseless allegations/ deviating from facts etc.
    Reply
    1. A
      Ajay Kumar
      May 11, 2014 at 2:26 pm
      My comment has been censored. Sad.
      Reply
      1. M
        Maria
        May 11, 2014 at 2:01 pm
        Asking Muslims to trust Modi after the carnage he enacted in Gujarat is like asking a raped girl to marry the rapist ! Yes communal violence takes place ; but what took place in Gujarat was pogrom ! Quite different ! Quite gruesome! Quite unforgettable ! This is not somebody's imagination running haywire ! The newspapers and magazines of 2002 will bear witness to this inhuman murder of children,women,pregnant woman,old men, human beings asking for mercy ! And then you go and ask Muslims to go and vote for the perpetrator of this pogrom ! The person who has no remorse over his crime ? The person who has just donned a mask to grab power through hook or by crook ?
        Reply
        1. M
          Murthy
          May 12, 2014 at 10:40 am
          What happened 2002 (both burning of train and the later part) is a shameful act. But holding one person for all the things happened during three or four days cannot be acceptable. the so called secularists are of the imaginations/ umption that the majority are the trouble mongers whereas it is untrue and converse is equally applicable.
          Reply
          1. L
            Lakshmi Chatti
            May 12, 2014 at 10:54 am
            It is unfortunate that the use of the Muslim community as a tool to come to power or remain in power persists since independence.More disturbing fact is that many communal riots took place post-1947 in many parts of the country, on many occasions the govt was found to be ineffective or even complicit to such disturbances.Most importantly,the Sikh riots of 1984 were originated and engineered by the ruling party at the center no occasion the victim community has behaved in the manner they did in case of 2002 riots.The design of the political parties in generating such type of mindset in the Muslim community and this section of the Indian potion responding to them accordingly replicates the policy of the British that ultimately led to the parion of the country.Let us hope that all the political parties will ,in the near future,change their approach and behave more responsibly.
            Reply
            1. N
              NLS
              May 12, 2014 at 8:17 am
              Maria, Live in the past and die in the past - be chained to it forever. And don't complain about lack of development, corruption, deable living standards, lack of education and opportunities for the skilled. Once sinned, always sinned.
              Reply
              1. L
                Local
                May 11, 2014 at 4:22 am
                Brilliant article, Tavleenji.The day the "muslim vote" will not be a "deciding factor" in election results, all political parties will be forced to come out of their convenient hiding place which is behind the psuedo-secularist facade that they have built over these last decades, and talk about the real issues that plague India. Politicians hardly speak and are hardly questioned on real issues like development, governance, growth, jobs, inflation, unemployment, infrastructure, education, hospitals.The watershed moment in this election could well be the youth.I believe somewhere after the 92 riots, all political parties realized that Muslim votes need to be targeted. And they have pitched majorly pla the secularism card ever since. The day the youth takes over, they will have to come out and answer questions on issues that are relevant now.
                Reply
                1. D
                  Dinesh
                  May 12, 2014 at 10:52 am
                  I don't think you know the difference between a 'pogrom' and a 'riot'. A 'pogrom' is when there is a one-sided killings. A 'riot' when two opposing sides go out to kill the opposing side. That is what happened in Gujarat in 2002. Have you forgotten who 'lit' the first match?. Yes, I am talking about the Godhra train set alight by Muslims, roasting alive 59 hindus (which included women and young children). Then when the killings started, 254 hindus were murdered by muslim mobs out of a total of 1000 dead. Muslims too, destro hindu properties, murdered children, women, pregnant women and old men asking for mercy. In short, Modi did not start the riot. Courts have given him a clean chit. Only Congress supporters believe in this oft-repeated trash. Come May 16th, the people of India will also give Modi a clean chit.
                  Reply
                  1. R
                    Rocky Vishnu
                    May 11, 2014 at 9:08 am
                    Excellent article....Touched the facts, which the intellectuals are afraid to say.
                    Reply
                    1. J
                      Jafo Jafo
                      May 12, 2014 at 9:51 am
                      People use words like pogrom, genocide etc without knowing the meaning. When a particular community is targeted , like what happened in 1984 delhi, it may be apt to use such terms. Not when two communities clash and 300 people die on one side and 900 people die on the other, it can never be termed as a pogrom. The riots started with violence from the minority community (Godhra), but once it spread, because of the demographic imbalance, the minority community suffered larger loss of life. Those who have a vested interest in keeping the embers burning and not letting the society get over the past and move on , they keep on bringing this up.
                      Reply
                      1. J
                        jey emm
                        May 12, 2014 at 10:55 am
                        How communal it is not to mention about the people who died in the train fire in Godhra.
                        Reply
                        1. J
                          jey emm
                          May 12, 2014 at 10:50 am
                          I think you need to trust people who profess BOKO HARAM ideology
                          Reply
                          1. J
                            jey emm
                            May 12, 2014 at 10:54 am
                            Whether some one likes or not Modi will be the PM. In this election and in all the previous elections which communities who voted enbloc should be considered as the most communal voters. Because they voted on the basis of religion.
                            Reply
                            1. K
                              Knn
                              May 12, 2014 at 3:57 am
                              This is one of the characteristics of Evangelists . They start writing wild comments without any head or tail and ficious things to blatant lies. Most of the riots took place due to un justified appeat of Muslim community by Congress party and regional parties. Read what happened in Muzaffar nagar ''Ifwe study the past history of riots/ stampede in the country during Hindufestivals or prior to elections and every where in general, Congress party'shand is obvious. Majority of the cases are happening in states governed by non-Congress parties. In Muzaffarnagar also, the riot was orchestrated by Congressparty to get Muslim votes. The appeat of Muslims by the SP Govt. in UPcreated a shock wave in the Congress party and they feared that they will loselarge % of Muslim votes in the coming parliamentary election. The only way theycan turn the table is to create a riot in UP so that SP Govt. can be blamed .If we go through some of the comments by Muslims, we can see that Congress’plan has succeeded in getting more Muslims to their side. A few weeks backsbefore the riot , Diggy said that BJP was planning to create riots in differentstates. He was exuberant when he said that, only proving that that was exactlywhat he and his Dirty Tricks Department had planned. We have seen what hashappened after that. Similarly the recent stampede in MP temple festival. Thiswas also engineered by the Con party crooks . Stampede near Sabarimala Ayyappan temple in Kerala took place on 14th January 2011, four months before the elections on 14th April 2011. In MP, the elections are scheduled for 25th November 2013. See the coincidence. So we can say that “there is a method in this madness.” Congress’ Dirty Tricks Department is the brainchild of the Evangelists, because it is in their interest that the Congress should bepropped up. Every time it is the hapless Hindus who are casualties. In case ofriots, both Hindus and Muslims are casualties. Even then, the ultimate gainersare the Congress and the Evangelists, who are gaining by reducing the number of Hindus(and also Muslims), and trying to convert the bereaved Hindus, as well as ensuring political victory for the Congress party by fueling ill-will among theMuslims and Hindus. . That means they are felling three mangoes with onestone!''
                              Reply
                              1. D
                                Deepak
                                May 11, 2014 at 7:05 am
                                Truly, this article is remarkable. Because it is the first time that in MSM media a prominent journalist has openly exposed the votebank politics and how one religion is being kept out of the loop and being provoked just in order to get votes. The arrogance of the muslim leaders in being blind and pandering to the crooked vote bank politicians will not affect them much, but it will cost the muslim community a lot as the community will continue to remain in the dark ages, thanks to the myopic leaders.
                                Reply
                                1. N
                                  navi b
                                  May 11, 2014 at 5:27 am
                                  Well said! For the Muslim, in general, it is always about their religion and not what is good for the collective common cause. Too bad even the indian Muslims believe in the same. It might have done them more good had they cast away their clinging and taken a step forward.
                                  Reply
                                  1. T
                                    tanu
                                    May 12, 2014 at 10:31 am
                                    AICC Press Conference Address By Kapil Sibal, 6 May, 2014This tells about a series of events in Gujarat government put the media and reports behind bars, leading to barring freedom of speech. People were charged with Sedition. Ashish Nandy included.I wonder why main media does not bother to report such events? Why taveleen singh does not write about it?
                                    Reply
                                    1. N
                                      NK
                                      May 12, 2014 at 7:18 am
                                      The man with the Mask is absolutely correct.
                                      Reply
                                      1. r
                                        rbs2706
                                        May 11, 2014 at 7:14 am
                                        Can any meaningful development take place without a very large section partiting or beneing from its fruits? NM seems to be aware that whatever he does, the muslims are not going to vote for him. The strategy of NM should be the same as in Gujarat; bring about peace and prosperity and ensure that it reaches all sections of society. In the next Lok Sabha elections of 2019, the self professed secular parties will by themselves be side lined.
                                        Reply
                                        1. S
                                          saurav
                                          May 12, 2014 at 6:21 am
                                          people believe what they want to believe; arguments and facts are just excuses. If wrote as if u r only one who knows everything.
                                          Reply
                                          1. H
                                            harry
                                            May 13, 2014 at 11:09 am
                                            What BOKO HARAM did was halal to most muslims, though they will not admit them in public. If one girl is abducted in Kashmir, the entire Muslim ummah would rise.
                                            Reply
                                            1. Load More Comments