A deeply disturbing aspect of Narendra Modi‘s domination of the public discourse is the amount of “goodwill” he appears to generate among “decent” and “educated” Indians, not just in India but across the world, despite the blood on his hands and that trickling down his gleeful mouth. Deeply disturbing, because it bodes ill for our democracy, not just in Gujarat but across the country, in the near to medium term.

Seemingly pious people, with vedas and upanishads on their lips, seem inclined to ignore, even forget, the bestial massacre of 2002 as a minor, even necessary, aberration. Gandhians who aver “an eye for an eye makes the whole world go blind” in anguished letters to the editor, say the Hindu hitmen did the right thing after Godhra. Supposedly cosmopolitan types speak as if the economic, social and now even electoral boycott of Muslims is a good, even right, thing to show “them” their place. Those who abhor generalisations, seem eager to buy into his demonisation of all Muslims as terrorists.

When Modi screams vacuously that Gujarati asmita is being targetted by those who question his actions; when he shouts that the land of Gandhi and Patel is being defamed; when he cocks a snook at the human rights commission and the election commission; when he makes fun of Miyan Musharraf and James Michael Lyngdoh; when he walks out of media interviews; when he says Sohrabuddin deserved what he got and that he is ready to hang Afzal Guru if the Centre cannot, there are many who silently applaud his belllicosity.

So what, they say, look at the “development” in the State, the 12 per cent growth; the “Gujarat Model” is what the nation should adopt. Result: a hate-monger who plays on the deepest fears and fantasies of his people, and who stands for everything Hinduism doesn’t—intolerance, hatred, exclusionism—has not only attained an air of acceptablity but is being touted as “prime minister material” by the likes of Arun Shourie. Voters in Gujarat do not have too much of a choice considering that many of those plotting his downfall were those who propped him up and took part in the bloody revelry.


But, if you are a voter outside Gujarat and if somebody of the noxious notoriety of Narendra Modi was the chief ministerial aspirant in your State, would you vote for him given his record, his reputation, his statements, his arrogance, his venom?

Cartoon: E.P. Unny / The Indian Express