Narendra Modi’s detractors in Gujarat and elsewhere might be squirming at his victory, but one of his most vocal and visible critics, Mallika Sarabhai, says the fineprint is actually encouraging. The Ahmedabad-based dancer and activist, daughter of the renowned space scientist Vikram Sarabhai, and an MBA and doctorate from IIM, Ahmedabad, has been on the wrong side of Modi since the Gujarat riots of 2002.
She was made to pay for this, when in 2003 a dancer in her troupe filed a case against her, alleging that she had cheated her in not taking her on a promised US tour. For more than two years, Darpana Academy of Performing Arts, which Mallika runs, was routinely targeted by the Modi regime on the basis of that case. It was evident that the complaint was politically motivated and the charges were finally dropped for lack of evidence in early 2006.
Mallika continues to strongly oppose Modi’s brand of politics, but is not all cut-up with his recent victory. She tells VINUTHA MALLYA why:
VM: How does it feel to see Narendra Modi back as chief minister for a third term?
Mallika Sarabhai: Initially, I was very depressed, but after watching the election analysis, I am feeling much better.
VM: And why is that?
MS: The victory margin by which the BJP has won in many seats is very narrow. In some seats it is as little as three votes! In the state capital, Gandhinagar, BJP has won 81,000 seats against the second candidate who got 79,200 votes. The BJP has won narrowly in as many as 70 seats. So, it is not as disastrous as we thought. They have won hugely by luck.
VM: What is your interpretation of verdict 2007?
MS: Just because Modi has won does not mean all of Gujarat is behind this man. It is just not true to assume that. The margins also show that not every single person in Gujarat is ‘brainwashed’. So, I believe that this election has in fact shown encouraging results.
Photograph: courtesy Darpana Academy of Performing Arts