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Interview
‘If Modi Apologises, It Will Be Viewed As A Weakness’
The director of Final Solution, a searing documentary on the 2002 genocide of Muslims in Gujarat
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Rakesh Sharma directed Final Solution, a searing documentary on the 2002 genocide of Muslims in Gujarat. He has continued to go back since then to record the changing face of the state’s right-wing politics. Excerpts from an interview with Namrata Joshi:

How did you start documenting Gujarat?

While working in 1991, on a Channel 4 documentary on the caste-based and centrist polity, I got an inkling of the consolidation of Hindutva forces, of the laboratory of Hindu nationalism. But the genocide came as a big jolt. The scale and nature of the violence and terror were too benumbing. If the Babri Masjid demolition in 1992 was a significant marker in the right-wing upsurge, then the 2002 genocide was yet another. It heralded Prakhar Hindutva, the aggressive side of Hindutva, which later turned into Moditva.

And you have kept at it?

I went back to shoot extensively during the 2007 poll process, travelled far and wide and spoke to a diverse audience. I felt the documentation should continue, that this universe should be explored. I was there for the 2008 Ahmedabad bombings and Godhra’s 10-year marker. It’s been a record of carnage, polity and the people. I’ve gone back to the people I encountered 10 years ago to see what has happened to them. This election marks the last chapter of my record of Modi’s decade.

How have things changed?

At the ground level, the polarisation is a grim reality masked by ‘Gujarat Shining’. The ghettoes are worse, the divides are clearer. The Muslim-dominated Juhapura would be bereft of basic amenities, but the adjoining Hindu areas won’t. There’s discrimination on every count, be it to get a BPL card or to ply an auto in a smaller town. It’s not a blatant, but a latent division. The general sentiment is “abhi Hindu ki chalti hai”.

How has Modi adapted?

Modi has been clever in trying to reinvent and reposition himself. He’s had a carefully crafted makeover from the chest-thumping ‘Miya Musharraf’ days. He’s marketed himself very well. But if you look past the development rhetoric at the social markers—malnutrition or crime—it’s a different story. 

Why wasn’t Godhra an electoral issue?

There is a deliberate amnesia amongst the urban middle class youth. They want broader roads, malls and the riverfront. They are happily consumerist. Even if you bring up the issue they say, “Bahut purani baat ho gayi”. But it is not so in the minority. They say, “Ek baar to afsos kiya hota”. But Modi has maintained complete silence. It goes well with the core constituency he’s cultivated. If he apologises, it’ll be seen as weakness, a chink in the armour of his projected supreme leader. The whitewash may happen later in 2013-2014 to become more widely acceptable.

COMMENTS PRINT
gujarat polls
The Gujarat strongman does it thrice in a row. More modest than he’d have liked, but he’ll no doubt make a play for India’s top job.
Saba Naqvi
gujarat polls
Will the Congress finally ask itself tough questions now?
Cover Story
The hill kingdom was only cause for cheer for Congress
Prarthna Gahilote
opinion
The Congress is left to count its gains; Modi’s success infuses a certain piquancy into the choices the NDA has to make in the run-up to 2014
Harish Khare
rss and modi
Modi’s big bang victory has neutralised, at least for now, the Sangh’s opposition to him
Prarthna Gahilote
Interview
Once a force to reckon with in the BJP, the man who called Vajpayee a mukhota
Panini Anand
opinion
By plotting a development course, Modi created pro-incumbency
Nirmala Sitharaman
victims
Amidst all the cheer for Narendra Modi, dissenting voices—not just Muslims, but Gujaratis of all backgrounds.
Panini Anand
muslims
A climate of fear combined with Congress ineptitude drove Muslims to Modi
Pragya Singh
women/youth
Modern, city-dwelling women of Gujarat adore Modi and seem to think he can do no wrong
Neha Bhatt
women/youth
Why Modi is a powerful magnet for young men and women
Priyadarshini Sen
opinion
Only one voice in Gujarat, said the visiting prince. How wrong he was.
Shiv Visvanathan
the middle class
Arch-deliverer of progress: Modi fits the bill. The middle class wants nothing more.
Debarshi Dasgupta
Modi & india inc
Big industry, Modi feed off each other in win-win relationship
Lola Nayar
MEDIA
Modi made it impossible for the media to ignore him
Anuradha Raman
Cover Story/ opinion
Anti-Modi crusaders run their rabid campaigns blindfolded
Madhu Purnima Kishwar
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