POSTED BY Sundeep Dougal ON Feb 29, 2012 AT 23:40 IST ,  Edited At: Feb 29, 2012 23:40 IST

Of the many TV shows, documentaries and discussions, the Last Word with Karan Thapar on CNN-IBN stood out, which discussed: Whether Narendra Modi still faces serious questions about his alleged role Is he the best administrator in the country? Or can both coincide?


Karan Thapar: Does the good administration image wash away his role in 2002 or does it simply reveal that here we have a schizophrenic or Janus-like personality? 

Tridip Suhrud: No, no, no. I think it is perhaps part of the same thing. He is perhaps the finest administrators of riots in the country. So the capacity for administration extends from managing violence, creating violence, perpetrating it, denying justice, to creating industrial growth. So there is actually no split there. I mean, there is an entire spectrum available— it moves from violence to industrial growth. But two points: One, when we say there have been no riots in Gujarat from 2002, we also have to understand that riots as a form of political mobilisation are giving diminishing returns increasingly, and that is being felt across the country. The second point clearly is that when you say that Gujarati society has been criminalized, we have to say that it is a society like Gujarat which throws up Modi and not vice versa. So the potential of violence that Gujarat had, as represented by a person like Narendra Modi, so it is not through interaction of society and politics but it is really the role of the society that needs to be investigated far more if you have to take Swapan Dasgupta seriously, and I think we need to take him seriously on that.

Karan Thapar: In the article that I mentioned Christophe Jaffrelot in the Indian Express yesterday, he says that the more Modi is attacked, the more successful he is in presenting himself as the face and defender of Gujarat and personalising the politics of the state within himself. Do you think the one great strength Modi has is that he has converted the adversity adversity outside the state into a strength within Gujarat's boundaries?

Swapan Dasgupta: I think we got a clear evidence of that from Tridip Suhrud's answer to the preceding question. I think when he said it is the criminalisation of Gujarati society which can only throw up a leader like Narendra Modi. What does it mean? It means that in the eyes of certain intellectuals, a degree of no-confidence in character of Gujarat, the ethics of Gujarat, the morality of Gujarat. Since, on the other hand, I have heard in the past few days various people suggest that the main reason the activists are persisting with this is to shower the Gujarati people with a sense of guilt over what happened in 2002. If such is the nature of attacks, then it is very understandable that when Modi says that an attack on me is a vilification of Gujarat, he is completely justified in making that assertion. That is why he is drawing a fair amount of support. When Sonia Gandhi spoke about "maut ka saudagar" in the 2007 election, he was making that into: 'Can a Chief Minister of a state who's been duly elected, be called that?' Gujarati society has taken that, has internalised that, and today when we talk about Narendra Modi, the chief minister of Gujarat, always the story goes back to 2002... as far as the Gujarati society is concerned, 2002 is past, there is a present that is good and there's a future which is far more appealing.

* It should be noted that Tridip Suhrud was making a point that has been made even by many other commentators, recently Ashok Malik, writing in the Hindustan Times, recently once again pointed out:

... First, the degree of popular participation was remarkably high. Religious riots, as any police officer from Malegaon to Maliana will tell you, usually involve a minuscule percentage of the population. In the three days after February 27, Gujarat police officers told this writer in 2002 that — and they were citing FIRs and plain surmise — two million people came out on the streets.

Gujarat had a population of 50 million in 2002: 88% Hindu, 9% Muslim. Of this 32 million were voters and aged above 18. As such 4% of the populace and over 6% of all adults were riot participants. In purely numerical, value-neutral terms, this would constitute a mass movement. The degree of social approbation for the events that followed the Godhra train massacre was significant. It can’t be explained as merely the act of a small core of masterminds.

A point that had separately been made more contentiously by Ashis Nandy in the TOI, way back in 2008 when he wrote:

Gujarat's spectacular development has underwritten the de-civilising process. One of the worst-kept secrets of our times is that dramatic development almost always has an authoritarian tail. Post-World War II Asia too has had its love affair with developmental despotism and the censorship, surveillance and thought control that go with it. The East Asian tigers have all been maneaters most of the time. Gujarat has now chosen to join the pack. Development in the state now justifies amorality, abridgement of freedom, and collapse of social ethics...

Recovering Gujarat from its urban middle class will not be easy. The class has found in militant religious nationalism a new self- respect and a new virtual identity as a martial community, the way Bengali babus, Maharashtrian Brahmins and Kashmiri Muslims at different times have sought salvation in violence. In Gujarat this class has smelt blood, for it does not have to do the killings but can plan, finance and coordinate them with impunity. The actual killers are the lowest of the low, mostly tribals and Dalits. The middle class controls the media and education, which have become hate factories in recent times. And they receive spirited support from most non-resident Indians who, at a safe distance from India, can afford to be more nationalist, bloodthirsty, and irresponsible.

[Nandy had also spoken to Outlook on this in 2008]

More on CNN-IBN: Rajdeep Sardesai: 'Ground Zero Gujarat' 

Barkha Dutt on NDTV  | Gujarat, 10 years after Godhra: What lessons has India learnt from horrors of 2002? From Gujarat Vidyapith, a university founded by Mahatma Gandhi in 1920

Barkha Dutt on NDTV:

POSTED BY Sundeep Dougal ON Feb 29, 2012 AT 23:40 IST ,  Edited At: Feb 29, 2012 23:40 IST
Follow us on Twitter for all updates, like us on Facebook for important and fun stuff

Post a Comment
Share your thoughts
You are not logged in, please log in or register
Must See
Daily Mail
Mar 06, 2012
04:25 PM

 If he's exonerated I agree, we do need to move on.  But he hasn't been tried yet.

Sydney, Australia
Mar 05, 2012
03:43 PM

You are right that politics involves abuse, but there is a parallel risk of inflaming the population as a whole. You can abuse Mayawati, but a large section of Dalits may view it very differently, rightly or wrongly. These things are exacerbated when a society gets herded into a corner where it feels that it has to speak for a person, no matter how complicit or innocent he may be of the crime committed. This is not restricted to Gujarat. Bengal gladly elected communists for close to three decades when the rest of the country wondered if the whole state had taken leave of its senses. Now Mamta is trying to don that same mantle of Bengali pride.

The problem with attaching blame on the larger population with reference to Modi is that he, in fact, turns out to be not so bad after all. In fact, then his apologists have a stronger argument about his competence in preventing riots in a society that had already been poisoned with communalism. I don't know what the truth is--probably a mixture of the two. In all this, we are also guilty of overlooking the most important factor in his reelection: that he has been a good administrator. I am quite sure his election in 02 was facilitated by riots but the same cannot be said about the subsequent elections. People miss out that for the bulk of us, at the end of the day, all we want is someone who can just provide us a decent environment to live and flourish. We are prepared to forgive his peccadillos, his motorcycles, his concubines, etc. Sadly, our so-called visionary leaders have turned out to be rascals of the purest class. Witness amul baby and his antics. In an era of privatization, he is selling 4.5% reservation to woo voters! Can you blame the voters for electing Modi?

I have written here before quite clearly that I am not a fan of Modi, but I do have trust in the highest legal system of our country and if he is exonerated by them, then no matter how much personally aggrieved I am by that judgment, I have no choice but to move on. There is no other course.

Tucson, United States
Mar 04, 2012
06:50 PM

[I think it's intemperate to abuse an elected leader]

Amit, all our election campaigns revolve around abuse of elected leaders.  And not just ours - that's kind of how democracy works.

The difference is that wrt Modi, some people are finally dispensing with the fig leaf that while some elected leaders are awful, the people who repeatedly vote them into power are always good.  Squaring that circle may be a politial imperative, but you can see how it challenges logic?

Sydney, Australia
Mar 04, 2012
02:10 PM


That particular point has been made by Swapan Dasgupta in reference to Sonia Mummyji's remark that Modi was a maut ka saudagar. Now, some may claim that he may be that and much more, but I think it's intemperate to abuse an elected leader.  People naturally take things like that as a personal insult. Modi has cleverly milked that to the maximum, as any politician would.

Tucson, United States
Mar 03, 2012
12:38 PM

 Amit - Gujarat keeps electing Modi because they don't care about the charges against him.  Either they don't believe them, or they don't think that a failure to maintain Raj Dharma when it comes to Muslim victims of violence is such a big deal. I don't think that what the ELM says has any influence on how Gujarat votes.

Sydney, Australia
Order by
Order by
Short Takes
click for more
recent tags
Barack Obama
Minority & Religious
Mobile Phones
Religious Discrimination
Science & Technology
A. Sanzgiri
Boria Majumdar
Dipsikha Thakur
Dr Mohammad Taqi
Freya Dasgupta
G. Rajaraman
K.V. Bapa Rao
Landing Lights
Maheshwer Peri
Namrata Joshi
Omar Ali
Our Readers Write Back
Outlook Web Desk
Outlook Web Desk
Prachi Pinglay-Plumber
Prarthna Gahilote
Shefalee Vasudev
Srishti Gupta
Sundeep Dougal
Sunil Menon
recent comments
The launch of the second volume of President Pranab...
Poll Started on: Feb 05, 2016
After an initial sighting some years ago, the Zika...
Siddhartha Mishra


OUTLOOK TOPICS:    a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z  0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9   
Or just type in a few initial letters of a topic: