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No election in Gujarat for now please
By Asghar Ali Engineer

It is no ordinary event that Mr. Narendra Modi has dissolved the Assembly in Gujrat and is in a hurry to hold election there by September or October. He is pretending that he is seeking people’s mandate. But, and it is important to note, people’s mandate cannot be sought in extra-ordinarily communally polarised situation as in Gujrat. Such elections cannot be construed as democratic elections under any circumstances.

First of all what was the crisis in Gujrat that an assembly wherein the ruling party enjoyed comfortable majority by itself had to be dissolved? Generally an elected assembly is dissolved only if there is crisis in the house or if a ruling coalition breaks down. No such thing has happened in Gujrat. The ruling party enjoys more than 2/3rd majority and not a single MLA has revolted or deserted the ruling party.

If any action needed it was to dismiss the chief minister Modi for his sins of omissions and commissions. All the right thinking people in the country, opposition political parties and the BJP’s own allies in NDA like Chandrababu Naidu of Telugu Desam Party demanded Modi’s dismissal but the BJP leadership did not relent. It was not Gujrat assembly, which was the real culprit in organising massacre of Muslims in Gujrat but Mr. Narendra Modi. However, Assembly has been dissolved and Mr. Modi is still at the helm of affairs. What an irony and mockery of democracy.

Gujarat, it should be noted, is far from normal. Of and on violent incidents have been taking place. There is palpable tension everywhere and all observers agree that Gujrat society has been polarised as never before. Observers of Gujrat social scene also agree that there is no sense of remorse among the killers. They continue to justify the communal carnage.

The BJP office bearers are projecting the Gujrat elections as people’s mandate and are asking rhetorically what is wrong in seeking people’s mandate? Who needs to seek people’s mandate? Entire assembly or the leader in command who is mainly responsible for the carnage, as all concerned agree? It would have been fine if Mr. Modi had resigned and sought re-election to the house to vindicate his position. Why punish other members of the House who were not responsible for the carnage. Can all be equally responsible? Or the leader has to share the responsibility as per well -established democratic norms. Why Modi is shying away from his responsibility?

He is now talking of Gujrat’s asmita (idenitiy) and had planned Gaurav Yatra (Pride of the Gujrat march). Who knows this march would have precipitated another outburst of violence. Again the opposition parties and secular persons had to protest in unison to stop this madness. Any other government would have long resigned rather than precipitating crisis after crisis. One also would like to ask what is that Modi is proud of that he wanted to take out Gujrat Gaurav yatra. Is he proud of bloodshed of minorities in Gujrat? Or of utter inefficiency of his administration in tackling unprecedented massacre of Muslims?

No democracy can function the way Narendra Modi wants to function. It is not at all democratic to dissolve an elected assembly before its time has expired. There was no democratic crisis worth the name to do that. If there was any crisis it was crisis of handling the situation with efficiency and honesty. It was crisis of secularism, it was crisis of humanitarian values, it was crisis of respect for human life, it was crisis of honour and dignity of women.

In Narendra Modi’s chief ministership neither human values were respected nor any respect was shown to innocence of children or even of unborn babies. Unborn babies also had no safety. That was brand of Hinduism, which Mr. Modi subscribed to and now takes pride in practising it in Gujrat. But Mr. Modi should remember it is not Hindutva raj of BJP’s dream but secular democracy founded by our great leaders and visionaries like Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, Sardar Patel and Maulana Abul Kalam Azad. They had respect for all religions and tolerance for others. They decided to remain secular despite horrors of massacre during partition.

And when first general elections were held in 1953 after our secular democratic constitution was adopted and Maulana Azad was given ticket from Rampur he rejected since it was given on the ground that it was Muslim majority area. He maintained he is not only representative of Muslims; he is representative of all Indians and hence subsequently he was given ticket from Haryana. 

These are the ideals of our Constitution, which are sought to be sabotaged by some fundamentalists or fanatics to establish their raj. The Gujrat carnage is being taken as an experiment for winning elections and then trying it out in other states. Rajasthan is sitting atop Gujrat like dynamite. The VHP is very active in Rajasthan to repeat Gujrat. It is well known that the BJP is using Gujrat as a laboratory of Hindutva.

Thus the elections in Gujrat are going to be of great significance for BJP and murder of democracy as far as the country is concerned. Mr. Modi is not seeking people’s mandate but endorsement of Hindutva raj. As for people’s mandate it is far from suitable time for it. How can you ask for people’s mandate when there is no normalcy and people are sharply divided on communal line and minorities are feeling intensely insecure? They do not even have proper houses to live in. Where will they vote?

And voting is not their priority now any way. They are not only deprived of their elementary needs but even of justice. According to Mr. Kingshuk Nag of Times of India, Ahmedabad, justice (for Muslims) is still light years away. Also, there is hardly normalcy in state yet. Mr. Nag writes in his edit page article in TOI on 22nd July 2002 “All over Gujrat, as an uneasy calm prevails, due process of law is being subverted in these and other indirect ways. Consequently, justice for the victims of the mindless violence seems light years away, that is justice is ever done.”

Mr. K.P.S.Gill who was sent to Gujrat to restore normalcy and control communal frenzy also maintains that Gujrat is far from normal. In an interview to The Asian Age (29 July 2002) he said answering a question whether Gujrat has returned to normalcy, he said, “No, I never said that normalcy has returned. I have said we have a situation in which there is absence of violence.”
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