Know Your NaMo

Not very many people – living outside Gujarat – know that Narendra Modi, the Parivar’s ‘PM in waiting’ also happens to be a ‘passionate writer, poet and a lover of culture..’ and how ‘[d]espite his busy, .. schedule, ..devotes time to ..writing, interacting with people on social media etc.’ (www.narendramodi.in) We are also told that he has been writing ‘since he was young.’

Let me admit at the outset that this poor penpusher was rather unaware of Modi’s writing prowess apart from one of his initial attempts to pen a book called ‘Karmyog’ which had miserably backfired. It was basically a collection of his speeches to IAS aspirants and had to be withdrawn rather unceremoniously as it ‘glorified untouchability’. (http://blogs.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/true-lies/entry/modi-s-spiritual-potion-to-woo-karmayogis).

Coming back to Mr Modi’s writing skills recently I came across a series called ‘Modi and His Mentors’ (www.firstpost.com) where the would be PM of this country has talked about many of those people who impacted his life in very many ways. He talks about one ‘Babubhai Oza, the ‘other OBC luminary of RSS’ or ‘Bachubhai Bhagat, the RSS mainstay for five decades’ and many other people. Aakar Patel, a journalist by profession, has reproduced these excerpts from Modi’s Gujarati book ‘Jyotipunj’.

I was particularly struck by the manner in which Modi has talked about Prof Keshavram Kashiram Shastry or Keka Shastri, famous Gujarati literary figure who had been  State president of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad for quite sometime and was part of its triumvirate alongwith international general secretary Praveen Togadia and Jaideep Patel. He emphatically mentions that ‘he was as a father to me’.According to Modi

Keka Shastri is a chapter in our glorious legacy. He was a student of our culture and religion, observer of the Gita’s values, giver of benefit to countless generations to follow. He was as a father to me and we shared a loving relationship. He was a scholar and a scientist.

(Read more at: http://www.firstpost.com/blogs/modis-mentors-kk-shastri-the-scholar-who-helped-save-the-gujarati-language-1433267.html?utm_source=ref_article)

Apart from discussing Shastriji’s long association with VHP he also tells us how the state felicitated him when he turned 100.

…When he turned 100, unfortunately, some people did not like the state felicitating him. It is sad that we disregard even pure gold in our midst, as if it were plain copper.

When I rose to speak at this event, I said: “This is such a perverse mindset! Some people are offended by the felicitation of Shastriji. It is unfortunate, friends, very unfortunate! Such people are ignorant. They don’t know what a priceless gem of Gujarat this man is. Or they are victims of a perverse mindset. You ask why the state is doing this? Why public money is being spent on it? Arrey, the man who has given so much to Gujarat, can never be repaid enough. He is the pride of Gujarat, friends! .. (-do-)

As a recap it can be told that the above mentioned speech was made at a gathering in Ahmedabad which was held after BJP’s humiliating  defeat at the hustings (2004). It was the first gathering of its kind where many stalwarts of the  Sangh Parivar had assembled to felicitate Keka Shastri. All the big names in the Parivar hierarchy like the exdeputy PM L.K.Advani, Narendra Modi and the likes of Togadia’s and Singhals as also a galaxy of saffron-robed sadhus had attended the programme.

It would be opportune here to understand why Keka Shastri’s felicitation had irked very many people. Perhaps it had to do with the way he ‘arrived’ on the national scence in the aftermath of the carnage in Gujarat. (2002).

o o

Keka Shastri, essentially a litterateur and a scholar of Gujarati language, inadvertently or so debunks the whole idea of spontaneity behind what is popularly known as Gujarat genocide.Much before the ‘Tehelka’ expose (2007) which brought forth the role of the Babu Bajrangis and other fanatics – all illustrious leaders of RSS and its affiliated organisations – in the killing spree of innocents he throws light on the planning which went into making that riot happen.

The interview Keka Shastri gave to the website http://www.rediff.com  ( It had to be done, VHP leader says of riots, Sheela Bhatt, 12 March 2002) was an admission for the first time by a leading member of Hindutva brigage about his organisation’s direct role in the carnage which officially saw over- 2,000 deaths, uprooting of lakhs of people  from their home and hearth and loss of hope of a just and peaceful life for  millions of people .

Rarely had one come across an interview so direct and at the same time so chilling. He had told the correspondent that

‘[t]he list of shops owned by Muslims in Ahmedabad was prepared on the morning of 28 February itself.’

In the tape recorded interview he said,

” In the morning we sat down and prepared the list.We were not prepared in advance.”

When the correspondent asked him why they did it, he responded,

” It had to be done, it had to be done.We don’t like it, but we were terribly angry…”

When the correspondent asked him how he, a scholar and literateur could condone the burning of living innocents, he remarked,

 ” The youngsters have done some things which we don’t like. We don’t support it. But we can’t condemn it because they are our boys.”.

He added for good measure

” We don’t believe that the boys had done anything wrong, because this was the result of an outburst….We needed to do something.”

The interview had also explained the inactivity of the police in simple terms by underlining that “they feared death” and ” some of them were Hindus who thought. let the mob do whatever it wants.” While talking to the interviewer his future prognosis was clear. He said the situation could get aggravated and bigger riots were possible.

o o

There is no doubt that if the Parivar people would not have been in power this literary figure would have been immediately hauled up and put behind bars for his attempts at “Promoting enmity between different religious groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language etc. and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony ( Section 153-A, IPC)”, or “deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings of any class, by insulting its religion or religious beliefs (Section 295-A,IPC),” or ” uttering words, etc with deliberate intent to wound religious feeling( Section 298, IPC)” or similar other provisions which have clearly laid down punishement for offences committed under such acts which ranged from three years to seven years rigorous imprisonment as well as fine. 

But he was not even called to the police station to explain his utterances. It was as if he was putting it in black and white what others of his ilk were implementing through this ‘successful experiment.’

What is disturbing is that his was not the first or only admission  about the role the VHP or the likes of Keka Shastry played during the carnage. In the ‘Letters to the Editor’ column Prof J. S. Bandukwala, vice president, PUCL Gujarat, whose house had also come under attack during the Gujarat genocide added that similar utterances were made by him in the print media. Prof Bandukwalla questioning the rationale behind the state government’s felicitation ceremony had said,

“[T]his is the same gentleman who on March 4, 2002, praised those who carried out the Naroda Patiya and Gulbarg society  massacres. In his words,  widely reported by the media, including the Times of India “ these were our boys, from respected families, who were trained to do this thing “. He never  retracted this statement.. As expected the Gujarat Government did not even file a case against him, for incitement to murder and rape.”

It is now history that the government led by Narendra Modi, which in the words of the Supreme Court had metamorphosed itself into ‘Modern day Nero’s’  then did not find it fit even to register a case against Keka Shastry for making hate speech  which was mandatory for them as per its own constitutional obligations. Even the ‘Swayamsevak’ Prime Minister then, who had no qualms in advising Mr Modi about his ‘Rajdharma’ during his visit to the Shah Alam Camp, did not deem  it necessary to exercise the central government’s own powers under Section 355 wherein the central government itself could have made a decisive intervention disregarding the local goons of the Sangh Parivar  incharge of the state machinery then. The self proclaimed ‘iron man’ also preferred to remain silent over this and rather concentrated on singing eulogies to Prof Shastry.

Modi ends his note in ‘Jyotipunj’ by saying

In another country, Shastriji would have been treasured. The world’s TV channels, doctors and scientists would have descended to find out the secret of his life. Over here, why do we often omit to do this? I cannot understand it.

o o

Let us watch out for a ‘Bharat Ratna’ to Prof Keka Shastry- a small tribute from a ‘son’ to his ‘father’ – if the ‘dear son’ manages to cross the 272 hurdle.

 

13 thoughts on “Know Your NaMo”

  1. I fully anticipate Bharat Ratna for men like KK Shastry who have fuelled the violent stream of thought that leads to such carnages as in Gujrat. In fact, the legacy bearers of such hate ideology are biding their time to be appointed to key positions of influence eg. in Education, Civil Administration and Human resources, where they can institutionalize their hate ideology and use Government resources to perpetrate and spread ideas of exclusion, hatred and violence towards minorities.

    It is the Hindutva dream to have unfettered access to the minds of youth so the hatred and conflict can be perpetuated to future generations. I hope academics, journalists and liberal thinkers can stem the tide of Hindutva that threatens to take over our nation today under the garb of development.

  2. Scary scenario indeed! But I am confident, despite the mass media esp the corporatised media’s support for Modi, the people of India are wise and will not allow Modi to rise. India is NOT Gujarat, thank god!

  3. In all these hate mongers wisdom and humanity has so been shelved for hatred and self-glotification that it is just a matter of time before the veneer of Hindutva wears off and the criminalized mind is exposed. By then they would LIKJE to be in positions of power. Power grab is their aim, nothing to do with the country, Hinduism, the people, nothing.

  4. Wow. Now I am scared shitless ! Don’t want to even imagine the future India with Keka Shastris and Mohan Bhagwats getting Bharat Ratnas…it is too scary. The trouble is once the bigots have got into power, for however small a duration, they can hijack the whole consciousness of a nation by their sheer passion. It is not a matter of them winning an election and then losing the next one….the changes in attitudes, perceptions that their likes will initiate, will take decades to repair. By God, I am scared.

    1. The good news is that bigotry cannot stand the test of peer reviews. As long as academia and administration is filled with subject experts, it is impossible to foist ideological streams of thought. Hindutva proponents were not able to do it during the last NDA rule which lasted 5+ years. It takes at least a decade for them to do political subterfuge at a grand scale to fill academia with Hindutva sympathizers.

      I think you might have mistaken loudness for passion. Hindutva as a political movement as a lot of loudness, but precious little passion. I see more passion in octogenerian professors and retired academic faculty than the entire bunch of loud nobodies like Shourie, Swamy and Swapan. If you want to see passion to research India’s history and culture and discover the pulse of Indian society at various times in the past, read Dr. Thapar or Dr. Habib.

      Similarly a lot of people mistake bravado for bravery. You see Modi indulge in a lot of bluster and bravado – but that is a sign of cowardice, not bravery. The whole hindutva political movement has relied on well timed, pre-elections, collective mob action against unarmed innocents – be it in 90s or now. It appears muscular but in reality is the epitome of wimpiness.

      1. I commend your optimism and sincerely hope that your arguments hold true. There is no doubt that there will be liberals, vehemently opposing them, with an equal passion whenever they sense that they are planning to ‘do their calling’. I also concede that their passion is just insecurities and cowardice masking as bravado and loud rhetoric. But we mustn’t forget, even when they had a smaller time to rule the last time, and even with the compulsion of coalition government, they succeeded in ‘correcting’ the whole history curriculum in many courses. And I believe that each of their rounds of ‘power’ brings furthermore people into their fold, leads to further more normalization of communal attitudes in society and their pitch gets even more louder….I mean, years ago, they used to cry hoarse over pseudo-secularism…now it has turned into just ‘secularism’. Yesterday it used to ‘hindu asmita’ and ‘equality to all’…now it has extended to ‘opposing the pink revolution, love jihad’ and ‘modernizing’ the madrassas.

        1. True, Mukesh. That is what I fear too. Also, the systematic recruitment of teachers sympathetic to their ideology is something I witnessed first hand. (An education minister here murmured chillingly, that is what we want).
          The trouble is not that they might retain power or might be overthrown later. But even in that thirteen day government they showed what they are capable of. They are brazen about it. Will not brook any opposition to their policies. I fear greatly for what they might do this time if they did get to power somehow.
          (By the way, nice blog, bookmarked it. Very nice).

      2. You are simply great.. I agree with you…. Wow, it makes me feel proud of my countrymen (countrywomen). I have always been proud of my country and will be.. But, unfortunately, it would still take time for me to take pride in saying that “These are my country people” You are truly secular.. Thank you so much.. Love India and all countries.. Every nation is great. It is just the politicians and the intellingence agencies that bring bad names to their own people. Jai Hind :)

  5. Like Mr. Kejriwal, I too am stuck between the 2M-s! Of course, a mor… is always better than a murde…! May be AAP is the only sensible choice.

  6. More “keka shastri” influence : BJP in it’s manifesto promises to modernize Madrassas. This is diabolical at worst and patronizing at best. I have some questions:

    1. Do only islamic religious education institutes need “modernization” ? Can BJP guarantee that there is no backwardness being perpetrated in other religious institutes ? Aren’t schools which teach astrology/palmistry, untouchability and assorted superstitious practices in dire need of modernization too ? Why single out madrassa only ?

    2. What really is “modernization” ? A process whose agent is external to the subject (the madrassa and it’s administration) ? Is there a plea from the subjects asking that they be modernized and declaring their inability to undergo the modernization without BJP’s help ?

    Discriminatory singling out of one religion as not modern is diabolical in so many levels. A subliminal othering of a religious grouping as practitioners of backward practices. An interference in personal religious beliefs. At best, it is a patronizing statement – much in the same vein as the “puppy” analogy.

    No externally-imposed reform has ever succeeded in any society. So clearly, BJP does not mean reform when it says modernization. It actually means to control the curricula, the financial aid and the staff of these Madrassas, so it can supplant the current staff with it’s own appointees who can preach a soft-hindutva type of curriculum at these traditional schools.

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