The Man And His Words

Narendra Modi has finally spoken. More than a fortnight after a Muslim man was lynched in Dadri by a Hindu mob over rumours of storing and eating beef, the prime minister summoned his deepest indignation and employed the strongest adjective he thought befitted the murder: “unfortunate”. “The Dadri incident or the opposition to Pakistani ghazal singer Ghulam Ali are sad and undesirable,” he told the Bengali daily Anandabazar Patrika in an interview.
In Modi’s esteemed view clearly, Dadri shouldn’t be given undue importance. It should be treated like another law and order issue – “regrettable” is all it deserves. In the prime minister’s book, the mob lynching of 50-year-old Mohammad Akhlaq can be clubbed with the cancellation of Ghulam Ali’s concerts in Mumbai and Pune after threats of violence by the Shiv Sena. 

Addressing the condemnation over the rising intolerance in India, Modi questioned the logic behind blaming the central government. “But what is the role of the central government in this?” he asked. Is not law and order a state subject? Is the prime minister supposed to react to all such “incidents” involving state governments?

Blaming the opposition

By raising this question and clubbing Dadri with the Ghulam Ali concert, Modi has put everything in perspective. Don’t blow Dadri out of proportion, is the warning. This is what pseudo-secularists are doing. “Such controversies have happened in the past too,” he told Anandabazar Patrika. “The BJP has always opposed pseudo-secularism.”

It is after a long time that the term pseudo-secularism has surfaced. Modi described the opposition parties, who insist on talking about Dadri, as pseudo-secular and accused them of polarising the society along communal lines. He was repeating at home what he has done abroad, during trips to Japan and France – mocking secularists.

The clamour for a word from the supreme leader should stop now. His terse response has demonstrated again the ideological consistency in the stand of this government. It is not the killing of a Muslim but the insistence on talking about it that is held to be communal and polarising.

But what about the Bharatiya Janata Party leaders who went to Dadri and, instead of assuring Akhlaq’s family of justice, warned the law and order machinery against unfairly victimising Hindu villagers? Who asked for a criminal case against Akhlaq? Who spread the rumour that Akhlaq was a Pakistani agent? Who promisedjan-dhan-gun (manpower, money and firepower) to the “innocent” Hindus of Dadri who were being unfairly targeted by the biased administration?

Words reveal the man

But why are we even asking all this? We seem to have forgotten his response when he was asked about the killing of 2,000 Muslims in the 2002 Gujarat pogrom under his chief ministership: “Even If I am in the backseat of a car and a puppy comes under the wheels, isn’t it painful? It is. Whether I am a chief minister or not, I am a human being – I will be sad if something bad happens anywhere.”

The words reveal the man. He is never shocked, never shattered, unlike his “long-lost brother” Barack Obama. US President Obama would have called Akhlaq’s killing a tragedy. But Modi is not given to such exaggerated outpourings.

The media and liberals should now stop nagging him with their implorations for a word of condemnation or sorrow after every such outrageous episode. They should not expect him to waste his energy on such routine matters. He knows how to preserve himself and use his lungpower where it is needed most. Did we not hear him loud and clear in Munger in Bihar where he thundered at Lalu Prasad for having insulted Yaduvanshis by saying that Hindus also eat beef?

The man does get outraged, but not by the killing of Akhlaq, not by the devastationat Atali. Outrage needs a context. It is futile to expect him to accept the context given by you. His interview, given in a measured language, is also a message to his more humanist supporters: they should overcome their embarrassment over such episodes and start treating them in a clinical manner. He is a man on a mission, unmoved by “such incidents”. It is his critics who get easily exercised about these little things.

6 thoughts on “The Man And His Words”

  1. 1.The apathy on the part of Narendra Modi is a bit uneasy.But he has gone on a defensive because media tried to pin him and his party for a law and order situation in SP ruled Uttar Pradesh and its election time.By all logic , this is a direct attempt to polarize the voters.
    2.He calls them as pseudo-secularists because he expect people to show similar outrage when a Hindu life is lost.Well you will accept it , Hindu lives doesn’t matter much to the media people.
    3.And there is no point in relating a comment about the puppy.This has always been used by people to take on him.I believe this is a dead issue.
    4.Well, yes he is a man on mission.He wants to go down in the history of India as a great PM.For that he sees economic agenda as his only concern.

    1. ishanarora, what you find ‘a bit uneasy’ is to many people reprehensible because Modi’s silence is not an act of omission but one of actual abetting – it sends out signals to the killers that the political regime is not going to touch them.
      What is more revealing in your blinkered comment of course is your point 2: For you Hindus are Hindus only when they are upper caste Hindus. The killings and humiliation of dalits is clearly not in your universe a violence against Hindus. As it happens, sometimes people are killed and hounded as dalits, on other occasions as agricultural labourers (as by upper caste Ranvir Sena goons). In your universe their exist only Hindus and Muslims, which is why you cannot see what exactly is going on around you – people have other identities, other concerns and Modi, your beloved man with a mission, wants to obliterate all that and institute the sick Hindutva mindset on the country.

      1. I don’t know in what sense you have taken my comment.Just one simple thing, everyone’s life matter.It could be anyone.There is point in saying the victim was a muslim.It was an unfortunate event and I wish the perpetrators are brought to account

  2. the normal sham is how it looks, the usual we condemn such stuff, guess it takes our Globe trotting PM, which euphemistically is supposed to be the reason for us attracting FDI and bizarrely enough convincing a publication no less than FT to say that we( india) attracted 31 billion in FDI in the first six months, though the govt arm DIPP told us truthfully it was only 19.1 bILLION, to WAKE UP and realize that a few deaths here are not sooooo important to be spoken of. after all when you are cozying up with Mark Zuckerberg and many US CEOs is good enough to make him forget; also as thinking of your next jaunt and itinerary is of PARAMOUNT imp, how does simmering and boiling in UP matter???? But to be fair to him, its the same LIP SERVICE that ALL our leaders indulge in and have been doing with consistency and regularity for the last many years. easily 20-30 or more!!!

  3. Only a naive person will expect religious tolerance from the BJP and the Sangh Parivar. If something positive comes from them it is sheer political expediency. Therefore, one has to keep a respectable distance from them. But what about the liberals/lefts? They have betrayed the cause of the common man which they are supposed to carry forward. Where are the study circles to impart political education to the masses? Where are the mass movement? Where are voices against the soaring prices of items of daily necessities? As far as the secularism is concerned, it is in the DNA of the residents of this sub-continent. Otherwise 80 per cent of this sub-continent would not have remained practising Hinduism in the 600 plus years of the Muslim rule. However, the liberal/left would make us believe that they were the sole custodians of secularism. To recall a famous comment of Comrade S.A. Dange, “the belly of North Indians is full. Therefore do not expect any revolution from them.” He was wrong. The North Indian liberal/left leaders are busy in their cozy houses, praying for the proletariat over a cup of coffee (and that too from Cafe Coffee day etc.) or sipping a peg of single malt (Johny Walker’s age is over) or drinking a large glass of Lassi and ventilating their ‘calculated’ anger in the media. They would seldom move in the countryside to gauge the situation first hand where the Muslims and Hindus live side by side despite the sporadic incidents of communal violence, fissuring the basic fabric of the society but not beyond the redemption. If the left/liberal wish to have an anti-Modi stand, they may have as everyone in a democratic society has a right to dissent but please not by giving impetus to the already charged communal tempers. One year ago, during a personal visit to Sialkot (Pakistan) ( It was not a delegation or visit to a relative) I saw the photo of a Hindu boy on a bill board in a Christian school in which Dr. Sir Allama Iqbal and Faiz Ahmed Faiz had their primary education. My wife, wearing a saree and a vegetarian (even onion not permitted) enjoyed her visit to attend a marriage of a friend. Every time she sees acrimonious debate on Indo-Pak relations in high pitch, she cries and says that it is the handiwork of governments. Common men on both sides of the border want to live in peace and harmony besides firm belief in the co-existence.

  4. There is a saying in Telugu “Manashi chachchina aaru nelalaki kukka morigindi” ( The dog barked six months after the death of aman.) Though, thank God! ‘This ‘ does not exactly fit in. For, the prime minister has finally spoken… Whatever might be, such higher authorities are not expected to look into such killings! It is a State subject! At least, he has spoken way before six months. He can slap umteen times, as the Telugu saying goes, “Raaju talachukuntey debbalaku kodavaa?” If the king wishes, is there a dearth of slaps? (Free translation)
    Wait there is another Sanskrit saying,”Yathaa Rajaah Tatthaa Prajaah.” (As the King is So the people are –free translation.) … If the ‘king’is is silent, people should be silent too!….

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