Wednesday, February 28, 2007

BJP's poster boy

Sunday New Indian Express 25-02-2007


Swapan Dasgupta


One of Indira Gandhi's most enduring but disagreeable contributions to public life lay in obliterating the distinction between politics and politicking. In 1969, she sacked Morarji Desai, her main rival in the Congress, and then proceeded to nationalise the banks and abolish privy purses. Putting an ideological gloss to what was essentially a factional struggle, she projected herself as a decisive leader, split the Congress and won a resounding mandate in the 1971 general election.


In steamrolling her way to absolute power, she also set the parameters of what has come to be regarded as decisive leadership by the political class: the ability to bludgeon all potential challengers. In 1990, Vishwanath Pratap Singh emulated this model by implementing the Mandal Commission report on reservations so as to steal the thunder from Devi Lal, his foremost challenger in the Janata Party.


The Bharatiya Janata Party has maintained that it does not seek to emulate the culture of the Congress and its various offshoots. Its self-perception is not so much that of a voluntary association as an extended parivar (family). A parivar may well have internal strains and rivalries; there may even be serious disagreements on key issues. However, the unwritten convention is that the integrity of the parivar has to be maintained at all costs. It is obligatory for the nominal karta (head of the family) to take everyone along. This includes those who have lost their immediate utility, are in disagreement with prevailing policies and even those who are a complete nuisance. The parivar approach implies that the personal stamp of an individual leader cannot become the hallmark of the party. Somewhere along the line, aggregation has to prevail.


The late Kushabhau Thakre, a full-time RSS pracharak who was assigned political responsibilities as early as 1951, epitomised this consensual approach. When confronted with contentious choices, his invariable advice was: ''Please discuss it among yourselves, come to a decision and that will be my verdict.'' It was neither a particularly political approach nor did it correspond to the lessons in leadership proffered by modern management colleges. Yet, Thakre was widely respected in the BJP and wielded awesome moral authority.


By convention, the BJP, in line with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, has attached more importance to the process of decision-making rather than the decision itself. In theory, the party president is vested with extraordinary powers. What is unstated, however, is that the exercise of powers is coupled with wide-ranging consultations. An individual may get his way despite objections of colleagues but not before it goes through a filter. Even flights of whimsy have to be approved in committee -- Vajpayee was adept at playing this game. One of the serious allegations against L K Advani was that he didn't bounce his controversial views of Mohammed Ali Jinnah with colleagues before making them public in Pakistan.


The corollary of this fanatical devotion to consultations is the insistence on total discipline. Since it is understood that all decisions are considered, it follows that no one has the right to question them in public.


This may explain why BJP President Rajnath Singh's controversial appointment of party office-bearers has elicited no public statements by those who are apparently dissatisfied. The exclusion of Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi from the Parliamentary Board and the Central Election Committee was an audacious step. At the 2002 National Executive in Goa and immediately after the 2004 general election, Atal Bihari Vajpayee had tried to force Modi's resignation. On both occasion, there was an outcry in the party and the moves came to nought.


The question is: how was Rajnath allowed to do what he did earlier this month and that too when Assembly elections in Gujarat are just some 10 months away? What is also significant is that the move came at a time when Modi has successfully reinvented himself as the high priest of development and administrative efficiency.


Since Rajnath has a track record of both second-guessing the RSS and acquiescing in all their suggestions, many analysts are justified in deducing that the snub delivered to Modi must have had the backing of Nagpur. Modi's strained relationship with a section of the RSS in Gujarat and his feud with the local wing of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad are, after all, not state secrets.


Information from within the party suggests that Rajnath did indeed inform Vajpayee and Advani of his plan -- the latter apparently hinted that it would be injudicious. Yet, there was absolutely no basis for his claim that the move was inspired by the RSS. Someone somewhere may have been consulted, but did those individuals pass their personal preferences as the collective view of the RSS? The full story may never be known but the upshot is that the RSS, which claims to be a cultural organisation, has taken a dim view of the BJP President trying to use it as a cover for a decision whose logic is to be found in Indira Gandhi's legacy of politicking.


Yet, even by the exalted standards of political guile, Rajnath was found wanting. If the RSS distances itself from the organisational rejig, where will it leave him? Will he not then be accused to lowering the presidency to the level of a faction?


The appointment of office-bearers has cleared the air on a crucial issue. For the past two years, the BJP and BJP voters have been agonising over the choice of a successor to Vajpayee. In targeting Modi, Rajnath has clearly identified the man he considers his foremost challenger.


Actually, the emergence of Modi as the BJP leader-in-waiting was becoming increasingly apparent. For the past four years the Gujarat Chief Minister has been working assiduously to transcend the image of a sectarian leader. He has focussed on firm leadership, efficient administration and a no-nonsense economic policy. Helped in no small measure by the entrepreneurial culture of the state, he has built Gujarat as a show-case for high-voltage development. Apart from those who regard him as a Hindu icon, he has steadily won the admiration of Indian business -- as was evident from the resounding success of the Vibrant Gujarat summit last month. Politically too he has emerged as the BJP's main poster boy, even outside Gujarat. His rallies, whether in Maharashtra or Kerala, have elicited huge responses.


For the moment, Modi has to focus on winning the Gujarat Assembly election for the BJP. If he succeeds, the pressure by BJP supporters to bring him to national politics and project him as the prime ministerial candidate will become very hard to resist. As things appear at present, only a self-goal can prevent Modi from assuming Vajpayee's mantle. In retrospect, the BJP may well thank Rajnath for bringing subterranean currents to the surface.

Finally admitted that there is a jihad being conducted in India

This is Teestaji at her very best! The most precious parts of this
report are the following two:
ONE:
"Though Setalvad was not willing to comment on the possibility of a "Hindu terror link" to the Samjhauta bombings...."

and TWO:
"Such materials are being used to prepare crude liquid Molotov cocktails. "The blasts on-board Samjhauta were executed using a combination of similar crude pieces," she claimed."

Both Teestaji and the publication have a very poor opinion of the people
at large.

Anyway to find a silver lining, at least Teestaji has finally admitted
that there is a jihad being conducted in India.


Namaste.
Ashok Chowgule





Anupam Dasgupta
February 22, 2007
http://www.dnaindia.com/
Two days after the Samjhauta Express blasts, social activist Teesta
Setalvad took potshots at the administration demanding that Hindu
right-wing fundamentalist groups like the RSS, Shiv Sena, Bajrang Dal
and VHP be banned.

The point, the firebrand social worker, was trying to convey was that
the state governments and the Centre should be neutral to the point of
treating Hindu terrorist acts and jihadi terrorism "on a par".

Though Setalvad was not willing to comment on the possibility of a
"Hindu terror link" to the Samjhauta bombings (since innocent Pakistani
nationals were targets), she claimed Hindu terrorist groups are being
"protected" by the police and the intelligence agencies. She claimed the
acts of terror perpetrated by Hindu fundamentalist groups were not being
properly "explained".

She said, "In some cases, investigations were abandoned midway while
in some others the investigating agencies just preferred to turn a blind
eye to the existing state of affairs. The need of the hour is to instil
a sense of neutrality and purpose in our police agencies and the way
they are marshalled by their political masters."

Expressing concern at the smaller urban towns across Maharashtra
registering significant growth of "bomb-making factories", mostly run
and managed by Hindu operatives with terrorist leanings, Setalvad
demanded that they should be arrested by the government.

Referring to the "impact explosion" on February 10 at Nanded that took
a life due to the inept handling of highly inflammable materials stored
inside a godown, Setalvad tried to explain that Hindu right-wing terror
is as much a worrying phenomenon as the jihadi variety.

Pointing fingers at the sloppy probe into the Malegaon blasts, the
activist said the state was virtually compelled to summarily transfer
the case to the CBI even as the Anti-Terrorism Squad had a 2,000-page
chargesheet in place.

On the latest incident at Malegaon (on February 10), Setalvad said the
Concerned Citizens Inquiry report - a parallel investigation carried out
by the social group in the two Nanded blasts cases - suggested the
existence of ingredients (glycerine, sulphuric acid and nitric acid/
glass and gelatine sticks) used in manufacturing liquid bombs.

Such materials are being used to prepare crude liquid Molotov
cocktails. "The blasts on-board Samjhauta were executed using a
combination of similar crude pieces," she claimed.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Assume Teesta's agenda is -- to combat communalism

A comment by "decratl" at Saag Forum

Teesta's agenda - to combat communalism (lets assume that this is her personal and official agenda!!!!). I hope she realises that communalism is a social problem and how to solve it??? It takes many years or probably even decades. Social problems don't vanish by the time one snaps fingers. It will not go away by people trying to champion (Pseduo)secularism on 10min - 15min TV debates. If Teesta and co. are/were to be really knowledgeable in handling communalism, they should stop talking after issuing a condemnation statement in the press. Without knowing the difference between terrorism and communalism branding Hindu right wing activists as terrorists gives enough ammo for animosity. I hope VHP/Bajrang Dal will be counter these words, if at all if they want to, democratically rather than resorting to violence, strikes, bandhs.

In that debate, at the end Mr. Shashank said that what Mr. Raman told was "historically and factually" correct. Hope Teesta will get her facts correct next time she comes or is invited for a debate. Social activism and bureaucracy/diplomacy are not at the same level in the hierarchy. Bureaucracy/diplomacy are well above social activism. Social activists should first know that bureaucrats have access to both larger picture as well as minute details. Teesta should confine herself to preaching "Communal Harmony" and debating these issues with Jehadis and Hindu right wing activists.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

CNN-IBN's expert don't know difference between communalism and Terrorism

Posted by decratl at SAAG Forum

http://www.ibnlive.com/
The panel composition was: Pakistani Political and Defense Analyst, Lt Gen (Retd) Talat Masood; former Director, Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), B Raman; Social Activist Teesta Setalvad; and former Foreign Secretary Shashank.

Why was this ODD person Teesta called in??? The panel has retired bureaucrats/diplomats and how does this social activist fit into that. The topic was "Indo-Pak peace" and related issues and how are diplomacy and social activism inter-related. What makes somebody think that she is even qualified to sit and debate with this kind of experienced panel. God knows which brilliant brain thought of including Teesta among the panelists

".....We have had terrorism from the Hindu right-wing activists....."

The actions of Hindu right wing activists, can be at the max, termed communal and CERTAINLY NOT terrorism.

Countries on this planet are still finding it difficult to come to a correct definition of terrorism and here is an expert who has come to talk about terrorism!!!!!. Of late she is being promoted by CNN-IBN as an expert and is being called upon to talk on all kinds of issues (what a joke!!!!). People who cannot differentiate between communalism and terrorism are called to talk about intelligence, diplomacy, investigation, terrorism (irony), Indo-Pak peace!!!!!!.

No other panelist traded personal charges against another panelist and here is a person who is saying Mr. Raman to be arrogant!!!!! She doesn't even know the basic rules of communication when diplomats and bureaucrats meet. and dear readers she is an expert!!!!!!

GUJARAT: LOOKING BACK

http://www.saag.org/

By B. Raman

It is five years since the brutal massacre of a group of Hindu pilgrims by some members of the Muslim community in the Godhra railway station in Gujarat and the violent Hindu-Muslim riots that followed. There has so far been no objective account of the incidents of 2002 in Gujarat. An unfortunate attempt has been made by the so-called secular elite of the country to create doubts in the minds of the people about the facts relating to the carnage at Godhra. The use of force by the Administration to bring the resulting law and order situation under control has also come in for criticism from this elite. Among the criticisms made by them are that the force used was excessive and disproportionate; that it was mainly directed against the Muslim community; that there were many atrocities committed against the Muslims; that it was politically orchestrated etc.

2. Such a campaign to play down the culpability of minority communities and to direct the attack against the administration, particularly the police, and the majority community is nothing new in our history since 1947. This has always happened after every communal riot. Whenever some Muslims take the law into their own hands, it is always the police which is criticised for acting against them. The secular elite rarely criticises the Muslims, who violated the law in the first place, and rarely calls for action against them. The voice of the secular elite will carry greater credibility if it modifies its present position that "the Muslims can do no wrong" and that it is always the Hindus and the Administration who are responsible for anything going wrong, which affects the interests of the Muslims.

3. If there are signs of an emerging divide between some sections of the Hindus and Muslims, the so-called secular elite cannot escape a major share of responsibility for this. Its compulsive habit of justifying every cause and complaint of the Muslims---whatever be the merits--- and its repeated failure to articulate the feelings and sense of anger of the Hindus are creating an impression in the minds of growing sections of the Hindus, who constitute 80 per cent of the population of the country, that for the secular elite only the rights of the Muslims count and not the rights of the Hindus. One finds this particularly in the case of the youth.

4. One talks often of the spreading radicalisation of the Muslim youth and of the need to address the root causes of their anger and to appeal to their hearts and minds. This is very important. I have myself been advocating it since the Mumbai blasts of March, 1993. But, we should also take note of the emerging radicalisation of sections of the Hindu youth and of the need to address the root causes of their anger and to appeal to their hearts and minds. The Government will be committing an error of judgement if it fails to take note of the feelings of concern and hurt in the minds of large sections of the Hindu youth. They have many reasons for their concern---- the perceived softness of the Government in dealing with jihadi terrorism; its repeated admonition of the police for trying to do their duty while investigating terrorism-related cases; its action in playing down the role of Pakistan and its Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) in sponsoring jihadi terrorism in Indian territory; its secret talks with Pakistan on sensitive issues such as the future of Jammu & Kashmir and the Siachen glacier without taking the Indian public into confidence; the attempt to bulldoze the public and the bureaucracy into implementing the recommendations of the Sachar Commission etc.

5. The Muslims are the rightful citizens of this country. We are proud of them. They have every right to enjoy the benefits of our Constitution and the fruits of our economic development and to expect that the Administration, including the Police, will protect them. I was more critical than anybody else----when I was in service and after my retirement---- about the failure of the Narasimha Rao Government to protect the Babri Masjid, about the failure of the Mumbai Police to protect the Muslims in the communal riots that followed and about the failure of the Narendra Modi Government to protect the Muslims after the Godhra carnage and about some of his crazy ideas on counter-terrorism. I have been more lucid than anyone else in drawing attention to the fact that there was no jihadi terrorism in Indian Territory outside J&K before the demolition of the Babri Masjid in December, 1992. There were communal riots, but no jihadi terrorism.

6. At the same time, I have also been pointing out that the Muslims too have obligations like any other citizen, whatever be his or her religion----like the obligation to observe the law; not to look beyond our frontiers for ideological and religious inspiration; to condemn the resort to brutal terrorism by members of their community; and to help the police in dealing with this terrorism. They also have the obligation to try to achieve their legitimate political and economic objectives through legitimate means and not through intimidation. Recently, a highly-respected intellectual of Delhi told me of his sense of shock when he heard some leaders of the Muslim community warn at a meeting convened by one of the Ministries of the Government of India that there would be more jihadi terrorism in India if the Sachar Commission report was not implemented in toto.

7. What is this but an attempt at criminal intimidation? Doesn't the Government have the obligation to put down such attempts? Doesn't the public have the right to protest against it? If a Muslim leader resorts to intimidation, one dismisses it as an instance of understandable anger. If a Hindu protests against such intimidation, he is demonised as communal, anti-Muslim, anti-Islam etc. These double standards have to go if we have to strengthen national harmony and integrity.

8. Since 1947, India has faced many mutations of terrorism---ethnic, ideological and religious. It has reasons to be particularly concerned over the persisting menace of jihadi terrorism and the role of Pakistan in fueling it. The jihadis wish ill of India. They want India to break up. They want to "liberate" the Muslims of India, create "Muslim homelands" in our territory, which would ultimately form part of the global Islamic Caliphate, which Osama bin Laden wants. The jihadis use force ruthlessly. The State has the right and the duty to resort to the use of the legal force of the State against them. Whenever a State has lacked the will to act firmly against them, they have thrived.

9. The fears one had in 2002 that the anger in the Muslim community over the perceived sufferings of their co-religionists in Gujarat might result in a wave of acts of reprisal terrorism have not come true. We saw more instances of reprisal terrorism by the jihadis after the demolition of the Babri Masjid than after the Gujarat riots--- the Mumbai blasts of March, 1993; the simultaneous explosions on board trains in the North in December, 1993, coinciding with the first anniversary of the demolition of the Babri masjid; the acts of violence of the Al Ummah in Tamil Nadu, including the serial explosions in Coimbatore in February, 1998 etc.

10. There have been many incidents of jihadi terrorism in different parts of India since the Gujarat riots. Of these, only one---the attack on the Aksherdam Temple in Ahmedabad in September, 2002---- could be attributed to this anger. The rest of the incidents in Mumbai, Delhi, Varanasi, Ayodhya and Bangalore were not committed in a moment of uncontrollable anger. These were coolly and carefully prepared and executed acts of terrorism by some members of our Muslim community, who have joined hands with the pan-Islamic jihadis from Pakistan and its ISI. Their target is not just Gujarat. Their target is India and its economic prosperity. Their anger is not just against the Gujarat Government. It is against India and its people for refusing to let themselves be intimidated by the terrorists and for continuing to make rapid economic progress and showing signs of emerging as a major power despite their acts of depredation, sponsored by the ISI. Nothing less. I am not commenting on the latest incident at Deewana, near Panipat, because all the facts are not yet in.

11. We owe it to our Muslim co-citizens to see that their lives and property are protected, that they have the same opportunity for economic advance as the members of the majority community, that there is no discrimination against them---political, economic or social, that they are able to observe their religious practices as they wish so long as they observe the law of the land. At the same time, in our necessary attempts to win the hearts and minds of our Muslim community and redress their grievances, we should not under-emphasise the need to root out jihadi terrorism and the mind-set behind it from our territory. We should not project Pakistan as a born-again saint. It is not.

12. Five years after Godhra, there is a need for an introspection---by the Muslims and the secular elite of the brutality of those responsible for Godhra and by the Hindus and the Administration of how the subsequent riots were handled. If instead of doing so, we continue the national pastime of scoring points against one another, more acts of jihadi terrorism and more incidents of communal violence are waiting to happen.

(The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai. E-mail: itschen36@gmail.com )

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Samjahauti Express attacks : B. Raman vs Teesta Setalvad

Excerpts from the debate which followed the Samjahauti Express attacks

Click : http://www.ibnlive.com
Teesta Setalvad interrupted him saying that she condoled the attack and that she did not agree with B Raman. She said that we need to appreciate the utter sobriety with which the Pakistani officials have dealt with this entire issue. "In contrast to their sobriety is the utter arrogance of B Raman. Are we trying to say that as Indians, we don't have out own breed of indoor terrorism? *We have had terrorism from the Hindu right-wing activists, disrupting communal peace and hating Indo-Pak peace talks for the past 60 years. Yet the Indian establishment does not want to look at this. Till the Indian establishment recognises that terrorism can be home-grown as much as it can be imported, we will not get to the bottom of terror talks. We need to have the same openness as Pakistan has at the moment."



The Pakistani officials dealing with the issue with 'utter soberity' and 'openness'? I guess the Pakistanis do not need anyone in India to speak on their behalf. There are enought Indian citizens who will do so.

Here are some more Gems of wisdom from Teestaji.

The tragedy of this country is that with the dominance of the ideology of Hindu rashtra in public life, with proponents of it gaining power, every real issue that we need to tackle has got sidelined. Setalvad, Teesta, in her acceptance speech of Rajiv Gandhi Sadhbhavana Puraskar, 2002. August 20, 2002.

For, while there are the hapless and forgotten Kashmiri Pandits also displaced and bitterly abandoned in Jammu and Delhi camps, they have been innocent victims of foreign-bred mercenaries not home grown terror bands; terror bands who moreover speak of a narrow sense of Indian patriotism and nationhood. Teesta Setalvad in the Rajiv Gandhi Sadhbhavana Award, 2002, acceptance
speech, 20 August 2002.


Teesta Setalvad, head of Communalism Combat, a group that opposes religious extremism in India, said that "while I condemn today's gruesome attack, you cannot pick up an incident in isolation. Let us not forget the provocation. These people were not going for a benign assembly. They were indulging in blatant and unlawful mobilization to build a temple and deliberately provoke the Muslims in India."
Rama Lakshmi, "Mob Attacks Indian Train; 57 Killed", The Washington Post, February 28, 2002

Before announcing a punishment or even a trial, (Saddam Hussain's) crime should be properly established. First, he allegedly was in possession of weapons of mass destruction which were not found. Later he was reported to be a dictator and an obsessive rule, but nothing is proved. All this points against the attackers who said they did it to restore democracy in Iraq, thus destroying a hundred year old museum. This points to a huge lack of ethics, and I'm not commenting either ways, whether to release him or try him unless his crimes are established. (sic)Teesta Setalvad, Human rights activist, quoted in The Afternoon Despatch & Courier, December 16, 2003.

Whenever Communalism Combat is blamed for being 'too pro-minority' , we hold the sangh parivar and the rest of the saffron brotherhood responsible for this editorial 'tilt'. Had Hindutva not hijacked the national agenda and targeted the country's religious minorities, so much time and attention would not have been needed to defend Muslims and Christians from the vitriol, vilification and violence that is
deliberately directed at them. In fact, but for the hate mongers, this magazine itself would not have been necessary. Editorial, "Minorities within minorities", Communalism Combat, May 2001.
(Editors: Javed Anand, Teesta Setalvad).

And what is the political agenda of Teestaji. This item from
India Today says it all:

The Congress is a little less forthcoming. Slow off the mark, it joined the proxy war under the banner of Communalism Combat, a small journal run from Mumbai by journalists Javed and Teesta Setalvad. Now operating from a flat owned by a Congress MP in Marble Arch Apartments on Delhi's Prithviraj Road, Communalism Combat is acting in tandem with the AICC media cell. It has issued ads in all major publications attacking Vajpayee's leadership qualities, his links with the RSS and the BJP-RSS, lack of "respect" for women, an ad co-sponsored by women's group as
well. According to media planners, the ad campaign should have cost some Rs 75 lakh, money Teesta claims to have raised "from a wide spectrum of well-wishers including corporates, trade unions, women's group and NGOs."
India Today, Sept 13, 1999.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Samjutha Express & Sabarmati Express : Teesta can you answer ?




If Samjutha Express is TERRORIST ATTACK , then why not Sabarmathi Express ?

Let Secular Media, Judiciery , MEDIA answer this question to the nation .

By the way , can Teesta Setalvad come forward and protest this TERRORISM ?

People must point out my mistakes: Modi

[ 15 Feb, 2007 2019hrs IST INDIA TIMES NEWS NETWORK ]



POLITICALLY CORRECT: A murderer from Punjab is a murderer, and one from Kashmir is not, asks Modi (PTI Photo)


NEW DELHI: Is Hindutva icon Narendra Modi sounding increasingly circumspect and politically correct as elections in Gujarat approach? Has he stopped talking about minority appeasement, for instance? No, says the man himself. "My language is what it was."

To elucidate, he talks about a recent visit to Punjab where he brought up the issue of Parliament-attack- accused Afzal's plea for clemency. The Congress he said had taken but an hour to reject a similar plea from the accused in General Vaidya's assassination. But on Afzal, despite the Supreme Court endorsing that he be hanged, the Congress is dragging its feet. "A murderer from Punjab is a murderer, and one from Kashmir is not - where is the justice in this?"
That is vintage Modi - making tenuous links to drive home his point and derive the maximum political mileage. Punjab went to the polls this week.

The Gujarat Chief Minister recounts this incident in a long chat with RSS weekly Panchjanya in its latest issue. That the state elections due at the end of this year are top of the mind is clear from the fact that a major chunk of what he says is Gujarat-related. As always, he wears his swayamsevak badge for all to see, but talk of nationalism begins with the state. Deftly, he weaves personal politics with an electoral agenda, denying national aspirations or even a propensity to be controversial.

"I don't say anything that is controversial", says Modi. "I only say what I think is in the interest of the nation. Like Lokmanya Tilak used the Ganesh festival as a vehicle for the freedom struggle, I have used Narmada as a symbol of the country's development."
Asked about when the Sachar Committee on the status of Muslims came calling in Gujarat, Modi says: "They asked me, what do you do for Muslims? I said I do nothing. Please write my words down carefully, I do nothing for Muslims or for Hindus. Whatever I do, I do for 50 million Gujaratis."

Then he lashed out. "What you (the committee) are doing is designed to divide people. Till you do divisive things I have no information for you. I have brought Narmada waters to the dry Sabarmati. Should I now tell you how much of Sabarmati water has gone into Hindu stomachs and how much into Muslim stomachs?" The sound and fury ends with a tongue-in-cheek recounting of how the committee members were heard saying it was best not to mess with Modi.

Hate campaigns don't wash with Modi. Whether it is protests against the Yoga practice of Suryanamaskar or the enduring campaign against him personally, "I don't care", is the essence of Modi's reaction. But yes, the consummate politico knows it's not enough to brush aside all criticism. "As a swayamsevak I have tried to fulfil all responsibilities. If someone brings my mistakes to my notice I'll try to correct them. If I knew all my mistakes I would be God. That's why I expect people to come forward and acquaint me with my flaws."

Or, when asked about his ambitions in national politics, the Gujarat CM says in most unlikely fashion: "I am a small state functionary." He insists he holds but a small position as the chief minister of Gujarat and as such will not speak on matters at the national level. But, "since childhood I've been a swayamsevak and have prayed for my nation's glory. And I will do all I can to see Gujarat contributes to that national glory."
So where is the famed arrogance? There is no arrogance, says Modi, even getting philosophical. Asked what his deepest regret is, he says: "Sadness and joy are a part of life. I have no complaints, no expectations nor a personal agenda."

Saturday, February 17, 2007