A Leftist assault

Every time I check online these days for reactions to this column, I come upon some new malicious attack on me personally. Nearly always the writers of these venomous pieces are Leftist hacks whose sentiments I have offended for the exact same two reasons. The first of these is that they appear to be incensed by my daring to make fun of their beloved 'Shehzada' and his Mummy and the second is that I have written more than once that when we discuss Narendra Modi we need to use the same measure as we use for other political leaders.

When I said this at the Tata Literary Festival two weeks ago, I so deeply offended a venerable former editor that he started bobbing up and down and frothing at the mouth. He then proceeded to write an untruthful account of what I said, attributing to me "rabid anti-Sonia and Rahul Gandhi feelings". So I feel obliged to set the record straight. What I said was that the Gujarat riots of 2002 needed to be seen in the context of the history of communal violence in India and especially in the context of the 1984 pogroms against the Sikhs.

If Modi is to be charged with "State sponsorship" of the violence in 2002, then the same charge must be made against Rajiv Gandhi. This is very important because only when we see 2002 in the context of 1984 do we realise that there would have been no 2002 if there had been a semblance of justice after 1984.

This should be clearer to political pundits than it is to ordinary voters, but the opposite has happened. The reason why Modi's rallies are drawing huge crowds across the country is because ordinary voters can see that the Gujarat Chief Minister's past mistakes are no longer the issue. What they are more interested in is what Modi can do for India in the future. They have heard, they tell you, that in the villages of Gujarat he has been able to provide reliable, uninterrupted supplies of electricity. They have heard, they tell you, that in Gujarat there is more prosperity since Modi became Chief Minister, and it is this that is the secret of Modi's appeal.

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