Gujarat elections and democracy

In Gujarat, the BJP may sit in the Opposition after the December 12 elections. Even if Narendra Modi wins, it will only be a temporary setback. I have full faith that the BJP/VHP hate campaign can only temporarily cloud the vision of the Indian people and that the real spirit of Hinduism will triumph. As Vivekananda said: "I do not simply tolerate all religions. That is an insult to God. I accept all religions. I worship all religions. Praying in the mosque of the Muslims, worshipping before the fire of Zoroastrians and kneeling before the cross of Christians knowing that all the religions are so many attempts of the human soul to grasp and realise the infinite... we gather all these flowers and bind them with the twine of love and making a wonderful bouquet of worship."

It is unfortunate that the Congress made no serious effort to forge electoral adjustments with other secular parties such as the NCP and the Samajwadi Party. The SP has put up 50 candidates. It was the internecine fight among the Left in Germany that led to Hitler's victory. Can one expect these politicians to take a warning and to correct the course even at this stage by having a straight contest against the BJP? They have the welcome example of Sarvodaya and Gandhian workers who, though against electoral politics, realising the danger of a Modi victory are engaged in warning the electorate of this peril to democracy and secularism.

Hindutva with its emphasis on exclusivity and hatred to other religions is antithetic to true Hinduism because as Vivekananda said: "No man, no nation, can hate others and live."

I feel the Congress approach to meeting the challenge of Hindutva is flawed. Its Gujarat unit chief, Shankarsinh Waghela, proudly proclaims the support of "secular saints" — what perverse reasoning. Secularism does not need to hide itself behind the so-called soft Hindutva. It must openly combat the communal fascist outpourings of Modi/BJP.

No doubt what happened at Godhra was inexcusable and condemnable and the perpetrators must be severely punished. But this cannot wash away the sins of Modi and Co. in neatly working out the State apparatus for the destruction of the lives and properties of Muslims in the rest of Gujarat.

The report of Justice Krishna Iyer and other concerned citizens had this to say: "... for all these reasons there is no way the post-Godhra carnage in Gujarat can escape being called squarely what it was — crime against humanity and genocide." The Congress should let the people of Gujarat know about this condemnation.

I regret the silence of a large number of Hindus who though horrified and ashamed at what Mr. Modi and the BJP had done still choose to keep aloof. I strongly feel that to keep silent in these times is not an option open to them because as Dante said: "The hottest places in hell are reserved for those who, in a time of great moral crisis, maintain their neutrality."

(The writer is a former Chief Justice of the Delhi High Court.)

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