If Mr Modi goes unpunished after the indictment by the Concerned Citizens’ Tribunal report, the BJP may find its electoral appeal waning
Mr Narendra Modi, the chief minister of Gujarat, has been showing unmistakable signs of enjoying himself. No doubt he feels himself turning into a figure of myth — the more demonic the figure the keener his satisfaction. The combination he aims at is stimulating: walking nightmare plus Hindu Gujarat’s heroic saviour plus the Bharatiya Janata Party’s good luck charm all rolled into one. Cocking a snook at the “pseudo-secularists” who have poured into Gujarat to find the actual conditions, the cover-ups and official falsehoods quite damning has been a minor theme in his inflammatory rhetoric. But it has obviously afforded him pleasure. The last report, made by the Concerned Citizens’ Tribunal headed by Mr V. Krishna Iyer, however, may prove a little difficult to joke about. Mr Iyer’s team has managed to reach the hard core of the nastiness that is the life force of Mr Modi and his associates. What it exposes confirms the almost surreal suspicions about the planning and execution of the Gujarat carnage. A hard core of facts has something unwieldy about it, it cannot be screamed and frothed away.
The report directly indicts Mr Modi for broadcasting the Godhra incident to the whole of the state by the gruesome act of carrying the charred bodies of the victims by motorcade to Ahmedabad. Even more damning are the details of a meeting organized by two ministers on February 27 in which BJP, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, Vishwa Hindu Parishad and Bajrang Dal leaders were apprised of the method that would be used to carry out the killings. Apart from pure hideousness, what this fact exposes is the close coordination between the Gujarat BJP and the members of the so-called “lunatic fringe”. Another detail puts to rest the many speculations about exactly how the explosive fires in targeted buildings were achieved. The meticulous planning down to the last detail has made the Gujarat pogrom a triumph of organized crime.
This is perhaps the most significant aspect of the report. It accuses Mr Modi of crimes against humanity and of genocide under international statutes. According to its findings, Mr Modi is disqualified from public office. The tribunal’s charges reiterate an earlier demand from non-resident Indians that Mr Modi be tried for crimes against humanity in an international court. Whether or not the report casts a mild shadow on Mr Modi’s enjoyment of life — a little shadowed already by his temporary defeat by the Election Commission — the BJP might find its electoral calculations going awry. To carry on arguing about the distribution of tickets in Gujarat as if nothing has happened may look strange, to say the least. After all, Mr Modi is the BJP’s own creature. It has waded in blood far enough by letting him run amok. As long as he flourishes unpunished, the BJP will find its way back getting harder.