( I had spent a week in Gujarat in February-March,2007 and published two reports in TEHELKA. Reproducing the first part to remind myself that it was again in Gujarat where the fear of ‘Love Jihad’ was invented in its present incarnation.)
For many Gujaratis, Narendra Modi is a man who provides material and spiritual comforts to his people.Gujarat is calm. And is on the march. Every village of the state is a jyotigram. Narmada water is flowing in abundance in the canals quenching the thirst of Gujaratis. “Was not Surat flooded a few months back and did not the people of Gujarat suffer?” I ask my driver. “No, was not Narendrabhai there to take care of everything?”, he replies. How can anything go wrong when Narendrabhai is keeping watch!
Narendra Modi, you see, does not have a family and he works round the clock, we are informed. I find Modi smiling down at us benevolently from the digital billboards that dot Ahmedabad. There is no escaping his firm developmental smile. “The man has impressive qualities. Gujarat is bound to forge ahead under this workaholic chief minister. A citizen may have doubts about his secularism, but even his enemies don’t doubt his competence,” writes Gunawant Shah, a popular Gujarati columnist.
Have you seen any disturbance in the last five years? There is absolute peace here. People from all over the world are pouring in money to develop Gujarat. It is only Narendrabhai who can get the Ambanis, the Adanis and the Tatas together for the state’s development and who is blessed by Morari Bapu and other spiritual figures. A man providing material and spiritual comfort to his people — that is Modi for you.
Gujaratis, especially the Hindus, are in awe of Modi. They seem to have found their long lost “man” in him. Manliness is what Gujarati Hindus seem to be craving for. I am told by a group of students that Muslims eat non-vegetarian stuff, have muscular bodies and are cruel by nature. Hindus, on the other hand, are vegetarians which makes them soft in body and nature. That is why we are always at the receiving end. Narendra Modi is the man who showed how it can be reversed.
An activist friend tells me that there was a campaign lamenting the loss of mardangi (masculinity) among Hindus resulting in a situation in which actors could flaunt their Muslim identities now.
In Vadodara, an attempt was on to open an exclusive gymnasium for Hindu men to improve their masculinity.
This was a loss of ground as there was a time when they had to change their names to sound Hindu. Could Dilip Kumar dare act as Yusuf Khan? Hindus have become cowards and are looking passively at their sad decline, say the pamphlets.
The guilt Hindu males seem to suffer from emanates from this imagined loss of masculinity. Hindu males here have been exhorted to build their bodies to be able to match the muscular Muslim male.
I am told that there was an attempt to open a gymnasium in Vadodara exclusively for Hindu men following the realisation that Hindu girls were being lured by Muslim men. Pamphlets with pictures of motorcycle-borne young Muslim men looking at Hindu girls are in circulation for the last 10 years. It has had the desired impact.
Many, from cosmopolitan students to writers of repute,believe that “bad” Muslim boys stand outside colleges to lure innocent Hindu girls. They fall prey to their cunning ways, convert to Islam and end up as wives of Muslim men. What is even worse is that after ruining them, these lumpen leave them in the lurch. Poor Hindu parents cannot even take them back as they have been converted and ruined! When asked about proof, the students tell us that one can find Gujarati dailies reporting such marriages.
My friends in Vadodara tell me that in the last decade all the akharas have been purged of non-Hindu elements. It would not be an exaggeration to say that they have been overtaken by elements belonging to the Vishwa Hindu Parishad or the Bajrang Dal. They are now the new spaces where a new Hindu male sociology is emerging.
We are in possession of a leaflet issued in the name of Babu Bajrangi which says: “In every home there is a live bomb. It can explode any moment. Who is this live bomb? Our daughters!” It goes on to ask parents to keep an eye on their daughters. If your daughter is missing, you can depend on the services of Babu Bajrangi which are absolutely free. “If you save one girl, you save a hundred cows,” the leaflet concludes calling upon everybody to start saving the bombs (our daughters)!
Babu Bajrangi has made it his job to “rescue” the misguided and fallen Hindu girls from the clutches of badmash and lafange (the lumpen). You’ll find large posters in the colleges of Ahmedabad bearing the Bajrangi’s warning. The stories of very rare cases of Hindu–Muslim marriages have been woven into a pattern. The thought that their own girls are being used to increase the tribe of the badmash , i.e. Muslims, makes the Hindu blood boil.
I am reminded of a report circulating on the Internet that Hindus in England have complained that paid Muslim “goons” are forcibly converting their girls to Islam. The fact that it is happening abroad, as well, proves beyond doubt that there is, in fact, an international conspiracy to increase the population of Muslims, that too at the cost of Hindus and their honour.
Combine it with the widely-held belief that Muslims across Gujarat are busy slaughtering cows. What business do they have to smuggle cows out of the state, a young boy asks us angrily. Activists tell us that lorries carrying cattle are stopped by Bajrang Dal gangs and they forcibly load one or two cows on the truck to implicate the trader in cow slaughter cases. Gujarati dailies flash such “factual reports” at regular intervals, never to be verified by any agency and, therefore, adding to “truth” about Muslims, or their “true reality”, quoting a student we talked to. This account of truth about Muslims is similar to the truth being taught to the Class x students of Rajasthan by their new Social Science textbooks that on the state’s western borders resides a particular community that has been found to indulge in the trafficking of minor girls and cows.
Middle class Hindus seem to suffer from a guilt complex that they have not done enough to retrieve their honour. Their vegetarianism would never allow them to be as “powerful” as Muslims. Most of them cannot forsake their families. Narendra Modi doesn’t have a family and can’t be corrupted as he has conserved his virility. He could take on the world railing against him after March 2002 and remained firm. The cunning that helps him outwit opponents in his party and elsewhere makes him a modern day Krishna. These are the ‘praiseworthy qualities’ of Narendra Modi which endear him to the masses, says a writer, who is otherwise critical of his role in 2002.
Swami Vivekananda aspired for a man who would have the mind of a Hindu and the body of a Muslim.
Narendra Modi showed that the Muslim body could be annihilated, made irrelevant.
A journalist friend tells me that after the success of Hrithik Roshan’s first film, Kaho Na Pyar Hai, RSS mouthpiece Panchajanya commented that in Hrithik Roshan we could see the entry of a new, real Hindu Putra. That he went on to marry a Muslim girl could also be treated as a revenge on behalf of those Hindus who have lost their daughters and sisters to Muslim men.
Narendra Modi vanquished the Muslim body, Hrithik Roshan made it evaporate by integrating it with himself. Roshan has scored another hit at the box office, Modi would continue his run at the political box office.
Gujarati Hindus seem to be all too eager to pay for it with their souls.
Apr 07 , 2007