Chief Minister Narendra Modi is a man in a hurry—to cash in on the hate at the hustings. Will it pay?
It was politics that incited a mob to loot and burn her house. But politics is the last thing on Asiabibi Sayeed Ansari’s mind. Still living in the Bakar Shah Roja relief camp in Ahmedabad, Asiabibi is not even certain where her next meal will come from. The government has de-listed and stopped supplies to the camp she stays in, although it houses around 650 people. On July 20th, the camp organisers said they would not be able to cook for the refugees anymore. “They gave us rations and told us to prepare our own food. But we don’t even have vessels to cook in,” says Asiabibi. Her house is being re-constructed by a Muslim charity. “The government gave us only Rs 2,000. That will not even pay for the door,” she says. “They should first make sure that everyone has got back their homes and jobs, then think about elections,” Asiabibi adds.
But chief minister Narendra Modi isn’t bothered about Asiabibi or the estimated 25,000 refugees in Gujarat’s relief camps. His only priority is to hold elections as soon as possible, to count his votes over their losses. Over 1,000 people were killed in the state-supported communal violence and more than 1.5 lakh people were made homeless. Eager to cashing in on what he perceives to be a ‘pro-Hindutva’ wave (but others call ‘fear’ and ‘terror’), Mr Modi dissolved the Gujarat assembly on July 19th, immediately after the presidential elections. He asked for early polls, much before the scheduled elections in early 2003. This led to chaos in Parliament. Both Houses of Parliament were adjourned on July 22nd with the opposition protesting against Modi’s move. They called for his dismissal and for President’s rule in the state. But the BJP was in no mood to listen. Deputy prime minister L.K. Advani said Modi had handled the riots better than any other chief minister in the last 50 years.