The script of the much-trumpeted ‘Gujarat Model’ is getting curiouser and curiouser, and the twists in its trajectory since the beginning of 2023 have been nothing short of sensational.
The year began on a dramatic note with the BBC screening a two-part documentary film called the Modi Question. The revisiting of the post-Godhra genocide of Muslims in Modi’s Gujarat on a mainstream global media platform like the BBC reignited what was widely reported twenty years ago when the Indian media had still not yet metamorphosed into its current Godi Media avatar. The video also brought to surface hitherto unknown facts like the investigation then conducted by the British High Commission which had found Narendra Modi directly responsible for a systematic campaign of violence against Gujarat’s Muslims that had all the hallmarks of ethnic cleansing. This was corroborated by Jack Straw, the then Foreign Secretary of the UK Government. As shown in the documentary, Modi as Gujarat CM had at the time mentioned his ‘failure to handle the media properly’ as his only regret, and as India’s PM twenty years later he made it clear what he meant by proper media handling when he invoked Emergency powers under India’s IT Act to block the video on India’s social media and then unleashed IT raids on BBC offices in Delhi and Mumbai.
If the BBC documentaries exposed the true nature of the Modi government before the whole world, the Hindenburg report triggered an economic landslide for the Adani empire. The Adani group’s attempt to equate its economic interests with the ‘pride of India’ and term the Hindenburg report an anti-India conspiracy found no support in India’s public opinion. If anything, the Modi government’s stubborn refusal to conduct any probe into the Adani scam has moved the spotlight to focus on the most significant aspect of the Adani scam – the ties between Adani and Modi. The two pillars of the Gujarat model – unbridled genocidal politics and unmitigated corporate fraud and plunder– have thus been exposed and challenged like never before.
Now we have a stunning third dimension of the Gujarat model epitomized by Kiran Jagdishbhai Patel who has recently been arrested by the Jammu and Kashmir police as a conman. This arrest came after he had paid several visits over the last few months to high-security areas of Jammu and Kashmir under Z-plus security cover posing as an Additional Director of the PMO! From his social media accounts, it is clear that Patel has been associated with the BJP and with the Modi campaign in 2014 and 2019 and he claims that he has been carrying forward the Modi mission in Kashmir by promoting ‘development and tourism’ in this highly militarized state.
The government which specializes in habitually deceiving the people with fraudulent claims, coolly dismissing them as ‘joomlas’ when exposed, which remains silent over a corporate fraud as humongous as the Adani scam, is surely going to keep mum over the Kiran Patel episode. But the questions arising from this huge security lapse or worse are surely crying out for answers. Posing as a PMO official may be a natural trick for a conman from Gujarat, but who gave him Z-plus security cover and that too in a state like Jammu and Kashmir? Either the system is so ineffectual that anybody can take it for a ride by dropping names and pretending to be associated with the Prime Minister and if that is the answer then all the tall claims being made by the Modi government about its so-called system of strategic intelligence and security are as false as the demonetization claims of destroying black money. Else we have to believe that Kiran Patel was part of some deep state conspiracy. It is alleged that even as he was arrested, two of his companions have been let off.
We have not yet got a credible answer to the Pulwama blast on the eve of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. How could a vehicle laden with lethal explosives attack a high security CRPF convoy and kill forty CRPF personnel? Like the unanswered questions raised by the Pulwama attack, we do not know why the Indian state let off DSP Davinder Singh who was arrested while ferrying alleged terrorists just by dismissing him from service. Kashmir today is a completely centrally administered and heavily militarised region and the responsibility for major intelligence or security lapses like the DSP Davinder Singh episode or the Kiran Patel affair lies squarely with the Ministry of Home Affairs or the Prime Minister himself.
Another disturbing and similarly murky development is currently brewing in Punjab, centring around Amritpal Singh whose rise is seen by many in Punjab as a repeat of the Bhindranwale phenomenon. In the case of Kiran Patel his companions have been let off while in the Amritpal Singh affair, his companions have been arrested even as he has succeeded in evading arrest. The rapid rise of Amritpal Singh as the successor of Deep Sidhu, the Punjab actor who campaigned for the BJP in 2019 and was a key accused in the Republic Day violence at Lal Qila during the farmers’ movement in 2021, and who later died mysteriously in a car crash, is widely believed in Punjab to be part of a larger game plan to push the state into social and political turmoil reminiscent of the 1980s and 1990s when the state reeled under the twin attacks of Khalistani terrorism and extra-judicial terror and repression unleashed by the state.
As the ‘Gujarat model’ unravels and India wakes up to the disastrous economics and politics of the Modi-Adani nexus, the Sangh-BJP establishment is clearly desperate to exploit every fault line to create chaos and deepen conflict and division for its own benefit, and will go to any lengths in order to subject India to greater dictatorial control. Only powerful anti-fascist people’s movements which vigilantly refuse to be diverted or divided can foil this gameplan.