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Gujarat has been where India stands today: How Modi stood up for Asmita and defeated “fatwa babas”

India today is where Gujarat was in December 2002, when Gujaratis voted for its Asmita, its pride.

The BJP campaigners seized on this, and for the final three days of the campaign, Modi asked for a 100 per cent turnout to defeat the “dadagiri of the fatwababas”.

That is a line from a December 2002 issue of India Today magazine. I will explain the context.

Gujarat has been where India stands today. On Feb 27, 2002, Gujarat had witnessed a horrific crime unfold in S-6 compartment of Sabarmati Express near Godhra railway station. The real story of that carnage was buried under a mountain of media lies and international propaganda. In the months that followed, the state of Gujarat and its people were vilified like no other.

Narendra Modi, then the Chief Minister of Gujarat, made himself the face of popular pushback against media propaganda. As the elections approached, he went on a Gaurav Yatra that appealed to people to restore the asmita (self-respect, or pride) of the state. In the last few days before the election, a fatwa appeared in local newspapers asking one community to vote en bloc for the Congress.

Who did these fatwa wala babas think they were? Where did they get their supposed authority from? From the constitution of India or from outside it? The BJP went into overdrive, asking the people to give a befitting reply to the fatwa babas.

The people responded. They restored their asmita.

Now in 2021, it may be useful to remember this story. Now it is not just Gujarat behind Narendra Modi, it is the whole of India with Narendra Modi. And that includes, by the way, every citizen who did not vote for the BJP. All of us agree to accept the democratic mandate of the people of India. We swear to uphold the sovereignty of the nation, the supremacy of our Parliament and the sanctity of our democratic process.

But there are forces inside and outside India who refuse to respect this consensus. They have taken it upon themselves to run this country outside of our Parliament, our government and our judiciary. And they are trying to create a critical mass of global public opinion that the Indian state is not legitimate.

They rarely reveal their faces, their methods are shady. Their funding is unknown but they do indeed have a lot of it. They are able to pay top global influencers to turn world opinion against us. They say that India’s internal agricultural matters should be decided in foreign capitals.

Once in a while, they reveal their hand. Like when they send out a mob on the streets on Republic Day to storm our Red Fort and put up some other kind of flag.

By mistake, some of their internal documents spilled out in public yesterday. There we see, in writing, the plot to defame India. They plan to surround our embassies and attack interests of big Indian businesses. There is even a mention of attacking “yoga and chai.” Is there anyone who honestly believes yoga or chai could be a partisan matter in India?

Make no mistake. This is a plot to make India an object of global hatred. The Nazis made the Jewish population wear yellow stars. They are doing the same to us. They are telling us Indians that we have been marked for destruction. Either we surrender our elected government and agree to accept a puppet regime. Or they will destroy us.

They play this game smoothly on all sides. If we don’t respond, they raise their anti-India pitch. If we do respond, they make fun of us for being “rattled.”

Why wouldn’t we be “rattled”? On Jan 6, some guy wearing horns on his head broke into the US Capitol building in Washington DC. The US government has thousands of nuclear warheads, but they still took it very seriously. Why shouldn’t they be? Every republic is paranoid against threats of insurrection.

Every enemy of India speaks of flying their flag on the Red Fort one day. It is the most common metaphor used to describe conquest of India. So when you put boots on the ground to storm the Red Fort, of course we will be paranoid. When we discover an entire global PR campaign to pitch for regime change in India, of course we will be “rattled.” Better to be “rattled” than become an unsuspecting victim as the mob gathers around my house.

The global PR campaign is an international fatwa against Modi. Then, as now, the challenge is not to any one person or elected leader. The challenge is to an entire people. Our asmita is in danger. Our sovereignty has been challenged.

They could not win the election. So they want to humiliate the Indian voter. They want to tell the world that we are an evil nation that cannot be trusted to govern itself.

We will stand up for our asmita. We are a great nation. And we are a nation with big hearts, making vaccines for the whole world. We want everyone to live in health, peace and prosperity. We shall not be defamed thus.

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Abhishek Banerjee
Abhishek Banerjee is a math lover who may or may not be an Associate Professor at IISc Bangalore. He is the author of Operation Johar - A Love Story, a novel on the pain of left wing terror in Jharkhand, available on Amazon here.  

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