So there’s cheer and hubris in the BJP party office, as they dream of replicating their Gujarat triumph across India.At the risk of sounding facetious, I wonder what the BJP leaders would drink to celebrate victory. If they’re teetotalers, champagne would be out, so would they celebrate with Gangajal instead? Although, considering the level of pollution in India’s holiest river, I wonder if they would risk it--they’d probably end up with some horrible digestive disorder.
Of course, the Modi victory has been hailed abroad, amongst the Gujarati diaspora. I’m being very cautious here--no one spoke of responses from the Indian diaspora as a whole. It seems to be a sad fact, but once Indians go abroad, they tend to cling to people who share their caste and language affiliations, rather than a broad Indian affiliation. The Indian identity tends to break down, in favour of a Gujarati, Punjabi, Bengali, Brahmin or Sikh identity. Evidently, the Gujarati diaspora wants Modi to get a US visa. I’d prefer to get him a UK visa and see him tried for the deaths of two British nationals, who were killed in the course of the 2002 riots. Their crime--being born Muslim. Even a British passport could not save them.
So what should the centrist parties do to face the Modi onslaught? They’re in a position very similar to that faced by the governments of Britain and France after the Depression, with the rise of Hitler and Mussolini in Italy and Gernamy. Both Hitler and Mussolini were popular with businessmen, because "the trains ran on time." Industrialists and workers in Germany and Italy were organised in groups and the government did its utmost to encourage good relations, in an effort to improve production, and then set up an army that would (it was claimed) fight the communists in Russia. However, Mussolini began by trying to take over Ethiopia, whereas Hitler began with the takeover of Austria and Czechoslovakia. Prime Minister Chamberlain and his French counterpart did not wake up until Poland was attacked.
What the Congress and like-minded parties need to do is to focus on development and good governance. Why should it be a Modi prerogative? The Congress, especially, needs to focus on developing strong leaders in each state. What you now have is a bunch of quarrelling and sycophantic courtiers in the Congress party. And it needs to take itself seriously as a secular party. So see to it that Mr. Tytler receives a proper trial, not just an exoneration certificate from the CBI, for his role in the 1984 riots. Only then can you afford to call Modi a "merchant of death".