This appeared in Asian Age...
Who’s ready for a round of Dandiya Raas…?
Navratri is round the corner, and there must be feverish activity in Modi-land. But I wonder how locals will celebrate these nine days of feasting and festivity given the somber mood in Gujarat right now? Is anybody ready for Dandiyaa Raas ? Or will the dhols be silent this year? And will the dhoklas remain uneaten? There are far too many party poopers pouring cold water on planned celebrations. And one wonders: has the time for divine justice, finally arrived? Events of last week have confirmed what ought to have been evident years ago . But now that Gujarat’s disgraced cop and encounterwalla, D.G. Vanzara is singing like a canary (popat?) from his prison, there is no place to hide. Provided we are interested in paying attention to the jailed cop’s explosive accusations. The timing of his candid revelations is undoubtedly suspect, according to critics. Who cares? In this case, content is king. And truth is more important than lousy timing. Is the suspended IPS officer (DIG) lying or not? That should be our sole concern. The Modi show has been steadily gathering momentum and Modi’s rocket speed rise to the top has happened (“Modi is so dynamic… he is the only person who can pull our country out of the mess… look at what he has done in Gujarat… he is so organized…he means business…. even the foreign press is saying so”). But, as the Gujaratis themselves say when all else fails, “ Javaa do….” In other words, “ Let it go…” Moral issues, be damned. They would like to bury Godhra and carry on like nothing major happened in 2002. Is the rest of India ready to forgive, forget and move on? Young voters are in a total flap : No Modi. No Rahul. Then, who?
Well, the dice is loaded against Modi right now. The final straw was the arrest of a perverted ‘Godman’ called Asaram Bapu. With Vanzara connecting the dots as only a cop can, and clumping Modi with the depraved Guru (“Why didn’t Modi save Asaram?”), we now have a tricky situation to deal with. Heaven knows how many more dirty secrets will emerge from this scandal, but one thing is clear – Modi’s band baaja baraat moment is temporarily on hold. Shrewdly, Modi has been quick to announce his decision to serve Gujarat till 2017! No suicides reported so far! Vanzara has cooled his heels for seven long years in jail ( along with 32 other cops), charged with extra judicial killings (read : staged encounters). These seven years , he claims, were spent in cleaning up his soul, thanks to the spiritual guidance given by his Guru ( Asaram). Vanzara has suddenly woken up to the startling discovery that his ‘God’ ( Modi) has feet of clay. With his strongly worded 10 page letter spelling out his disillusionment with Modi and Modi’s henchman Amit Shah ( BJP campaign head in Uttar Pradesh), Vanzara has drawn attention to the netas’ complicity in the encounter killings. He accuses Modi and his men of more or less ordering loyal cops to go forth and murder (“ we simply implemented the conscious policy of this government.”). But Vanzara himself expresses zero regret for what he did ( if he had moral issues, he could have resigned and exposed Modi back then). Modi and Shah will no doubt pooh pooh Vanzara’s letter. They will probably declare him insane and recommend psychiatric treatment. If the Congress also decides it isn’t worth its while to invest in Vanzara, he will rot in jail , and soon, everybody will forget about his existence. Disowned and discarded by his political bosses, this self-styled ‘desh bhakt’ will become another minor irritant, a pesky mosquito, easily swatted by his mighty opponents. He himself may become the victim of a mysterious encounter in prison. And that will be the end of the story.
For a police officer to be in such a sorry position is indeed a shame. But for that same man to admit he has been Asaram’s ardent disciple for years, is a bigger disgrace. The Godman’s dirty trail in India has not changed over the decades ( remember our desi Rasputin, Dhirendra Swami, and his absolute hold over Indira Gandhi?). Today, there are several Asarams running the God business like an industry. Their track records are pretty similar. There’s no business like God business in this part of the world. And if one digs a little deeper, nearly all the top ‘Gurus’ plying this trade have criminal records. But such is our pathetic surrender to humbug , we refuse to take action against their known criminal activities.Why? Because all of them have powerful political patrons. It’s a convenient arrangement. And there is one hell of a lot of money involved. Money that is rarely accounted for, much less audited. Those ‘ashrams’ ( super luxurious palaces) are protected by private armies that keep outsiders at bay. It is inside these very ashrams that unspeakable crimes are committed. Yet, nobody dares to move against these fake Gurus. Insulated and protected, these villains in robes continue to cheat the gullible . Asaram’s case could be the turning point in India’s fight against so-called Holy Men and Women. Most start their lives as petty thieves, small time conmen, serial molesters, till they move up the ladder by preying on powerful people in search of spiritual salvation. Vanzara was one such believer/ sucker, who was convinced he’d be saved by Asaram …and Modi. Vanzara killed in the name of religion. That’s his ‘alibi’. He also killed because he was instructed to do so by his political mentors. Today, Vanzara has been deserted by both - the netas he did it for, and the Godman he believed in. It’s all over for Vanzara. There are many more villains like the jailed cop. But there is only one Narendra Modi. What do we do with him?