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Showing posts from July, 2016

Dalit outrage? BJP in Gujarat appears “relaxed”

Amidst the recent Dalit agitation in Gujarat in the wake of the July 11 attack on four Dalit youths belonging to the Rohit (chamar) community off Una for skinning a dead cow, I decided to find out what would be the impact of the incident, already a national issue, on Gujarat politics. Apart from immediately getting in touch with some senior Dalit rights activists, I contacted a few senior BJP and Congress leaders, too. The reason I did this was, one of my friends, who happens to be a senior activist, Ashok Shrimali, a Dalit, would always tell me how, over the years, and especially after the 2002 riots, “80 per cent of the Dalits have moved away from the Congress to the BJP”.
While a few other non-political Dalit activists would vehemently deny this, I decided to go by the observation of Teesta Setalvad, who said in a recent article, “Dalits and the Hindu Rashtra: A Close Look at the Gujarat Model”: “As we saw in 2002, it is Dalits who have been used and abused to carry out the filthy d…

Swamy “used and abandoned”? This is what happened in Gujarat

Prime Minister Narendra Modi may have “cleared” his views on BJP’s maverick politician Subramaniam Swamy. However, whatever I know of Modi as chief minister of Gujarat during my nearly 15 year stint in Gandhinagar as the Times of India correspondent, it wasn’t at all surprising the way he reacted. His “critique” of Swamy, if it all it can be called that, came after Reserve Bank of India Raghuram Rajan had decided to quit and return to the academia in Chicago. So, was Swamy “used and abandoned”, to quote a phrase used by Gujarat’s top cop GL Singhal in the “Gujarat Files”, a book based on stings by journalist Rana Ayyub to “expose” government role in 2002 riots and fake encounters?
In fact, any reference of Swamy as a “maverick” would remind me of a Gujarat-based maverick politician, with whom I had, I must admit, an uneasy relationship. Looking back, I sometimes feel it was perhaps a mistake on my part to be ill at ease with this IPS-turned-politician, who had been a Cabinet minister u…