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The wavering Vaghela

It was April-end 2009. As part of a journalists’ group taken to “cover” Lok Sabha elections on the polling day, we visited Vasania, known more as Shankirsinh Vaghela’s village, about 20 km north of Gujarat capital Gandhinagar. Brisk polling was on. Talking to the villagers, we were pretty impressed: While Vaghela himself was fighting from a constituency which is about 150 km away, here everyone seemed to vote Congress, the party he quit his 77th birthday, July 21. A local scribe rushed out of the polling booth and told me: “Do you know? There is no BJP polling agent in the booth! All are Vaghela men. So no vote for the BJP!”
His “information” made me curious. I began inquiring from the Congress people, mostly youth, sitting a little way from the polling booth on what the reality was. One of them, whose main job was to provide slips to those going to the polling booth, told me quietly: “BJP people wouldn’t dare enter the polling booth. They dare not put up their tables outside the booth…

Gujarat’s Muslim rehab sites: The cruelty within

It was early 1970s, when I was sought to be navigated into Marxism-Leninism by my then “political mentor” and a senior student colleague, Sohail Hashmi. A total novice in politics, I was doing bachelors in English at Kirori Mal College, Delhi University, while he was in human geography.
Impressed by his argumentative power, I would often look upon Hashmi – formerly very active with CPM, but now more into culture, heritage, and things similar – as one of those who would, very soon, trigger a proletarian revolution in India, like Lenin and his colleagues did in Russia! While I don’t care to remember most of what Hashmi had taught me (perhaps he himself would have unlearned some of it), I still recall a seemingly academic argument he had advanced in order to prove how Hindus and Muslims faced similar exploitation.
This is what he told me, roughly: “Make a graph and draw two separate lines of class exploitation – one for Hindus, another for Muslims. You would find that both Hindu and Musl…