Conspiracy is another name for democracy

Ahmedabad: Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi is in trouble over various land scams in his vibarant state but he does not loose his control over his government.Modi certainly is all set to play his political cards in due course of time. The reason – Chief Minister Narendra Modi seems to have been on a poll alert for the past few months, driving party leaders and workers into poll mode.But, BJP national president Nitin Gadkari announded that the BJP will not project anyone in particular or announce its prime ministerial candidate for the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. CM Modi has consistently been ranked the best chief minister in the country. So, it’s obvious that he is the only prime ministerial choice that BJP can bank on to win 2014.Probably, Gadkari’s aim is to keep all BJP leaders, including Modi baiters, working aggressively in the field. By keeping Modi’s name under wraps, he may also hurt the Congress which will not be able to woo minorities by using ‘Modi the Minority Hater’ card. It seems that Modi is the only choice BJP has. If the BJP national chief protests against this, it will be he who leaves,a state leader promised. He revealed that few will vote for the BJP in 2014 if Modi is not its prime ministerial candidate. His logic: Arun Jaitley is too sophisticated and does not have a finger on the public pulse; Varun Gandhi who copies Modi is too junior and naïve; and, Sushma Swaraj has a bright future as Chief Minister of Delhi but she evokes no emotion among Indian electorate. It is only Modi, he reasoned.If sources are to be believed, Modi has been driving and closely monitoring BJP’s political activities across state, keeping elections in mind. This, even as he juggles with a host of judicial issues and the usual tasks of governance. Since early June, the chief minister seems to have gone into an overdrive. Party functionaries have also observed with surprise that the goings-on are “definitely unusual”. “Such activity by the BJP or, for that matter, any other party is witnessed about six months before elections — not 16 months earlier! We feel he (Modi) must have a reason for doing what he is doing. It seems he is preparing for unscheduled polls — either for the state assembly or the Lok Sabha. Something is definitely cooking,” an observer of the political scene said.What’s more, the man whose actions perhaps attract the maximum attention in political circles of the country pretty much conceptualizes and drives these micro-level activities himself. “He (Modi) instructs people down the line, who execute his brief. But he is aware of every programme and gets a feedback on each one of them,” a leader said requesting anonymity.

Gujarat cop Sanjeev Bhatt’s revelations, contained in his affidavit filed before the Supreme Court, may come as a surprise to many. But for all those who lived in Gujarat during those fateful days and were in the thick of things, the contents only provide substantiation of what they had heard then. A top police officer of the state told me a couple of days after the riots started how director general of poice K Chakravarthy was uncomfortable on being told by Narendra Modi at a meeting to allow Hindus to vent their feelings.Though perturbed, Chakravarthy, a naturally timid person, could not muster the guts to stand up to his boss. So, instead he lamented to top police officers like the person to whom I had spoken. Or at least that is what the officer told me.
It was also being speculated that not only had “Hindus” been allowed to vent their feelings, they had been given “three days” to do this. Then defence minister George Fernandes who had been sent to Ahmedabad by Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee also knew of this “three days” and I personally can vouch for this. With a view to figure out what he was up to, I had called on Fernandes on Saturday, March 2, 2002, in Circuit House in Ahmedabad. Initially, I had some apprehension about how much time the minister would give me because he was on a mission and the riots were on full blast. But I was pleasantly surprised that he had all the time in the world for me. Very soon I could figure out the purpose Fernandes was so keen to engage me in conversation: he wanted to cross-check the facts of the riots that he had heard. It was a long three-hour meeting. At one point the chief secretary, G Subba Rao, and additional chief secretary Ashok Narain, along with a senior army officer, came into the room. They had been confabulating with the minister before I dropped in. Leaving them behind, Fernandes took me to his room. Now the officials wanted to know if they should wait or could leave. The minister asked them to leave and resumed his conversation with me. Fernandes spoke about a whole lot of things, how Ahmedabad had changed, how he had come to the city when there was a massive riot in 1969, how he had walked to the Governor Shriman Narayan’s house from the airport at that time, etc. With the evening advancing and the need for me to go back to the office, I excused myself. Fernandes persisted but I went out. As I climbed down the stairs, the defence minister beckoned me once again from the top of the stairs and said that I should have dinner with him. In the end, I retraced my path. While having an early dinner, Fernandes who was beating around the bush for so long suddenly let it out: “ I have heard that the rioters have been allowed three days time before any action is taken?” I shot back: “ Ya, I have also heard it.” The minister said: “Humm. I see.” We continued on the dinner silently. I must admit that there was no talk about the Modi meet about which Sanjiv Bhatt has now filed an affidavit. But very soon our meeting was broken. Harin Pathak, the minister of state for defence and the BJP MP from Ahmedabad and a hardliner himself, walked into the room with decisive steps and plonked himself on the sofa. In the manner that he walked in it seemed that Pathak was aware that we were having a long meeting and wanted to be privy to the conversation. Immediately after the dinner, I left the place.
A couple of months later, the Outook magazine ran an exclusive report on a serving minister of the Gujarat government having deposed before a citizens’ commission about the Modi meeting on the evening of January 27 where the chief minister had talked about allowing the Hindu reaction. The minister was not named but I instinctively knew that it was Haren Pandya. So I called Pandya and said: “So you tendered evidence before the commission?” Pandya demanded: “How do you know?” I said: “I can make out because you have told me this before. Though I am not sure about others because there is some speculation that it is Suresh Mehta ( another minister). But I am sure your boss Modi can make out too.” The minister said in a dismissive tone: “Who cares about him.” Then I told Pandya: “But your testimony is second hand. Why don’t you get me somebody who attended the meeting and confirm this to me?” Pandya thought for a moment and replied: “Chakravarthi (director general of police ) can.” I told him: “I don’t know him. But since you were close to him and once were his boss as home minister, why don’t you set up a meeting.” Pandya said: “Let me get back to you.” He was back on the line in 10 minutes. “I have spoken with him. Here is his cell number. You have to ask him the questions but he will answer only in yes or no. He is not willing to go any further.” OK, I said and kept down the phone. In the event I did not call up Chakravarthi. The reason: I had written an article for the edit page about the guilty men of Gujarat and had named Chakravarthi and this was going to appear in the paper the next day. I did not think it morally right to get information from a source one day and next day publish an article that would put him on the mat. Moreover, the prospect on a yes or no answer did not appeal to me.
A few months later when I came to know of the names of officers who were present at that fateful meeting, I asked one of them about what had transpired. The officer, Anil Mukim, then private secretary to Modi and now a joint secretary to GOI told me: “Not while I was there.” My specific query was: “Did Modi say that a Hindu reaction be allowed?”. I noted from media reports recently that this is also exactly what Mukim told the SIT on the Gujarat riots. If I recollect correctly Ashok Narayan, the additional chief secretary (home) who had attended the meeting told the Nanavati Commission that there were instructions that the bodies of all those perished in the Godhra train carnage be allowed to be brought to Ahmedabad. This is what Sanjiv Bhatt has also said as part of his affadavit about what had transpired at the meeting.
Incidentally, it seems that on the evening of February 27 there were two meetings that had been convened by Modi. The first one was a law and order meeting with top cops and secretaries, which Sanjiv Bhatt is supposed to have attended. The other was a meeting of ministers. Haren Pandya had told me that at this meeting some of the ministers said that the bodies of those who died in the Godhra carnage be brought to Ahmedabad. Haren said that he resisted because he felt that this could lead to an outpouring of sentiments leading to a serious law and order situation. Pandya said that he was outshouted at the meeting and mentioned a minister (I am withholding the name, but it was not Modi) who said that this is what we want. “Our party strength is in Ahmedabad. We want everything to happen here. It will help our party.”
Haren Pandya was murdered under mysterious circumstances in early 2003, so he cannot come back to life to testify whatever is attributed to him by me. I am acutely aware of this. I am also aware that George Fernandes is suffering from Alzhiemer’s, a disease that robs its patients of all his memories.

Malaysia’s Selangor Islamic Religious Department (known as Jais) worked with police in early August to raid Damansara Utama Methodist Church (DUMC) in Petaling Jaya, Malaysia. The church was holding a charity dinner at the time of the raid. While authorities have not issued an official explanation for the raid and are still conducting an investigation into the events, the dinner’s opponents claim participants were attempting to convert Muslims to Christianity. Those who supported the raid say the action was undertaken in the name of defending Islam. Participants say they were holding the dinner in support of pan-Malaysian unity and deny accusations of proselytising. The Thanksgiving dinner attendants included citizens of different races and religions. The raid may reflect tensions that undercut Malaysian society, which is divided along both religious and ethnic lines. Sixty percent of the country is Muslim, and just over half are ethnic Malay. According to the constitution, citizens claiming Malay ethnicity must be practicing Muslims, speak the Malay language, and adhere to Malay cultural values. The conditions are in place to ensure that only Malay may claim protection under special laws that reserve jobs and other benefits for the ethnic majority. Although they are an ethnic majority in the country, Malay have been historically disadvantaged, advocates say, because of ethnic Chinese and Indians’ advantageous roles in trade and commerce. As a result, ethnic minorities are underrepresented in the civil service, universities, and at other institutions. But some in the country are hoping to encourage a pan-Malaysian identity that transcends ethnic, cultural, and religious identities. Prime Minister Najib Razak has promoted a campaign called1Malaysia to rally Malaysians around the idea of common nationality. In March, religious tensions were inflamed when a Christian newspaper in the country successfully challenged a law that prohibited Christians from using the word “Allah” to refer to God. Violence broke out between Christians and Muslims after the law was overturned, and heightened tensions surrounding religion in the country may have contributed to the August 3 church raid. Today on The Stream, Ali Gharib will join the show as guest host. He covers national security for ThinkProgress. Also joining the show from Malaysia via Skype are Marina Mahathir (a women’s rights activist), Khairy Jamaluddin (leader of Barisan Nasional Youth and member of Parliament), and Nik Nazmi who is a State Assemblyman and member of the People’s Justice Party. These are some of the social media elements featured in this episode of The Stream.
  • The video below allegedly shows the raid by the Selangor Islamic Religious Deparment, or Jais, on the Damansara Utama Methodist Church. Some websites say it first appeared on pro-Umno blogs on August 16.
  • Earlier in August, a Malaysian TV advertisement that attempts to illustrate proper Ramadan etiquette was pulled when many viewers complained it was racist, particularly for stereotyping the small Chinese population in the country.
Ahmedabad: Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi is in trouble over various land scams in his vibarant state but he does not loose his control over his government.Modi certainly is all set to play his political cards in due course of time. The reason – Chief Minister Narendra Modi seems to have been on a poll alert for the past few months, driving party leaders and workers into poll mode.But, BJP national president Nitin Gadkari announded that the BJP will not project anyone in particular or announce its prime ministerial candidate for the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. CM Modi has consistently been ranked the best chief minister in the country. So, it’s obvious that he is the only prime ministerial choice that BJP can bank on to win 2014.Probably, Gadkari’s aim is to keep all BJP leaders, including Modi baiters, working aggressively in the field. By keeping Modi’s name under wraps, he may also hurt the Congress which will not be able to woo minorities by using ‘Modi the Minority Hater’ card. It seems that Modi is the only choice BJP has. If the BJP national chief protests against this, it will be he who leaves,a state leader promised. He revealed that few will vote for the BJP in 2014 if Modi is not its prime ministerial candidate. His logic: Arun Jaitley is too sophisticated and does not have a finger on the public pulse; Varun Gandhi who copies Modi is too junior and naïve; and, Sushma Swaraj has a bright future as Chief Minister of Delhi but she evokes no emotion among Indian electorate. It is only Modi, he reasoned.If sources are to be believed, Modi has been driving and closely monitoring BJP’s political activities across state, keeping elections in mind. This, even as he juggles with a host of judicial issues and the usual tasks of governance. Since early June, the chief minister seems to have gone into an overdrive. Party functionaries have also observed with surprise that the goings-on are “definitely unusual”. “Such activity by the BJP or, for that matter, any other party is witnessed about six months before elections — not 16 months earlier! We feel he (Modi) must have a reason for doing what he is doing. It seems he is preparing for unscheduled polls — either for the state assembly or the Lok Sabha. Something is definitely cooking,” an observer of the political scene said.What’s more, the man whose actions perhaps attract the maximum attention in political circles of the country pretty much conceptualizes and drives these micro-level activities himself. “He (Modi) instructs people down the line, who execute his brief. But he is aware of every programme and gets a feedback on each one of them,” a leader said requesting anonymity.

Gujarat cop Sanjeev Bhatt’s revelations, contained in his affidavit filed before the Supreme Court, may come as a surprise to many. But for all those who lived in Gujarat during those fateful days and were in the thick of things, the contents only provide substantiation of what they had heard then. A top police officer of the state told me a couple of days after the riots started how director general of poice K Chakravarthy was uncomfortable on being told by Narendra Modi at a meeting to allow Hindus to vent their feelings.Though perturbed, Chakravarthy, a naturally timid person, could not muster the guts to stand up to his boss. So, instead he lamented to top police officers like the person to whom I had spoken. Or at least that is what the officer told me.
It was also being speculated that not only had “Hindus” been allowed to vent their feelings, they had been given “three days” to do this. Then defence minister George Fernandes who had been sent to Ahmedabad by Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee also knew of this “three days” and I personally can vouch for this. With a view to figure out what he was up to, I had called on Fernandes on Saturday, March 2, 2002, in Circuit House in Ahmedabad. Initially, I had some apprehension about how much time the minister would give me because he was on a mission and the riots were on full blast. But I was pleasantly surprised that he had all the time in the world for me. Very soon I could figure out the purpose Fernandes was so keen to engage me in conversation: he wanted to cross-check the facts of the riots that he had heard. It was a long three-hour meeting. At one point the chief secretary, G Subba Rao, and additional chief secretary Ashok Narain, along with a senior army officer, came into the room. They had been confabulating with the minister before I dropped in. Leaving them behind, Fernandes took me to his room. Now the officials wanted to know if they should wait or could leave. The minister asked them to leave and resumed his conversation with me. Fernandes spoke about a whole lot of things, how Ahmedabad had changed, how he had come to the city when there was a massive riot in 1969, how he had walked to the Governor Shriman Narayan’s house from the airport at that time, etc. With the evening advancing and the need for me to go back to the office, I excused myself. Fernandes persisted but I went out. As I climbed down the stairs, the defence minister beckoned me once again from the top of the stairs and said that I should have dinner with him. In the end, I retraced my path. While having an early dinner, Fernandes who was beating around the bush for so long suddenly let it out: “ I have heard that the rioters have been allowed three days time before any action is taken?” I shot back: “ Ya, I have also heard it.” The minister said: “Humm. I see.” We continued on the dinner silently. I must admit that there was no talk about the Modi meet about which Sanjiv Bhatt has now filed an affidavit. But very soon our meeting was broken. Harin Pathak, the minister of state for defence and the BJP MP from Ahmedabad and a hardliner himself, walked into the room with decisive steps and plonked himself on the sofa. In the manner that he walked in it seemed that Pathak was aware that we were having a long meeting and wanted to be privy to the conversation. Immediately after the dinner, I left the place.
A couple of months later, the Outook magazine ran an exclusive report on a serving minister of the Gujarat government having deposed before a citizens’ commission about the Modi meeting on the evening of January 27 where the chief minister had talked about allowing the Hindu reaction. The minister was not named but I instinctively knew that it was Haren Pandya. So I called Pandya and said: “So you tendered evidence before the commission?” Pandya demanded: “How do you know?” I said: “I can make out because you have told me this before. Though I am not sure about others because there is some speculation that it is Suresh Mehta ( another minister). But I am sure your boss Modi can make out too.” The minister said in a dismissive tone: “Who cares about him.” Then I told Pandya: “But your testimony is second hand. Why don’t you get me somebody who attended the meeting and confirm this to me?” Pandya thought for a moment and replied: “Chakravarthi (director general of police ) can.” I told him: “I don’t know him. But since you were close to him and once were his boss as home minister, why don’t you set up a meeting.” Pandya said: “Let me get back to you.” He was back on the line in 10 minutes. “I have spoken with him. Here is his cell number. You have to ask him the questions but he will answer only in yes or no. He is not willing to go any further.” OK, I said and kept down the phone. In the event I did not call up Chakravarthi. The reason: I had written an article for the edit page about the guilty men of Gujarat and had named Chakravarthi and this was going to appear in the paper the next day. I did not think it morally right to get information from a source one day and next day publish an article that would put him on the mat. Moreover, the prospect on a yes or no answer did not appeal to me.
A few months later when I came to know of the names of officers who were present at that fateful meeting, I asked one of them about what had transpired. The officer, Anil Mukim, then private secretary to Modi and now a joint secretary to GOI told me: “Not while I was there.” My specific query was: “Did Modi say that a Hindu reaction be allowed?”. I noted from media reports recently that this is also exactly what Mukim told the SIT on the Gujarat riots. If I recollect correctly Ashok Narayan, the additional chief secretary (home) who had attended the meeting told the Nanavati Commission that there were instructions that the bodies of all those perished in the Godhra train carnage be allowed to be brought to Ahmedabad. This is what Sanjiv Bhatt has also said as part of his affadavit about what had transpired at the meeting.
Incidentally, it seems that on the evening of February 27 there were two meetings that had been convened by Modi. The first one was a law and order meeting with top cops and secretaries, which Sanjiv Bhatt is supposed to have attended. The other was a meeting of ministers. Haren Pandya had told me that at this meeting some of the ministers said that the bodies of those who died in the Godhra carnage be brought to Ahmedabad. Haren said that he resisted because he felt that this could lead to an outpouring of sentiments leading to a serious law and order situation. Pandya said that he was outshouted at the meeting and mentioned a minister (I am withholding the name, but it was not Modi) who said that this is what we want. “Our party strength is in Ahmedabad. We want everything to happen here. It will help our party.”
Haren Pandya was murdered under mysterious circumstances in early 2003, so he cannot come back to life to testify whatever is attributed to him by me. I am acutely aware of this. I am also aware that George Fernandes is suffering from Alzhiemer’s, a disease that robs its patients of all his memories.

Malaysia’s Selangor Islamic Religious Department (known as Jais) worked with police in early August to raid Damansara Utama Methodist Church (DUMC) in Petaling Jaya, Malaysia. The church was holding a charity dinner at the time of the raid. While authorities have not issued an official explanation for the raid and are still conducting an investigation into the events, the dinner’s opponents claim participants were attempting to convert Muslims to Christianity. Those who supported the raid say the action was undertaken in the name of defending Islam. Participants say they were holding the dinner in support of pan-Malaysian unity and deny accusations of proselytising. The Thanksgiving dinner attendants included citizens of different races and religions. The raid may reflect tensions that undercut Malaysian society, which is divided along both religious and ethnic lines. Sixty percent of the country is Muslim, and just over half are ethnic Malay. According to the constitution, citizens claiming Malay ethnicity must be practicing Muslims, speak the Malay language, and adhere to Malay cultural values. The conditions are in place to ensure that only Malay may claim protection under special laws that reserve jobs and other benefits for the ethnic majority. Although they are an ethnic majority in the country, Malay have been historically disadvantaged, advocates say, because of ethnic Chinese and Indians’ advantageous roles in trade and commerce. As a result, ethnic minorities are underrepresented in the civil service, universities, and at other institutions. But some in the country are hoping to encourage a pan-Malaysian identity that transcends ethnic, cultural, and religious identities. Prime Minister Najib Razak has promoted a campaign called1Malaysia to rally Malaysians around the idea of common nationality. In March, religious tensions were inflamed when a Christian newspaper in the country successfully challenged a law that prohibited Christians from using the word “Allah” to refer to God. Violence broke out between Christians and Muslims after the law was overturned, and heightened tensions surrounding religion in the country may have contributed to the August 3 church raid. Today on The Stream, Ali Gharib will join the show as guest host. He covers national security for ThinkProgress. Also joining the show from Malaysia via Skype are Marina Mahathir (a women’s rights activist), Khairy Jamaluddin (leader of Barisan Nasional Youth and member of Parliament), and Nik Nazmi who is a State Assemblyman and member of the People’s Justice Party. These are some of the social media elements featured in this episode of The Stream.
  • The video below allegedly shows the raid by the Selangor Islamic Religious Deparment, or Jais, on the Damansara Utama Methodist Church. Some websites say it first appeared on pro-Umno blogs on August 16.
  • Earlier in August, a Malaysian TV advertisement that attempts to illustrate proper Ramadan etiquette was pulled when many viewers complained it was racist, particularly for stereotyping the small Chinese population in the country.
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