While everyone was assuming that
Narendra Modi will be busy fasting and watching disco dandiya
during the Navratri festival, he quietly got his band of
stick-wielders to arrest former IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt. As we
all know, Bhatt says he was present when directions were issued by
Modi to let Hindus “vent out their anger” and teach Muslims a
lesson. By all accounts, Bhatt did give this version, but was not
called before the SIT committee to depose. He pretty much played
by the book and did not use other means of exposure. In this
sense, he cannot be termed a whistle-blower. It has been several
years and he stayed in office.
On September 30, he was put behind bars for kidnapping a junior to
implicate Modi. Constable K D Pant lodged an FIR saying that he
was wrongly confined and threatened to fabricate evidence. This is
hilarious. Before the might of Modi, why would a senior recruit
someone way down in the hierarchy to buffer his case?
Is Sanjiv Bhatt a real thorn or a diversionary player? To his
credit, he refused to give sound bytes to the TV news channels.
One anchor rather helpfully told us that he has left it to the
media and the people to decide! Much as I dread those who barf
into microphones, Bhatt should have issued a statement. He is
trying to use the law when he knows that the law is being misused.
Now, we come to conspiracy theory number one:
Modi refuses to attend the BJP’s two-day national executive meet
that began yesterday, the day Bhatt is arrested. He cites the
Navratri festival and his fasting as the reason. Tongues wag.
There is a problem between him and L.K.Advani. Rubbish, say the
others, we are one big family. They are not like any other
Modi did not attend because very likely it was already conveyed to
the BJP high command coterie. This is the classic Hindutva style
of functioning. One section does the dirty work, so that the main
group remains clean. Then, after the deed, the core group
re-enters to lend support. This effectively amounts to a higher
ideological agreement. The BJP was not around to watch Bhatt
arrested. It was a local decision. However, they are with Modi on
this in principle. It is a smart strategy and has paid them well
in the past too. We often see the RSS as the tough guys, while the
BJP flaunts its moderates, its intellectuals and its dancers.
Here is how the BJP spokesperson Prakash Javadekar reacted to the
"This is a very right step. Any state cannot tolerate
unaccountability and indiscipline. Officers and police personnel
have to follow a certain discipline, a code of conduct and
Accountability? Decorum? Code of conduct? Where were all these
when the riots took place, when in the aftermath the same
undisciplined officers, prodded by the government, took part in
encounters and looked the other way? Where were all these
honourable codes when these same disciplined men were transferred
to protect their insidious activities by the government in charge?
This brings us to conspiracy number two:
Bhatt had already filed an affidavit before the Supreme Court; the
timing of his arrest is important. The BJP meet, besides making a
clear demarcation between the good, the bad and the ugly, will
also send out an overt signal that Modi is not a national level
leader. His arena is the state, where he is king. What will Modi
get out of it, besides a principality instead of a kingdom? The
advantage of not being dependent on a kingmaker. No BJP leader can
claim to have made Modi. Even poor Atal Behari Vajpayee was seen
as an Advani creation, especially during his ‘mukhota’ (mask)
The BJP does not have a dynasty, but it most certainly has its
hierarchy in place. Often, instead of people, it is factions that
rule. While factionalism has caused severe damage to other
political parties, the saffron ethos grants every satellite its
monogrammed halo. If you bring all these halos together for the
larger good (read elections), then you are given to understand it
is cultural renaissance and reclaiming of pure India. It might be
cause for sniggers, given that we ‘rid’ ourselves of a pure land
six decades ago, but then there is the danger of being branded
I say danger because some segments of the liberal/secular brigade
(though they can be mutually exclusive ideas) have used the riots
to further their own image, if not use manoeuvres. The reason
could well be the necessity to force-feed the judiciary which is
keeping its mouth shut. Is that not why even Sanjiv Bhatt had said
he would be willing to give all the information if he got the
“opportunity to tell the truth”?
The legal process has a different version of truth. It has to be
factually provable. It is often difficult to produce evidence of
acts of omission or of covert instructions.
The situation is now set to make a martyr of Modi via the
martyrdom of Sanjiv Bhatt. Bhatt’s arrest will get the liberals
out, but without the advantage of an iota of what he knows. This
knowledge too is probably lacking in relevant paperwork, unless
people are willing to testify. Unfortunately, that makes them
invaluable assets for the establishment. They can be accused of
being pressurised or get co-opted into making such claims. Bhatt
will be the lone man standing. In a weird twist, Modi will be
posited against this – the gentleman politician and the
undisciplined officer, the former being condemned only because the
latter had differences, that too with a man who has transformed
his state despite the odds and made it into a model for the rest
of steel-and-chrome India to ape while retaining its ‘soul’.
Sanjiv Bhatt is the perfect foil to ensure Modi’s tragedy act,
rather than demonise him. After all, Nero’s fiddle did not do the
burning of Rome. In fact, he was so lost in fiddling that he did
not even smell the smoke.
As always, it is advantage Modi and his flying Valhalla machine.
Farzana Versey can be reached at http://farzana-versey.blogspot.com/