A former premier of British Columbia has asked whether the Indian prime minister Narendra Modi is a "juggler" or a "nation builder".
Ujjal Dosanjh has raised this question through his latest blog post following allegations of the forced conversions of Christians and Muslims into the Hindu fold by the Hindu fundamentalists in India.
Referring to reports of “Ghar Vapsi” by Hindu fanatics and the continued glorification of Mahatma Gandhi's assassin, Nathuram Godse, Dosanjh has warned that these developments do not bode well for a country as diverse as India.
Those who supported a Hindu theocracy killed Gandhi in 1948 for opposing religious partition and killings of innocent Muslims.
Talking to the Georgia Straight, Dosanjh pointed out that Modi had announced after his election that he wants to bring development for everyone.
“However, the recent developments and silence of Mr. Modi have created doubts in our minds,” Dosanjh said.
Earlier, he posted on his blog, “As a child growing up in India in the afterglow of the freedom movement I learnt to be Indian first and foremost before belonging to any of its states or any of its many faiths. I did not completely escape the inescapable and ubiquitous reality of its religiosity. It touched me too but the robust secularism and deep religiosity of Mahatma Gandhi helped infuse in me an abiding respect for not just one but of all of India's faiths, believers and nonbelievers. As a result I am moved more by the collective Indian heritage and our common humanity rather than by any one faith.”
He goes on to suggest that the religious fanatics wield enormous power in India.
“The people I am talking about are neither idiots nor imbeciles. They are some of the smartest people in India; the architects and pillars of the Modi victory in the last Indian election. However being smart does not guarantee good judgement; that is quite obvious from their utterances and actions like 'Ghar Vapsi'. It is unfortunate for Modi and India that these elements now control the machinery and might of the country. So figuring out who they are is not just a semantic exercise.”
Dosanjh also warned that the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh, Bajrang Dal, and many other incarnations of the religious right in the world of Hindutva have “essentially derailed Modi's development agenda if he ever was committed to one”.
Expressing his skepticism, Dosanjh further stated that Modi has so far done nothing to rein in the religious forces that substantially fuelled his victory in the national elections. “Perhaps his agenda was always Hindutva not development.”
Dosanjh, a secularist and critic of terrorism, was once beaten for condemning violence by Sikh extremists in Vancouver.
His maternal grandfather, Moola Singh, was part of the secular freedom movement whose participants wanted to build an egalitarian society in post-British India.