Friday, April 13, 2012

An Open Letter to a friend

Dear friend,
Over the past 1.5 years or so, you have acted like a wave. You come close to the shore and just when one would think you're coming in, you go right back. Kind of like that epic scene in Anbe Sivam - "Chennaiya thaakkoon, Chennaiya thaakkoon apdeenu solluvaanga, aana varusha varusham Orissa'va thaandi Andhra varikkum vandhuttu apdiye thirumbi poidum."
I can remember at least 3 instances during the same period when you have permuted the words - "open mind", "accept", "unbiased point of view", "listened to both sides", etc but would end up at the same conclusion - that of Namo's purported guilt. Then you would tweet the occasional 2-3 articles about development in Gujarat riding with a [standard] disclaimer/question wondering if it was exaggerated. Then the same tone of "all this is ok...but...".

Much as I have respect for you and your rationality, I must say that when it comes to Namo, your sense of objectivity seems to be minimal at best. I can see you trying hard to take off those blinkers and view him in different light (and I credit you for that), but there seems to be some part of you that is absolutely preventing you from doing it.

All this while, I hoped/assumed all you were waiting for was the court's judgement on the issue. However, despite an overwhelming clean chit to him, your stance has barely shifted. If any, it (viewing him guilty) just seems to have strengthened.

I also hope you are cognizant of the fact that I have not once brought up any of the other riots or even mentioned "1984", even in passing.
The riots were ABSOLUTELY unjustified, there is no second question about it. Could Modi have handled the riots better - maybe, maybe not. But I think we do not have the authority to decide that. NGO's might, and I too thought they were authentic & exposed the actual situation until Teesta Setalvad came into the picture. I think it has been proved beyond doubt that she is funded, in part or whole, by vested interests with the chief aim of maligning Narendra Modi. The actual aim of "Justice for the victims" was just a bystander in her pick-up truck which has long passed its actual destination and route.

This being the case, I think it would be best to rely on the court's verdict, especially considering the SIT for the main case (Gulberg Society) was headed by an extremely competent man of impeccable integrity (RK Raghavan).

You also try to judge NaMo based on how he would've handled riots. How many people do you *know* / have *proven* they can handle riots better than him? God forbid such a situation ever arise, but in a nation that is both tolerant as well as easily inflamed, have you ever thought how much worse the riots could've been if not for whatever control was brought about? Once again, I am not claiming that the riots that happened were a best-case scenario or even an acceptable-case scenario, but how could you so overwhelmingly confidently pronounce him guilty and start finding loopholes in the Indian Penal Code which assumes a man innocent till proven guilty?

I also see you bandying about words like "did he do ALL he could", "did he WANT the riots to happen", "did he ALLOW the riots to happen" - I hope you realize the extent to which you have brought in subjectivity here, as also uncertainty and intangibility to the bigger picture. Is it possible to get into his head and ascertain the truth? And certainly, you will have no strong answers to those questions - even if there are, you would be just as justified negating the naysayers as you can the yeasayers. Why - you know very well.

To conclude, I think the best thing for us is to, like all pointless-but-polite arguments, "agree to disagree" on Namo. You are strongly opinionated that Namo is guilty and nothing he does will ever convince you otherwise. Not a clean chit from any court. Not cogent arguments from rational, well-informed folks about his effort. Not gentle proddings from friends. Not passionate arguments from fellow twitterati. Heck, I doubt if even Teesta Setalvad can convince you otherwise (just kidding). :D

It's ok man, you have an opinion, live with it. Accept it. I have mine. I'm okay with it. In fact, I'm perfectly fine with yours too (though I must confess that it did break my heart a lot initially - my failure at coaxing you into Namo :P).

I've tried hard and long to weigh Namo on various scales. I ended up backing Narendra Modi. You ended up not. One of us is wrong. Maybe not. Time will tell. Maybe not. Until then, the best thing you could possibly do is stop trying hard to be "fair", "objective", "unbiased", etc. I know we all have heads, but we are not coins. You've tried hard enough. God (if you believe in One) will give you full marks for trying.