Is the BJP savior of the Hindus - the information portal on South Asia

According to a renowned independent investigative commission headed by the former constitutional judge Krishna Iyer, Modi urged the state authorities in his state not to intervene against the massacre in the spring of 2002, and thus deliberately fueled the pogroms that left 2,000 dead and tens of thousands of refugees.

But that's not all: the massacres turned into an election campaign in which the hardliners of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) stoked hatred to an unprecedented extent. Modi's election campaign concentrated on verbally humiliating the Muslims: "What should we do? Set up refugee camps? Do we really want to open baby producing centers? [...] We have to teach a lesson to those who Let the population grow disproportionately, "the prime minister summed up one of the standard assertions of the Hindu nationalists, that the Muslims would crowd the Hindus into the minority, in a televised election campaign speech. The campaign paid off in a two-thirds majority in the BJP parliamentary group, and Modi was named "Master Manipulator" by the weekly India Today as "Newsmaker of the Year".

The prognosis that the confidante of L.K.Advani, the strong man in the Vajpayee government, recommended himself to be the future prime minister in the pose of the "savior of the Hindus" is hardly ever voiced these days. In the current parliamentary election campaign in 2004, the BJP is trying too hard to recommend itself as a people's party for all classes and religious groups. In the "good governance campaign" hardliners like Modi have to stay in the background. Against the background of the history of the BJP and its environment, this is less due to an ideological reorientation than to the fact that the "Votebank" of the north Indian middle class Hindus is largely consolidated. In the 2004 election campaign, the party can confidently woo other strata without fear of losses in this most important group of BJP voters. A success that the party owes in large part to Narendra Modi.

Narendra Damodardas Modi is one of the youngest BJP Prime Ministers, he was born in 1950 in the small town of Vadnagar in northern Gujarat. During his studies in Ahmedabad - he got an M.A. political science - he joined the Hindu nationalist student association Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarti Parishad. His marriage, which he entered into during his student days, did not last long. Around 1970 Modi joined the RSS, the parent organization of all associations of the "Sangh Parivar" and an outspoken bachelor club.

The ambitious squad rose quickly. At the age of 22 he was named Pracharak, a full-time agitator of the movement, and shortly afterwards he moved to Gujarat's RSS state headquarters in Maninagar, his current constituency. Since then he has been working in the J.P. Narayan initiated anti-corruption movement to have been active. In 1975 he was appointed head of the Lok Sangharsh Samiti in Gujarat, the rallying movement of the opposition to Indira Gandhi's autocratic rule.

In the early 1980s, the RSS leadership sent him to the BJP, the newly established parliamentary arm of the Hindu nationalists. In the leadership of the national association of Gujarat, he is said to have soon distinguished himself as a tactician and strategist. At that time he was not a popular leader who could attract groups of voters to himself. In 1988, Modi made it to the position of general secretary in the national association. But his art of pulling the strings doesn't just seem to have made him friends, he lost his post a year later and worked until 1995 as election campaign manager for the BJP in Gujarat.

When Keshubhai Patel became the BJP prime minister in Gujarat in 1995, the first thing he did was send his campaign manager and potential rival out of reach. Modi was sent by the federal party leadership to several regional associations in northern India to reorganize the party. His successes are controversial: While Modi's homepage praises his admirable organizational talent, a party critic says: "In every national association in which he worked, he provoked disputes. Wherever he was, the regional associations asked for his transfer." In 1998 he was finally transferred to the central secretariat of the BJP in Delhi.

Modi's hour struck in October 2001, when Keshubai Patel could no longer be held after poor disaster management during the earthquake in Kutch and several lost by-elections. For the first time a senior cadre of the RSS became Prime Minister of an Indian Union state. With the blessing of the federal party and his friends in the RSS leadership, Modi was able to swear the state association to himself within a short time.

Half a year later fanatical Muslims set fire to a train carrying Hindu volunteers in Godhra. The week-long massacre of Gujarat's Muslims began immediately after the attack, which killed 60 people. Under Modi's direction, the police and other authorities did not watch the targeted killings and evictions alone: ‚Äč‚ÄčToday it seems clear that the leaders of the murder and thug gangs received support and that police officers were specifically assigned to stop the goings-on in their sphere of influence.

Once a talent for organization in the background, Prime Minister Modi now presented himself as the tribune of an allegedly oppressed Hindu population, whose justified anger against the overwhelming minority was expressed in the "Post-Godhra riots". In the months that followed, Modi repeatedly invoked an existential friend-foe conflict in which the Muslims, denigrated as the "5th column of Pakistan", were no longer allowed to adhere to anything human. The religious minorities are "strangers" whose loyalty lies outside India and whose influence in the country pushes the majority into the background.

The perfidious reversal of the victims to perpetrators and the anchoring of this ideology in the minds of many Indians, especially in the growing middle class, has succeeded the smart demagogue better in a short time than the old-fashioned RSS bachelors in khaki pants with their crude pamphlets or bearded sadhus from the so-called World Council of Hindus (Vishwa Hindu Parishad). For example, India Today wrote in early 2003: "In retrospect, the Sabarmathi Express [the train set on fire in Godhra, d. A.] appears as a historical variation of the cattle wagons that once drove through Europe. For the Hindu volunteers who go out Ayodhya returned, unlike for the Jews, the train itself turned out to be a crematorium. The terror was an Islamic show, and the revulsion it aroused in 'secular' India was strangely subdued. Overnight Modi became supreme Defender of the Faith, reportedly with 'words of mass destruction'. " Read: After the attack of Islam, Modi did not hesitate to defend our culture, even if - a renowned magazine needs that much objectivity - he went overboard.

When Modi secured a two-thirds majority for the BJP in the state elections in December 2002, the entire BJP leadership congratulated. In addition to his sponsor L.K. Advani also saved Premier A.B. Vajpayee not with praise. In the next state elections in spring 2003, however, the BJP failed. In the current election campaign at the federal level, the BJP also largely dispenses with modes. If it wants to be less dependent on coalition partners in the future, the BJP must bind different layers to itself. And closing ranks inward against an outwardly imagined enemy, as practiced most radically in Modi so far, only promises short-term success.

So it has calmed down around the man from Gujarat for the time being. Most recently, he made it into the national press just because of a rebellious peasant functionary, when a member of the BJP-affiliated farmers' association went on hunger strike in the dispute over a significant increase in electricity prices for farmers. It remains to be hoped that in a few years' time, when the current leadership duo of the BJP retires, the BJP will opt for a more consensual and perhaps also less unscrupulous candidate.


  • Power derails Narendra Modi's power, Times of India, 2.2.2004
  • Master Divider, India Today, 6.1.2003.
  • To ambitious pracharak, Frontline, December 21, 2002.
  • Profiles: Narendra Modi, BBC South Asia, 12/30/2002
  • TV airs tape of Modi's controversial remarks,, September 15, 2002.