Human rights activist Shabnam Hashmi has called for close scrutiny of Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi’s claims, that his State is a ‘model for development’, in the run-up to the 2014 general elections.
Speaking at a seminar here on Saturday, Ms. Hashmi said ground realities were far from the rosy picture Mr. Modi and his PR teams had been presenting over the past year, in a bid to project him as a Prime Ministerial candidate.
Ms. Hashmi challenged the numbers presented in Mr. Modi’s campaigns and said key socio-economic indicators such as FDI, per capita income, growth rate of gross state domestic product (GSDP), literacy rate, infant mortality rate and maternal mortality had shown Gujarat faring much worse than other States in the country.
Recalling the Supreme Court’s recent dismissal of the Gujarat government’s petition to stall the appointment of Justice R.A Mehta as the State’s Lokayukta, Ms. Hashmi said the government had already been exposed as corrupt by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) report, tabled in the Gujarat Assembly on March 31 this year. The CAG report had said financial irregularities, especially mismanagement of public sector undertakings, had resulted in losses to the tune of Rs.16,000 crores. She said the Modi government’s attempt to stall the appointment of the Governor-designated Lokayuktha was further proof that it had more corruption to hide.
Right wing takeover
Ms. Hashmi, who runs the non-government organisation ‘Act Now for Harmony and Democracy’, said the RSS asked human rights activists why they continued to emphasize on the Gujarat riots of 2002, especially since the BJP was not in power, when riots had taken place in others states too.
“The most startling aspect of the Gujarat riots was the connivance of the whole system, the political participation in it and the brutality of it,” Ms. Hashmi said. “I personally documented several cases of gang rapes that went unreported because of various reasons. The patterns in which it was executed, in various places, was just too much to take.”
Ms. Hashmi also lamented the romanticism of the right wing ideologies, especially prevalent among the upwardly mobile middle class, as seen in social networks.