Why do simple Muslim gifts unnerve Modi?
I do not know what the cultured political stalwarts of the BJP have to say about it, but Narendra Modi, Gujarat’s chief minister, let a great opportunity slip when he turned down a Muslim skullcap and a keffiyah, a traditional tussled kerchief, offered to him as mementos recently. See story
Being fond of Muslims is not quite Modi’s image, but he seems intent on keeping it. And we are not even suggesting he “fiddled when Gujarat burned”, as the Supreme Court had once observed.
As Modi’s supporters often love to point out, one should not accuse someone of plotting mass murders without irrefutable evidence. It is a serious charge that needs substantiation. We agree. But why do signature Muslim gifts unnerve Modi? After all, there must be an underlying kernel of truth in Modi’s overly revulsion of Muslim mementos.
All I can say is, this sort of conduct certainly doesn’t help – and even thwarts — a goal that is more urgent than curbing double-digit food inflation: harmony. It reinforces Modi’s image of a man bitterly clinging to his majoritarian credo.
Modi’s thoughtless rejection of the skullcap, lovingly offered to him, is our very own Park51 moment. The Islamic community centre — dubbed Park51 for its address — had become a lightning rod when it was proposed a few blocks from the World Trade Center and was bitterly opposed. See story
When Modi refused to accept the Muslim souvenirs, it was his way of saying that he still doesn’t believe in opening up. It was his way of saying that he doesn’t believe in the milk of human kindness. It was a demonstrable evidence of his indifference towards a community, whose members are his equal subjects.
Modi would not have been just gracious had he lowered his head in acceptance when the skullcap was being offered. He would have stooped to conquer. It could have been a historic culmination of his make-believe makeover. He could have come in from the cold. But the spirit of hostility has survived a flimsy mask of benevolence.