An open letter by veteran journalist Prashant Dayal

Narendrabhai,

Now that you’re the prime minister of the country, you deserve all the respect and admiration you get. When you were elected as the PM, I’d joke with my friends that now I’d just have to say Prashant Dayal upon calling the PMO because you know me. I remember well, that you had become the general secretary of Gujarat BJP from the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh in the same time when I had just started off as a journalist. Your entry brought in a new life into the party and BJP began to win in several cities across the state, starting with the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation. I personally admired you and was impressed.

There were many reasons behind this admiration, for which Congress was majorly responsible. The Congress was governing the state for a long time, and many of their leaders were corrupt. The Congress would use Muslim gangsters to arm-twist their positions in power. This had also given birth to the notorious Abdul Latif, who had the state in his grip. Small-time journalists like me and every single Hindus began to believe that Congress was a party of the Muslims. And you played an important role in embedding this thought into our heads. As a result, Congress was wiped off in 1995. We were happy and deep in our hearts we wanted BJP to come to power.

You claim to be a student of political sciences. Though there are controversies surrounding the same, you did prove the fact that not only the Congress, but you could also trump your own leaders in politics. You were the ‘saarthi’ of Lal Krishna Advani’s Ayodhya Yatra in 1990. You organizational skill ensured that a Hindutva wave swept across the country. But today, you have finished off even those heavyweights of leaders like Advani, Murali Manohar Joshi, Yashwant Sinha, and Arun Shourie. That’s another story, we should not be saying anything about your personal feuds as you are suffering from the things that you have done. You used the big time political leaders for your benefit and later ensured that their careers are finished. They include Gujarat’s Keshubhai Patel, Suresh Mehta, Ashok Bhatt, Vajubhai Vala, Kashiram Rana, Jay Narayan Vyas. It’s a long list, thus I am not writing all the names.

Sanjay Joshi, who joined BJP under your patronage, was insulted to such an extent that he quit the party. Haren Pandya, who refused to vacate the Ellisbridge seat for you, was killed off. After you became the chief minister in 2002, anyone who dared to go against you is now lost in the books of history. Some of them though, like Gordhan Zadafia, Sunil Oza and Girish Parmar had eaten the humble pie and return back to the fold after rallying against you. The ones who held their pride have been lost forever. Jay Narayan Vyas, who didn’t even wish to be around where your shadow had fallen, have now taken to be the spokesperson for the BJP at TV channels, despite having his own religious talk show.

You are like a great chess player. If there’s any leader in the country after Indira Gandhi, then it’s you. Even though the media blames you for orchestrating the violent riots of 2002, I don’t agree to them. We had met at the Godhra station after the Sabarmati Express was set on fire. The violence that had followed after the incident was the anger of Hindus. They were angry on you and your BJP government, that how come 57 Hindus were burnt to death despite there being a Hindu government in the state. It was important for you to remain silent. Remaining silent was also favourable for you, but it cost the lives of 2000 people. You were accused of being a Hindu, but you rode upon it, abusing ‘Miya Musharraf’ and went on to win the subsequent polls. But your tune changed in 2007.

You had realized that the tag of a Hindu leader is not going to get you any favours anymore. And thus began your Sadbhavna fast. You can change colours, which is something you seem to take pride in. Maybe because you are a politician and it is a necessity for the job. You, who spoke about wiping the Congress from the country, began to accept Congress leaders into the BJP fold. As if BJP is the Ganges of Indian politics and any corrupt leader who joins the fold gets purified. It is an achievement of sorts for you that you ‘purified’ many such politicians. You realized the name of Ram is not going to help you anymore, and thus you razed more than 100 big and small temples in the state capital for the sake of development.

We’re not fanatics. We too don’t like gods who sprouted out in the middle of the road one fine day, blocking our way. We didn’t have an issue with the demolition of the temples, but Dr. Pravin Togadia, your fellow comrade had a problem with it. You were partners of the same shop, but some strain was caused in the business you ran. Neither you nor he is willing to come clean about the strain in public. You realized that Togadia could ruin your business of Hindutva, and thus you got rid of him too. You sent him off towards Advani. You knew that these old-timers are not going to cause any hard to you as your sun was shining at its brightest. You are educated in astrology, a practitioner of Baglamukhi Puja, but there’s no connection of Lord Ram with you.

Just like a camel keeps his eye out for the desert, you too had set your eyes at Delhi and contested the 2012 polls on the plank of development. In 2014, you became the prime minister of the country. Now there was no point of calling you names and abusing you. You were elected by the people of the country and handed over its reins to you, whether anyone likes it or not. You now needed time to study and understand the country’s politics and economy. You will obviously make mistakes, but we were ready for it. We believed that the Acche Din (Good Days) would actually come in our lives. When demonetisation was announced, I had said that it should not be criticized as this was a decision taken by you and that we should wait for its results. Well, the whole country witnessed its results.

Leaders make mistakes, no problem with that. We all waited for five years for the Vikas (Development). We thought you’ll fight the 2019 elections on the same development plank, but no. You began to recall lord Ram. The name of Ram is chanted during auspicious occasions and during deaths. I don’t know on what basis are you chanting the name of Ram now. We’re Hindus, we too believe in Lord Ram, but we’re not stupid. We’d take pride if the Ram Mandir is built at Ayodhya, but we doubt your timing. Usually, Sangh is everything for the BJP. But as of now, it is hard to decipher which entity is superior to whom. Even Mohan Bhagwat didn’t remember Ram for the past four years and now even the so-called religious preachers and sadhus in Ayodhya are clamouring over the name of Ram. Long back, Dharmendra Maharaj would do the same but seems like he’s content now.

We know only lord Ram could save you in 2019. But just take a look at our neighbouring countries, who took the support of religion to form governments. Their futures don’t look promising. I wish you remain strong and bring prosperity to the country. But remember, we’re Hindus, but not stupid. And don’t commit the mistake of considering Hindus to be stupid. Just like the Congress thought the Muslims were stupid, and had to pay a heavy price for it. Not all days are sunny, and it doesn’t take much time for days to pass. Your mindset is somewhat similar to Indira Gandhi, and I wish you don’t commit the mistake of Indira of considering us insignificant. Because when the citizens strike back, its stick doesn’t make noise.

Yours Truly

Prashant…