#India – Five Narendra Modi lies that must be nailed

Prashant Panday
11 March 2013, 09:35 AM

English: Image of Narendra Modi at the World E...

Prashant Panday
11 March 2013,, TOI
Speaking to US NRIs yesterday, Modi claimed that the growth rate in India had “lost momentum” in the last 6-7 years. Well, Modi is used to dishing out mis-truths and blatant lies; so this was just one more in a series. India’s growth in the last 6-7 years has been exemplary by any standard, with GDP growth hitting 9.2% just last year.

Let me group all of Modi’s lies into 5 distinct categories:

1)    Comparing Gujarat with India: Even a 5th standard student knows what averages are. India’s GDP growth represents the average of all states – dynamic ones like Gujarat, Maharashtra, AP, Haryana and TN as well as poor performing ones like Rajasthan, UP, MP, Karnataka, and (in the past), Bihar and Orissa. Quite obviously Gujarat growth rate will be higher than India’s. When Modi uses this to show that he would make a better PM than Manmohan Singh, it’s plain chicanery. What he should do is compare Gujarat – a powerhouse since decades – with other powerhouse states. But he’s smart. He won’t do that!

2)    Gujarat growth barely comparable with other big states: The top 5 states in terms of state GDP are Maharashtra, UP, AP, TN and Gujarat in that order. Modi will be embarrassed to note that the pecking order of these states has remained largely intact over the last 6-7 years (since 2004-5) – in spite of Modi’s “dynamic” rule. The only exception is that WB used to be 5th back then, and is now just behind Gujarat. Let’s look at how much each state economy has expanded over this period and I am using data from Wikipedia here (which in turn quotes the Ministry of statistics and Program Implementation Govt. Of India). Between 2004-5 and 2010-11, the Maharashtra GDP has expanded 2.49 times in nominal terms, Gujarat’s by 2.52 times, Tamil Nadu’s by 2.50 times, UP’s by 2.28 times, AP’s by 2.62 times and West Bengal’s by 2.27 times. So Gujarat has kept pace with the big states; nothing more, nothing less. Compared to the noise that Modi makes, the actual numbers are nothing to write home!

3)    Takes undue credit: Gujaratis are genetic coded to demand that any CM of the state has to be business minded. Remember Gujarat is a state in which college graduates take up jobs only when they cannot start their own business. And even when they do jobs, almost all of them do something “on the side”. It may be playing the stock market, or doing a small side business in the wife’s name. Growth in Gujarat pre-dates Modi. This is proven by the growth rates recorded during the tenures of the previous CMs. For the purpose of this analysis, I have used Net State Domestic Product at factor cost at constant prices in Rupees as the measure of economic growth. The data taken is from the RBI’s “Handbook of Statistics of Indian Economy” readily available on the internet. Under Modi (between 2002-3 to 2009-10), the average growth rate in Gujarat in nominal terms has been 16.25% per annum. In the Keshubhai Patel era (1998-99 to 2001-02), Gujarat grew at only 7.5% per annum. BJP messed up during Keshubhai’s time and that’s one reason he was replaced. Take the period before Keshubhai Patel. There was a period of rapid changes in CMs in Gujarat between 94-95 and 98-99; the BJP, Congress and the Rashtriya Janata Party ruled the state and achieved between 14% and 31% growth rates. The previous strongman of Gujarat used to be Chimanbhai Patel who ruled as CM from 1990-91 to 1993-94. The growth rate during his period was 16.75%. Err…..higher than what Modi achieved. Prior to Chimanbhai Patel was the rule of the Congress for 10 years from 1980-81 to 1989-90. During this period of time, Madhvsinh Solanki and Amarsingh Chaudhary were the Congress CMs in the state. The growth rate during these ten years was 14.8% – a shade lower than Modi’s achievements. Remember back then, India wasn’t quite the dynamic growth engine it is today. Modi can surely take credit for sustaining Gujarat’s growth; but he cannot claim to be the diva of India’s growth miracle!

4)    Vibrant Gujarat: The biggest lie that Modi dishes out is Vibrant Gujarat. Modi talks of “lacs of crores” of investments “promised” to the state. But promises have not translated into actual investments. A recent report shows that not even 20% of that investment has actually materialized over the last 4 years. The Tatas, the Ambanis, all claim to love Modi and Gujarat and they heap praise on him. They realize Modi loves such public encomium and these business leaders are smart enough to give him that. But they also love Prithviraj Chavan and Maharashtra, Bhupinder Singh Hooda and Haryana, Jayalalitha/Karunanidhi and TN and whoever it is in AP. Businessmen want pragmatic governance and all these states offer that. The only difference is that these states are quiet performers, while Modi croons from the roof top.

5)    Hides all non-GDP data: And the last lie of course is that by talking only about GDP growth, Modi diverts attention from everything else. Be it is his communal record (he hasn’t apologized for the post-Godhra riots, or for the fake encounter killings), or his state’s data on Human Development Indices (The HDI for Gujarat, in 2008, was 0.527 and it ranked 10th among major states), or social indicators (In Gujarat, the Life Expectance at Birth during 2002-06 was 64.1 years and it ranked ninth among major Indian states. In the areas of Mean Years of Schooling and School Life Expectancy, during 2004-05, it ranked seventh and ninth, respectively. Kerala ranked first in all three indicators. Even Maharashtra, Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka performed much better than Gujarat (source: Gujarat: Myth and reality: Dr Bhalchandra Mungekar Jun 12, 2012, TOI online edition), Gujarat is a laggard. This is what prompted Chidambaram to state in his budget speech that this is not the growth model that the UPA wants to practice.

The real truth is that the Gujarat economic story has to be narrated correctly. The public has to know the real truth. Even if it takes a hundred such posts. Of course Gujarat is a developed state; just as developed as Maharashtra, AP, Haryana and TN. That’s why people come back impressed from Ahmedabad. But is Modi being truthful by claiming credit for all this? No way. In fact, he is lying through his teeth. And its time the lies are exposed….


The tale of two women who have taken on Gujarat’s “Iron Man” #NarendraModi

Smita Gupta, Ahemdabad, Dec 10,2012

  • Jagruti Pandya
    PTI Jagruti Pandya
  • Shweta Bhatt
    PTI Shweta Bhatt

It is 8.30 a.m. on Saturday in the middle class area of Chandra Nagar. Jagruti Pandya, widow of former Gujarat Home Minister Haren Pandya, who was murdered in 2003, is doing a walkabout. She is the Gujarat Parivartan Party (GPP) candidate from the posh Ellisbridge constituency, which her late husband represented, and her decision to use this election to focus on the fact that all those charged with her husband’s brutal killing were let off last year, has created a ripple of interest. Her workers are a mix of friends and former BJP workers who have shifted allegiance to the GPP, led by the former Chief Minister Keshubhai Patel, who too walked out of the BJP.

In Maninagar — Chief Minister Narendra Modi’s constituency — his challenger, the Congress candidate Shweta Bhatt, the wife of IPS officer Sanjeev Bhatt, who has allegedly been victimised for making revelations about the role of Mr. Modi and his administration in the anti-Muslim pogrom in 2002, draws attention to injustice in the State: “If I win, it will be a victory for Gujarat; if I lose, Gujarat will lose,” she says with a theatrical turn of phrase.

As both women campaign — Ms. Bhatt in an SUV, Ms. Pandya on foot — door-to-door, people come out on to their balconies, some onto the streets. For these self-declared homemakers who have thus far had nothing to do with politics — even Ms. Pandya stresses she has never accompanied her late husband on the election trail — both answer questions with ease, their storylines smooth. They are also picture perfect — Ms. Pandya, serene, scrubbed face, subdued in a grey silk sari with the yellow GPP scarf draped over her shoulders; Ms. Bhatt effervescent in a bright red maheshwari sari, a big bindi on her forehead.

Neither Ms. Pandya, nor Ms. Bhatt is likely to win, say locals. But in an election in which the communal carnage of 2002 is not an issue, with the Congress tiptoeing around it lest it awaken old ghosts, the fact that these women have left the sanctuary of their homes to enter politics is the only reminder of the terrible happenings of a decade ago, and of Mr. Modi’s role in them.

The two women could not differ more in their ideological persuasions — Ms. Pandya considers the BJP-RSS combine as her family, while Ms. Bhatt says she accepted the Congress ticket as the party’s ideology matched her own. They refuse to say very much about the other, only stressing that the other is doing what she thinks is right. “All these years, I sought justice from the legal system. I failed,” Ms. Pandya stresses that “the BJP was Haren’s family, but he was let down. So I am contesting this election to seek justice in the court of the people.”

As she walks through the compounds of local cooperative housing societies, microphone in hand, she looks up at the balconies, introduces herself as Haren Pandya’s widow, reminds them of his work in the area and asks for their votes as shradhanjali [homage].

Mr. Pandya’s killing was always regarded as a political murder. While the prosecution’s case was that he had been killed by assailants from Hyderabad to avenge the anti-Muslim riots of 2002, it is well-known that he was the Minister who had secretly deposed before the Citizen’s Tribunal on the riots, making revelations that were not yet in the public domain. At a cabinet meeting, he had reportedly advocated against bringing bodies of the victims of the Godhra carnage to Ahmedabad, as he thought that would trigger off a violent response. But he was apparently shouted down at the meeting. Whatever the reason, Mr. Modi sacked him in July 2002, and ensured that he did not get the ticket from his Ellisbridge constituency in the Assembly elections later that year. After being forced out of electoral politics, Mr. Pandya was trying to figure out his next move when he was killed in Ahmedabad’s Law Gardens. His body was found in his car.

In Ms. Bhatt’s case, her husband is known for his role in filing an affidavit in the Supreme Court against Mr. Modi for his alleged role in the 2002 Gujarat riots. She says she is fighting to protest against the harassment of her husband and family, and to make it possible once again for the people of Gujarat to speak their minds: “There is no freedom of speech in Gujarat, I am fighting for that,” she says, adding that she is also focusing on the lack of development in Mr. Modi’s constituency.

In Congress circles, there has been much debate about fielding Ms. Bhatt, as it might be seen as the party “owning” Mr. Bhatt and undermining his credibility and his fight against Mr. Modi. But others felt that this was the closest the party could risk in making a statement about Mr. Modi’s alleged role in the 2002 riots.

The common thread that binds the battles being waged by these two women, whose world views differ so greatly, is that they have both dared to put the spotlight on a man most people in Gujarat regard as invincible and all-powerful. No small achievement, regardless of whether they win or lose their elections.



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