How is it that the United States President Joe Biden’s Department of Justice (DoJ) can search Biden’s private residence and confiscate classified documents, and start an investigation? Ditto for the United Kingdom Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, who gets hauled up by a British ‘Bobby’ for not wearing a seatbelt and is fined for the ‘crime’? Contrast with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He gets hit by a BBC documentary on his “role in the 2002 Gujarat riots” and Modi blocks ‘The Modi Question’ from Twitter, and YouTube. While Biden and Sunak are treated more or less the same as any citizen in their respective countries, Prime Minister Narendra Modi gets preferential treatment and behaves like a despot.
The international media has no love lost for Modi. Among them is the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), which is not in awe of Modi. To the ‘Modi-bhakt’, however, the BBC is an incorrigible ‘Biased (against India) British Corporation’. After the airing of part one of the two-part documentary, ‘The Modi Question’, this feeling has only peaked. The Modi government taking down ‘The Modi Question’ from Twitter and YouTube has to do with Modi’s refurbished image on the global stage. The whole quest for attaining ‘Vishwaguru’ immortality is not a figment of the imagination of some fanatic ‘Modi-bhakt’. It is for real. ‘BBC Get Out’ has been trending, and so has ‘BBC documentary’. The BBC finds Modi’s democracy unpalatable, and ‘The Modi Question’ has raised many questions that question the alleged questionable role of chief minister Narendra Modi in the 2002 Gujarat riots. India’s privately-owned so-called ‘national TV channels’, entirely in Modi’s pocket if not on the BJP’s payrolls, have rejected ‘The Modi Question’ with perfunctory negative nods even as right-wing Modi-bhakt YouTube channels fought it out with left-wing outlets.
Yes, ‘The Modi Question’ has unleashed a war of wings, right and left. As ‘The Modi Question’ came the day after Modi held out a bunch of olive leaves to the Pasmanda Muslims, ‘The Modi Question’ is seen as the Opposition reigniting Gujarat 2002 in cahoots with the BBC to remind Muslims, both Pasmanda and Ashrafi, of Modi’s role in Gujarat 2002. ‘The Modi Question’ has put the spotlight back on Modi’s exact role in the 2002 Gujarat riots, and while it comes in the wake of Modi’s outreach to Muslims, the documentary has also led to further communal polarisation, the impact of which will be seen in the nine state elections due this year. The BBC documentary is like a tonic to the Opposition, but also counterproductive. Hindutva, which had been blunted by Modi for his international audience, is back in full force and Modi-bhakts are talking of a 2024 sweep. And that is not the end of it, ‘The Modi Question’ has a Part 2 coming up. The only thing going for Modi is that the tallest court of the land, the Supreme Court of India monitored Special Investigation Team (SIT), had ‘exonerated’ the former Gujarat chief minister in 2013. Ten years on, the spotlight of renewed scrutiny has once again caught up with Modi, piercing through to the depths of Gujarat in 2002. Even attaining the ‘Vishwaguru’ status will not stop the ghosts of Gujarat 2002 from haunting Modi. Joe Biden and Rishi Sunak do not face such odds.