NEW DELHI: A fast for a fast- that was the response of Gandhians to Gujarat chief minister, Narendra Modi’s three-day ‘Sadbhavana’ fast. A group of 10 Gandhians and human rights activists held a symbolic fast at Rajghat on Monday calling Modi’s fast a sham and alleging that he was using a Gandhian tool of protest for political mileage.
No elaborate arrangements, no slogans, no loud protests. Just some activists spinning thread on a charkha in a quiet corner. Behind a small banner, the Gandhians almost went unnoticed.
Faisal Khan, a member of National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM) said that fasting is a means of satyagraha and should not be used as a political or canvassing tool. “Everyone is aware of the 2002 riots and the communal intolerance in Gujarat. Modi is charged with many crimes associated with the riots. How can he fast? Does a Gandhian fast involve such massive expenditure? It is nothing but self-promotion,” he said.
IIT professor, V K Tripathi who also participated by fasting the entire day said that a fast can serve two purposes. “For some it is a mode of repentance for a mistake. It is accepting that mistake publicly. For others, a fast is a means of self-glorification, minus any remorse. Modi was at the helm in 2002 when the riots took place but he is very arrogant. In fact, Gujarat is the only state that has not implemented the pre-metric scholarships for minorities. Sadbhavana may be a glamorous protest but Modi’s only goal is to promote his image,” he said.
Another environmentalist and NAPM member Vimal Bhai added that this symbolic fast may not reach out to many. The idea is to get Gandhians to protect Bapu’s values. “People are not fools. They can understand the difference between Gandhian values and RSS or BJP-led gimmicks to further people’s political goals. Neither the perpetrators of the Ayodhya tragedy nor those behind the Godhra riots were punished. With what conscience is Modi fasting?,” he asked.
M H Gandhi, a human rights activist has come from Gujarat to be a part of the fast. He said the 11 youths who were in custody for eight years because of a fake encounter have lost precious years of their life. “Fake encounters and random arrests of Muslim youths are a regular affair in Gujarat. I am saddened by the fact that Modi is misusing Gandhian means of protest and introspection. I am here only to empathise with those who suffered during the Gujarat riots.”