Shahid Siddiqui, politician and Member of Parliament (MO) of Samajwadi Party (SP), and editor of Urdu weekly paper, Naee Duniya, tells us how he got to interview Gujarat chief minister, BJP's potential prime ministerial candidate and the bete noir of silly secularists. Siddiqui went to Mumbai to attend the marriage of Hema Malini's daughter, Esha Deol. While sitting with film director Mahes Bhatt and script and dialogue writer Saleem Khan and Gujarat BJP politician Zafar Sureshvala, Saleem Khan asks Siddiqui as to why he does not interview Narender Modi. Siddiqui agrees and asks Zafar Sureshvala to give a try. A week later Siddqui gets a telephone call from Modi's office in Gandhinagar agreeing to the interview. Siddiqui sets the precondition that Modi should answer whatever questions he would ask. Two days later Modi lets know that he is agreeable to the precondition.
Siddqui says that Modi was wearning a half-sleeved pink jubba and though there was a smile on his lips there was no smile on his face. Siddiqui accepts that Modi is a practised politician and he parries questions even when he does not answer. "Modi ne vaade ke mutaabiq mere tamaam swaalon ke jawab diye. magar bahut se sawaal woh taal gaye. apna daaman bacha gaye." Siddqui assures: "main modi ke bahut se dalaail se qataee muttafiq nahin hoon. in ke jawaabaat se mutmain nahin hoon. magar in kaa interview man-o-a'n zeel mein pesh kar rahaan hoon taaki aap modi ki soch aur us ke zehan se waaqif ho sakey. insha allah agle hafta modi ke interview par apna zaati tajzia pesh karronga. modi ke sach aur jhoot ko benaqaab karoonga."
Siddiqui also lets us know that he finds it his duty as a journalist to interview a person with whom he differs, and he tells that he interviewed Indira Gandhi after she lost the election post-Emergency in 1977 and no one was even willing to talk to her. He also says that he interviewed Atal Bihari Vajpayee and L.K.Advani as well.
I am just putting up the transcript of the interview in the roman script so that many people who are not conversant with the Persian script will be able to access the interview.
This interview is of interest to me because I see it as a dialogue between a communal Hindu and a communal Muslim, and both of them would deny that they are communal. Modi is communal because he does carry the communal Hindu bias where he would like to establish Hindu superiority but he does not say so openly. He wants to be seen as being fair to Muslims. Observers cannot ignore the invisible biases. He may be hating Muslims less and he may be willing to accept the need for co-existing with Muslims who are different. He sees this as his political maturity. It would be silly to fault Modi for not being secular and for not being liberal. He is communal in a subtle and a not-so-subtle sense and he has a place of his own. Similarly Shahid Siddiqui is communal because he thinks only of Muslims and their problems. He does not seem to be concerned with the poor Dalits, the poor OBCs, the poor forward castes of the Hindu community either in Gujarat or elsewhere. He would say that he is pro-Muslim but not anti-Hindu and that is why he is not communal, while Modi is pro-Hindu as well as anti-Muslim. Modi is trying not to be seen as anti-Muslim without shedding tears for Muslims as the secularists and liberals do. Siddiqui wants to pass off as a secularist and liberal while being Muslim-centric in his worldview. As Modi has a right not to be secular and liberal, Siddiqui can practice his own version of secularism. For me, they represent different shades of communalism. And I believe that people have a right to be communal as long as they do not kill each other.
Excerpts from the first section of the interview which no other paper will carry:
Shahid Siddiqui: Narender Modiji aap ka hindustan ka tasavvur kya hain? kya aap hindustan ko ek hindu rashtr banana chaahte hain? aa'enda 50 baras mein aap kaisa hindustan banana chaahte hain?
Narender Modi: hum ek khushhaal bharat dekhna chaahte hain, 21vi sadi bharat ki sadi ho ye hamara sapna hai jise saakaar karna hai.
Shahid Siddqui: kahaa jaata hai ke aap gujarat ko hindu rashtr ki tajrubagaah ke taur par istemaal kar rahe hain. aap agar markaz mein bar saraqtadaar aa gaye toh aap bharat ko ek hindurashtr banana chaahenge, is mein musalmanon aur doosri aqeeliyaton ki kya jagah hogi?
Modi: pehli baat toh ye ke aaj gujarat mein aqeelayaton ki jo jagah hain woh poore mulk ke muqabal mein zyaada achchi hain. doosre aur behtar hone ki gunjaish itni hi hain ke jitnee ke kisee hindu ko. musalman ko bhi aage badhne itna hi mauqa milna chaahiye jitnee ki kisi hindu ko. agar taa'sab ho toh ek ghar bhi nahin chal sakta. ek bahu achchee lage aur doosri na lage toh ghar mein sukoon nahin ho sakta.
Shahid Siddqui: Maan lijiye ke ghae mein chaar bachche hain. in mei se ek kisi bhi wajah se kamzor hain. pichchaad gaya hain. toh kya is par zyaada tawajjuh nahin honi chahiye? kya ise aage badhne ke behtar mauqa nahin milnee chahiye?
Modi: yeh toh hamaare aa'in ne bhi kahaa hain ke jo kamzor hain pichchda hain, ise alag se sahara milna chaahiye. agar samaj is ki zimmadari nahin uththayega toh kaun uththayega? maan lijiye ek zehnee taur par kamzor bachcha hain. us ke maa-baap ki zindagi toh ise paalne mein khap gayee. mera maanna hai ki agar kamzor bachcha hai toh uski zimmedari sirf maa baap ki hi nahin, balke poore samaj ki hai. agar hum ye kahe ke tumhaare ghar paida hua hain sirf tum sambhaalo ye ghalat hoga.
Shahid Siddqui: is mulk mein jitne survey hue hain chaahe woh sachar committee ho yaa ranganath mishra commission, sab ka kehnaa hai ke khaas taur se musalman zindgi ke har maidan mein khusoosa ta'alim mein, iqtasaadi maidan mein bahut se wajoohaat ki banaa par pichchad gaye hain. aap ke khayaal mein inhe aage laane ke liye , inka haq dilaane ke liye kyaa qadam utthane chahiye? kyaa inhe reservation nahin milna chaahiye jab ke 50 feesad naukaryaan reservation mein chali gayee hain. baki 50 feesad mein musalmaan muqable mein peechche rah jaataa hain. is ke liye saare darwaaze bandh hai, ise aage laane ke liye kyaa karna chaahiye?
Modi: aisa nahin hai. gujarat meinOBC mein 36 muslim adariyaa aisi hain jo pichchdon mein aati hain aur inhey woh tamaam riaayatein milti hain jo doosre picchdon ko milti hain. main bhi picchdi jaat se hoon. humein raasta dhoondhna hoga ke sab ko is mein hissedaari mile. jaise aaj ischool hain? teacher hain. is ke baawajood log anpadh hain. is ka hal ham ne gujarat mein dhoondha. hamne tehreek chalaayi ke gujarat mein sau feesad ladkiyon ko taa'lim miley. sau feesad ka matlab sau feesad. june ke maheena mein jab bahut garmee hoti hain toh saare afsar, saare wazeer, saari sarkar 1800 gaaon ghar ghar jaate hain. ye dekhte hain ki saari ladkiyaan padh rahee hain. aaj 99 feesad se zaayda ladkiyaan ischool mein hain. is mein har mazhab ki ladki hain. pehle dropout 40 feesad thaa. aaj woh mushkil se 2 feesad rah gayaa hain. ab iska faaida kis ko mil rahaan hain. meri hindu-musalman ki philosophy nahin hai. mein toh ye dekhtaa hoon ke gujarat rehnewaale har bacche ko is ka faaida miley. meri dus saal ki koshish mein sab se zyaada khushi is baat ki hain ki main kisi hindu school mein vaalideen ki meeting bulaata hoon toh wahaan 60 feesad vaalideen aate hain. magar muslim ilaaqe mein meeting karta hoon toh 100 feesad vaalideen aur is ke alaava bhi is mein log aajaatein hain."