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PM Modi at Kedarnath: UPA didn't let me rebuild the shrine, the Lord chose me
The Father of Indian Constitution, Dr BR Ambedkar, a great researcher and thinker of communal politics wrote as early as 1940, "If Hindu Raj does become a fact, it will, no doubt, be the greatest calamity for this country…it is a menace to liberty, equality and fraternity. On that account it is incompatible with democracy. Hindu Raj must be prevented at any cost."

In August 2017, the Supreme Court set aside a Gujarat High Court order asking the state government to pay for repair and reconstruction of religious structures damaged during the 2002 post-Godhra riots. A bench comprising of Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra and Justice PC Pant, however, said the state government's scheme of paying ex-gratia of Rs 50,000 for damaged residential and commercial properties would apply to religious properties a well.

According to official estimates, nearly 800 Muslims and more than 250 Hindus were killed in the violence in February-March, 2002, considered as one of the worst communal riots in the country since Independence. Activists, however, say the toll was much higher. The state government had told the court it was willing to pay ex-gratia amount for repair and reconstruction work of various structures, shops and houses which were damaged.

"Money is required for economic growth…individual injury is a different thing where compensation is granted under Article 21 (right to life and liberty) of the Constitution. Can it happen in a diversified country that a state is distributing public money to build religious places?," it said. Citing Article 27 in the Constitution, Mehta had argued that there was a specific prohibition against compelling people "to pay any taxes, the proceeds of which are specifically appropriated in payment of expenses for the promotion or maintenance of any particular religion or religious denomination".

He reasoned that a judicial order will be against the secular fabric of the country even if it orders use of public money for construction of places of worship for all religions.

I'm an ordinary Indian citizen and not an expert or authority on law or the Constitution. However, in view of the subject discussed in the above paragraphs, it made me nonplussed when I watched the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday attacking the Congress for rejecting his proposal in June 2013 for redevelopment of the revered Himalayan shrine of Kedarnath that was badly damaged in the catastrophic flash floods. NaMo was Chief Minister of Gujarat then.

"The floods of 2013 had made all of us extremely sad. That time I was not the Prime Minister, I was the Chief Minister of Gujarat. I came here to do all that I could for the victims," Modi said while addressing a public meeting here after offering prayers at the Kedarnath temple ahead of its closure for the next six months.

"I had met the then Chief Minister (Vijay Bahuguna) and the state government officials and offered that Gujarat would redevelop Kedarnath. During the meeting they agreed. And I announced it outside in the media. But when the news was flashed on television, and it reached Delhi, the people there (UPA government) panicked and within hours the state government was pressurised to announce that it will redevelop Kedarnath itself."

What Mr Modi failed to mention was that Bahuguna's members of family are the very important members of BJP now - a turncoat from Congress party.

It is interesting to read what this BJP politician Vijay Bahuguna had said in May 2014 at Dehradun: Former Uttarakhand chief minister Vijay Bahuguna today hit out at Bhartiya Janata Party saying the party had no moral right to criticize the state government for its handling of the calamity that struck last year, as its own top leaders did not visit the disaster-hit areas.

"Be it LK Advani or Sushma Swaraj none of them visited the disaster hit areas. Though Narendra Modi did meet me in Dehradun twice as I was the CM at that time, he was only concerned about the pilgrims from Gujarat stranded in the high altitude areas and not the disaster-hit people in general," Bahuguna told reporters here.

"A party which could not identify with the pain of the people who suffered in the tragedy has no moral authority to speak against the state government which did all it could, to alleviate their suffering," he added.

The former chief minister said the principal opposition party did not approach the state government with any specific complaints about alleged irregularity in distribution of compensation among victims, adding that, only unfounded allegations were made against his government.

Bahuguna had underlined the words of appreciation by BJP leader Venkaiah Naidu who headed a joint parliamentary committee and praised the state government for its reconstruction efforts in affected areas.

"That shows the BJP is indulging in pure mudslinging for electoral gains," he said.

And that is what the former Uttarakhand chief minister Harish Rawat on 20 October, 2017 reacted at Prime Minister's remarks alleging that he was not allowed to help in the revamping of Kedarnath Temple after 2013 flood, saying that the matter is between the Prime Minister and then Uttarakhand chief minister Vijay Bahuguna and there is no point dragging the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government in it. Rawat said no one can stop a person from helping others if they really wanted to.

"Nobody can stop those who want to help others. Who could have stopped Prime Minister Modi if he wanted to help? He should not have complaints from Congress but should have from it from Vijay Bahuguna, he was the Chief Minister at that time he stopped him," Rawat said.

"The Centre does not interfere in such works. The matter is between Prime Minister Modi and Vijay Bahuguna. It is within BJP," he added.

Rawat had also condemned the Prime Minister for raising such issue from the holy land of Lord Shiva and said that never in the history has anyone dared to address a political issue from the holy shrine.

"It seems like he spoke for the welfare of the BJP as he mostly addressed political issues. This is first time that somebody has given a political message from Kedarnath," he said.

"They are just serving stale food, I don't know what they are doing," he added.

Modi ji said, "The floods of 2013 had made all of us extremely sad. That time I was not the Prime Minister, I was the Chief Minister of Gujarat. I came here to do all that I could for victims. But the Central Government at that time (UPA) forced the state government to announce that they don't need the help of Gujarat government for the reconstruction of the Kedarnath Temple. But I think the Lord has decided that this work will be done by me," he said while addressing gathering at Kedernath Temple after inaugurating various development projects.

In the nutshell, in June 2013, then Chief Minister Bahuguna and the Congress party had rebuffed Modi's offer for redevelopment of Kedarnath and his Rs 3 crore cheque, which was in addition to Rs 2 crore his state had donated for rain disaster relief. The Congress and other parties had criticised Modi for trying to be the "Rambo" of rescue. The Congress had alleged he was trying to communalise a natural calamity.

Modi ji was speaking after laying the foundation stone for renovation of Adi Guru Shankaracharya's tomb which was devastated in the flash floods.

I would humbly request the readers to compare the Supreme Court judgement against what is happening in the name of Hindutva in the country today.

We have seen how mixing religion with politics corrupts the latter and makes people run from religion. Religion turned from being a means to cleanse the soul into a tool used by whoever is in power to control the people and manipulate their emotions. The same goes for those who brag about their religious reference as a scarecrow to strengthen their grip on power.

In brief, everything we are witnessing is a huge charade. I find it hard to believe that the state will really stand against fascism and religious extremism. I don't think this due to lack of trust in the state but because such an act requires honest and persistent efforts in the fields of education and awareness. It also requires elevating the values of equality, human rights and knowing your rights as a citizen. This means that citizens must know their rights and must mature on the political, religious and social levels.

Editorial NOTE: This article is categorized under Opinion Section. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of In case you have a opposing view, please click here to share the same in the comments section.
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