battleground for 2014. All parties want a large slice of its 80 seats. The four-cornered contest between the Congress, Samajwadi Party, BSP and BJP will be furious. Communal riots are being used to secure vote banks. Each side will blame the others but the BJP stands to lose most as it will be recast as the communal party, not as a governance one as Modi wants. This is just what the secular parties want.
One thousand communal riots have occurred in the past eight years. Yet the total number of dead was 965, less than one per riot. Muzaffarnagar with 48 casualties is an extreme case. The Muzaffarnagar riots have not yet yielded any serious convictions. It is not so much the MLAs and MPs who matter as they will get away scot-free in any case. One needs to arrest the real culprits at the grass-roots level.
There is here a paradox. Historically riots such as Bhagalpur, Meerut and Bhiwandi which happened during the Congress years in power did not lead to any serious convictions though to many reports and inquiries. The Gujarat riots have, however, led to convictions; in Godhra itself, both for the people who allegedly torched the Sabarmati Express carriage in which 59 died, as well as the Hindu mobs which killed Muslims in the Ode area. There are the Naroda Patiya convictions in which BJP member Maya Kodnani has been sentenced to 28 years. No doubt the tally is not over yet.
Is it not strange that no Congress leader has yet been sentenced for 1984 nor anyone for the Mumbai 1993 riots, or that the riots during Rajiv Gandhi’s days such as Bhagalpur have not led to many convictions? Is it because the Congress is secular that no riots during its rule can be communal?