Narendra Modi wrote to prime minister Manmohan Singh opposing the proposed communal violence bill, not as BJP’s prime ministerial candidate but as Gujarat chief minister. The most interesting part of his long letter was the incisive analysis of the conceptual flaws of the bill.
Referring to the phrase “knowledge and intent”, Modi makes an interesting literary allusion to George Orwell’s dystopia, “1984”. He says, “This makes one wonder whether the Orwellian concept of “thought crime” is being introduced in Indian criminal jurisprudence. The said provision has certainly not been examined from the point of view of Evidence Act as also investigation and prosecution.”
While questioning the political motives of bringing in the bill a few months before the general elections, he reminds that the issue of law and order falls in the states’ list of the Constitution, and all that the Centre could do is to draft a model law and send it to the state governments to draft their legislation on similar lines.
Modi reiterates the general BJP position that the communal violence bill, which seeks to protect the minorities, will only end up in polarising the society. He says in the letter: “The provisions of the proposed Bill will have a consequence of further polarising Indian society on religious and linguistic lines; the religious and linguistic identities will become more reinforced and even ordinary incidents of violence will be given communal colour to benefit from the provisions of the proposed law. In short, this law will end up achieving just the opposite of its intended objective: it will increase communal violence and fragment Indian society further.”
He ends the letter by stating his government’s strong reservations and a request for wider consultations with the state governments and the security forces before proceeding further in the matter.
It is a letter drafted by legal experts and someone with a literary bent of mind as well. The reference to Orwellian ‘thought crime’ comes as a real surprise with its legal disquisition and literary flair.