Let me start with this. Some time before 'Modi wave' in India changed into a definite wave--with real people passionately wishing to see him as the future prime minister of the country--from a vague perception, I wrote this in December 2013 in Asia Times Online:
Most of his young and educated supporters feel that so long as Modi can deliver good governance and robust growth, issues such as his role in the 2002 Gujarat pogroms remain immaterial, nuisances at worst.
But given that India is a functioning democracy and with extreme diversity and many faultlines (contrasted to China where an authoritarian government has been able to deliver impressive growth for decades), the trajectory of such a delivery in India is likely to be very different, both from China and a host of other East Asian countries.
Moreover, what is conveniently forgotten about the 2002 Gujarat violence in discourses today is that, for Modi's brand of politics, 2002 was not a point of time when things went out of hand. This was beginning of an era of a massive social engineering that molded the entire population into a particular shape, dismantling the tolerant and pluralistic fabric of the society.
Ever since, I have half believed and half wished that I would be proved wrong. Whatever Modi's track record before the momentous elections in 2014, he is the only man in the planet to be elected the executive head of 1.3 billion people.
If anything goes awry in future and a Modi-led BJP exchanges the apparently harmless developmental agenda with a less wholesome but potentially efficient alternative of another attempt at such social engineering, then that is likely to threaten the pluralist and secular fabric of the Indian state itself.
In fact, it appeared for quite some time after Modi's crowing as the PM of India that he was there for a better and brighter India, cleaner and wealthier India.
I might not have been entirely wrong while assessing him earlier, but as people often do, he might have changed radically, I said to myself.
But slowly and inexorably, I started having some doubts as to whether Modi was a truly transformative leader as proclaimed by his supporters or he was the mere caricature of it: the RSS pracharak with a lopsided vision of the world as the one neatly divided dichotomously between benevolent, oppressed and resurgent Hindus and belligerent, decadent and oppressor others.
Those suspicions were strengthened by a slew of media reports including this one by Soutik Biswas in BBC.
Then there was this tantalizing piece in The Telegraph by Mukul Kesavan.
There were also a series of reports about hounding of human right activist Teesta Setalvad. Host of other news emanating from India were no more encouraging.
These developments were enough for me to ruminate whether my instincts while writing the Asia Times piece were entirely accurate.
Then came the undeniable evidence about what the new regime in India stands for: the news about the dismissal of Gujarat police officer Sanjiv Bhatt "on the basis of a sham inquiry and fabricated charges."
With this, I am in a dilemma as to whether to totally revert to my earlier judgment of Modi as a person based on his conduct during the 2002 riots. As a citizen in a neighboring country, I wish Modi had really undergone transformation from within. For the executive chief of the most populous democracy in the world, his belligerent post-2002 self is an outrageous misfit.
To my utter dismay, though, evidences seem to be pointing to the other side. These two poignant Facebook posts of dismissed IPS officer Bhatt say a lot about the status quo in India now, more than what a million words of praise can say.