Goodwill mission? Image building? Reconciliation or sheer mass contact? The ocean of questions on Narendra Modi"s Sadbhavana fasts can baffle political observers and commentators alike. Now, joining the bandwagon is the Gujarat High Court in what is arguably the most appropriate observation of the Sadbhavana Mission. Rejecting a PIL challenging the Sadbhavana fasts and the expenditure made on them, the Court categorically stated that Sadbhavana Mission was launched for goodwill and in good faith!
The bench consisting of acting Chief Justice Bhaskar Bhattacharya and Justice JB Pardiwala has made some very important observations that serve as a fitting message to anti-Gujarat elements. They have pointed out that Sadbhavana, as the name suggests is an initiative launched by the state Government for goodwill and in good faith! The Court duly noted the fact that during Sadbhavana Mission the Chief Minister visited the length and breadth of the state meeting people. As a part of the programme, the citizens were also apprised of the government"s plans for the people. Thus, very clearly the Court has affirmed the good intentions of the Sadbhavana Mission.
The Court has made equally scathing observations with regard to the view that expenditure of Sadbhavana fasts needs to be recovered from the BJP or the Chief Minister himself. Rightfully, the Court pointed out that it was for the electorate to “correct the defects" and exercise their franchise properly in the next elections and voting for candidates who will fulfill their expectations. In case of Gujarat, the electorate has expressed their faith in Narendra Modi not once but thrice!
On the question on judicial interference, the Court stated that interference is ideal when an act of the Government is unconstitutional. In this case, the floor of the Assembly was a more appropriate forum than the Court for any discussion. Evidently, the Court refused to entertain any contention that the Sadbhavana fasts were 'politically motivated".
The judgment is a polite reminder to the anti-Modi brigade that has thrived on painting this Sadbhavana Mission in a tainted and political brush. Having visited 2 Sadbhavana fasts myself, I can say with complete confidence that the Mission was much more than 'political posturing". For a whole day Narendra Modi stood on stage without a morsel of grain interacting with an ocean of humanity that had converged onto this very noble platform. Rich or poor, men or women, Upper Caste, Baxi Panch, Adivasi, Muslim or Christian they were all there extending solidarity with Narendra Modi and the Gujarat he has created for them. To reduce Sadbhavana Mission as a petty redemption exercise only exposes the moral and intellectual bankruptcy of a group of individuals with mala fide intentions.
The raw energy at the Sadbhavana fast venues left me awestruck! As Narendra Modi pointed out repeatedly, if you want to see the divinity of the Janta Janardan this was the place! 50 lakh people from thousands of villages joined the Mission. Thousands fasted with Narendra Modi at every venue and thousands walked kilometers just because they could extend their solidarity with Sadbhavana Mission! A mammoth contribution to the fight against malnutrition was made in all the Sadbhavana fasts. 40,000 Tithi Bhojans were organized due to which the stomachs of 42 lakh poor children were filled with nutritious meals. Rs 4 crore were pledged to girl child education. Where else have we seen such love and unity in India"s recent history?
The pettiness of the petitioner stood clearly exposed by the Court- it opined that such petitions only disturbs the separation of powers in our country. Mincing no words, the Court opined that no CAG could also question the vitality of Sadbhavana Mission, a state government programme in public interest.
The petitioner who lost the case (incidentally he is linked to the NCP whose own record of extravagance is nothing to carry home about) says he will appeal to the Supreme Court. I earnestly hope he and his masters understand that these are matters that go beyond a judgment or a few hundred thousand votes. What I saw at the venue was pride, aspiration and a spirit of being a part of a development journey. In which other Indian state does the general populace think this way? I am yet to find an answer to this. If we are to judge Narendra Modi, let us be as objective as possible, let us judge him by his work and the strength he derives from his people rather than planted petitioners or exaggerated media stories.