“Narendra Modi and Gujarat defy simpler generalisations. Such as the idea that communalism in Gujarat rose with the arrival of Modi, and before that it was a state of perfect secular tolerance.
“If the BJP hasn’t lost power ever since it first seized it in 1995 in the state, through four chief ministers (Shankersinh Vaghela, Suresh Mehta, Keshubhai Patel and now Modi seeking his third term) there may be something peculiar about Gujarat.
“I learnt my lesson two decades ago when, while working for India Today, I travelled to the state often to launch the Gujarati edition of the magazine in the Navratri month of 1992. The magazine immediately picked up circulation and was soon touching the one-lakh mark.
“Within a couple of months, the Babri Masjid was demolished. India Today responded editorially with entirely justified anger, which still makes us so proud. The English edition’s headline was, “A Nation’s Shame”.
“In Gujarati, it was “Deshna Maathanu Kalank”.
“As the cover was going to print, the marketing head came and said if we went with that headline in Gujarat, the edition would soon shut down. He was overruled. He was also vindicated, and almost immediately.
“There was an avalanche of letters, postcards, inland covers, everything (these were still pre-internet days).
“We were described as Islam Today, Pakistan Today and worse. Agents and vendors refused to pick up the magazine. Circulation declined and settled in the unviable twenties. Eventually, the edition was shut down. It was the only language edition of India Today to shut down.
“And the Hindi edition, with the equivalent of exactly the same headline, increased circulation. Now, how do you explain that?”
Read the full article: Conspiracy of the lazy faithful