Given the current political scenario, to ‘not’ say that Narendra Modi is likely to be the next Prime Minister of our country, is to risk being discarded as ignorant and naïve. Not only has the man himself dropped as many ‘obvious’ hints as possible, his party itself that was initially reluctant to make him the face of the BJP, has openly given him some important positions and powers. Even party stalwarts and seasoned politicians like LK Advani could not stop this. So, having established this as a forgone conclusion, let us look at what Modi’s plans or focus areas could be and should be, if he actually becomes the head of the next government at the centre.
In the midst of all the gloom and doom surrounding the state of our country’s politics, there is one silver lining – the focus of elections is increasingly shifting from caste and religion to development. The victories of Nitish Kumar or the man himself, i.e. Narendra Modi in their respective state elections, are befitting examples. Modi, sensing the mood of the nation, is very smartly playing on this agenda. This serves a dual purpose – it focuses on his core strength and takes the attention away from his 2002-blot. However, there are some fundamental questions that Modi needs to answer. What is the model of development that he shall follow for the country? Would he be replicating the Gujarat model? If yes, is it replicable and scalable enough? If not, then what is the alternative?
What would be Modi’s take on secularism and religion? He has been diplomatically and intelligently talking about inclusive growth while simultaneously catering to his Hindu votebank through his key aide, Amit Shah. Does he intend to make India a Hindu dominated country, thereby doing away with the complexities of managing various religions? Or, does he actually plan to become as secular and inclusive as he is claiming to be?
What are his plans for the economic development of our country? How does he plan to attract domestic and foreign investors? Would he be replicating the single-window clearance model that he has successfully implemented in Gujarat?
How does he plan to manage the dissenters within his own party? There are some like LK Advani who are openly opposed to him, but there are many reluctant supporters even amongst his allies? What about the dissenting coalition partners?
What about the people of Gujarat? If Modi moves to the national level, who replaces him? Amit Shah? Would the people of Gujarat be comfortable with the replacement? Would the progress of Gujarat continue?
Modi is widely perceived to be dictatorial. If true, can he continue to be a one-man army even at the national level? Would that suit the head of a democracy, the anti-thesis of dictatorship?
It is one thing to address FICCI and talk about women empowerment, but how does he plan to do it? What are his plans for other major issues afflicting our country like poverty, malnutrition, women safety and terrorism, to name a few? How does he plan to differentiate his promises from the Congress party, or have they actually become non-issues?
How does Modi plan to counter the opposition from the Congress if the former comes to power? Would not the latter give the BJP a taste of its own medicine and cause disruptions?
There are three possible outcomes of the next general elections. First, a Congress-led government comes to power. Second, the BJP gets a majority. And third, the BJP forms a coalition government at the centre. In the first scenario, what would happen to Modi’s political career? Would it go the Advani way? Does he have a plan for this? In the second scenario, Modi does not really have much to worry about as he is likely to become the PM with the support of the party decision-makers. It is the third scenario that can cause trouble for him. Coalition governments are not very easy to handle, especially when there are many dissenting alliance partners to begin with. Moreover, people are likely to scrutinize him very closely and may not give him a second chance, if he fails. Does Modi have a plan in place for this?
There are many unanswered questions that are not even being attempted to be answered in the run-up to the elections even by a man like Modi, who is on an election campaigning blitzkrieg. The most likely reason could be that the focus right now is to somehow win the elections and come to power. Also, it seems Modi is being smart enough in not going into the details because perhaps he himself does not have the answers. Moreover, perhaps he understands that many people either do not care, or would not understand anyway. Development and promises have always waited and can continue to wait with hopeful eyes. And, Modi knows that the people of India have no choice but to try him out, if not for the faith in him, but for the want of a better alternative.
(Shobhika Puri is a freelance writer.)