Ajith Vijay Kumar
Narendra Modi’s shift to national politics has evoked both trepidation and elation in equal measure. While those in support of the strong man from Gujarat see his move to Delhi durbar as an event that holds out hope for the country at a time when it is facing multiple challenges, the opposition fears that Modi’s rise will bring doom for the country.
But everyone on the either side of the divide agree that Modi will “change” not just the polity but also the inherent attributes – positive or negative – that have long been associated with India as a nation.
Therein lies the answer to the Modi enigma, he operates on the fault lines – an expanse that has grown over the years – between the rich and the poor, between communities, between corrupt and those who want an end to the malady, between pro-industry and the old world.
Modi is loved as much as he is loathed and no matter what Modi’s backers would like one to believe, his march to 7 Race Course Road is a steep climb against many odds, many of them are seemingly insurmountable.
2002 Gujarat riots
The ghost of 2002 is yet to leave Modi despite the fact that no direct or concrete evidence has been found against him for having connived in the communal inferno.
The media’s abhorrence towards him – waning to some extent now – and the “secular” brigade’s demand that he apologise for 2002 has ensured that Modi has remained an untouchable in Indian politics.
And given the keenness to pin him down, an apology from Modi would be seen as an acceptance of guilt – and then also one expects him to apologise! Also, is Modi the first and the last Chief Minister under whose guard communal violence raised its ugly head?
The Gujarat riots cases are looked into by the courts and let them decide, is a logic that will not give dividends to those in opposition, hence underplayed.
However, if Modi aspires to be the Prime Minister of the country, he should steer away from aggressive hindutva of “I am a Hindu nationalist” sort. While it is not inherently wrong to assert that one can be a Hindu and a nationalist at the same time, given the serious reservations minorities have towards Modi, it was best avoided.
The Narendra Modi model of governance has been widely appreciated. Though some of it may be the spin work of very efficient propaganda machinery, success should be credited to him where it is due.
Owing to his industry friendly approach, Modi has been the feted by India Inc as the big hope for India. With one of the highest rates of growth in the country with a low unemployment ratio, Gujarat has emerged as a powerhouse of industrial growth and prosperity.
Those in opposition slam the Gujarat model and allege that it is based on huge largesse doled out to corporates to attract investment.
But have the naysayers – like the Left – been able to build any industrial base in the states they have governed over the years? West Bengal is largely an industrial waste yard; in Kerala the worthwhile option for generations of youth have been head to the Middle East.
Do they have a better idea; if yes, why did they not employ it in states like Bengal?
Given the propensity to find anything to discredit Modi, even a case of assumed corruption – if backed by weak proof – would have been enough for the anti-Modi brigade to paint him in the red.
A corruption taint on Modi has been their biggest wish as it can be used to puncture his good governance mantra.
Also the fact, that he has studiously ensured that his family is seen as not enjoying the power that he yields, has kept him in a league of his own, especially at a time when most political parties and leaders appear keen to keep the line of succession going within their respective families. This is something which denies his opponents a stick to hit him where it would have hurt the most.
Modi has developed an image of a no nonsense man who believes in the philosophy ‘fall in line or fall out’. Some of it may be true as is evident by the total control he has over the Gujarat unit of the party.
He is seen as an authoritarian, who likes to have his say in all matters. This streak in him is what worries not just his opponents – who fear his actions as PM – but also leaders within the BJP.
While there may be some element of truth in the allegations, the fact of the matter is that decisive leaders also come across as authoritarian. There are many notable examples of such leaders across the world, who were decisive in their beliefs to the extent that seemed to be bordering on being authoritarian.
Narendra Modi & Delhi
Despite the overwhelming, at times unjust, negativity against him, Narendra Modi has over the years steadily climbed his way up to the pinnacle and breached through the hallowed gates to Lutyen’s Delhi.
He was and is still not a part of the Lutyen’s Club, whose members remain united despite being on different sides of the political divide. He was and remains an outsider.
What worries central Delhi’s well entrenched set is his utter disregard for accepted notions of politics as practiced by them. He adds up the odds against him being nonchalant about it as well.
For example, in Lutyen’s club most are “secular” in private but he wears the “hindutava” badge. The club has an understanding where to draw the line when it comes to personal attacks; Modi has not acknowledged any such rule as he goes about targeting the Congress’ first family and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
Modi is like the proverbial elephant in the room. He has marched into the Delhi sultanate and threatens to trample his way through all accepted notions and no one knows what to do.