December 18, 2012
A third victory for Modi would be remarkable, regardless of his margin.
Two kinds of politics thrive in the national capital. One, chartered kite-flying by the spin-masters, meant to divert attention from the real plots. It has no life beyond the political lane of shallowness.
Second, the cold-blooded plots of the entrenched politicians from their war cellars, designed to reach out to the far-flung catchment areas of realpolitik and votes that matter in bigger wars. On the eve of the Gujarat poll results, 'the Narendra Modi factor', too, stands caught between these two incompatible worlds of 'spin' and 'plot'.
Result-eve talks in Delhi have are obsessed with one question, "What will be Modi's margin?" Since the overwhelming Gujarat-returned political wisdom prepares us for Modi's hat-trick victory, the larger focus has been brought down to "the numbers that Modi needs to cement his PM chances in 2014". In short, we were told the top job will be in Modi's reach if he improves his tally, and it could slip out of his grip if he drops seats. It is strange logic!
For Modi and the BJP (meaning the foot soldiers, not the Modi's secret rivals in the central leadership ), anything short of a defeat or a hung verdict in the 182-seat Assembly should be reason to shake a leg. After all, the BJP has been winning and ruling Gujarat (barring a 17-month Vaghela/Parikh-Congress tango) since 1995 in the polls of 1998, 2002 and 2007. A fifth victory against a 17-year anti-incumbency is no mean achievement.
Then why this fuss about numbers ? Modi, in any case, had dropped seats in 2007, 10 from his 2002 tally of 227. Further, when Modi was not 'the leader', Keshubhai Patel had led the BJP to 121 seats in 1995 and 117 in 1998. Given Modi's ego, the only number that he would really fancy is 150, the record the Congress' most successful and inclusive four-time chief minister, Madhavsinh Solanki, had set — winning 141 seats in 1980 with 51.04% votes, and again 149 seats and 55.55% voters in 1985.
Modi's best shot, even at his polarising best amidst the ember of riots, is only 127 seats and 49.85% votes in 2002. Yet, a third victory can make Modi the most successful BJP leader and the only 'Hindu Hriday Samrat' for the core constituency. A victorious Modi can even argue that this time he won not only against the Congress, but against breakaway Keshubhai outfit and RSS needling.
In short, he can claim to be the 'Super RSS' sans Nagpur control! But Modi's polarising persona and his divisive governance make him an object of dread and hatred in the larger and inclusive India that lies beyond Gujarat. Even before the results, the BJP has acknowledged this bitter home truth with its national president and others asserting that the saffronBSE 0.00 % party will not project a PM candidate for 2014 polls, a break from BJP's flaunting ringtone of "chaal (conduct), chehra (face) and charitra (character)"! Since Modi has no plans to head for the Himalayas, his party/supporters may find it tricky to package his victory. So, if Modi wins, expect a deafening cry of "the victory of development and good governance".
Such a posturing suits three sections: those who love Modi's authoritarian-cum-exclusive facilitation of governance/development but are coy of backing his communal brand. So, they want to argue that under Modi, the BJP has become a "Swatantra Party-like proreforms outfit"! Second, the jingoistic urban middle class who hide their knickers under designer wear and hate Congress' and Left's secular and inclusive agenda.
Third, of course, is Modi's own colleagues-cum-PM aspirants, who are wary of his resurgent persona, clouding BJP plans for expanding NDA to take a shot at power in 2014. They tried to hide scary Moditva under 'India Shining' in 2004 and failed. They face another similar task if he wins.
But the least pretentious, the core constituency, loves Modi for his Muslimbashing and aggressive Hindutva and will pitch for his leadership. Modi is bound to play to their emotions. But where does that leave the Congress? The Congress shamelessly leaves Gujarat to Modi, barring the guest appearances during polls.
The Congress knows well that it was the post-riots Modi scare that gave it a chance to prop up a national secular alliance and return to power in 2004 by rallying secularists and minorities.
The bitter poll lessons that ex-NDA allies like TDP, BJD, AGP, INLD, etc, learned in 2004 prompted them to seek cover under Third Front instead of flocking back to the NDA, thus shrinking BJP's reach in 2009 too. If Modi suffers a shock defeat, the Congress will jump around as 'the secular conqueror'. If Modi triumphs, "a shocked and grieving Congress" will give a clarion call to secular parties, progressive sections and the minorities, to rally for a "do-or-die fight against Modi, the hidden BJP PM nominee for 2014"! That gives AICC another plank to seek external help for the 2014 battle. Remember, politics is a cynical game.
Posted by Naxal Watch at 8:09 PM