Narendra Modi acknowledging his jubilant supporters in Ahmedabad soon after winning the 2007 Gujarat assembly polls.
It was an unprecedented electoral win for Narendra Modi, the Chief Minister of Gujarat in India, in the just concluded 2007 assembly polls. He was facing the toughest challenge from within and outside of his organization, the BJP and its wings, since assuming power in the late 2001. Narendra Modi, also called Namo by his admirers, is the most hyped and undermined, hailed and abused, loved and hated and spoken of and protested about public figure in today’s India. His alleged administrative inaction during the 2002 post-Godhra riots got heavily denounced by various civil rights bodies and is still being investigated by the Indian courts at different levels. However, much water has flow down the river Sabarmati since the infamous Godhra train burning and the subsequent riots that followed in 2002. The latest franchise victory by Narendra Modi in Gujarat, in this context, assumes a great significant.
The War Of Two Ideologies!
The Indian politics got divided into two separate zones slowly since the arrival of the Hindu nationalist party the BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) on its canvas in the late 80s. The first one is the so-called (or self-acclaimed) secularists, led by the 120 plus years old Indian National Congress, the communists and some other regional outfits. Many from the left-minded intellectual fraternity, NGOs, social activists and a sizable section of the English speaking print and electronic media do also contribute to this part. They call the other stratum communal, the second of the two stated dominions, which is being led by the BJP and some of its like-minded regional allies.
Hindutva, as per the nationalist BJP and its parent body the RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh), is a way of proclaiming one’s Indian roots and not any attempt at dividing the nation based on religious beliefs. If the Muslims, Christians and Sikhs of India could feel proud for being what they were, then why not Hindus, argues the BJP. Why should only the majority, the Hindus, feel hesitent in proclaiming their roots – further add the Hindutva ideologue! The secularists, in the BJP’s opinion, are pseudo-seculars, who are hellbent on dividing the nation into several vote banks. The BJP accuses the Congress and its allies of Muslim appeasement throughout since India’s independence. According to them the secularists are not interested in any kind of betterment for the minorities whatsoever.
There is some water behind the concerns shown by the two sides for each other’s behavior. The secularists have proven badly indeed to measure fairly on vote bank politics. With the BJP’s rise at the national level, they are forced even more now to go soft towards their Muslim vote bank. The BJP, on the other hand, keeps siding on with a couple of hard-line siblings such as the VHP and Bajarang Dal that are not much appreciated even by some BJP sympathizers.
The Hindutva outfits, however, come across as more straightforward, predictable and transparent in kind as compared to what the so-called secularists might appear to be. The latter comes across, on the other hand, as a complex entity which is full of contradictions and with a “greater than thou” attitude, hard to fathom for many, a reason why many Hindu voters got drifted towards the BJP in the last few years.
Modi Enjoys A Cult Following Among Gujaratis!
Modi has, in this scenario, proved out to be a great boon for the BJP. He has taken tough decisions and ensured the government in Gujarat was run smoothly. The results have started showing up and even the neutral observers now acknowledged it. At a time, when his detractors were busy asking for his ouster and a fresh trial in association with the 2002 riots, he was busy organizing development savvy meets, taking harsh administrative measures and trying to woo fresh investment in his state’s favor.
His governments dodgy role in the 2002 Gujarat riots which claimed a thousand lives, upto 700 of which were Muslims and which got sparked off due to the burning down of 59 hardline VHP sympathizers in Godhra, has kept him hounding at various national and international fora outside Gujarat. However, the masses in Gujarat confer and adore him for providing them with one of the most peaceful and prosperous five years of the state’s history. As a result, he has gained tremendously in popularity among the development oriented segments of Gujarat and elsewhere. His well-admired oratorical skills and an exceptional PR management have given him a cult following among Gujaratis.
What A Contradiction Of The Present-Day India To Live On With!
Modi is perhaps India’s most controversial public figure in today’s times. He is heavily hated and adored by two different schools of ideologies at the same time. Many call him a “mass murderer”, citing his government’s alleged failure in curbing down the post Godhra train burning backlash. On the other hand, his supporters across Gujarat call him Gujarat Ka Sher (The Lion of Gujarat). He is hounded by the secularist media wherever he decides to go. However, the performance of the secularists on the merits of secularism, adherence to the constitutional and democratic norms and ethics driven polity is so strongly poor, that many neutral minded Indians like this author ended up siding with Modi, the BJP and Hindutva in the last five years. The recent victory by Modi only goes to suggest the extent of this polarisation, a key factor in Gujarat’s polity post-2002.
Modi may have got a major blot on his career graph in 2002, but he has also succeeded in justifying his stand as an outstanding administrator since then. He may have failed in silencing his secularist accusers, but he has surely succeeded in curbing down the rebellions from within his own party and hence given the people of Gujarat a very stable government for the last six years, thus allowing the state’s economy to grow with a double digit mark. Various independent bodies have upheld Gujarat as the best administered state in the last few years and Modi as the best Chief Minister on several occasions. He may still have to face a political extinction, if indicted in the 2002 Gujarat riots in any manner, in the ongoing probes. On the other hand, he may soon go on to become India’s Prime Minister, if he kept on winning the laurels the way he has been. An accused in the eyes of many, yet the most successful and proven administrator of the contemporary era – what a contradiction of the present-day India to live on with!
Modi, along with the BJP chief Rajnath Singh and the Prime Ministerial candidate LK Advani, taking a victory lap of the Sardar Patel stadium in Ahmedabad, where a massive crowd of roughly 2,50,000 BJP sympathizers gathered to watch his swearing in ceremony.