Let this be said sincerely and uncompromisingly: Whether any individual or party likes it or not, there is not a single political leader in the country who can hold a candle to Narendra Modi. Not Jayalalithaa, not Mamata Banerjee, not Naveen Patnaik, not that sad character Keshubhai Patel and most certainly not poor Rahul Gandhi. The Indian National Congress, in the absence of an alternative, may raise Rahul to the skies, but in any general election, he is sure to get his come-uppance.
Just for fun, a well-known columnist ran a sample poll in the Public Face Book page. The question was: Who should be India's Prime Minister. There were more than 10,000 hits. The voter was given three options: Narendra Modi, Rahul Gandhi, or neither. Modi received 82 per cent, Rahul Gandhi a mere 5 per cent. Modi beat Rahul by an astonishing sixteen times. it may be argued that those 10,000 came largely from the middle and upper middle classes and do not necessarily represent national opinion. but surely it is a sign of things to come. Nitish Kumar was merely being vituperative when he sought to discredit Modi by hinting that his rival was not “secular” – a self-serving artifice meant to hoodwink Muslims. Like Nitish Kumar, many want to remind how Modi declined to wear a white skull cap which Muslims offered him at a public meeting. The skull cap represents communalism at its shabbiest and Modi was absolutely right in refusing it.
If our secularists have any sense of national 'oneness', they must condemn the cap a symbolising 'separatism' and persuade their Muslim friends not to wear it. Can one point out any other community in India which so loudly proclaims its aloofness through a pronouncedly visible headgear? There are anti-Modi elements in our public life that surely financed the pro-Sanjay Joshi parade in Ahmedabad and give publicity to Sanjay Bhatt’s anti-Modi tirade? In its report, the Special Investigative Team (SIT) appointed by none else than the Supreme Court, said that no case can be made out against Modi in connection with the 2002 communal riots under any of the sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), giving point-by-point answers to all the observations made by Raju Ramachandram, an amicus curiae.
Modi is no less a secularist than any of the pseudo-secularists who engage themselves in public debate. What the Godhra incident showed so intensely was that Hindus and Muslims have not yet come to terms with history. That is the central issue of our times. Godhra and the controversey over the Babri Masjid are only symbols. I have a personal request to make to two Muslim leaders: Salman Khurshid and Vice President Ansari. Please tell leaders of your community with whom the Vishwa Hindu Parishad representatives had hours of long negotiations to show Islamic magnanimity by handing over the entire Babri Masjid estate to devotees of Sri Ram and close an unhappy chapter. Would that be too much to ask? A show of spontaneous generosity will usher in a new world undreamt of in the past, and for that act of singular grace, the entire Hindu community will be eternally grateful. No greater act of coming to terms with the past would then have been made comenting Hindu-Muslim oneness for all time to come.
And one can be assured that Hindus, in turn, would reciprocate in ample measure. Granting a wish is not an act of surrender. Acceding to a Hindu wish to build a temple to Sri Ram is an act of grace; it is a win win situation. It will be the beginning of a new world of Hindu-Muslim unity and, who knows, it may even push Modi into the background. The Congress Party may take the initiative and it would be the greatest single act of courage that the Congress has implemented since Gandhiji initiated the Salt Satyagraha in the early thirties and passed the Quit India resolution in 1942. One can't expect Dr Manmohan Singh to take the initiative. Will Rahul Gandhi dare and take the so-called secularists by the horns? If he can do that, he would be the only one who could be considered worthy of challenging Modi.
Cheap jibes at Modi, that he is a communalist, carry little weight these days. Indeed, if one can identify two words that are becoming increasingly irrelevant, they are 'secularism' and “communalism”- Modi, let it be said, is no Vajpayee. Goodness knows he has many shortcomings. The latest shot at him is from Shaktisinha Gohil, leader of the Opposition who has made the point that in House sittings Modi has a poor record indicating subversion of democracy. In the next few weeks one can expect every kind of criticism. But what needs to be remembered is that India today needs a strong Prime Minister at the centre. Indian leaders like Anil Ambani and Sunil Bharti Mittal who months ago hailed Modi as India's next Prime Minister at a Vibrant Gujarat Summit (2009) are not sycophants. They know an 'achiever' in business and administration when they see one. India has had enough of good 'under-achievers' and it is time to give them a chearless farewell.
The time has come to move forward. The crucial test for Modi is the December eletions to the Gujarat State Legislature. If Arun Nehru is to be believed, the BJP is likely to get between 125 to 136 seats out of 182 which sounds a fair estimate. Nehru's assessment is that Congress with 38 per cent of the vote share will get between 40 to 45 seats. Another estimate is that the BJP will get between 110 to 115 seats and the Congress between 55 to 65 seats. In either assessment the BJP under Modi should still come out a winner. Elections are barely four months away and one expects Modi's enemies – and they are many —to spend crores to dislodge him because it is a crucial election. Where Gujarat is concerned, for all the mud-throwing at Modi from the likes of Nitish Kumar, Modi has more to show in the matter of development than anyone else.
The latest is the inauguration of the canal-top solar energy project with a generative capacity of 1MW power located atop the 750meter long stretch of the Narmada Dam canal in Mehsana district, the first of its kind in the entire world. Sure, Modi will be the target of some of the vilest attacks from secularists in the coming weeks but he is going to be unstoppable and a Prime Minister the country has long been waiting for. As one pertinent media editorial noted, “if Nitish Kumar wants to use Modi to endear himself to the minorities, or even to sever ties with the BJP, he ought to be welcome”. It will be good riddance of bad rubbish. The country is desperately in need of a strong government at the Centre and not just another 'under-achiever' and one can be sure that the voter will see to it that India gets it. The name? Narendra Modi.