This columnist had said in a recent column that for all his faults – and he has many – there is no one in the country who can hold a candle to Narendra Modi and he would make an ideal candidate for the Prime Ministership of India. This has now been ‘proved’ by the India Today—Nielsen Mood of the Nation Poll published by the journal (August 27, 2012) and the public needs to be reminded of it.
In the Poll Modi towers above everybody else as one “who would make the best Prime Minister”, scoring a percentage point of 24 as against Rahul Gandhi who comes second with a score of 10 – nothing much to speak of.
Nitish Kumar, Modi’s bête noire, gets only a measly 2 per cent, a point that he may do well to remember when he attempts to slight his Gujarat counterpart. True, India Today states that while Modi has not surrendered his position, with his “stellar record in development”, on the eventual day of reckoning he will have to “reconcile to the reality that the Prime Minister question has to be settled not by the BJP alone, but by NDA as a whole.”
Fair enough. Now does India Today itself analyses the poll results? For one thing, it says that “the Congress is no longer considered the best equipped to solve the crisis of India, nor is it the party of the poor and unemployed.” Worse, says the journal, “It has proved its inability to lead a stable coalition as well” and the gainer is the BJP “which scores in all categories of governance and political management”. Says the weekly, and the truth cannot possibly be better worded: “The poll voices the anger of a people let down by UPA-2 which has given good governance and national responsibility a brazen go-by. India is impatient for change. If elections were held today, it would be NDA’s come-back moment” with the coalition getting between 195 to 205 seats and the UPA between 171 to 181 seats.
At long last says India Today “BJP has succeeded in regaining its space in North India, though Karnataka, its sole citadel in the South, is crumbling.” But then Congress will lose heavily in Andhra Pradesh, though for the BJP it may be poor consolation. Yet it is a fact that, as the weekly put it, “the evolution of the UPA has been on a descending trajectory since the last general election, but the velocity of the fall has become life-threatening.” And the weekly in its report adds that “Manmohan Singh, once an iconic global brand, seems to have passed his sell-by date” and “more than half of respondents say the Prime Minister has been a huge let-down, failing to live up to the expectations he raised in 2009”. The damnation of poor Mr Singh is total. Apparently nearly 50 per cent of the people polled “think he has shielded the corrupt to save his own chair”. Never before has any earlier Prime Minister in power been condemned in such a foul manner. He is described as an “overrated moderniser” with “no Teflon left” on his personae “to withstand the public indictment of his government that has made corruption its defining trait”.
The UPA fails in every department. As many as 55 per cent think UPA will not be able to control prices and 21 per cent say the quality of their life has “become worse in the past one year.
Meanwhile, think of the findings of ‘Peoples’ Pulse’, a Hyderabad-based organisation engaged in social and political research quoted by a Mumbai daily DNA. According to the organisation, Narendra Modi is “still strong” and “formidable, but not unstoppable”. We learn that the BJP’s Modi or Modi’s BJP is “Solidly supported by the OBCs, urban-educated youth, urban women, big industry and conservative elements. Caste-wise, a major chunk of Brahmins is still with Modi/BJP. If Patels desert Modi, the kshatriya community is likely to move closer to the BJP. Strenuous efforts are being made to win over a section of Muslims, expecially the Bohras and other trading communities, but, in any event, Muslim number is small and not ‘politically significant’. And the Congress, Modi’s main rival “is both politically as well as organisationally in disarray”.
According to ‘Peoples’ Pulse’ as quoted in the media “the most formidable element in Modi’s armour is his larger-than-life image and the fact that he is head and shoulders above all other leaders in Gujarat” though, even if “the macros trend is in Modi’s favour, it is not going to be a cakewalk” – the reference obviously being to the forthcoming December Assembly elections.
However, it is only fair to say that Modi has his critics and detractors. Thus, writing in The Times of India (June 12) Bhalchandra Mungekar, a Member of the Rajya Sabha and former Member of the Planning Commission has noted that “Gujarat’s growth story as claimed by Modi is more myth than reality and that on three important social indicators viz. Life Expectancy at Brith (LEB), Mean Years of School (MYS) and School Life Expectancy (SLE), Gujarat is far behind some other states, with Kerala ranking first in all three indicators. With respect to Human Development Index (HDI), according to Mungekar, “Gujarat’s story is devastating” and “with respect to three HDAI components – Income, Health and Education – Gujarat does not present a shining story. Again, according to Mungekar – and his angst against Modi comes through very clearly, the amount of per capita deposit and per capita credit for Gujarat was Rs 37,174 and Rs 24,268 while for Tamil Nadu it has been Rs 42,580 and Rs 47,964, for Karnataka Rs 49,598 and Rs 38,154, for Maharashtra Rs 1,10,183 and Rs 89,575. As Mungekar sees it, “even Kerala did better than Gujarat with Rs 43,890 and Rs 27,912.”
One can expect similar reports from alleged experts in days to come to run down both Gujarat and Modi, which is only to be expected. Among the so-called intellectuals and others of their ilk, Modi is not exactly a figure to be respected, let alone supported. One can, in the circumstances, expect even more condemnatory material published in the days to come. For his vicious detractors a victory for Modi in the elections will be the end of their game. Reference will surely be made to the US government’s dislike of him and its refusal to let him visit the United States. But here at home he surely will come through as an achiever and one who can provide an incorruptible administration such as one sees in Gujarat today. Mungekar may not wish to be reminded of recent scandals in Kerala and the Maharashtra Government’s weakness and forget the Aadarsh scandal. He would, besides, do well to read more closely the results of the India Today—Nielsen Mood of the Nation poll and what citizens think of the leaders of these states he has praise for.