NARENDRA Modi’s landslide victory in the Gujarat assembly election is certain to herald a new trend in Indian politics. Modi is identified with, and he personifies certain rare qualities. Hence his convincing win is a massive endorsement of those values and their aspirational impact transcends regional boundaries. Modi, today is the most popular leader in the country. And many see him the man India awaits to take India to the pinnacle of glory, the way he transformed both economy and society in his own state.
For over a decade now, he ensured growth, prosperity, safety and peace in Gujarat. Compare this phase with any other ten years in Gujarat’s history and one will appreciate the difference he made. In the contemporary political trajectory of loot, casteism, parochialism, abuse of religion and national wealth for vote-bank shenanigans Modi stood apart firm footed to make politics an instrument of change and common good. He was not swayed by the cacophony of the so-called political consensus that has created a class divide between the ruler and the ruled and made the entire political class an object of repulsion.
So no other assembly poll in Indian history evoked so much national and international attention. The dominant political opinion needed Modi lose. Like the Abhimanyu of the Mahabharata he fought a lone battle. He would have been sliced to pieces. But in Kaliyuga history needs to be read with a pinch of salt. Each one has to play his Krishna. For, the vanquished tell no story.
No other chief minister has inspired so much national adulation as Modi. And no other chief minister was under such constant media scrutiny. At the receiving end of motivated, cruel and relentless campaign of calumny, hate mongering and vilification by a lavishly funded, establishment patronized band of no-changers out to destroy the fabric of India.
There are many things unique about this election. If this is the third election win for Modi, this is the fifth consecutive victory for the BJP in the state. Why is it that for five successive defeats, the Congress was not able to recover? In that sense, not only has the Sangh Pariwar saffronised the state it has almost created a national record of sorts in fortifying its ideological mosaic.
Modi’s success lies in the fact that he has reinvented, reinforced and rejuvenated the core ideological moorings and converted it into vibrant election machinery, attracting fresh blood and dynamism. Detractors often refer to Gujarat as the Hindutva laboratory. Modi should be pleased that the mandate he received is so wholesome. The plume in the crown is the heaviest ever voter turnout, exceeding 71 per cent. This was made up of the huge youth and women participation. It is not an exaggeration to suggest that the rest of India is impatiently waiting to lap up the Modi mantra of development. His credibility, aura of Teflon integrity, character and governance record he has built over the years make him the most respected and sought after public figure. And thankfully, this is not an image created by bribing the media or funding lobbyist firms.
Gujarat is perhaps the most modernized state of India. It is the land of Mahatma Gandhi and Sardar Patel. It is the land of Somnath, the renovation of which coincided with the emergence of the resurgent India. Narendra Modi in a way fashioned his success this time epoch making on many counts. For, Modi is not just another politician. There are couple of other chief ministers who won electoral hat-trick. None of them however, inspire the kind of flutter that Modi is capable of. His fan following is so large that it defies all party and regional barriers. He is delightfully different, which in a sense is the secret of his intense popularity.
Modi is loved, hated, feared, admired, criticized and evaluated as no other politician before. How did he achieve this status that even a self-confessed narcissist Oscar Wilde would have envied? Modi did not seek publicity for himself. His beginnings were humble. No great pedigree. A simple RSS pracharak. He worked his way up through hardship and struggle. In fact, he abhorred the media. He is one of those rare politicians who did not give a single interview on his campaign itinerary. He did not entertain or oblige the hawkish elite hacks to accompany him in his campaign caravan. He did not address press conferences like most other politicians do during electioneering. The man is the message. While his opponents spent millions cultivating their media image, much to the disappointment of some of his own supporters, Modi stoutly refused to spend to manipulate the media.
The Congress party, according to reports, had a Rs 1000 crore budget only for the advertisement campaign in television channels asking voters to change disha (direction and dasha (condition). The party hired a starlet as its mascot—not its own rani and yuvraj— for the contest which many observers characterized as the semi-final for the 2014 national election. The Congress posters did not carry the mug shots of Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi, its chief campaigners or the top level state leaders.
Modi’s victory is actually a prelude to the change in the disha and dasha of Indian politics. That is why the Gujarat BJP victory is a milestone, one which will cast a long shadow on the destiny of this nation. Modi has subtly, more by his action, than with so many spoken words, redefined the contemporary political discourse. He has upset the applecart of conformity, stirred the cozy coalition of super class accommodation, he has inevitably enforced his own characteristic code—accountability in public life—on the conduct of political behavior. He is not a blind-folded follower of the paradigm of political correctness. He played by his own rules. The high standards and goals that he set for himself became the benchmark which at least partly he has forced others to follow. That changed the matrix of the vocal harangue in this poll. As mentioned earlier, he did not work on caste, religious, or poverty arithmetic. He did not sweeten his manifesto promising freebies at tax-payer’s agony. He did not anchor his victory on the low level manoeuvering of vote sharks and power brokers.
He spoke, twitted and communicated directly to the voter. His campaign odyssey, daily addressing a minimum of 19 rallies continuously for over a month marvelled, enthralled and quite often mesmerized his audience. He spoke from his heart, with authority, with the swaying quintessence of a leader who said what he meant and did what he said. Unlike most politicians he did not make his profession a business by another name or a short-cut to make quick bucks. In a milieu where the wealth of politicians grow astronomically over a period, when Modi declared his assets after serving as chief minister for over a decade it stood almost static. This is the mark of the man. The thumbs-up he got is its reward.
He did not win brownie points attacking his opponents. He did not utter a word against his former colleagues, elders and patrons who left him mid-way to try and deny him his hat-trick. He was focused on his main foe, the Congress under an alien suzerainty. On this he was unsparing. He trained his guns on the Congress “holy cows”, whose innumerable misdeeds, crimes and scandals go unchallenged and unreported and unpunished because of a strange conspiracy of silence by the media and the opposition. In this Modi stood alone. All the diatribes and calibrated litany of lies in the Congress arsenal could not hurt Modi because on the ground what Modi did spoke volumes than all the disinformation hurled by his detractors. Modi finally forced his detractors to change their script and talk development.
In his state, Muslims enjoy equal opportunities. Their representation in administration, in police and education is better than in most other states where politics is entirely Muslim centric. But he did not seek votes on this record. Under him the polity is Hindu centric, which is how it should be in the entire country, because India is a Hindu country. He has no use for advisers who indoctrinate on the impossibility of winning an election without Muslim support. These statisticians have infested all political parties debasing the narrative. Yet, Modi won a quarter of Muslim votes —equal to what Nitish Kumar got in Bihar. The lesson: Voters are sick and tired of politicians treating them as vote-banks and offering them sops as if they are beggars. Restore them their pride.
Modi’s state is the only one in the country that boasts of a decade of double digit agricultural growth against the national average of less than two per cent. Here farmers really do profitable farming and make money. They get 24-hour electricity, their fields are better irrigated, thanks to Narmada irrigation scheme, their products are better marketed thanks to rural connectivity and panchayat level computerization and IT penetration. All that Modi delivered in the last two terms. His opponents tried to build a propaganda spreading falsehood, relying entirely on the draught spell that hit Saurashtra last summer. It backfired.