Modi and India

The whole world knows now that Narendra Modi is the prime ministerial candidate for the BJP. Although it had been speculated for a while, there was a possibility, a teeny tiny possibility, as they say, that the BJP may end up playing safe. In fact, there are more cons than pros for announcing Modi’s candidature.

  • Why give impetus to this polarisation campaign?  Why not silence them with a neutral candidate, say Sushma Swaraj?
  • Why isolate the minorities? At least some of them might come to our fold with a neutral candidate.
  • Why isolate the allies?
  • Why make the campaign Modi-centric? Won’t it relegate UPA’s corruption to the side lines?
  • Anyway UPA is going to lose the game and the natural beneficiary of it is going to be the NDA. So why upset the applecart?

Well, as many reasons as can be listed for not choosing Modi, one thing for certain. They have to choose a prime ministerial candidate. Some may claim India is a parliamentary democracy and therefore only the MPs should choose their party leader in parliament who in turn becomes the prime minster. Well, India is not such a matured democracy and it doesn’t work like that even in matured democracies like the UK. There, long before the elections, it was made official that Gordon Brown, David Cameron and Nick Clegg would be the prime ministerial candidates from their respective parties. In fact, they even had US style TV debates, which was widely watched.

Coming back to the point, BJP did the right thing by identifying who their PM is going to be. But did they do the right thing by identifying Modi? Well, what is the argument being placed on the table against Modi: that he is communal and a divisive figure? What kind of an image the BJP have anyway? Even a child knows that BJP is known for its Hindutva agenda. By electing another person, say Sushma Swaraj or Advani, would BJP suddenly begin to be considered as a secular party? Will the taint of Ayodhya or Gujarat Pogrom be erased from their records? Even if BJP announces Shahnawaz Hussain as their prime ministerial candidate, they will continue to be branded as communal. So it makes sense to think, ‘I might as well go the whole nine yards!’ The nine yards is Narendra Modi.

It has been a couple of weeks since Modi’s selection as the prime ministerial candidate, and honestly, I’m quite surprised that there hasn’t been any upheaval. Perhaps it might start if NDA wins majority and Modi were to be invited by the President.

Anyway, be that as it may, the only thing people fear of Modi is that of his polarising tendency. In my assessment, that shouldn’t be a cause for worry. On the other hand, chances are that there may not be any communal strife at all in Modi’s regime, for he simply can’t just afford another riot. Even a minor skirmish under his watch would be blow up massively and played endlessly in 24×7. This is quite evident in the fact that the last 10 years are the only decade that Gujarat spent without a single communal incident. This, especially considering Gujarat has been a communally sensitive place, is quite a significant achievement. It is true that the media’s unwavering, often annoying, focus on the Gujarat riots has helped in that, but apparently that hasn’t helped in other places. Congress could live with Assam or SP could live with Mussafarnagar without it affecting their fortunes. There will be no guarantee that there won’t be any more communal incidents in their regimes, whereas thanks to the constant drumming of the Gujarat violence, Modi can’t afford a single riot. What could happen is that desperate opposition may kindle some incident when he is the PM and blame it on him. He would have to maintain a far tighter vigil to ensure that such attempts are nipped in the bud. BJP or the RSS can no longer disown the violent acts of the fringe groups or the breakaway factions such as Sri Ram Sena or Bajrang Dal.

What we should worry about Modi, actually, is his excessive friendliness with the industry. Already Reliance is acting as if they own this government. They sack non-cooperating  ministers, set prices and wreak havoc at will. Considering how close Modi is with Mukesh Ambani, we can only expect it to get worse. We don’t know how much Reliance is contributing to the election funds of BJP. Now that Modi, his close friend, has been nominated as the PM candidate, we can safely assume that the elder Ambani would be putting all his financial apples in the BJP basket. We can expect agriculture to take back seat and crony capitalism to take front seat. There would be more Special Economic Zones, and less agricultural and forest lands. GDP would touch the 10% points and internal displacements will touch alarming points. The industry would gain the most and the upper middle class to be the next beneficiary. Dissent would be curtailed with iron hands, and there would be no one more important than the business class. The food security, rural employment schemes and APL PDS might vanish without a trace. The grand Indian narrative of inequality would be much more pronounced and, of course, our friend P Sainath would be kept extremely busy!

Of course, the above paragraph is only hypothetical, but derived entirely on the policy outlook demonstrated by Modi. We still have no chance but to elect him to the seat, because the alternative available seems a lot grimmer. Almost all these things described in the above paragraph are already happening under the current government. The Congress is like a fox crying for the lamb. They are actively encouraging crony capitalism, indulging in indiscriminate mining, offering enormous hand-outs to industries, playing second fiddle to the MNCs and killing agriculture without a care, whilst, at the same time seeming to proclaim their allegiance to socialism. This double-standard is causing a huge havoc in the minds and fortunes of the people. At least we can expect Modi to be quite straightforward about his intentions.

And, finally, the most important question in this election is not about whether Modi should come or not, but whether the Congress should go or not. On that, I don’t think there will be any doubts on anybody’s mind. Modi happens to be beneficiary of this decision, which is unavoidable. It would be the same even if Laloo Prasad Yadav is fielded as the PM candidate by the opposition.