Can Modi Make It To Top
One question has dominated newspapers, TV channels and political debates past few days on whether Narendra Modi can make it to the top. Can he be our next Prime Minister whenever the Lok Sabha elections are held? It’s not first time this question has arisen. Two years ago, his name was mooted by captains of Indian industry, including Ratan Tata and Mukesh Ambani, for the top job at an event in Gujarat, hailing him as “PM material”.
In fact, their praise of his leadership as the “man who can deliver” led to an acture embarrassment to the BJP (to which Modi belongs) because LK Advani had by then chosen the party’s PM candidate to take on the Congress’ nominee, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Singh went on to win the elections and earn the UPA government a second term and the BJP remained lost in fierce internal debates and tussles as to who should be its next leader.
The BJP’s parent body, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), intervened to put an outsider to Delhi politics, Nitin Gadkari, as head of the party to stem the tide. With a mandate from the Sangh Parivar, Gadkari announced that there would be no one projected as the Prime Minister candidate for the next parliamentary elections. Instead, a collective of potential leaders would be showcased.
No doubt, Gadkari’s assertion annoyed GenNext leaders in the BJP. Advani, who was forced to vacate as Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha and make way for a younger Sushma Swaraj differed and said the people always associated the party with one leader. In the meantime, as BJP leaders discussed Gadkari’s stand, an order from the Supreme Court on September 12 ended almost nine years of a sustained hate-Modi campaign by social activists, lawyers and victims of one of India’s worst communal riots, who blamed him for the riots.
MODI, MAYAWATI, AND VOTE BANKS
Globalisation and migrations have led to sometimes painful fusion of diverse cultures to expand group identities. Even second generation Indians in USA or UK have acquired the identity of their place of domicile. How ironic then that India’s politicians have chosen to tread a path opposite to this global trend. They are busy dividing a common national identity into many small, competing identities. While breaking his recent fast Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi claimed that he was not working for the minority or the majority community but for all citizens. He deplored vote bank politics that were dividing society. His assertion may be dismissed as rhetoric in the light of the riots the memories of which he seeks to bury. If he means what he says about opposing vote bank politics he should declare an end to caste based reservation and limit affirmative action to using economic criteria as its basis.
Modi’s observation about vote-bank politics dominating elections is vindicated by what is happening in UP. In anticipation of the forthcoming state assembly elections Chief Minister Mayawati has announced support for job and education reservation for Muslims, for Jats and for the poor among the Hindu upper castes. What about the rich Muslims? They have been rulers for centuries. The Muslim elite are no less sophisticated, educated and qualified than the Brahmins. Should they be allowed to take advantage of the proposed reservation for Muslims? The whole approach to reservation in fact is nonsensical.
If Mayawati’s announcements are implemented the Other Backward Classes (OBC), the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (SC and ST), the Jats, the Muslims, and the poor among the forward castes would all get reservation. What remains? There are over 3000 listed castes among the OBC alone. The OBC quota is hogged by the more affluent and educated landowning Yadav and Kurmi castes. The same is true about the SC in which the more affluent and powerful Chamars have hogged reservation benefits. Resentment against such exploitation of the quota system by a few powerful castes was utilized by Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar in the last assembly election. He created a new category of the Extreme Backward Classes (EBC). The mere dangling of this carrot worked like magic. He swept to power.
Politicians seeking votes have become prisoners of their respective vote banks. How can the system be liberated from this misconceived policy? It can be freed only by creating a political wave that sweeps aside in elections all the present caste considerations. But to create a political wave requires daring and the courage to gamble the future in pursuit of a good and rational policy. For example, what would happen if Mayawati announced an end to caste based reservation and introduced a generous common reservation quota based upon economic deprivation? And if this were accompanied by a simultaneous announcement to deliver free and compulsory primary education, whatever that might cost, to every child in the state, how would voters react? Would they reject Mayawati or return her with a thumping majority on the crest of a wave? That would only be known if and when any political leader dares to gamble the future in pursuit of what is right. If the truth is articulated effectively, will not the public respond? Politicians must decide whether or not they have faith in the innate good sense of common people.
By Rajinder Puri
Their campaign had seen the cases stayed for six years in the lower court because they wanted Modi to be fixed first rather than the rioters who were actually responsible for the killings. But, after numerous hearings and several claims of evidence, the apex court sent back to a trial court, which was hearing those riot cases, to determine whether Modi should be held culpable. That is after a Special Investigation Team (SIT), appointed by the apex court, investigated the cases not once but thrice to gather evidence against the Gujarat chief minister and could not find anything solid to nail him.
The Supreme Court’s order set off the debate about Modi’s future at a time when the Prime Minister, once the darling of the middle class, and the UPA appeared to be on the slide, and his government stuck in a groove with the economy on a slow-down. What has made Modi tick now? Why is everyone looking at him with dread and awe as well as admiration in some quarters?
The riots in Gujarat in 2002 had claimed 1,200 lives, after 59 Hindu pilgrims (including women and children) returning from Ayodhya by a train (named Sabarmati Express) were burnt to death by a Muslim mob near Godhra station. After tweeting “God is Great” soon after the court’s breather to him, Modi announced a three-day fast for unity and peace from his 61st birthday on September 17. Modi could not just wait any longer, following the Supreme Court’s order, for a changeover of his image. His critics, devastated by the Supreme Court, shouted he’s not got a clean chit but the media-hype over the so-called exoneration of Modi left him more than just buoyed. A beeline of top BJP leaders, many of them once seen as his rivals, went to Ahmedabad to be seen by his side even as the Congress led by Modi’s old rival Shankersinh Vaghela staged a counter fast, which was more of a farce.
THE NAMO PHENOMENON
Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, nicknamed these days as NaMo, completed his three day fast with a stirring speech that offered a preview of his vision and priorities. His “Sadbhavana mission” has been projected as his belief in ‘inclusiveness’. But will that be enough to take him up to Delhi? Will that help him in becoming the Prime Minister of India? One can also ask whether he is interested in the job at Delhi at all.
Answers to these questions depend on one’s perception of NaMo. Left-liberal-“secular” establishment is not impressed by his latest action. It is over-highlighting NaMo’s reluctance to wear a “topi” offered by a Muslim cleric without bothering to ask whether the cleric, a pious Muslim that he is, will ever wear a mark of “sindoor” collected from a temple in his forehead if offered by Modi or any Hindu leader . In fact, for the Left-liberal-“secular” elites, Hindus at all time should make all the concessions and the minorities must always possess the veto-power in everything if India is to remain secular. Their secularism does not mean “equal treatment for all”, whether one is a Hindu or Muslim or Christian.
Seen thus, NaMo not wearing a Muslim cap cannot be the yardstick of his success or failure of his fast. He remains hugely popular despite an incessant vilification campaign against him. And that is because of his personal incorruptibility and Gujarat’s stupendous economic achievements under his stewardship.
NaMo is often quoted as saying “Kuch banne ka mat socho, kuch karne ka socho (Don’t aspire to be something, aspire to do something)”. This perhaps is his way of emphasizing conviction in service oriented lifestyle. He could easily transform himself into an earthy politician with ears on ground and an ability to effortlessly communicate with masses in their simple idioms. In his long career of public service he brilliantly mastered in engaging all sections of society.
Undeniably, the riots of 2002 mark a serious blot in his political career. While critics might contest it, enough evidence is available to conclude that Modi largely adhered to “Raja Dharma” during those calamitous days and did perhaps what he could in his capacity as Chief Minister to contain them. While it is possible to argue that administration could have initially responded with more alacrity given the state of dismal policing infrastructure and riot control mechanism, it is difficult to envisage any government could have controlled riots instantly when such huge mobs are on streets.
In any case, notwithstanding all the accusations against NaMO, the fact remains that Gujarat had seen much more severe communal riots killing many more people under the Congress Chief Ministers in the past. There was certainly no pogrom of the Muslims, given the fact that hundreds of Hindus and scores of Police personnel had also died during the 2002 riots. According to an official estimate, as provided in Parliament by the Congress ministers, “1044 people were killed in the violence—790 Muslims and 254 Hindus including those killed in the Godhra train fire. Another 223 people were reported missing.”
There is a growing realisation everywhere in the country that NaMo’s model of governance is something that needs to be replicated at all-India level. And this is something that disturbs the so-called secular brigade the most. It is more aware of his potential than his admirers. An inspiration to millions of nationalists, NaMo is destined to change the course of India for better, whether becomes the Prime Minister or not. NaMo does not stop from merely rebelling against a patently regressive, competitively communal paradigm of secularism. He offers an alternative. If he is to be believed the well being of every Gujarati, every Indian—each individual irrespective of caste, community, religion and ethnic background—is sacrosanct. He refuses to name any particular community in interviews and declares that his government neither works for minority nor for majority. His government works for Gujaratis. He intends to treat citizens on an individual and non-discriminatory basis. In other words, NaMo, either advertently or inadvertently, has offered an alternative paradigm of secularism—an arrangement of State where development and the benefits of good governance are to be guaranteed to every citizen—the religious identity of the citizen being a secondary detail.
Where the secular brigade, that includes the Congress party, offers only appeasement, the Gujarat Chief Minister offers development, prosperity and governance to all. There is no doubting that for India to grow and prosper this conflict between the two paradigms needs to end in favour of Narendra Modi.
Will NaMo be able to become India’s Prime Minister in 2014, the year next general elections are due? There are merits in the argument that 2014 is far away and that any attempt to foretell the events of next two years is likely to be very far off the dot. Two years may be a long time in politics but electoral strategies and political ambitions both have considerable gestation periods and must factor in for the unavoidable surprises one may encounter en route. It may be true that both before and after the Sadbhavana mission no ground-breaking announcements or bold statements have been made. But this is not to deny that potential new alliance partners and existing NDA members have each in their own way begun the process of a re-alignment.
Whilst the generally increasing trend of acceptance and positive re-alignment must bring joy to Narendra Modi’s campaign managers one hopes it causes an equal amount of introspection and diligence in political manoeuvring. After all, in a parliamentary election each state votes and pronounces a verdict on the performance of its Chief Minister and not necessarily the Prime Minister (and most certainly not the performance of the Union government.) This is not to say issues of overall national interest are completely ignored. They are perceived and interpreted through the prism of the state politics. For instance, in 2004 Chandrababu Naidu, the then Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh lost badly and along with him lost the NDA. The NDA lost about 30 MPs it had from Andhra not because Atal Behari Vajpayee was a bad Prime Minister but because Chandrababu Naidu had been a bad Chief Minister.
Viewed thus, the Gujarat Chief Minister has so far shown prudence in attempting to build a broad coalition across states rather than indulge in a personality-oriented campaign at the Centre. He has already wooed the Akalis in Punjab, both wings of the Shiv Sena in Maharashtra, and AIADMK in Tamil Nadu. One hopes he continues with this prudence. Political expedience demands that coalition building remain a very important concern. And if NaMo sincerely tries, the likes of Naveen Patnaik, Mamata Banerjee, Mayawati and Jagan Reddy will respond. Nitish Kumar is a case apart. He wants the Prime Minister’s chair too, though it is unimaginable that he will succeed given the fact that his Janata Dal does not exist outside Bihar.
By Sudhanshu Jain
Interestingly, Modi’s high-profile fast was preceded by Advani’s announcement on September 8 that he would undertake yet another yatra across the country, which, naturally, triggered a speculation that he was back in the reckoning for the top slot again.
Finally, on September 21, after a meeting with Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) chief Mohan Bhagwat, he declared that “what the country has given me is much more than the PM’s post.” Does that mean Advani has exited from the race in the BJP for the top post? Or Advani is sure that, in the absence of a consensus among the second generation leaders, the BJP will eventually be forced to turn to him?
Be as it may, one thing is clear that Modi has emerged a serious contender for the top slot but there are too many “ifs and buts” between now and when the Lok Sabha elections are held, say BJP insiders. Modi’s biggest plus point is that BJP cadres are enamoured by him. He is what Advani was once: tough, pragmatic and a strategist, along with a ‘mass appeal.’ His priority, however, is winning Gujarat for the BJP a third time.
The state polls are due in December 2012. His ‘Sadbhavana Mission’ has certainly given a fillip to his party’s bid for a third term. That’s all the more why Modi turned down a maulvi’s offer to present him with a skullcap in the midst of his fast. He accepted a shawl, instead.
Modi could not afford to make a “mistake” like Advani did when he went to Pakistan, praising that country’s founder, Mohammed Ali Jinnah, and earned the wrath of the Right. That cost Advani immensely. In Gujarat, Modi has been at a silent war with likes of VHP hawks like Praveen Togadia. Any image correction has to be a graded, in accordance with the impact on his hardcore support base, say his strategists.
“MODI HAS DOUBLE STANDARDS”—Rashid Alvi, Spokesperson, Congress
Narendra Modi was on a fast for Sadbhavna. How does Congress see it?
There isn’t any connection between Narendra Modi and Sadbhavna. This was only a drama of Narendra Modi. Assembly elections in the state are approaching. During his fast one Maulana went to offer a skull cap, but he refused to put it on his head. That Maulana had gone there with Sadbhavna despite the huge massacre of 2002 but Modi refused to accept his Sadbhavna. This proves that Narendra Modi has double standards and this single instance exposes the reality of Modi.
Despite all types of opposition and propaganda, why Narendra Modi is constantly winning?
He has won only twice. It is his second tenure as CM. Sheila Dikshit is CM of Delhi for 15 years. Therefore, it is not correct to say that he is winning repeatedly. He has misled the people of Gujarat but now the situation in the state is changing rapidly.
Zafar Sareshwala and many other Muslims are saying that Gujarat is developing and also providing opportunities to all but when we talk about development, they remind us of 2002 violence. Do you think this is right?
I agree that we should forget riots. We should try to erase this type of incidents from the memory of the public so that social integrity could be established. Hindu-Muslim integrity and communal harmony is a must for the development of our nation. But development and communalism are two different aspects. It is possible that a person who does communal politics, works for development too. Therefore, Modi would have done some development in the state, but he never tried to wash out the stains of the 2002 riots and probably these could not be washed out.
Secondly, central government has given funds for the Akliyat, but Gujarat government has returned it unused. A delegation of MPs went to Gujarat. That delegation has submitted its report to the speakers in both the Houses. In that report, the delegation has observed that Gujarat government has still not taken sufficient measures to rehabilitate the Akliyat. In that report it is said that the victims of the 2002 riots have not returned to their homes yet. Therefore, until these types of problems were addressed, there couldn’t be any Sadbhavna in the state.
Then why is the Congress following him? Shankarsinh Waghela followed him and went on fast. Do you think this will strengthen your stand?
Shankarsinh Waghela’s fast was to show Modi the correct way of fasting. Fast cannot be performed in an air-conditioned hall on the government revenue and by publicising it in the newspapers giving them full page advertisements. And I believe that when he realises this, he would have to keep another fast to atone for it.
He has announced that he will sit on A fast for one day in each district of the state.
Public know it very well that Narendra Modi is cooking only political pudding.
Narendra Modi has said that he does not differentiate between majority and minority. He works for all. If there is 100 per cent enrolment of children, it means children of all communities are getting benefits.
Then why he refused to wear the skull cap offered by a Maulana, if he doesn’t differentiate between Hindus and Muslims? CM has its own Rajdharma. CM is meant for all communities. But there are a lot of differences in his speech and actual work.
Interviewed by Ravi Shankar
But can Modi gain acceptance outside Gujarat and, particularly among the BJP’s allies like Janata Dal (United) which are always worried about their recalcitrant Muslim vote base? The answer is no. The BJP needs its allies, just as they need this party. Also, the BJP does not see in the near-future of being in a position to form government on its own.
Modi knows his ambition can be thwarted by the BJP’s allies as well as by those in his own party who are more acceptable faces to the NDA combine. That includes Modi’s closest adviser, Arun Jaitley, who as Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, has shown that he has in him to take the big responsibility. Similarly, Sushma Swaraj, who went to Ahmedabad to see Modi end his fast, is a serious contender.
Swaraj has had uneasy ties with Modi. But she made it a point in her address on that occasion to underline that “Modi is a tall leader of Gujarat and on whom the people of the state are bound to repose their faith again.” She did not refer to Modi as a national star. Neither Jaitley nor Swaraj has openly endorsed Modi’s claim for the top slot when they are too in the race. Nor will they, at least before Modi wins the next Gujarat polls and sets his eye on Delhi.
FROM ‘FURIOUS’ TO FASTING
Modi tries to cultivate an image
Narendra Modi’s indulgence in a fast took me by surprise. The surprise element certainly is not because I could not imagine him changing his dietary habit for three days but for the complete lack of novelty and originality in it. The lack of creative thoughts in planning of the spectacle in Ahmedabad is especially stark as it follows Anna Hazare’s two long drawn fast episodes in the capital that became media fairs reported by the minute in India and abroad. The Modi show remained just a show of political and financial clout.
The crafting of the fast left much to be desired unless ostentatious display of clout was the cherished goal. I, therefore, see some suddenness in organising the fast and therefore the lack of creative planning that goes behind every Modi function.
I am tempted to know the reason for the sudden event.
With BJP President Nitin Gadkari having clearly mentioned in his Independence Day speech this year that the saffron party would not project anyone as its prime ministerial candidate, LK Advani’s fate seemed sealed. It is another matter that veteran of many a political battle did not give up his ambitions. Never to be outdone, the Sindhi in him sprang back on the first opportunity and announced another Rath Yatra.
So, the immediate battle for Modi was not just to be ahead of the curve in the leadership race between the Gen X leadership in BJP, he also had to lock horns with the old guard. Therefore, he took up the first weapon that he got—fast.
While the rest may not believe this to be a very novel idea, many in the BJP would. When was the last time you remember a BJP leader went on a fast? At least my memory does not serve me right in this case.
While the nation thought it was a borrowed idea very soon, the BJP leadership went into a PR drive about the fast thinking it was best thing to happen. Let us also not forget that that BJP was smarting under the fact that it had to concede its space to Anna Hazare-led anti corruption movement and desperately wanted to recapture at least some media space.
Narendra Modi seems to have thought of killing many birds with one ‘fast’ stone. He wanted to establish himself as the frontrunner for the PM’s post from BJP, reach out to minorities (read Muslims), and create national image for himself. Whether he was successful in the endeavour or not is anyone’s guess.
Coming back to whether the exercise was undertaken in panic, it does seem so. Is he afraid that his vote bank is slipping and he needs to create new constituencies and Muslims are an easy target.
He also seems to believe in the same way as Lalu Prasad did—to emerge as protector of minorities. Lalu also created the same image about himself after arresting LK Advani during his Rath Yatra for the construction of Ram Temple. He forced the Muslims into believing that they were safe only under his rule. When Modi said that Gujarat did not see any riots during his 10 year stint, he was speaking in the same vein and manner.
And launching his district yatras is certainly a clear attempt to keep his vote bank together if not creating a new support base.
Despite such circumstances, Shankersinh Vaghela’s fast counter to Modi’s hardly drew much crowd. This only reflects poor state of affairs in the Congress camp. Congress does not appear to be in a position to capitalize on the dwindling support for Modi. While the Chief Minister is able to understand this and take remedial measures, it does not seem to be the case with the grand old party of India.
Interestingly, this is the challenge that BJP faces at the national level.
Congress in Gujarat faces a leadership crisis of credibility. It is directionless, adrift and even appears indifferent to the realities in the state. An example would amply illustrate this. Zakia Jafri, widow of Congress leader Ahsan Jafri who was killed in Gulberga arson case along with 69 others, personifies the struggle for justice for the victims of the 2002 riots. However, when Sonia Gandhi visited Gujarat, she did not meet this ageing fighter as state Congress leaders advised her against it saying it would displease Hindus. So much for Congress leadership and its convictions in secularism one would say. Therefore, the current pitiable condition of Congress party in the state hardly comes as a surprise.
Coming back to the Sadbhawna fast, I am intrigued by the choice of the name. Commonly in our country, such projects come up after riots or incidents of caste or communal discord. I wonder what was the spark in this case.
If what Modi is to be believed, Gujarat hasn’t heard of riot and curfew in the last 10 years. Meaning thereby peace and communal harmony in Gujarat is intact. If the attempt is not to reach out to non-Hindus, especially Muslims and create an image of wider acceptability, what else is it? If this does not fall in the plans of his prime ministerial ambitions where else does it fit, Mr Modi? And the refusal to wear the Muslim skull cap, was it part of a script or he acted instinctively?
While he regaled giving interviews to the media, Modi chose to answer questions raised by the victims of 2002 riots. They wrote an open letter to him and raised some really difficult questions. It could have provided just the right opportunity for him to be head and shourlders above the current crop of leadership, show magnanimity by engaging with them and their concerns.
The fast did not go down well with BJP’s long time ally Janata Dal (U). The latter cornered a large chunk of Muslim votes in Bihar and does not want to lose it. Also, its leader and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar himself harbours ambitions to unfurl the tricokour from the ramparts of the Red Fort. JD(U) not only was quick to distance itself away and not join the ‘fast’ stage. It would be good to remember here that Nitish Kumar did not alllow Narendra Modi to campaign in the state during the last assembly elections.
While AIADMK leaderJ Jayalalithaa sent her emissary, she too was cautious in supporting him.
In a nutshell, Modi is still far from that national image that he dreams. And this fast was certainly not the right way to do this. Not to forget that he himself mentioned the jamboree had nothing to do with his birthday.
Oh! He took ten years to realise that Saturdays and Sundays come together. He really has got some bad advisors on board.
The first question that arises from the 3-day mela is how Modi benefited from it. Was there no gains from it? There are but mostly internal to BJP and in my opinion did not require an event of this scale and size.
The first and perhaps the only gain the Gujarat CM has made is that he has seen to it he is considered the strongest leader in the party after LK Advani. And if the current allies want to do business with BJP, they will have to find a way to deal with him. There are reports already that Nitish Kumar is toying with the idea of floating a third front.
The timing of organising Sadbhawna Mission was premature. He has alerted his detractors without creating new allies. He could well have organised this after his district yatras and culminate that into a fast. His birthday could have well served as the perfect occasion to announce the yatra instead of getting his entire machinery into a panic mode.
By Rahul Kashyap
But why did they queue up before him? BJP insiders say they could not afford to be not with Modi, particularly before the eyes of their party workers for whom he remains the best bet for their rejuvenation. Yet, one could argue that BJP Chief Ministers of Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, Shivraj Singh Chouhan and Raman Singh, were conspicuous by their absence. They are also BJP’s poster boys when it comes to showcasing the party’s style of development-oriented politics. Chief Ministers of Karnataka and Himachal Pradesh were, of course, present.
Those who know Modi point to his blogs, one made on September 1 and September 7, which are indicators of his national ambition and his search for a new identity. In his first blog, Modi specifically referred to the Jain community’s custom to say “Michhami Dukkadam” during the Paryushan festival. “Michhami Dukkadam, “ as Modi explained in his blog, “means I ask forgiveness for any hurt I may have caused you by thoughts, words or actions, knowingly or unknowingly. Michhami Dukkadam.” He ended by saying, “Michhami Dukkadam to you all.
In second blog, Modi dwelt extensively on his thoughts on the issue of education to Muslims. “Just as even if one organ of a body is weak, the body cannot be considered healthy; I have always believed that my Gujarat cannot be considered developed if even one section of its society is left behind or weak. True Development therefore has to be all-round, inclusive, comprehensive and sustainable.” Modi almost said the same things when he began the fast and when he ended it. But there was no regret and no apology. That will have to wait till Modi’s task in Gujarat gets over after the state polls.
ADVICE TO MALLIKA SARABHAI
On a prime time show on Times Now (anchored by Arnaub Goswami) discussing the Narendra Modi fast, both Congress spokesperson Renuka Chauduri and independent candidate Mallika Sarabhai were present, along with lawyers from Gujarat. Renuka, as per usual smirked at the camera and on one occasion gave a hysterical laugh. The cameraperson, either by coincidence, or good judgment, cut away, but one heard the laugh nevertheless. Equally, her partner on this topic, Mallika, also got engaged in a Dracula-like laugh. Once again, the cameraman cut away, but one heard this cynical laugh anyway.
After her defeat in the 2009 elections against Mr.Advani, Sarabhai does not seem to have learned any lessons. The people of Gujarat are no longer impressed with this individual from an upper class family (daughter of scientist Vikram Sarabhai and famed dancer Mrinalini Sarabhai), who goes slumming every now and then. Her latest cause is the hate campaign against Narendra Modi. She has failed to realise that her upper crust antics cannot impress the sturdy voters of Gujarat. Shri Modi is from a hardworking respectable lower middle class family who rose from the ranks and won his spurs by hard work and thrift. The Gujarati voter, hard working and also entrepreneurial, recognises in him a kindred spirit.
Now, it is not her fault that Mallika belongs to the ‘Beautiful People’ crowd ( although lately her visuals have not been very prepossessing). She simply does not get it, even though she flagged off the Modi fast with her own feeding- of- the- poor event. This upper class sporadic philanthropy simply does not cut it.
She is better advised to get back to her dance form. Social acitivist, she simply is not. She is not another Medha Patkar. One feels sorry for her. She should let the Indian judiciary do its work, without her ill-timed histrionics.Perhaps she could abandon the street politics and photo ops. and take a leaf from another anti-Modi politician, Digvijay Singh, who has made it known that he welcomes the Modi fast provided Shri Modi would imitate Mahatma Gandhi, not Guru Golwalkar, the Sangh Parivar’s inspirational figure.
This was something of a slip, since in spite of all the propaganda against him, Golwalkar, for those who have read his work, remains an inspiring Hindu philosopher. His call for a revival of the Dharmic values of compassion and tolerance are necessary now in India where the hate campaigners against Hindu figures have spread their poison over the years.
As scholar Dr Shrinivas Tilak has said in his study of Golwalkar: “Golwalkar posited that the present day Indian society and nation would need an equivalent of the modern notion of civil religion that is nevertheless rooted in Dharma and in the civilisation of India. This would require a conscious reformulation of Dharma to make it more acceptable to the majority of Indians as well as one that is more compatible with the needs of a modern secular state. The move to reawaken to it and to recreate a Hindu nation would not be one of returns to primordial unity as it once existed in ancient times but rather one of rebuilding a compatible structure without eliminating the now existing diversity, plurality, or individuality” (Reawakening to a secular Hindu nation, 2008, 18-19).
As a modern Hindu Shri Narendra Modi is attempting this very task, the rule of Dharma as both material and spiritual welfare, guaranteeing the individuality of the various communities that make up the body politic of the nation.
By Dr Vijaya Rajiva
The Gujarat strongman thinks that he can bring a paradigm shift on to the national political scene by his notion of “no majority-minority” approach, of which there are few takers today. “We have often heard the Prime Minister addresses us from the ramparts of Red Fort on August 15 as Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Sikhs and so on. I wonder why he cannot address us simply as ‘my dear countrymen’, rather than breaking us up like this? Isn’t this important to maintain the unity of our nation!” Modi said in his last blog.
He also said: “My government therefore functions on the principle of ‘justice to all and appeasement to none’. And Gujarat is accordingly marching ahead with the mantra of ‘sabka saath, sabka vikas’ (Support from all, Development for all). “Friends, these thoughts that I had explored with the gathered audience that evening, are not mere wishes or fancy imagination. Gujarat has achieved concrete results based on them over the past decades. And it is not me or my government saying so; but in fact a Committee headed by a retired Justice, Justice Rajinder Sachar; constituted by the central government of Dr Manmohan Singh in 2005; doing so.”
But Modi’s words cannot carry conviction till the ghosts of the 2002 riots are fully exorcised. Therein lies the answer to whether he can get to the top. (With inputs from Syed Wazid Ali)