This is a translation of my own piece published in the Sunday Special Supplement of Kannada Prabha on December 16, 2012. I thought this piece would be a fitting tribute to Modi’s stupendous and third consecutive electoral success in the Gujarat 2012 assembly polls.
Comments & criticism welcome as always.
Modi the Great!
You can’t copy him, you won’t get a Xerox of him!
Tell me the truth. How many times have you seen the election manifesto of any political party in your life? Whatever be the party of your choice, how many of you, even out of curiosity, have actually seen the manifesto of the political party of your choice? Even if you have seen it, how seriously have you taken it?
Forget this. Jog your memory a bit. When was the last time any media carried a special show discussing the manifestoes of political parties? At most, the media carries senseless shows listing the pre-poll promises of political parties.
Thus I was aghast when I watched a few English news channels beaming elaborate talk shows and discussions concerning the BJP’s electoral manifesto for the Gujarat 2012 polls. It was a first of sorts. Ironically, these selfsame news channels never did something of the sort when the selfsame party released its manifesto on the eve of several national elections in the past. So what was so special this time?
The answer is simple: the crux doesn’t lie in the manifesto at all. Neither does it lie in the party. The crux lies exactly in one person.
Name: Narendra Damodardas Modi. The three-time Chief Minister of Gujarat who delivered spectacular governance to the state and showed the entire nation how development and prosperity could be achieved and who currently faces yet another election.
Of all political leaders in India, it’s not an exaggeration to say that Modi alone has the maximum number of opponents. The entire secular galaxy that includes the Congress and other parties, our self-proclaimed intellectuals, poets, litterateurs, writers…everybody seems to have an incurable allergy towards Modi. It appears as if they were born to spite Modi.
Check it out: none of these worthies mentioned something like a BJP election manifesto on the eve of both the 2002 and the 2007 polls. This time around, they’re strutting around like it’s a really big deal. What this means is simple: the combined arsenal of these eminences is empty. Hence the attack on that manifesto.
Ever since campaigning began for the Gujarat polls, all efforts of the Congress party have resembled an aimless arrow shot from Delhi. When heavyweights like Ambika Soni, Chidambaram, and Salman Khurshid arrived in Gujarat in June this year, they scooted back to Delhi in a hurry after being thoroughly humiliated. Despite that, even after that, they had six long months to think and strategize. But what emerged out of that six-month-long “strategizing?” Throughout the campaign trail, it was apparent to everybody that they were completely clueless as to how to mount a half-decent counterattack. What does this show? Indeed, the fact that the Congress in Gujarat is really in the pits is clear when it chose to field Shweta Bhatt—the wife of a corrupt and disgraced police officer named Sanjiv Bhatt—against Narendra Modi in Maninagar. This only means that the mighty Congress party is bereft of leaders who can dare to take Modi head-on.
Yet another important aspect concerns the role of Sonia and her son, the Prime Minister-in-waiting, Rahul Gandhi. Poor Rahul. It appears as if anything he touches turns to ashes. When he campaigned in Bihar in 2010, the Congress ended up with exactly three seats. In the 2012 Uttar Pradesh elections, his party, which unleashed one of the most mammoth poll campaigns ended up with a tally that didn’t even touch 30 seats. And this sorry result despite a 24/7 publicity frenzy by the English media which acted like the Congress party’s PR team. Sonia Gandhi’s Gujarat campaign began quite late in the day, a significant indicator in itself. The tone and tenor of her entire campaign was a sorry mixture of dullness and anxiety. There’s reason for this. In her 2007 Gujarat campaign, she made the Himalayan Blunder of calling Modi a merchant of death (Maut ka Saudagar). In Modi’s hands, this became a game changer, the trump card she literally handed him on a platter. The story of how he used it to completely alter the direction of the poll is now history. This apart, we saw how over the last 3-4 weeks, prominent members of the Gujarat Congress deserted ship and joined the BJP. In this pathetic state of affairs, it’s but evident that forget trying to rein in Modi, Sonia was unable to make even a half-hearted attempt at criticizing him.
And so the only option remaining for the Congress was to clutch at whatever weak straw it could find. The BJP’s poll manifesto was one such straw. Needless, the friendly English media acted on cue and played out the manifesto farce on live TV. Consider this: in a country as large as India, what does the fact that the entire English media embarked on a nonsensical dissection of one Chief Minister’s election manifesto tell you? Name exactly one state and one Chief Minister which has attracted debate, discussion, and criticism on this scale in the election season.
The fact is that after Modi established himself in Gujarat, the Congress was decimated years ago. And it is aware of this fact. But this fact isn’t what really scares the Congress. What really scares the Congress is a resounding victory yet again for Modi. This will mean that pretty much nothing can stop his triumphant march to Delhi [Ed: At the time of writing the original Kannada piece, election results were not yet announced]. Indeed, Narendra Modi is the worst and only nightmare for the Congress today.
There’s a definite and perceptive Modi wave across the country over the last 3 years now. The kind of development that Gujarat has achieved under Modi’s leadership is now the stuff of legends. The same people who once chastised Modi as anti-Muslim and mass-murderer are now singing his praises. And when the Supreme Court-appointed SIT exonerated Modi in the riots cases, the secular English media had to lock up their collective mouths. Simultaneously, countries like China, Japan and England are making a beeline to do business with Gujarat. Further, an India under the scam-a-day Congress dispensation has the sole exception in Gujarat where Modi has checked corruption to a very great extent. Indeed, several in the Gujarat bureaucracy are upset with Modi: "he doesn’t eat, he doesn’t let us eat.” (na khaata hai, na khaane deta hai). Any business house wishing to set up shop in Gujarat is given single window clearance.
In May 2011, the Vairagad Gram Panchayat in Maharashtra unanimously passed a resolution proposing that Narendra Modi adopt their village. Modi’s visit to Rajasthan in May 2012 generated a phenomenal response from among the people there. The fact that Modi has a huge fan following in a city like Chennai itself is a pointer to the shape of things to come. Punjab and Haryana too are no exceptions to this as we saw earlier this year. But this in itself isn’t everything. The other side is more significant. It concerns the sheer goodwill that Modi has earned. The kind of goodwill that has seen legions of his supporters who rise up to defend Modi against even the smallest criticism. Rahul Gandhi’s disastrous rally at Darbhanga during the 2010 Bihar election campaign is a good illustration. When Rahul launched a verbal attack against Modi in Darbhanga, a group of angry youth went as far as trying to throw chairs at the poor prince.
If the 2012 Gujarat elections has drawn both national and international attention, an attention that’s on par with that of the Lok Sabha, it is because of exactly one person: Narendra Modi.
The fact that a mere Chief Minister has managed to capture the imagination and adulation of the entire nation is not a small matter. It is because in an era of Lilliputs, Modi has emerged as the tallest leader that India has seen after a long time. He shows decisiveness where others show prevarication. Other state Chief Ministers display weakness and indecisiveness before implementing a law or a development projects for fear that it might hurt the hundreds of vote banks they’ve so cynically cultivated. But Modi has effortlessly implemented hundreds of such projects. Where other Chief Ministers pass the blame to the bureaucracy and to our outmoded laws, Modi has used the same bureaucracy and the same outmoded laws to achieve what he has achieved.
Narendra Modi also happens to be the finest orator of our time. His oratory can reasonably be compared to that of Vajpayee. Like Vajpayee, Modi is a phenomenal crowd puller. His speeches in themselves are the finest illustrations of his sense of humour, grasp over facts, presence of mind, and most importantly, his amazing ability to hold the audience for any length of time by the sheer force of his sheer oratory.
Even if we set aside all these, Modi has distinguished himself by converting adversity into opportunity at every step. The best example of this is how he managed to conclusively shut the shops of the vile array of secularists who abused him endlessly, mercilessly. Today, the egg is on their faces and it presents an ugly sight. The same secularists who raised alarms that Gujarat will witness communal riots under Modi are now licking their wounds given how there hasn’t been a single communal riot in a decade. And this in a state which has a sordid history of communal riots. The other example of course, is the well-known Maut ka Saudagar missile, which Modi ensured, boomeranged on Sonia Gandhi.
Modi perhaps is the first Chief Minister to discard the sick concept of vote bank politics and still win elections and usher in development. He is also a staunch nationalist in the true sense of the word. When the unfortunate eruption occurred at Manesar earlier this year, he had this to say: “Gujarat doesn’t want to take Maruti away from Manesar. In my view, Manesar belongs to India. I want all of India to be industrially developed.” Remember that the Congress rules Haryana.
What all this means is just this: there’s no doubt that Narendra Modi is a pan-Indian leader. A strong leader is someone who the entire nation claims as its own. Forget fancy analyses and elaborate opeds. There is such a thing as the genuine love and adoration of the people. Narendra Damodardas Modi has earned that. Is it still surprising that Modi has emerged as the tallest leader in India today?
And today, just as the rest of India looks at Gujarat as a model state of political stability and economic prosperity, tomorrow the rest of the world will regard an India under Narendra Modi’s Prime Ministership in the same manner.