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THE MODI ROPE TRICK
Tight rope walking is a phenomenally challenging task that few of us are capable of. But the master practitioner of this ancient Indian art is the triumphant Gujarat CM Narendra Damodar Modi who is now the darling of the Indian middle class and mark my words, the rank communalists of the country. Even before the Gujarat voter went to cast his /her vote, the battle has been won by Modi for no one doubted his return. Some of them fancied a two thirds majority to rub in to the wounds of the Congress Party who were subdued this time in their campaign. Yet, it was suspected that Gujarat Parivartan Party of Keshubai Patel with active ground support from RSS could possibly spoil his party. Arvind Kejriwal threw some charges of underselling land to Adanis and this mud failed to stick with the Modi juggernaut rolling on yet again for a third successive term.
To be fair to him, Modi remains the only leader with the exception of perhaps Nitish Kumar and to an extent Naveen Patnaik who enjoys a clean reputation. No serious charges of corruption have yet been leveled against him. Even though his contemporaries in Madhyapradesh and Chattisgarh, Shivraj Chauhan and Raman Singh have also ensured a fair degree of good governance and delivered on promises, Modi outshone them through his relentless PR blitz. I am sure if elections were to be held today, both Chauhan and Raman Singh could also repeat the hatrick of Modi. Winning three successive terms has been done earlier by MGR( 1977,1980 and 1984) and Naidu ( even though the first term was won by his father in law Rama Rao, Naidu headed TDP government in two successive terms),Jyoti Basu,Sheila Dixit,Naveen Patnaik. But it is Modi’s hatrick which is claimed to be phenomenal. It is also true that Modi’s development agenda looks formidable on paper even though his model has been largely urban centric. For that matter even Dr.Singh’s model has also been urban centric with food security bill, MGNREGS and the like championed by his party compliments the rural outlay.
No one in independent India ever enjoyed mass adulation on such a large scale except perhaps MG Ramachandran whose adulation was spontaneous whereas in Modi’s case it is mostly built up through aggressive PR campaigns. The aura of invincibility that has been woven around his persona is spectacular that no other leader of any consequence has been able to manage. It is also to his credit that he could take on the RSS leadership with gusto unlike his celebrated seniors like Vajpayee- the original Vikas Purush and Advani the Loh purush who has now been forgotten. That could be worrisome for RSS because when Vajpayee was for calling his resignation following post-Godhra massacres, RSS stood solidly behind Modi and Vajpayee had to relent even though he commented Modi having failed in his Raj Dharma as protector of his own citizens. To that extent I have to admire Modi for this man knew how to cultivate an iron man image in the mould of Sardar Patel even though once upon a time, he was a hindutva lieutenant like Uma Bharathi, Kalyan Singh, Vinay Katiyar who have fallen by the way side while Modi remains the larger than life image in his own party and a principal contender to the post of PM should by any chance BJP gets a majority in 2014 either singularly or in a rejigged NDA coalition. That speaks volumes about his ability to build a constituency for himself and develop his own cult following talking about Gujarati asmita as did Rama Rao with his Atma Gaurav rhetoric.
People tend to believe or rather forced to accept that the successive electoral victories of Modi are due to his development agenda. Modi himself claims so. That is another attempt to whitewash his complicity in 2002 riots. A friendly SIT headed by former CBI Director Raghavan claims there is no evidence to suggest that the CM actually abetted the perpetrators of ethnic cleansing. Those who were willing to provide evidence were dismissed by the SIT. Even the Apex Court which once chided Modi for acting like Nero developed cold feet in ordering framing of charges which it left to a trial court presided over by a Magistrate on the evidence of SIT which were mainly acquittal in nature with the dissenting voice of amicus curiae. The learned Judges who were scathing in their attack on Raja for his alleged frauds in 2G spectrum allocation said that SC monitoring ends once SIT filed its report. It even has filed a closure report which the victims of 2002 may find difficult to challenge. The same was with the unlawful fury of late Balasaheb who was also treated with kid gloves for fear of large scale retribution from his followers.
Modi’s oratory is splendid and inspiring for those who swear by Hindutva. He even has overtaken late Balasaheb who was also given a long rope by the establishment and judiciary for his many acts of criminal intent. The truth is that Gujarat today remains a polarized society with the Muslims having acquiesced to the dominance of the Hindu majority and have been silenced in to submission. They have to live in perpetual fear. Modi and his supporters may claim that there has never been a single communal strife since 2002 but that is because of the brutality of 2002 has broken the back of the minorities. Some amongst them with business interests talk of reconciliation and forgetting the ghosts of 2002 to move forward. Whosoever torched the Sabarmati Express on that ill fated night could not have dreamt of this state sponsored retaliation which will once for all silence the minorities from even asking for their basic rights as citizens. Modi, an eloquent orator was forceful when he said in an interview that while cornered by Justice Chachar that his government has not done enough for minority welfare, the CM said he has done nothing for minorities and nothing for majority either while all he has done is for 6 crore Gujaratis. It may seem the CM was being too modest for he suggested that minorities feel safe under him much against the popular belief that they are being persecuted. Ask any BJP leader Vajpayee, Advani, Sushma, Jaitley, Yashwant Sinha about Babri masjid they would still have the sense of guilt behind them. Modi is still unrepentant for what he failed to do as CM while mobs went on a rampage killing innocent Muslims. In his Sadbhavana gathering, CM received Muslim admirers but was careful not to wear the cap offered even momentarily. None of the BJP candidates handpicked by Modi were Muslims. If Modi won the election on his development theme how come Amit Shah wins by a fair margin of 30000 odd votes. I am sure even if Kodnani were to have been fielded, she would have been returned by a thumping majority. That is Modi magic for you.
I was thinking that Modi was being idiotic in not offering apologies even if symbolic for 2002 but had he done so, he would have lost all his charm as the man who took up the challenge and showed minorities their place. One should not underestimate his potential winning formula also contained minority bashing in Mian Ahmad Patel swearing in as CM should Congress is allowed a mandate and questioning the need to compromise on Sir Creeks issue with Pakistan.
Having passed a major hurdle in his ambition to become Prime ministerial candidate of the BJP, he could now think of increasing his supporter base. He could even offer an apology to the minorities. The Road to Akbar Road Delhi is full of thorns and he has to battle many a challenger within his own party and to translate his marketing strategy on an all india basis will be a herculean task for a man like Modi. He has his own PR men in the media who would probably do the work for him writing scripts to be spoken. Already the CM has switched to Hindi while addressing public to announce his intentions. But again his machismo image as a hard-line Hindutva torch bearer could derail his ambitions. That is only the silver lining available to all secular minds in this country.