Modi wins third election and many arguments

Narendra Modi’s victory does not lie in the final numbers; he has also outdone RSS opposition and at the same time won over both urban and rural voters as well as a big chunk of minorities

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Ajay Singh | December 20, 2012




For analysts, Gujarat election result has never been less than political sudoku. Just as trends started coming in, intense debates could be heard on whether Narendra Modi would cross the magic figure of 117 seats — a feat he achieved in 2007 assembly election. This figure is touted as the psychological benchmark for Modi to cross his first hurdle for prime ministerial ambition.

Is this the only important message of the election?

Of course, in the din of vacuity the critical underlying messages of this election are lost. Irrespective of the size of majority, Modi's victory for the third time would endow him with an aura of a charismatic mass leader in his own right. No doubt, he would join the league of Jyoti Basu and Lalu Prasad, who successively ducked anti-incumbency in their respective states. But unlike these leaders, Modi is seen as an alternative at the national level as well.

There is little doubt that Modi has won this election in spite of the Sangh Parivar. His bitterest rivals came from the Sangh stable and most of them got tacit support from a section of RSS leadership. For instance, Keshubhai Patel found sympathetic quarters within the RSS and some of his core loyalists belonged to the cadre. The implicit message of this election result has broken to smithereens the myth of the RSS muscle and its cadre, which BJP leaders used to fear.

In fact, the leadership of Vajpayee-Advani duo was the only political leadership which successfully resisted any attempt by RSS to remote-control the party. But as Advani’s stature became grossly marginalised, the RSS took over full control of the party leadership and micro-manages BJP’s affair. The manner in which Nititn Gadkari was foisted over the BJP was only an indication of the debilitating state of the party’s political leadership.

Even in BJP-ruled states, the RSS has been calling the shots, with an exception of Modi’s Gujarat. For the last five years, the RSS leadership, assisted by local VHP units and other affiliated organizations, has been using all tricks in the book to upstage Modi. But the election results proved it beyond doubt that Modi is miles ahead in building up a parallel network of cadres and outdo his rivals in making strategy.

The obvious implication is that with Modi at helm of the BJP, the Sangh parivar would be reduced to playing the second fiddle. Curiously enough, the parivar has no option but to accept Modi as an undisputed leader in the emerging scenario. Even RSS insiders admit that with this victory, the pressure from below (cadres) would be so intense that no one would be able to stop Modi’s emergence on the national stage.

Modi on national stage and fate of NDA

Will Modi’s emergence lead to dissolution of the NDA? This question is based on the assumption of a myth about the existence of NDA with diverse ideologies. As of now, barring JD(U), the existence of NDA is only a formality. There is little doubt that the two NDA partners — Akali Dal and Shiv Sena — are hardly averse to Modi being projected at the national level.

Though the biggest stumbling block comes from JD(U), Modi’s acceptance within BJP at the national level would leave Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar with less options. Given Modi’s proclivity to fashion his own politics, he would be only too keen to forge a new coalition of allies around his own persona. In all probability, he is unlikely to get deterred by the threat of dissolution of the NDA should he decide to take the centrestage.

The fact that the Congress has also fought this election on the development plank and local issues has also given Modi a handle to beat his detractors. Resounding approval across the spectrum belied claims that the story of growth in Gujarat was not beneficial to masses, particularly marginalised sections.

With polling percentage touching nearly 70 percent, it will now be extremely difficult to describe this victory from the prism of social division. The approval of his model came not only from urban areas but from rural and tribal areas as well.

Similarly, Modi was able to rope in a significant chunk of minorities, particularly Muslims and Christians, which is a testimony to the fact that the minorities are appreciative of his governance, even if they do not forgive him for the 2002 riots. Perhaps Modi’s governance is critical in allaying the minorities’ anxieties about him. A decade of riot-free regime, with a heavy dose of development and better administration, has combined to yield today’s results. And this will pave the way for his future journey which seems unstoppable.

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