Narendra Modi and the Indian Spring

There will be twenty, thirty or forty small parties, local and provincial parties, caste parties and communal parties, they-didn’t-give-me-ticket parties, winning an occasional seat here and there in Indian Election 2014. Taken together, they will be a substantial lot. Taken separately, they can be bought for a ministerial position or for money. You don’t have to be a Stephen Hawking to put your figures and probabilities together and conclude that Bharatiya Janta Party might be right in putting Narendra Modi up front as their Prime Ministerial candidate.

Think of the possibilities. Modi has been cleared – well, sort of cleared for want of sufficient proof – just in time and an Ahmadabad magistrate has thrown out Zakia Jafri’s plea for justice. Zakia’s husband was, along with some sixty-eight others, burnt to death in cold blood. Modi and some 58 Government officials now stand cleared of administrative complicity in the crime of their heinous murder, not forgetting another two or three thousand murdered by axes, spears and firebombs. Twelve years later, Modi has now written a blog expressing how deeply he felt pained at the riots that shook the state of Gujarat in 2002 under his Chief Ministership. The world by now should have forgotten how, before launching his Rath Yatra and as a prelude to the state elections after the riot, Modi had said:

I told them that I got water from Narmada in the month of Shravan. If they had it their way, they would have got it in Ramzan.…What should we do? Run relief camps for them? Do we want to open baby- producing centres? We are five and we will have 25 offspring. Gujarat has not been able to control its growing population and poor people have not been able to get money.”

The implied meaning then was : Muslims are baby production centres; so I will not give them water for Ramzan, nor run relief camps for them; but I will get water from Narmada river for Hindu’s holy month of Shravan. A dozen years later, he expects some 13% of Indian voters to be sympathetic towards Modi’. Modi’s party has a handful of Muslims who are truly, and quite justifiably, frightened of the other sect whose counterparts elsewhere in the world have been bombing their own sects. So what the Sunnis in Pakistan Iraq and Syria do to their fellow believers might to some extent help Modi..

Industrialists like Ratan Tata and Mukesh Ambani have made appropriate noises about the suitability of Narendra Modi as the Prime Minister of India. Why, Narayana Murthy of Infosys, with no visible axe to grind in Gujarat , says that credit should be given to the Gujarat Model of Development.Gujarat riots should not be an issue, he says. Modi should be allowed to show contrition.

Note that Narayana Murthy does not absolve Modi of guilt. He must be allowed to show contrition – remorse for supervising, abetting, or at least overlooking mass murders of his state subjects? Remember that no SIT, no amicus Curiae has completely absolved Modi of instructing his senior police officers not to interfere when Hindus vented their anger on Muslims. It’s just that there is insufficient evidence to believe Sanjiv Bhatt, an IPS officer, supported by the IPS Association of Gujarat, whose allegation went against his senior police officers who denied that Modi issued such an instruction. Naturally, no other senior police officer present would admit that such an order was given and was carried out. If they did, they would become culpable.

Law cannot go beyond evidence; yet people know what the truth was. That everyone knew the truth was established when Modi won the elections by a massive majority the same way as Rajiv Gandhi won with a record majority post his notoriously casual statement: “When a big tree falls, the earth shakes”.

Narayana Murthy’s claim on Gujarat model may be right; but Gujarat growth model is not of Modi’s making. Nearly all the great industries of Gujarat – based on its immense resources and historically well-known industriousness of its people were established and thriving before Modi came on the scene. Since 1991 when the Narasimha Rao-Manmohan Singh combination brought about economic liberalization, Gujarat had shown a consistently average 14% growth between 1991 and 2001. Topping in Dairy, ship breaking, polyester and synthetic mills, thermal power stations, vegetable oils, chemicals, Gujarat stood at the top of economic reckoning till 2001. Modi has not been responsible for the building of a brand new capital city, nor for the growth of Surat diamond and textile industries. Since Modi became the Chief Minister, Gujarat has progressively descended below even Nitish Kumar’s Bihar in growth rate, and has a relatively poor record in poverty alleviation. The industrial base of his state was not built by Narendra Modi.  It is another matter that  for all we know, he might benefit from it.

There is one quality about Modi that Ambani and Tata would appreciate – he is generous in land allotment to large industries. How he scored over Mamata Banerjee whose populist euphoria drove Nano car from West Bengal along with thousands of direct and indirect jobs and Modi grabbed at the opportunity is legendary. The talk of growth – smaller than in the previous decade – got many to come and attend Modi’s sermons on economic growth. As for the blank cheque given to Modi by Ambani and others, industrialists are bound to bet on winning horses. They have to look ahead and butter up the right slices. Businessmne bet on the winning horses. Modi has been jockeying a winning horse for the past decade and more. When it looks like Modi might get elected after all, and since Modi has proved himself a man capable of grabbing land and allotting it indiscriminately – he is bound to find backing among builders, corporate houses, even multinational corporations. If you bother to look up the list of new ventures in the planning, developing and functioning stages during the last two years, you would actually find Gujarat lagging behind the states of Maharashtra, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh, and not much ahead of Mamata Banerjee’s West Bengal.

Narendra Modi is basically a RSS man. He was elevated to his current status by the clout and shove of RSS. Modi’s party has repeatedly stated that a temple will be built where the RSS goons had demolished a mosque. What if there is an attempt at construction and another blood bath? Should Modi be allowed a second contrition on account of an imaginary growth model? Is the imaginary Gujarat Model is more important than human lives?. May be Modi will not repeat the mistake since he would want a second and a third term. But he also knows that if he doesn’t do something about building a temple where Sitaji allegedly once had her kitchen, he could be dislodged just as fast as he was elevated.

In the heart of hearts, Modi may not have many friends. Modi is an usurper who came from behind to beat to the post the perennial loser in LK Advani and superb orator Arun Jaitely and the one-and-only Sushma Swaraj, not forgetting Party President Rajnath Singh who is left to sing paeans of the usurper. Modi has an advantage that the Gandhis had enjoyed for generations: Leaders are willing to turn chamchas if that would get them at least a chair, if not the chair. We have noticed how the enthusiasm for Modi has been exponentially growing in the party over the past couple of months. How many of them are dreaming of Defence, Railways or Communication portfolio?

Modi can also trust political enemies like Mani Shankar Iyer to give his chances a terrific boost. By declaring to a dozen media microphones in the venue of an AICC meeting that

“I promise you in 21st Century Narendra Modi will never become the Prime Minister of the country. But if he wants to distribute tea here, we will find a place for him”

With that one master stroke, Loud-mouth Mani ensured that every tea seller, corner tea stall keeper, canteen Contractor, why, every vendor of tea, coffee or pan will vote for Modi. When all of them are put together, they will be a sizeable number . As you would expect, Modi took full advantage of that comment and never failed to remind his audience across the length and breadth of the Country that he was a chaiwala like them. While Iyer’s party cringe and stutter at the mention of his forecast, Modi and his party have gone to town repeating it to great advantage. Modi does not mention Iyer, who is an insignificant figure, but makes it as if it was Rahul Gandhi who said it. “He is Harvard,” he says, “I am hard worker”. It’s another matter that both Rahul and Iyer passed out from Cambridge and not Harvard, but the words rhyme, which generates mirth and guffaw among his audience.

Now consider the imperative possibility of horse-trading in New Delhi after the elections. Jayalalitha calculates that even if her party gets half of the 39 constituencies in her home state of Tamil Nadu, she stands a good chance of becoming the Prime Minister of the Country that has 543 constituencies. How’s that? If neither of the two major national parties win a majority, or even a number close to the majority (that being the best possibility), she could hope to muscle into the seat the same way as Choudhary Charan Singh once became Prime Minster. With Mulayam Singh and his son at the trough of the popularity curve, Mayawati entertains the same ambition. If they cannot get the chair they can be expected to do the next best thing – be the king maker. They can support Modi and hope to get the next closest and most profitable chair. . On the other hand, Jayalalitha’s sworn foe Karunanidhi has not forgotten how the Congress Government did not bat an eyelid when his protégé Raja and daughter Kanakmozhi were thrown into – imagine – Tihar Jail. Having conveniently forgotten all his bitter comments against Modi after the 2002 riots, Karundanidhi has openly proclaimed Modi his good friend. Karunanidhi himself might not be a candidate for prime ministership, but if someone would suggest the name of Stalin (not Joseph Stalin, but Muthuvel Stalin, his son), Karunanidhi would be keen. Others In the fray are Mulayam Singh Yadav, Mamata Banerjee, Ram Vilas Paswan, and never-to be-forgotten Lalu Prasad Yadav who once told the media that he would become Prime Minister when his son would be ready to take over the Chief Minister’s chair in Bihar. In a parliament where nearly a third of the members had been proclaimed criminals, someone coming out of the jail and sitting on the PM’s chair would raise few eyebrows. A wag might say that the only difference between Lalu and Modi is that the latter managed to extricate himself,

The quietly efficient but coincidentally obedient Manmohan Singh has made enemies all around by wanting to do good things – even doing some of them like passing the RTI Act, and trying to introduce women’s representation bill, Lokpal bill, and generally permitting action to be taken against corrupt bureaucrats, even his ministers and supporters. One would think that Obama is his only remaining friend, but that friend is of not much use. Many in the Congress Party might still hope that Rahul Gandhi’s surname would help him get the chair, but the sincere and often shocking rectitude of the young man does not appear to have made an impact on the voting public. India respects old age, and Rahul Gandhi is not old enough.

Indians give great credence to American intelligence. Some time towards the end of last year White House got the report that Modi could be the next Prime Minister of India and it wouldn’t do to have a Prime Minister who can’t come to the United States for reason that he can’t have a US Visa. Why, Knowing these right wing Indians, the spies probably pointed out – they might even refuse a visa to Obama – even worse, the next Lady President Hillary. So the Ambassador to India was sent to meet Modi to try and pacify him and massage his ego. Once America decides, the rest of the Western world complies. That ensures Modi a safe passage not only to the PMship, but also to the United Nations and a ride to the White House.

Indeed, Modi might win and become the Prime Minister of India in 2014. Not because he blogged about his sadness at the Godhra riots, but because of the riots. In 1940, Hitler was all of Germany. In 1975, just before declaring emergency, Indira was India and Hussein was depicting her as a Hindu goddess (to Hussein’s ultimate peril). In 1984, the man who compared the killing of 3000 people with the shaking of earth when a big tree fell, and who passed an Act that deprived Shah Bano and thousands of deserted Muslim wives like her and their children the sole means of living, won the ensuing election with a record majority. So did all those who metaphorically shook the earth in the first week of November 1984 win. In 2002, Saddam Hussein and Hosni Mubarak of Egypt got a referendum of 100% to continue as the presidents of their respective countries. History laughs at its own cruel jokes.

Modi might win. Those who engineer his victory would sooner or later expect their pound of flesh – like a temple, for instance. Indian Spring might be round the corner.

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1 thought on “Narendra Modi and the Indian Spring”

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