“The idea of Modi”* : The importance of the natural number one - Part 2
Various analytical reports, both by domestic and international agencies, a few chief ministers and foreign dignitaries alike have directly or indirectly heaped praises on the Gujarat model considering it worthy of emulation. While Gujaratis have always been an enterprising and innovative lot, Gujarat wasn’t quite looked at with the awe and admiration of today. The medium of internet has certainly been a significant factor in popularizing the Gujarat story. Yet, the man at the helm, Narendra Modi, has utilized that medium in a far more impressive manner than even the Central Government.
Gone are the days when actions had a longer tongue than words. Modi has combined the ideal mixture of solid visible performance with a craftily designed public relations exercise highlighting that performance. While Modi’s personal website and the Gujarat Government portal provide updates about developments in Gujarat on a daily basis, it is useful to summarize his overall impact to substantiate the “idea of Modi”.
Firstly, the sheer dynamism generated by this public relations exercise heralded by Modi has inspired contribution from several quarters – eminent as well as the lesser known. Vishwanathan Anand, Mr. Amitabh Bachchan and Mr. Narayan Murthy are few examples of eminent people who have voluntarily provided their skills and services to Gujarat on Modi’s invitation. What attracts them to Gujarat is the promise generated by the land and its leader who recognizes the value of their contribution.
Additionally, Modi has also been consistently vocal about critical things affecting our country. Contrast this with the approach of our current Prime Minister whose only real attempt at regular updates – the PMOIndia Twitter handle – fails to address the most pressing issues. Contrast that also with the chairperson of the Indian National Congress and her son – much touted to be India’s next leader – are not heard when critical issues face the nation. While Dr. Singh is, indeed, the toast of global leaders at ‘G summits’, and may also achieve path-breaking progress in our relations with Pakistan, a Prime Minister’s first mandate is to govern the nation. And he has been found seriously wanting.
Out of the current crop of politicians, Modi is one of the few promising leaders having a relatively clear vision in dealing with hostile neighbors or patronizing friends. Not shying away from enabling Gujarat to learn many things from China and the US, or facilitating Indo-Pak trade ties, Modi exudes more promise than the rest to keep Chinese and Pakistani aggression and American patronizing at a healthy check.
Away from the glitz of the metros, Mr. Modi has also consistently empowered sarpanchs and enhanced Gujarat’s rural development while Mani Shankar Aiyer keeps lamenting about how his government hasn’t listened to his appeal to adopt Gandhiji’s vision to empower panchayats. Urban migration comes with various issues, including the heavy burden on the metropolitan city’s resources. Modi’s Gujarat provides some answers.
His scathing criticism of Congress politics and governance may seem unpalatable and crude to many. Yet, many in those ‘many’ find music in phrases such as “maut ka saudagar” and “mass murderer” when uttered by The Acceptables in the ‘secular’ fold. What really is at attack when a Sheila Dikshit insinuates how our Muslim brothers will welcome Modi with “stones” is not his so-called low caste, but something else. With his indomitable dignified silence of late and his principled refusal to throw back personal barbs, Modi has nurtured a creed of his own; that of comprehensive vikaas.
This “idea of Modi” – that of a workaholic, a determined and focused leader and an inspirational figurehead – is here to stay. To borrow Tridip Suhrud’s phrase (though differing with his conclusion), the future belongs to the Modi model of governance. May be, to some, his overbearing personality engulfs the glory of the state thereby rendering it an afterthought, ironically, in a discussion primarily on Gujarat. But that same cult – the mass base – has the potential of mobilizing and inspiring his party and his India – both having massive amounts of untapped potential.
Lastly, the oft-quoted deterrent to a larger role for Modi – the ‘unacceptability’ among coalition allies – seems a largely misguided concept primarily clouded due to the state of UPA post-2004. Firstly, as Mr. Shashi Shekhar points out, before the nation’s leader is chosen, each party has to go through the churns of the electoral process on its own strength. Whether the BJP adopts the Gadkari model of going without a prime ministerial candidate or the model where the attractiveness of a face is the predominating factor is a calculation the BJP has to make. But that process, which includes the critical importance of mobilizing the grass-root worker in each constituency, precedes the irresistible tendency to jump the gun in beginning to envision the occupant of 7 Race Course Road.
Secondly, the inevitability of coalition should not result in a situation where pressure tactics necessitate the governance of the nation to be the hands of an ‘acceptable’ candidate; nowadays, shorthand for malleable. That would be a pity. The BJP must focus on a leader who, to take the help of mathematics, closely represents the natural number 1 than a highest common factor (HCF). The natural number 1 can stand alone meriting its own existence. No number can either expand when multiplied, or reduce when divided, by 1. An HCF, on the other hand, changes itself every time the numbers at play change. And, unless the numbers at play are favorable – which is hardly the case today – the HCF keeps reducing in value.
In both these processes, the “idea of Modi” is a reality which neither the BJP nor India can blind itself to. As of today, Modi has positioned himself as the most capable leader in the BJP to mobilize and inspire BJP cadres to revamp the grass-root effort in the lead up to 2014. While this does not automatically imply that Modi is the only eligible candidate to occupy the highest executive pedestal, the Modi way cannot be neglected. Neither by the BJP, nor the New Delhi gentry, nor any other politician. Slowly, but surely, a country craving for strong, decisive and active leadership is bracing itself to that idea.
*The phrase 'the idea of Modi' was coined by Mr. Pratap Bhanu Mehta after Modi's thumping victory in 2007 Gujarat elections. Modi’s polarization has been explored in Part 1.
This is last post in the two part series. You can follow the author @KartikeyaTanna