You can like him, hate him but you cannot afford to ignore him. Narendra Modi, the chief minister of Gujarat may very well beat the Indian electoral system for the third consecutive time. So it may come as no surprise that he will emerge as the undisputed winner even before the votes are counted in the Gujarat assembly elections.
Narendra Modi started his political life as a RSS member and slowly rose to the higher ranks in the BJP. LK Advani picked him as the face of the party in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh in 1998. By 2001, in less than three years, he would be leading the state as the chief minister. Such was his charisma. Although Modi faced heated criticism in 2002 during the Godhra train carnage and communal violence in Gujarat and subsequently resigned, he was elected back to power. Several investigations tried to link him to the carnage but none were successful. Despite his fanatic religious dogma, Modi has the charm that most politicians in India lack to lure both the rural and urban Indian alike.
Internationally, Modi was a pioneer in attracting foreign investment to Gujarat. He made visits to China, Singapore and Japan and claimed to be instrumental in the release of the Indian diamond traders jailed in China. Due to his linkages to the 2002 riots, the UK and US refused direct links with Narendra Modi. Although the UK withdrew its policy, the US still refuses to grant tourist/diplomatic visa to Modi. Narendra Modi wields tremendous power in Gujarat that even the Congress treads carefully while campaigning against him. Rahul Gandhi makes an appearance in Gujarat short enough to silence any reports of real apprehension but not long enough to directly contend with Modi. Every time women race from behind the drapes to take active part in politics, candidates run for cover. But not Narendra Modi. Neither Jagruti Pandya nor Shweta Bhatt can rock this man’s cradle hard enough to topple him.
To really understand Narendra Modi’s hold over his audience one only has to attend his rallies. His oratorical skills captivates the audience making the sway like snakes to the charmer and when he is finished there is only one word ringing in Modidom – MODI. He doesn’t preach, he doesn’t promise, he simply asks the questions. Will we leave Gujarat in the hands of strangers? Reminding them that he has been in power as their longest serving chief minister. He makes a mockery of Sonia ben and Rahul Baba, India’s first family in politics and gets away with it.
Narendra Modi is also extremely tech savvy. He conquers the youth and elite population by tweeting from his @narendramodi account. His website http://www.narendramodi.in is frequently updated and he might be the only politician to actively congregate using Google hangouts. Modi’s Sabarmati waterfront project won the hearts of many and Ahmedabad’s thriving skyline stands testimony to his keen business acumen. By bringing manufacturing hubs like the Nano plant, he delivered a home run. Although rural Gujarat is infected by similar woes that the rest of the country is engulfed in, Modi has learnt to play right into the hearts of Gujarat’s nobility. Urban Gujarat chants the Modi mantra vigorously and rural Gujarat grudgingly accepts their fate for a Modi rule.
Modi might not be the torch bearer for Indian politics. In a country where most politicians are con men and there is no real choice in candidature, any progress that a politician promises is a good sign. Indian politics is plagued by hooligans trying to augment just their bank balances, the country be damned. So while Narendra modi is not the perfect choice, he might be Gujarat’s only choice for a future. While most politicians seek shade under the party umbrella, Modi has shunned both party and politics and reached directly to the people. He understands that this is what counts in the end. Even as the boat rocks during this election, there is no doubt that Narendra Modi will dock safely.
But will his sail soar high enough to reach the chambers of Delhi? Are we ready for him to lead the nation? India, is Modi really the best you have? I sincerely hope not.
(This article is my first foray into politics and was published here in www.behindindia.com. By this time, Modi had a hat trick victory in Gujarat and reinstated in his throne.)