What would Narendra Modi do? Would Gujarat’s chief minister harness the fiscal deficit and manage India’s economy well at a time such as this? Would he puff up corporate confidence? Would he be able to handle combative coalition partners better than Manmohan Singh?
I cannot say. Modi can’t either. Because he has never run a coalition. Or come close to running one. Modi inherited the BJP’s two-thirds majority when he was made CM in 2001. Gujaratis had been seduced by Hindutva long before Modi. The Congress lost power in the state in the 1990s after the Babri Masjid was torn down, and has shown little sign of mounting a resurgence since. And so Modi has ruled a state whose population shares his party’s dislike of Muslims and love of big business. Demagoguery comes with a natural ease in such circumstances.
Modi has never had to build consensus as Manmohan Singh has had to; on laws, on policy, on administration. He has faced no pressure from his party over social spending for Bimaru states, no pressure from coalition partners to keep reversing reforms. But what if he were forced to? Let me speculate as someone who knows him and has worked for a Gujarati newspaper in Ahmedabad.
Gujaratis are natural negotiators because of the trader’s ability to set aside honour and find compromise in mutual interest. It is no coincidence that South Asia’s two greatest leaders came from Gujarati mercantile castes. Gandhi was a Bania and Jinnah a Shia from the Lohana caste of traders. Modi is a Ghanchi, from the caste of oil-pressers called ‘teli’. Ghanchis are seen by
Gujaratis not as traders, but as shopkeepers, neighbourhood grain and oil sellers. Unlike the trader, the shopkeep operates on fixed rates. He does not negotiate and has no need of compromise.
To negotiate, one must accept the limitation of one’s position. Whether that position is right, or even moral, is irrelevant. Manmohan Singh is a fine leader, and a good man, because he operates modestly within the confines of his limitations. He is able to swallow the humiliation that comes from the repeated ceding of his opening position. But since his government is dependent on allies, he persists, preferring tactical retreat to martyrdom.
Modi has done nothing to suggest that he can do this. Indeed, there is evidence to the contrary. If there is a man Narendra Modi respects, admires and defers to, it is Narendra Modi. Proof of this adorns the Gujarat government’s official portals, which are embarrassingly obsequious. Think of them as digital versions of Mayawati’s monuments to herself. Of government formation, the primary site (www.gujaratindia.com) says: “skilfully wading his way through the onslaught of a massive slander campaign... Mr Modi dealt a convincing and crushing defeat... the magnitude of which stunned friends and foes alike.”
Why inflict this on those visiting the portal? The fact is: Modi cannot help himself. When one is so supremely talented, so dazzlingly faceted, what is one to do? It is not difficult to see how a negotiation between obstinate allies and vainglorious Modi would go. As a man, he is “popular and progressive, a poet and author of three books, tech-savvy and a true democrat”, according to the same site. This is untrue. In reality, he trusts few of his colleagues and is easily threatened. He has never entirely entrusted the home ministry to another. The blame for all the incompetent policing and sloppy investigation during and after the 2002 riots can be laid directly at Modi’s feet, who is also Gujarat’s home minister. He has no enthusiasm for internal democracy, leave alone for sharing power. He still skips functions because the RSS has rehabilitated one of his enemies, Sanjay Joshi. He will be a poor manager of coalitions (expect lots of sulking), and none-too-good at finding compromise.
And regarding the matter of corporate confidence, it is clear that India Inc wants Manmohan to do more. It’s clear also that Big Money loves Modi. Could he repeat his magic in Delhi? Gujaratis laughingly refer to Modi as Draupadi, who must service five Pandavs (Essar, Adani, Tata, Ambani and Torrent). Gujarat has been most kind to these men by way of policy. Is it a coincidence that the ministry portfolios vital to Adani (ports and mines), Mukesh Ambani and Essar (petrochemicals), Tata (industry) and Anil Ambani and Torrent (energy) are all with Modi? It is easy to be industry-friendly when one has absolute power. Hand Modi a two-thirds Lok Sabha majority, control of all the ministries he wants, and he might be able to govern India firmly. That may not be the same thing as governing India well.
(Aakar Patel is director, Hill Road Media)
Apropos The Snake Oil Salesman (Mar 26), ten years removed from Godhra, the Muslims in Gujarat are a cowed lot. They just want to stay below the radar and get on with their lives. Ergo, Modi’s job becomes that much easier.
Sheila Kumar, on e-mail
With all the international attention on Modi, it’s time to balance the books, is it?
Who has demanded of Aakar Patel to compare Manmohan Singh with Modi in terms of Indian macroeconomics? What is the logic behind such a frivolous comparison?
Ajay Pant, Moradabad
So? What are you trying to say? That Manmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi are best suited to run the country? You would have an easier time trying to prove that the sun rises in the West.
D. Adalarasu, Coimbatore
“Malicious distortion?” This from someone who’s indulged a bit in it himself? Paraphrasing one of Patel’s arguments: if Hindus in Gujarat were enraged, it is because they were provoked. Who said it was a justification to kill anyone?
Kiran Bagchi, Mumbai
Patel has a preconceived point and premise that he wants to drive home. For this, he weaves a web of caste, Gujju psyche and the insider view of a Gujarati journalist. The attempt to draw a contrast between Manmohan Singh and Modi is a joke.
Kautilya, Washington DC
My my, by what yardstick do you say “Manmohan Singh is a fine leader”? Is Manmohan “governing India well”?
He’s comparing a BJP majority leader with the UPA primus’s coalition dharma. It’s apples and oranges. He’d have done better to compare the Modi government with the performances of the Congress majority governments in Gujarat (1960-1990).
P.B. Joshipura, Virginia, US
Narendra Modi has done no development in last 10 years. All the development has been taken place only because of 6 croroe of Gujaratis. Modi has done huge corruption and that is why he is so scared of Lokayukta. People of Gujarat are so fed up of Modi that they dont want to see him back in power. Modi knows that he is loosing his ground and that is why he is coming so harsh on his critics. Plus he is projecting himself as next PM to be at least a CM. The fact is, Modi is loosing this election too
Narendra Modi is a leader only and only for the industrialist not for a common man! If narendra modi becomes the CM third time, he will sale out entire Gujarat.....
>> Not obvious to fifth columnists who have very little respect for due process.
Not so! The conspiracy theory was blown to smithereens not only by Tehelka tapes, but by several groups and persons, Hindus, leftists and liberals, who visited Godhra in the immediate wake of the tragedy.
Only fifth columnist believe that ‘leftists’, ‘liberals’ and Tehelka opinion have more value than a court ruling. If these fifth columnists had their way, we would not need any courts, no facts, no evidence, no questioning, no cross-questioning – only the opinion of liberals to settle cases.
>>If your hero Modi was so concerned about preventing a retaliation, he should have
He should have, he could have, shouldn’t have …. its impossible to please jihadis.
>> Banerjee report says fire was caused by Kar Sevaks while cooking. So I will repeat the question – were burning rags thrown into the compartment or did Kar Sevaks land up immolating themselves?
>>It could be either.
If it could be one, then it could not be the other! Then it could also be the that jihadi mullas torched the compartment full of pilgrims which the court also agreed with!
>>I did and I would do it again to show what a malicious liar he is.
And I said it was an irrelevant whine of a stuck pig loser!
>>So why didn't you go to one, you moron!
Because I also wanted to learn how jihadis like you think!
>>Kautilya's post was in response to Irreverent's post, "
Your response was to Kautilya not to Irreverent. And Kautiliya spoke about media and seculars not the Muslim community.
>>The violence started erupting after we had these sickular bigots clapping in unison, saying "they had it coming".
Even Irreverent’s comment spoke about secular bigots and not Muslim community. Do you have any shame? After you have been repeatedly exposed, you go around making a total ass of yourself
>>The previous point makes it irrelevant. As far as this discussion is concerned, the word "Muslim" is written large on it.
As far as as the discussion “Muslim” it is written large to a despicable low life who wants make every discussion about the Muslim community. It is written large only to jihadi mullahs who make mockery of cold blooded murder of kafir pilgrims. It is written large only to immoral douche bags whose attitude and thinking will ensure that there can never be amity amongst communities in India.
It is better to have 2,000 Muslims killed in riots '
Nearly 60000 Muslims have been killed during various Secu Raj .But friends say they will discuss only Gujarat .Basically whole Muslim Samaj is taking out their feelings of frustrations and guilt of condoning those 60,000 deaths of Muslims on Gujaratis and Modi.
It is just blind Secu Swami Bhakati which seals their mouths , close their eyes and ears .Just remind them what about those unfortunate 60,000 and then you have it.
Aakar Patel is not different .He too is suffering from pangs of similar Hubris & loss of contact with reality.
but I do sometimes use unparliamentary language against hate merchants and liars like yourself.' Faruki
Sir don't write looking yourself in mirror as advised earlier .You end up perfectly describing yourself .
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