Is it possible for Narendra Modi to win the battle and yet lose the war? While most opinion polls have predicted a ‘landslide’ victory for the BJP in the Gujarat election, commentators are equally unanimous that at the national level, he would be far less acceptable as a leader and the media campaign to project him as a prime-ministerial candidate may have already lost steam.
While in Gujarat it may not matter that one of his cabinet ministers is serving a jail sentence following conviction in a riot case, while another minister is out of jail on bail and yet contesting, at the national level it might matter a lot more. And while Modi’s decision not to field a single Muslim candidate in the three Assembly elections in 2002, 2007 and 2012 does not appear to shock voters in Gujarat, nationally it may well provoke frowns.
There does not appear a good enough reason to deny a ticket to 10 per cent of the population and deprive them of representation in the Assembly. Scheduled Castes in Gujarat constitute just eight per cent of the population but have 13 seats reserved for them. Had there been no reservation for them, they too may have fallen out of favour. The decision is particularly baffling because of the adroitly perpetuated myth that candidates do not matter and people would vote for him.
The case against Modi is damning enough. Not only has the Gujarat Assembly met for just around 300 days between 2002 and 2012, Modi’s Gujarat is one of the few states which has resisted appointing a Lokayukta and where the application of the Right To Information Act has been stifled. A foreign observer was bang on target while saying that outside Gujarat, Modi frightens many more people than he excites.
Modi’s loose tongue is also in sharp contrast to what people expect in a responsible leader. Modi’s too-clever-by-half allegations that Rs 1,800 crore were spent by the government on the treatment of Sonia Gandhi in the last three years, a figure which was so outrageous that the allegation was never repeated, losing its sting in less than 24 hours. But the irrepressible Mr Modi, who had sought to explain malnutrition among Gujarat’s children by saying that they were actually fashion conscious and wanted to be slim, had to take another swipe at Shashi Tharoor’s ‘ Rs 50-crore girlfriend’. A Prime Minister, who is in love with his own voice, is not quite the leader that this nation requires or even deserves.
The only Chief Minister to have travelled abroad in a chartered plane, Modi’s alacrity in embracing Narhari Amin, who was denied ticket by the Congress, may speak highly of his opportunism but also reflects a certain degree of desperation. Nor has he expressed any regret for Navjot Singh Sidhu’s tasteless attack on Keshubhai Patel, who was described as a ‘used bullet’ and as an ‘anti-national’.
Even more damning is BJP’s promise to construct five million houses (50 lakh houses) in the next five years—a tacit admission that at least five million people in the state are indeed homeless.
The pre-poll survey conducted by the CSDS in Gujarat this year, like all other surveys conducted last month, predicted an easy win for the BJP in the Assembly election. What was lost in the din, however, were some pretty interesting figures. For example, 42 per cent of the respondents in Gujarat felt the UPA government at the centre was ‘somewhat corrupt’. No surprises there of course. But what does come as a surprise is that a higher number of respondents, 43 per cent, declared the Gujarat government also as ‘somewhat corrupt’.
There is more. There is a question that the CSDS has apparently been asking people in Gujarat every election year since 2002. It asks people whether Narendra Modi’s speeches and campaign style were consistent with Gujarat’s culture. While only 29 and 27 per cent of the respondents said ‘No’ in 2002 and 2007, this year the percentage rose sharply to 43 per cent of the respondents. Assuming the survey has been recording the opinion of the same set of respondents in all the three years, the figure would suggest a sufficiently large number of Gujaratis find his campaign style disconcerting.
The CSDS cannot be accused of any bias because the survey also records that an increasing number of respondents felt that the prestige of Gujarat had enhanced during the tenure of Mr Modi as chief minister. The percentage has gone up from 47 in 2002 to 67 per cent this year.
But an increasing number of people also seem to believe that Modi cannot be trusted to speak the truth. While the figure was a modest 29 in 2007, it is now slightly more alarming at 38 per cent. It is improbable that all these respondents would be opposed to either Modi or the BJP. So, there does seem to be a trust-deficit creeping in out there.
Let us now look at the affidavit filed by the chief minister about his property. In a state, where there are 147 crorepatis contesting the election, Modi’s assets are modest indeed. But the sceptics might like to look into his declaration that he purchased a plot of land in Sector one of Gandhinagar, way back in the year 2001, for Rs 1,30,000 only. While there is presumably no bar on RSS pracharaks feathering a little nest, it is the current value of the property that engages attention. It is apparently valued now at over one crore Rupees in 2012. Almost one hundred per cent appreciation in just ten years. Mr Modi is either lucky or enterprising; or possibly both.
While everyone is predicting that Modi is going to win a ‘landslide victory’ when the votes are counted on December 20, why would he himself suggest that the Congress was getting ready to install Ahmed ‘Mian’ Patel as the next chief minister ? Surely Modi does not believe that the Congress has any chance in heaven of staging such an upset win? And while he certainly does not see any redeeming feature in the 125 year old political party, it is still unlikely that the national party in power at the centre would count the chickens before they are hatched. The only plausible conclusion, therefore, is the one arrived at by commentators, that Modi is trying to polarize the voters by flogging the ‘fear’ of a Muslim chief minister in the unlikely event of Congress winning the election. And if that is so, it must be described as a mean gimmick by a man who aspires to become the Prime Minister of India.
None of this, if pollsters and commentators are to be taken at face value, will make any difference. None of this will prevent Mr Modi from winning third time in a row. Delimitation of constituencies, which have made the size of the electorate in many constituencies smaller and thereby contests sharper and closer to call, has arguably made predictions more difficult.
But bravehearts rush in where angels fear to tread and most pollsters have given Modi a likely tally that ranges from 117 to 128 or more in a House of 182. Anything less than 110 will amount to a loss of face. But while the countdown begins for the result to be announced on Thursday, December 20, Mr Modi’s prime ministerial hopes appear to have receded significantly.
First they said Modi won't win because Patels would vote for Keshubhai and the RSS was against him. When it became amply clear he would win, they said anything less than his previous tally of 117 seats would mean defeat. When even that didn't change the perception that his victory would be a thumping one, they said Muslims wouldn't vote for him because of the 2002 riots taint. Now that even Muslims seem to have voted for the BJP even in riot-affected areas, they're claiming his victory is a victory for secularism. The psecularists are reduced to clutching at straws!!
Padre Cedric Prakash is obviously sad. One more Gujarat riot activist Mukul Sinha who was fighting legal battle, after 10 years of failure decided to fight the political battle against Modi but sadly lost his deposit. Lets accept, in a democracy there will always be perpetual whiners.
STATEMENT on THE GUJARAT VERDICT 2012
Prashant .A Centre for Human Rights, Justice and Peace
Post Box No. 4050, Navrangpura, Ahmedabad 380 009, Gujarat, India
Tel.: +91 (079) 66522333, 2745 5913 . Fax: +91 (079) 2748 9018
Mobile: 9824034536. e-mail : email@example.com . www.humanrightsindia.in
THE GUJARAT VERDICT 2012
For a third time in a row, Narendra Modi with his brand of politics, has won a resounding victory in the Gujarat State elections. Though there was a sizeable section of society which was hoping for a change, their expectations have been belied with the final results.
All are painfully aware that the ground reality of Gujarat is indeed a far cry from what is being advertised. But in spite of that, the people have voted to maintain the status quo, hoping perhaps the years ahead will bring them some positive benefits.
For those involved in the struggle for truth and justice in Gujarat – their relentless efforts will undoubtedly continue – and now perhaps with renewed vigour.
Fr. Cedric Prakash sj
20th December, 2012
'Anything less than 110 will amount to a loss of face."
The writer should have written "Anything less than 116 will amount to a loss of face". He could have then claimed loss of face. Right now, he can only claim loss of nose, loss of moustache or something like that.
"Anything less than 110 will amount to a loss of face. '
Anything above 110 will amount to of irrelevance of Secus .
And 120 for Modi will amount to exposure of Modi haters .
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