The third consecutive victory of the BJP led by Narendra Modi in Gujarat marks a high watermark in the political landscape of India. For political observers inclined to time and again conjure up an anti-incumbency factor, it was an occasion to encounter its opposite, a pro-incumbency factor. The voters themselves have articulated what this factor amounts to.
The 2012 poll narrative in Gujarat has shown that this election was being fought on the plank of good governance, which manifested itself in various forms: increasing investment in small, medium and large industries, governance reaching people’s very doorsteps, long- and short-term policies for sustainable agriculture, international-class infrastructure, 24x7 supply of three-phase power and so on. This benefited everyone, without palliatives offered to any one section. The Congress, which had focused on the post-Godhra riots in the election of 2002 and on Modi the person in 2007, had to perforce accept in 2012 that good governance was the central issue. Emotive or divisive issues no longer appeal; on the contrary, they put off voters.
Involving myself as a BJP karyakarta during the election campaign was a memorable learning experience. The state BJP unit is well-organised to the last polling booth. The leadership is clear with its vision. Several teams worked, each in their own domain within the party. All teams worked in perfect sync. Modiji was surely a part of these teams. Whether it was in the selection of candidates or the place where a rally had to take place, the decision of the team was final. Modiji followed it as much as the others. Everyone had their views heard and no one ran roughshod over anyone else.
The communication media was utilised during the campaign; however, the campaign was not media-driven. Despite the technology, Modiji believed in directly connecting with the people. It is worth recalling here that his administration was guided by this principle in every way. So connecting with people was not a poll-time gimmick.
It won’t be wrong to state that Modiji’s inner strength, experience and willingness to learn gives him confidence to invite domain experts to present newer ideas. He works to translate ideas and technology into doables; this was more than apparent during the campaigns. It was his suggestion to try out 3-D holography for the campaign. It was tried and tested, and being convinced of the effectiveness, it was used extensively to reach out to more people.
My experience in attending one such presentation was very interesting. As part of the audience, I was aware that everyone was as enthralled by his 3-D presence as they would have been by his physical presence. They connected with him, answering every question, clapping when happy and were wonderstruck when his image sipped water from a glass. The assembled audience did not leave the venue well after the event was over, wondering aloud if Modiji was somewhere inside and if they could get to seeing him leave. Thinking out of the box, getting people involved and communicating directly with simple clarity—these were the sources of the strength of the BJP Gujarat 2012 campaign.
While the teams worked on, the motivational force behind was indeed Modiji. He is sharp and quick in taking arguments forward. He would raise questions for clarification and build on answers given. An immediate sense of professional satisfaction flows in when one’s thought gets included in the building of an edifice. The youngest and the oldest are given space and recognition. Efficiency and delivery are kept as dynamic as is possible and hence optimal performance is more often achieved. During the course of the meetings, mobiles were kept tucked in bags or in pockets; this applied to everyone. It was inspiring to see youth in small groups coming from all over India to the BJP office in Ahmedabad to work for Modi. They came from as far as Arunachal Pradesh, Kerala, Jammu & Kashmir, Bihar, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and so on. They were there at their own expense, having taken time off work or college.
While in every constituency the state unit meticulously carried out their door-to-door campaigns, the groups sat down late night to review their day’s work. Besides planning out for the next day’s work, listening in to Modiji’s speech of the day was an unstated agenda. They felt it helped them clear their thoughts and structure their arguments better.
The entire campaign was run on a positive note. We set the agenda that our government’s good work should be explained in all its detail to the people. The promises made in the 2007 BJP manifesto were largely fulfilled. The Congress’s obstructionist agenda had to be brought to the attention of the people. Blunt, straight questions were to be asked of the Congress, which we did. But instead of answering the questions raised, the Congress engaged in spreading false data and even playing up the minority card. The caste and religion cards could no longer draw the attention of the people of Gujarat who have seen in the last 10 years that they didn’t matter, in anyway.
If anything, they appreciated that Gujarat, which had always been communally sensitive, has seen a completely calm and peaceful decade. Youngsters can’t recall any curfew! Women were safe and affordable education was available for all, without discrimination. Sarpanches in minority-dominated areas felt that there was no difference in treatment; they received as much and more. Even though everyone knew this, as they claimed, no vote was given from their area to the BJP! BJP corporators and MLAs were accessible to all, said a young entrepreneur from the minority community; those from the Congress didn’t care. If his woes are redressed by the BJP, why not vote for them, he claimed!
There was immense media interest in this election. The extent of their hard work, going to far-flung areas, meeting with representatives of the various sections, returning to verify some data/claims, attending different rallies and keeping note of the next day’s agenda—as demanding as the work of a political karyakarta indeed! However, while the party worked in all areas and among all people, as much as the Modi-led government during its tenure, there were a few who were still to be convinced. Hopefully, the result may change their view.
The Gujarat BJP unit and Modi in particular have shown in Gujarat that India and its politics need to be looked at with a new mindset. The new politics should rise above the old construct—that there is always a section which needs to be appeased. But everyone needs education, jobs and healthcare. We also need a safe environment to live and lead their lives. All with self-respect kept intact! And while doing so, there cannot be an invoking of our identities to earn some brownie points! India needs to be frank about reshaping our national goals. The idea of India which the Congress touts as if a new thought is already enshrined in our Constitution—we just need to honour it in its letter and spirit. The Gujarat BJP has just followed it since 1995.
(The writer is the BJP’s national spokesperson.)
Apropos Nirmala Sitharaman’s Dimensional Appeal, the election was fought on caste and community basis, all talk of development/governance is hogwash. A perfect example is Sanand, where Modi even brought in the Tata Nano plant. They rejected all that, elected a Congress candidate, by over 4,000 votes.
Thank you to all those who have taken the trouble to read the article and share their thoughts. Out of the arguments made here, there are two that perhaps need answering. So here they go.
1. The first part of the article compares outcomes (relative percentages of population of the religions concerned) irrespective of the process that led to those outcomes - whether immigration, relatively faster population growth or conversions. This was for two reasons. One, to put the figure of 2.3 per cent in "numerical perspective", as the article itself explained. The second reason was that outcomes are ultimately what the crux of debate is about. The rest of the article in any case dealt with process - or conversions in this case, from both a contemporary and historical perspective.
2. Some commenters have tried to cast doubts on the reliability of Census 2001. Those who do this should bear in mind that Census 2001 was conducted by a BJP government. Considering the extreme importance that BJP gives to this issue, it would be reasonable to expect that IF it had perceived a problem with the methodology that was distorting the numbers, it would have fixed it. As the article mentioned, BJP or BJP-supported governments have been in power for 10 of the last 40 years, or about a quarter of the time, and the only reasonable conclusion one can arrive at is that any misreporting of numbers, real or perceived, would be marginal and hence, not of importance.
To all other arguments made, my answer is the following: Please read the article again, with particular focus on the quotations of Vivekananda and Monier Williams, and the history of the missionary efforts in Bengal and their outcome.
Nirmalaji,your insight is brilliant.Like a normal chief minister Modi should not have plotted development strategy to help his incumbency.Instead he should have dug a deep hole for himself to satisfy sickular eminences like you.Where were you when nationalised banks were looted for loan melas ? Probably,you were not born then.
The revelry in BJP camp is quite understandable.The Gujarat verdict has left many a tales for political analysts to interpret in their own perspective. The Congress party which tasted defeat, though by a low margin of four digits or so, may pick up holes for the depletion in the no.of winners in BJP camp. It may focus on the governance of a few ministerers in Modi's cabinet who lost their seats. It may also introspect as to how it lagged behind the manuevring of Modiji, who left no stones unturned,by firing all his cylinders through media coverage made by the pro-Modi analysts felicitated through corporates.The minorities in Gujarat may ponder over the religeous tolerance of Modi displayed through the selection of legislators, all happen to be Hindus, poignantly reminding them of Modi's having returned the muslim head gear given by ulamas in sadbavana. The turn of political events have empowered Modiji the fourth consecutive CM of Gujarat,to press play button till 2017.
Rohit Desai >> Sanand, where Modi did the highest development in Gujarat by bringing in Tata's Nano car plant, rejected development and Modi, and elected a congress candidate by more than 4,000 votes!!!
Yes that is the irony of electoral politics. Rae Bareli, a district in UP is having the same poverty, squalour, filth, illteracy and underdevelopment in last 50 years and that does not stop the voters there from voting for members of same family !!
Venkat >> One more thing is that all the 145 PM aspirants in BJP will be sweating out in the Delhi cold by now.
But one thing is the 145 PM aspirants in BJP do not belong to same family or same extended family.
In contrast we have the spectacle of no less than 8 to 10 CM aspirants in DMK all sharing the same qualification (being part of the extended family of the current DMK president and chief).
Now that is the difference that you refuse to acknowledge.
Rohit, you can have opinion. But when you say...
"I have tracked the election, and have read hundreds of reports, analyses, comments and opinions. Each and every constituency was analuzed for its constituent castes and communities, and the candidates selected accordingly, by both the parties..."
Show me the data for what you claim
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