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Wednesday, Oct 27, 2021
Outlook.com

Modi’s Micro Battles

There’s a problem with accepting a Modi victory as certain

Modi’s Micro Battles
AP
Modi’s Micro Battles
outlookindia.com
-0001-11-30T00:00:00+05:53

Even before the campaign process has reached its full momentum in the state of Gujarat, three generalisations dominate the marketplace of political ideas about its consequences: a) that a third-time victory for chief minister Narendra Modi in Gujarat is nearly certain; b) since this victory is a foregone conclusion, the time is ripe for a national role for Modi, possibly as the next PM; c) that this victory is likely to be a direct outcome of ‘good governance’, understood primarily as robust economic growth, delivered under Modi’s leadership.

I see this approach as problematic for two reasons: in terms of method, it seems that QED has been etched in even before one could see the proof of what one set out to examine. More importantly, however, there is a certain naivete in this formulation that leads us to a complacence in examining the very complicated and nuanced role of electoral competition currently being witnessed in this state. I engage myself with unravelling this second strand, as viewed in the terrain of practical politics, analysing the complex chain of statements, yatras, speeches, strategies and counter-strategies of the main contenders—the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party and the Congress, which is in opposition in Gujarat. I then examine the robustness of each of these three ‘generalisations’, and in conclusion argue that although it is advantage Modi, there is political competition to be witnessed before one could declare the match won.

For one, the Congress in the field does have a sense of local issues, an understanding of pockets of disadvantage, and also a macro-strategy of where to deploy its energies spatially. In associating themselves with the struggles against displacements caused by the Sabarmati riverfront development project or in the Vadilal Sarabhai Hospital area, the party has been...

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