Narendra Modi: Will He Be The Next PM?

Posted on February 26, 2013 in Politics

By Tarun Surya:

Elections in India are always a very active period in the political calendar. The upcoming national elections are, thus, no different and have political analysts working overtime as to pool all the data together and present a clear enough picture as to the chances of the various permutations and combinations possible at the Centre. There was once a time when 272 was a magic number the Congress could pull off in an instant, a point of time when the BJP was just another stone on the road to Rajpath. But with the entrance of collation politics, that stone began to grow steadily to become the boulder the public sees today.

2014 happens to be the year when the Congress has finally got around to placing Rahul Gandhi in a substantial position of power, hyping him up to be the unofficial candidate for the PM post. But to get there, he must face the most potent weapon the BJP has rising through its ranks: Narendra Modi.narendra modi

Fresh from winning a third term in Gujarat, Modi looked to be following a path of unchallenged state dominance that had never been seen in the post-Jyothi Basu era. While it seems unlikely that the record set by one of Bengal’s most iconic CPM cadres will ever be remotely challenged, the support Modi commands from the population in Gujarat despite his alleged involvement in the Godhra riots throws up many similarities to Basu’s rule. While some have said the rise of Modi has been due to the apparent lack of an alternative leader in Gujarat politics, it does nothing to dent the fact that large progress has been seen in the erstwhile languishing state, something that Modi’s supporters never fail to bring up in a debate. His most recent victory, however, has given us a glimpse of his evolution as a politician, playing to the masses and skilfully diverting attention away from the subtlety of his communal campaigns. For the first time, Modi was elected into the assembly without having to play the communal card, going to the extent of trivialising the Muslim representation in the state by not even bothering to reach out for their support. “Vibrant Gujarat” indeed…

But this third term holds more significance to the BJP than just the satisfaction of maintaining its position in an otherwise Congress dominated India. Modi’s success in Gujarat has solidified his image as the BJP’s new-age campaigner. Tech-savvy, educated and shrewd, Modi represents a new brand of politicians raring to take over the reins of the BJP and revamp its image. With the ability to communicate to ‘young India’, as the Congress has stressed on many times, the BJP now has a fighting chance to actually come to power at the Centre after a long hiatus, courtesy the scam-racked UPA-II shamble at present. But within this race to occupy the Parliament, the BJP’s internal competitions are ready to ignite. Modi in particular is a strong forerunner for the post of PM. In his path to 10 Janpath, however, lie many large impediments; foremost among them being Sushma Swaraj, LK Advani and Modi’s own baggage. As a politician with a hard-core Moditva (Modi’s own brand of the BJP’s agenda of Hindutva) image, it is difficult to imagine him having a significantly large appeal amongst the largely secular Indian population. His indifference towards Muslims in the microcosm of Gujarat only seeks to illustrate how he might perform in the larger context of India. Bias towards Gujarat remains a major worry in the mind of the Indian voter, supplemented by the fact that Modi has had no verifiable success on the rare occasions that he has stepped out of his state to campaign for the BJP. Above all, his indictments in the Godhra riot cases have not yet been resolved, striking another blow to his reputation and image as a rising BJP star. Also, Modi does not enjoy much support from his fellow members with the BJP as well as the RSS, its parent body.

Atal Bihari Vajpayee, the BJP’s most successful prime-ministerial candidate, remains an inspiration and a role model for all those within the BJP to aspire to. Analysis of Modi’s actions indicates that he aims to be the next such role model. But Modi lacks the acumen to compromise when the situation demands it and look at the bigger picture in terms of the good of the country over state, a quality that made Vajpayee indispensable to the BJP administration. Only time will tell if the country will really back Modi to be its flag bearer as the BJP seeks to live up to its own long coined slogan ‘India Shining’