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Narendra Modi And The Politics Of Face

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By Nihal Parashar:

Speculations over Narendra Modi fighting 2014 Lok Sabha elections from Lucknow seat hardly comes as a surprise. Amit Shah’s another promotion in BJP party rank gives reason to believe that there is no confusion regarding NaMo’s power within BJP. We all know that this is a desperate attempt to bring BJP back into power by polarizing the votes in nation’s most politically active state- Uttar Pradesh. At the same time, Varun Gandhi has been given charge of BJP in West Bengal for 2014 elections- certainly trying to polarize votes in other parts of the nation as well.

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My friend, who is a Political Science student but takes no interest in Politics, asked me, “Why will he- NaMo- fight from Lucknow? He is too popular in Gujarat?” I reminded him that Lucknow was Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s seat for a very long time. And this is a time in NaMo’s political career when he can win Lok Sabha seat from anywhere in India- well almost. Fighting election from Lucknow will give a clear message that the present Gujarat CM will be projected as BJP’s candidate for the post of PM. This will also ensure that he gets the share of love and respect the nation has for Atal Bihari.

I am sure that towards the end of 2013, we will hear many more extremely exciting news. Many of them will be unimaginable. Now that Congress has almost lost its credibility, BJP is working to leave no stone unturned to turn 2014 general elections in its favor. I firmly believe that Communalism is on an all time rise in India. Secular forces have failed miserably. 2014 elections will determine the fate of not only NaMo but of India for the coming two decades at least. NaMo is a seasoned politician and has extensive relevant experience of leading and saving a government in Gujarat. If he becomes the next PM, then he will be there for a good time. The history is witness to the fact that fascists do not leave the seat of power too early!

Consequences of NaMo’s shift to U.P Politcs

NaMo’s shift to Lucknow, if it holds any ground, will have severe consequences. It will polarize upper caste Hindu vote in Uttar Pradesh at a time when Samajvadi Party and Bahujan Samajvadi Party have taken the major vote share. BJP will have a chance of once again coming to prominence after a gap of almost a decade. BJP has been able to be in power four times in U.P- none of them resulting in a full term. The last BJP CM of Uttar Pradesh was Rajnath Singh from October 2000 to March 2002. That was the period when regional parties, SP and BSP, were working hard in the rural U.P in order to change the power dynamics of Uttar Pradesh. Since then, not only BJP, but also Congress has not been able to come to power, they have a decent vote share though. NaMo can change this decent share of vote into many Lok Sabha seats and later can present BJP as the new alternative in Uttar Pradesh. Amit Shah, a local Gujarati politician but a close aide to NaMo, has seen a change in stature from being local to going national. Being a hardcore Hindutva face, he will make sure to drive the polarization of votes. There is a good chance that Varun Gandhi will also see a promotion in role towards the end of the year. He has recently been promoted to the post of General Secretary of BJP. Being in charge of West Bengal, which still has a significant Left politics, will test his caliber.

Given the Congress’ poor performance not only politically but also economically, there is no reason to believe they can come back in power. At the same time, the rise in Communalism in the country gives a good reason to believe that BJP can come to power. Regional parties may form a third front near the election phase, but as history says, can support any party which has more chances of forming the new government.

Rise of Communalism will determine the future

There is no blinking to the fact that Communalism of the present era is of different nature. The fascists today have no intention of demolishing any mosque (well it is not on manifesto of any party at least!). This Communalism will not have direct effect, but will have structural and cultural change which may lead to direct violence in near future as well. The 2014 elections will be marred by many first time voters- many of them who are on social media platforms, a very small proportion although. This small ‘proportion’ participates actively in the ‘Clean India Drive’ on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Similarly, there is a rise in Muslim fascism and also in Sikh fascism. All of these require elaborate discussion and cannot be comprehended in a single article.

This ‘communal’ behavior will lead to a more sectarian politics in future, ultimately leading to more ghettoization of people from different faiths- cultural ghettoization being the scariest of them all! This will have severe consequences.

No, I am not trying to portray a dreadful and ugly picture of future, but this can be one of the many possible futures our part of the world will witness.

Counter not only Communal faces but also Communalism

It is important to move beyond the politics of personality. A personality may impress the young mind but it is important to understand the consequences of giving your vote to that personality. I remember the consequences of giving my vote to a very impressive guy in College elections when I was a student at Dyal Singh College, Delhi University. But who can deny that our political scenario is face driven. BJP is trying to portray NaMo and Varun Gandhi as the ‘young face of BJP’, and there shall be no doubt that they both have huge fan following among the youth of the nation. This post may invite comments from the same youth I am writing about at this moment. In fact you can be that potential youth I am talking about!

A face resonates what the ideology believes in. It is important to address the problems created by the ideology at the earliest. There is small population of people who believe in the idea of secular nation (who are called ‘Sickular’ by my dear Hindutva friends) and are working hard to fight not only Hindu fundamentalism but also Islamic fundamentalism. The book of fascism can be wrapped in any color but it will have, more or less, same content because it is not supposed to appeal to logic but to emotions.

Way ahead

This may look like a pessimistic article which speculates a bleak future. But I feel it is important to realize the problems ahead to have a better journey. It is important that all the likeminded secular or ‘sickular’ people come forward to counter not only a face but to counter an ideology- an ideology which promotes hate for each others.

You must be to comment.
  1. Subhrapratim Das

    Well my dear ‘sickular’ friend, first of all I appreciate the way you have put up this piece of article with such meticulous facts which as many of us right wing people know is just about half truths. Well to give you a thorough check first of all l would like to tell you I have been in Gujarat and many of my Muslim friends stay in Gujarat which let me tell you first is as you surely night know us in a pretty hunky dory state right now!!!! They have told me themselves including their family that the so called riot which hit the state during NaMo’s rule indeed was a blot but it never changed the way they lived in the state. As of now among their community they say they are very happy to be there. The condition and opportunities they receive is at par excellent than other Muslims of other states.
    Secondly my dear friend check and study every single facts regarding the godhra kaand before you go and label NaMo as communal. Mr.understand this very clearly under congress and UPA’s rule the number of riots and communal harmony has taken a toss, under each and every term the latest being the riot that happened in Mumbai last year…….
    I know very well what NaMo being a PM can get to our country and honestly the way the jungle laws are being followed almost in every single states specially in congress driven states of UP and Delhi for obvious reasons I think a little autocratic rule will only help discipline the people.
    And buddy given the fact you are already saying that this post of yours will invite “such” people,well that is already showing your “confidence” in your article.
    Beside go and check facts of both side of mirror. NaMo might not be the best choice but if there would have been we will choose them……never know might even be you. You already show good signs of diplomacy….you are already one step ahead in political stardom. CHEERS!!!!

  2. Sourabh Choudhary

    I will talk about myself. I live in Karnataka, a state ruled by BJP till May this year. I was fed up of BJP govt here. Modi came here to during election to promote BJP, but I didn’t vote for BJP. And with me majority of Karnataka voted out BJP. This was to remind you that people are not communal or secular. They are fed up of these two words. What they want from govt is Roti-Kapda-Makaan-Education-Employment. The govt who fails in delivering, will have to go. Secularism-Communalism have always been darling terms to non-performers, be it politicians or Media. It is never related to actual Aam Aadmi on streets. and yes when I say Media, I feel really sad and angry on their state in this country today. Journalism has moved out and Media Houses have come in. There are honest people but they do not fit in this new avatar of Media, so they are shown the exit door, or they are busy hosting cooking and travel shows like Mr Vinod Dua. And I am sorry to say, but these Media house are way ahead from politicians in exploiting secularism-communalism drama. They know and exploit the art of twisting RIOTS to seko their own ROTIS.
    Now coming to your fear about Modi, When I will vote in 2014. I will vote for the party he belongs to. Yes, I have rejected him here in Karnataka, but I’ll vote for him in Lok Sabha. And I would like to bring it to your knowledge, the same trend is shown in all surveys in all states in India. Do you really want to say that, when it comes to state politics people become secular, and when it comes to center politics people will become communal this time, and last time in 2009 they were secular?? I don’t know, may be only I am feeling it tough to digest, but it is, at least for me. The fact is while voting, this secularism-communalism is not there in the minds of majority of voters(Majority for me is 90% at least). We vote on performance, hope and anger. Secularism-Communalism, Muslim belt, Brahmin belt, Yadav Belt, Vokaliga-Lingayat belt, these are subject of interest only for politicians and Media. For me what maters is Roti-Kapda-Makaan-Education-Employment and that too I do not want it for free. Take money from us, but use it for us. That’s what I expect from a govt. That’s what Modi is delivering in Gujarat. Modi has won 3 times, without promising free home, or free loan. Why?? Because he has no freebies to offer, What he has to offer is just another 5 years of Modi. That’s what you can see, only if you go and visit Gujarat or talk to someone who really stays there. Since Media became 24X7 I stopped believing in news, so I personally visited Gujarat last year, off-course not planned, but it was on my way to my natives. I had to extend my stay in Gujarat, because I was so fed up of the performance of same BJP govt in Karnataka and I was totally surprised by the work they have done there. On grounds, in India, this is not the parties who have worked for people, but a face among them who have lead them to do wonders, irrespective of parties. Be it MK Gandhi before 1947, Sardar Patel from Congress, Lal Bahadur Shastri from Congress, Atal Bihari Vajpaye from BJP, Sachin Tendulkar from Cricket, Amitabh Bachchan from Bollywood or Narendra Modi from Development Politics. So, yes worshiping and following a face is not good, but only in theories taught in the education system developed and followed by western countries to suite their needs. And that is the problem with learned class today. We Indians are secular by birth, we do not study secularism, we follow secularism on personal level. So, there is no space for Secularism-Communalism issue in politics where we know that, it has been used only to cover their lack of performance.

  3. sg02

    @S.Das: “I have been in Gujarat and many of my Muslim friends stay in Gujarat which let me tell you first is as you surely night know us in a pretty hunky dory state right now!!!! They have told me themselves including their family that the so called riot which hit the state during NaMo’s rule indeed was a blot but it never changed the way they lived in the state. As of now among their community they say they are very happy to be there. The condition and opportunities they receive is at par excellent than other Muslims of other states.” i live in Lucknow (UP), the Muslims are in a pathetic state here, inspite of vote bank politics being played here for decades.. right. how come, people who talk of 2002 riot never talk of Godhra train kand and Bengal and Ayodhya massacre?
    @S.Choudhary: I have read around 20-25 articles on this forum in the past three days.. and comment that has come from you.. is one of the the best contents I’ve read so far.. couldn’t agree any more!

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

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