Gujarat denies Modi a landslide

By Amaresh Misra

Being in the Congress and that too part of its Left-Wing-nothing would have pleasured me more than ripping my party apart for its conduct in the Gujarat elections and the victory of Narendra Modi. For, this time around, Modi really was on a weak wicket. Even if you discount the Keshubhai factor and the restlessness in BJP-RSS cadres, people - not just Muslims - of Gujarat were angry; they genuinely wanted change.    

Several factors - including an abnormal communalization of Gujarati society and polity and Modi’s personal, dictatorial style of functioning through subtle or soft terror — that alienated even the lower bureaucracy and several high ranking Police officials — contributed to the visible, pre-poll rage in Gujarat. Confused signals emanating from his Sadbhavana Mission also played a role. But economic alienation of the poor was the main factor.

A lot has been made out about the roads of Gujarat, the 24 hour electricity supply, the availability of water and so on and so forth. Now basics of the science of economics will tell you that good roads, power and water are essential to build an infrastructure and provide a minimum living standard to a civil society. However, this is not growth. To ensure productivity, three major sectors of economy – manufacturing, services and agriculture - have to grow. What is the use of electricity if the agricultural sector - which provides employment to 60% of Gujarat’s population - stagnates at 2% - lower than Bihar - annually; roads are vital to manufacture - but what good will they do if manufacturing is limited to automobiles, Gujarat’s once famed cotton textile industry is dying, and new investments - including a measly $7 billion FDI - are concentrated in SEZs with no benefits like job creation for locals? The service sector has traditionally been weak in Gujarat. Its marginal growth helped mainly people in the urban areas.

Modi could not generate a co-operative movement in Gujarat - the land of the white revolution - that might have helped the small farmer of the state. His record in introducing welfare and distributive policies for the poor and the Adivasis remains dismal. He failed in raising the minimum price for the farmer or building new irrigation networks. The channelizing of the Narmada affects only 5-10 percent of Gujarat’s vast rural population.

Basically, Modi mirrored the way the 1999-2004 NDA government went about ensuring “growth” and prosperity to crony capitalists while neglecting welfare measures for the aam aadmi. “Vibrant Gujarat” was a copy of the NDA’s 2004 “Shining India” campaign. Like the Congress did in the 2004 general elections, a politically able opposition could have snatched a similar victory in Gujarat 2012.

However, strangely enough, censuring the Gujarat Congress and getting into a trite, contextual-explanatory debate from a socio-political perspective about Modi’s win seems irrelevant - you come to realize that this victory is no triumph - it is the last roar of an ageing Lion who did not get the resounding mandate of 140-plus seats he asked for from the Gujarati electorate (the BJP fell below 117 - its 2007  tally - to 115 in the 2012 elections).  

In fact, even my afore-mentioned line sounds boring and hyperbolic - the reason seems to lie in the sense of fatigue that has overcome both Modi’s detractors and admirers. Probably, had Modi won 140-150 seats, attacking him might have sounded exciting.    

Let me explain. In the sporting-tennis world what would appear more electrifying:  Martina Navratilova winning another of her many Wimbledon titles or Maria Sharapova coming up suddenly from behind and succeeding in a grand slam tournament?

BJP’s miserly, re-conquest of Gujarat appears dreary; whereas, given the spotlight on scams and the so-called anti-Congress wave sweeping India, Congress’ triumph in Himachal Pradesh seems fresh and thrilling. Moreover, in the larger scheme of things, Gujarat’s 26 seats in the Lok Sabha - though important - are not going to matter much. On  the contrary, the 224 parliamentary seats in the whole of the Hindi-Urdu belt - Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Haryana, Jharkhand, Chattisgarh, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Delhi - will decide India’s next government and PM.

Modi is largely responsible for creating a sense of Gujarati exclusiveness. Funnily, the way he talks about Gujarat reminds me of the way the Chinese Communist Party repeats in a tiresome manner that theirs is a unique “socialism with Chinese characteristics”.  
Whether Modi realizes this or not, he has isolated Gujarat from the rest of India, Perhaps, he does not even comprehend the harm he has done to the RSS or the Hindutva movement. By creating Moditva - a divergent creed - in the manner of Hitler who created Nazism - a distinctive strand of fascist politics exceptional only to Germany - Modi has fragmented RSS’ Akhand Bharat concept. This is the main reason why the Sangh Parivar did not figure prominently in Modi’s 2012 victory, which carried a “fascism with Gujarati characteristics” tag with élan.

Just before hitting the campaign trail, Modi in fact visited Nagpur to affect a patch-up with the Sangh. Chagrined over the Sanjay Joshi episode (, and other issues related to Modi’s autocratic style of functioning, Sangh’s reception was cool.

RSS basically is a Brahminical organization. I have criticized its ideology and acts elsewhere. But if you leave aside the topic of ideas and politics for a moment, you will find that beyond a point, a leader with an OBC origin - especially one like Modi who tries to brand each Hindutva product with Moditva - is unacceptable to the RSS. This has happened so many times before - Uma Bharati, Kalyan Singh, Yeddyurappa - that it has become a truism.

On the other hand, by distancing himself from the larger trend of OBC-Dalit politics of North and South India, Modi has reached a point where his being an OBC does not matter. So here is Gujarat’s CM’s Catch 22 situation: as a BJP leader with an OBC backdrop, Modi’s career will not proceed, much if he chooses to remain within the Sangh Parivar and its ideological-structural framework. But Moditva emerges from Hindutva. Since the OBC-Dalit politics of the rest of India is heavily anti-Brahminical and anti-Hindutva, Moditva will never succeed in weaning OBCs and Dalits away from various regional formations ranging from the SP-BSP in UP to the DMK-AIADMK in Tamil Nadu.

This peculiar situation leaves just one option for Modi - demand Gujarat’s secession from India. But if that happens, New Delhi and India’s army will not sit idle. To be sure, a majority of Gujaratis will not support secession either.

It is Modi’s farcical tragedy that he was not born in the Hindi-Urdu belt. The political vastness and centrality of the area might have propelled him onto the national stage. But then under the rules of Moditva, Urdu would be termed a Muslim language. Since the entire area is called the Hindi-Urdu belt-where the Ganga-Yamuni Tehzeeb still rules - and where the BJP was unable to win a seat in 1993 immediately after the demolition of the Babari Masjid even in Ayodhya - calling Urdu a Muslim language would have been considered divisive by the people of this region.

Either way, Modi would have failed. This, my right-wing friends, is the bottomline of the iron law of politics: something that does not move in a straight -Modi as a winnable CM automatically becoming a PM candidate - line; and something that defies mere desires of a fascistic dictator ruling a diverse and pluralistic country like India. (This article first appeared on the author’s

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 1-15 January 2013 on page no. 1

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