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22 September 2013

ANALYSIS: 'Narendra Modi is a man who is seen to deliver irrespective of the cost '

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By Abdul Hafiz Lakhani

Ahmedabad: Whether we like it or not, the fact is that Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi has after all taken a giant step to 7 Race Course Road after crushing the opposition of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) stalwarts and on the specific directives of the nationalist Hindu right wing organisation and BJP's parent Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) when BJP chief Rajnath Singh, much like a dutiful son, formally announced Modi's name as party's Prime Ministerial candidate for the ensuing 2014 Lok Sabha election. What is significant and simply cannot be brushed under the carpet is that it is for the first time ever in the history of independent India the rabidly anti-Muslim, communal organization RSS has directlly thrown its hat in parliamentary election ring through its proxy candidate Narendra Modi, who doesn't feel shy in being at the doorsteps of RSS every now and then. For RSS and its sister organizations like BJP, VHP, Bajrang Dal, Shiv Sena and others, the currrent parliamentary elections is a do or die battle. For them, the simple motto is NOW or NEVER. The BJP has been out of power for nearly 10 years now, and it cannot afford being out of pwer anymore. The already vertically-divided BJP and its chief patron RSS fear that if they don't return to power by hook or crook, then their very existence will be at stake.

It is absolutely wrong to assume that BJP is still at the helm of affairs. On the contrary, it is the RSS that is calling the shots and has indeed overtaken the BJP in this forthcoming election and is directly fighting elections with BJP as its mask. Being another faithful son Modi is fully committed to RSS ideology, perhaps he is slight ahead of his guru L.K. Advani, now the eternal rebel who has been left sulking seeing his long-held Prime Ministerial dreams being dashed miserably before his own eyes.

The BJP had ruled India in the past, but was not able to saffronise the country fully. However, the elevation of Modi as party's PM candidate has once again raised renewed hopes, and at the same time raised several unanswered questions that have long term implications for the already fragile communal harmony and overall well being of India. After all, why would it be different if Narendra Modi ever becomes the next Prime Minister of India with the BJP having a majority of its own in the parliament?

Actually, Modi is confronted with many challenges. For him it's the issue of being between the devil and deep blue sea. With the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) setting crucial preconditions and thrusting every decision down his throat, the dominance of one leader in the BJP is passe. It reinforces the Hindutva ideology even more and effectively symbolises the dictatorial style of functioning of the RSS. It also highlights RSS confidence in Modi and the belief that once you appoint a leader you have to have complete faith in his actions. This has been completely lacking in BJP patriarch Lal Krishna Advani and another BJP ideologue Jaswant Singh after both of them praised Pakistan founder Mohammad Ali Jinnah for being secular, whose ideology the BJP had constantly battled ever since the partition of the subcontinent.

And, Modi is a firm believer of this concept. This combined with his natural stubbornness — a quality that has no doubt helped him reach where he is — may pose the biggest problem for him in his ambition to be the next Prime Minister. To begin with, Gujarat is not India, and Modi knows tis only too well.

Hence the biggest challenge for him will be to ensure that he brings together the varied interest groups to build up a coalition. For Modi, BJP gaining a two-third majority or a simple majority is a distant dream.

From his RSS days, Modi has known how to get his way. Modi the politician is astute in gauging who will aid his plans and who will not. He is also notorious for leaving behind those who are of no use to him. Even as he is criticised about his autocratic style of functioning, this same quality in him is what appeals to the youth. In Modi, they see a man who delivers irrespective of the cost. But his uncompromising nature may not be of much use in building bridges for the party.


He has so far worked with the RSS and BJP. These organisations have more or less similar styles of functioning, but working towards building a coalition of parties with each fighting for its own agenda will be the true test of his ability to compromise. Here, he is better advised to follow Atal Behari Vajpayee than his mentor LK Advani.

To give him credit, Modi has shown an ambition that few BJP or RSS leaders in Gujarat have ever shown. Most of them were happy to win a state for the party and rest on the laurels. Even if they ever had an ambition to go beyond the borders of the state, they rarely displayed it. And few ever had the appetite to make it big, the way Modi has. It all boils down to a can-do attitude.

The battle has only begun for the BJP, a party that has almost no presence in the North-East and is minimal in southern India. The party is in power in some states, but the popularity of its CMs will not be enough to help it install a prime minister of its own choice in Delhi. But, more importantly the Indians of all hues need to decide whether they are going to vote for the rabidly communal, RSS-BJP combine or the secular, humane Congress Party which has managed the country and its people so well. It is only on the decision of the sane Indian public that India will be able to progress and be prosperous, or else the fate of Indian nation is doomed under RSS-BJP dispensation.

The reactions of some prominent Gujaratis is indicative of what lies in store for the Muslims, Christians and other minorities if RSS-BJP combine is elected to power.

Zuber Gopalani, an academician, says that In Gujarat Muslims are clearly discriminated against. "If we look into the government schemes, a number of schemes except those related to minorities have been implemented. There are schemes in which economical backward class have benefited, but what about Muslims who are being contantly deprived of these. Muslim officers are being sidelined in IPS, IRS, IAS, GAS cadre," he said.


"Even in Gujarat, how many Muslim officers are on key positions in spite of their ability, capability and sincerity. Land of Muslims are being grabbed, Muslim NGOs have been put on radar, Muslim institutions are being harassed, sectarian riots among Muslim sects, Muslim organisations being deprived of government land - these are some of the peculiar hallmarks of Narendra Modi government in Gujarat," said Gopalani.

Prof. J. S. Bandukwala, prominent human and civil rights activist, opined that the elevation of Narendra Modi as the BJP's Prime Minister candidate is a cause of serious concern for the Muslims of India.

"Modi is obssessed with the Prime Ministership. He is a ruthless political operator, who will go to any extent to secure his goals. The RSS has backed him totally, and in return he has accepted the Hindutva platform of building the Ayodhya temple, abolishing Article 370, Uniform Civil Code and a total ban on cow slaughter. All these issues will bring him in a direct clash with Muslims. Modi can succeed by polarising Hindus against Muslims. Muzaffarnagar-type incidents will be repeated in non-BJP ruled states, such as Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Haryana, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh," said Prof. Bandukwala.

"Muslims may pay a heavy price in the next few months. Yet much may depend on three factors: (1) Corporate support for Modi may weaken, because big business cannot afford widespread communal riots. It hurts their interests. (2) The economy may improve, the rupee may strengthen and employment opportunities may increase. This is likely as we have had a good monsoon, and the economies of the US, Europe, China and Japan are in an upswing. This will improve the situation in India, and conversewly weaken Modi. (3) Finally much would depend on the average Hindus of the country," pointed out Prof. Bandukwala.

"If they see through Modi's hate politics and media, internet hype build up, Modi will be finished. Muslims must strive to maintain calm, yet be vigilant. Muslim leaders must be most balanced and composed in their public expressions. As far as possible do not give Modi a chance to whip up passions against Muslims," said Prof. Bandukwala.

Social activist and 2002 Gujarat riot victim, Zakia Jafri, was not happy with the BJP's choice. "It is the BJP's decision, obviously I don't feel good about it. He was involved in the 2002 riots," she told this Correspondent.

Mufti Rizwan Tarapuri, All India Milli Council, Gujarat, who was recently accused of backing Modi during his U.S. visit, said that Modi's elevation was no surprise, especially after he got blessings of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the BJP's ideological fountainhead. "I doubt if he can win the polls (for the BJP). I doubt he will have acceptability in the whole country. In a country like India, with its vast ethnic diversity, people have always backed 'an inclusive leader', said Tarapuri.

[Abdul Hafiz Lakhani is a senior Journalist based at Ahmedabad, Gujarat. He is associated with IndianMuslimObserver.com as Bureau Chief (Gujarat). He can be reached at lakhani63@yahoo.com or on his cell 09228746770]

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