Saturday, June 8, 2013

One Man – Multiple Images and the triumph of Moditva

Holding my book on Narendra Modi, titled ‘Modi to Moditva: An Uncensored Truth’, my daughter Tanvi the other day said in her childish innocence that the word ‘Moditva’ has similarity with her cousin’s name ‘Aditya! The pun is actually well hidden as the word/name Aditya literally means (Aa - ditya – second to none). Now, that’s Namo mantra, I am afraid, is all about.

One of his admirers in BJP recently said,  Modi is a politician who is willing to make a “pitch for himself”  even at the cost of being called arrogance. 

The social networking anti-Modi brigade has dubbed him ‘Feku (a desi version of bluff master). But is that really a vice, which Indian neta is today not a ‘feku’. Dr Manmohan Singh perhaps would lead the gang promptly so would Arun Jaitley—look at his ‘silent performance’ in BCCI and the vocal demand to stall parliament proceedings for public probity etc. 

Even veteran L k Advani has his share as despite his efforts to offer himself as a man with certain firmness – the iron man as MMS mocks at him, it was during Advani’s tenure terrorists were safely landed in Kandahar and more menacingly the Naxal menace grew up in various parts of the country.

If he is trying to be a neo-statesman he forgets he undertook Rath Yatra and played a key role, being still investigated by CBI, on Babri demolition.

Coming back to Modi and his ‘phenomenon’ type image – that he cannot be ignored -
In July 2011 issue the magazine The Economist said rather caustically, “so many things work properly in Gujarat that it hardly feels like India.” In the run up to the 2009 Lok Sabha polls, which BJP after projecting L K Advani lost miserably, a large number of leading industrialists including Anil Ambani had said that Modi is the most potent prime minister material. So did Arun Shourie, then a party MP in the Rajya Sabha. 

Taking a closer view on Modi’s administration, I find there is logic in describing him as a ‘part CEO’ with prodigious management abilities, part a Hindutva poster boy. He could also be a part modern time revolutionary, who is helping to accommodate rural labour in growing manufacturing sector but in doing so, is he neglecting the core agriculture sector? The human development index in Gujarat under Moditva has already faced immense criticism.

Now as the stage is almost set in Goa for according a higher role to the Gujarat chief minister, whose 2002 mayhem ridden image remains as a lasting feature,
one finds left to him Narendra Modi sees himself as an architect of change. 

He only wants to sell the development card to his voters and the rest of the world. That way the story of Gujarat in the last decade though is the story of Modi, but he also remains a source of both strength and weakness for BJP. 

Despite the Godhra train inferno and the subsequent unprecedented anti-Muslim carnage of 2002, Gujarat has attained its developmental success stories, yet, it remains a ‘Hindutva laboratory’. 

His challenge, therefore, has been to tread a path which could ensure that all cynicism or suspicion about him from being a Hindutva zealot is supplemented by the confidence of his works for development. However, he does not quite want the Hindutva poster-boy image to be erased completely.

In 'India Today' conclave on 16 March this year, he refused to yet again tender an apology for 2002 and asserted in his own style, "The way I am working is my USP. I don't think till date there is anything wrong in that”.

To another question on need for healing touch, a veiled reference to the 2002 mayhem, he had skirted any direct reply and merely said, "I have answered all these questions in the past". Whether he still is a 'divisive figure,' the chief minister said, "I cannot analyse that myself... but in my every day life I have never experienced that.. But if there is something like this, will take a corrective step".

The 2002 riots truly is a too strong and powerful influence in Gujarat graph that it cannot be easily erased by a decade of development model as is pursued relentlessly by the state chief minister Narendra Damodardas Modi. 

In 2002, the English media in particular in the country and also the western countries like the European Union and the US made their intention clear about their assessment regarding Gujarat, and more particularly perhaps on the people of Gujarat

My assessment as I recorded in my first book ‘Godhra- A Journey to Mayhem’ published in 2004 was that such merciless killings of a battered community – the Muslims - could take place only on a soil “fertile” with religious “prejudices”.

There was truly a climax situation as hardliner communalism had assumed ominous spectre in a state, which otherwise took pride in a growth rate equaling that of China.

The real challenge in writing a few passages on Gujarat lies in understanding and explaining well this paradox. The challenge is definitely immensely much bigger for Modi himself as well as his party BJP which wants to storm back to power by defeating a Congress-led dispensation which enjoys an advantage of being a ‘secular formation’ and a regime which does successful tricks to win over votes from fragmented sections of population.

None has really asked the vital question, if Modi is a Muslim-hater, why Rajiv Gandhi (RIP) was not a Sikh-hater.


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