The future of Narendra Modi

By TCN Special Correspondent,

Time magazine’s cover page story on praising the development during Narendra Modi’s regime in Gujarat has become an occasion for his supporters in the state to celebrate. The translation of the article published in `Manogat’, the Gujarati language fortnightly mouthpiece of the state BJP, is being circulated in BJP circles. All BJP leaders and primary members have been asked to buy the copies of the magazine and distribute it all over the state. BJP sources say that 90,000 copies of `Manogat’ have been printed for distribution among BJP workers.

However, what BJP and its sympathizers seem to have missed in the article is that it raises doubts about Modi becoming the prime minister. Since 2003, Modi has been nurturing the ambition to become the prime minister. He has got himself projected as BJP’s prime ministerial candidate through industrialists like Ratan Tata and Anil Ambani close to him. But Time’s article on Modi clearly says it is doubtful if Modi would become the prime minister or play a role at the national level in India politics.

Narendra Modi [Photo by Mudassir Rizwan,]

Time’s editor-at-large Fareed Zakaria during his talk at the `Express Adda’ in New Delhi two weeks ago clearly ruled out Modi playing any role at the national level. He also went to the extent of saying that Modi might also cease to become a regional leader after 2012 assembly elections in Gujarat. However, Zakaria did not elaborate why Modi would not become prime minister or lose his leadership even in Gujarat.

There are two basic reasons why Modi would not be able to play a role at the national level in BJP. First, there is strong opposition to him from his own party colleagues in the BJP at national level. BJP president Nitin Gadkari and senior leaders like Sushma Swaraj and Rajnath Singh are reported to be among strong detractors of Modi.

Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan and Chattisgarh CM Raman Singh are also said to be in anti-Modi camp. These two CMs were conspicuous by their absence from Modi’s `sadbhavna’ fasts in September-October 2011 when a battery of BJP leaders from all over the country came to see Modi. It was again opposition of BJP from within the BJP that prevented him for campaigning for the party candidates in the recent assembly elections in UP and Punjab. Modi’s declining influence in national BJP could also be imagined from the fact that Sanjay Joshi, a Modi detractor, was appointed BJP’s UP election in-charge despite Modi’s strong opposition. LK Advani, Modi’s political mentor, is also reportedly not happy with Modi ever since the latter did not allow Advani to launch his `Jan Chetna Yatra’ in September 2011 from Gujarat. Since then, Advani attended several programmes in Gujarat, with Modi remaining absent. With such a position within BJP, it is really extremely doubtful if Modi would rise to the top position in the national BJP and become prime minister even if BJP wins the sufficient number of Lok Sabha seats to come to power on its own in 2014 Lok Sabha elections which is not a possibility at all under the present political circumstances in the country.

The second reason against Modi’s ascendancy in national politics is his unpopularity among NDA’s allies. It is well-known that Modi was not allowed to campaign for party candidates in Bihar assembly elections under pressure from JD(U) leader and now Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar. Nitish as a political ally of BJP in the state and NDA at the national level feared loss of Muslim votes if Modi was allowed to deliver speeches in Bihar. As JD(U) and Chandrababu Naidu in Andhra Pradesh are dependent on Muslim votes, they would do everything to prevent Modi to become the prime minister or even BJP national president because it would be difficult for them to deal with Modi presiding over the affairs of the BJP.

Similarly, no other regional party like Bahujan Samaj Party or even Mamata Banerjee could ever think of joining hands with NDA led by Modi because of all these parties are dependent heavily for their survival on Muslim votes. Even Jayalalitha would also like to distance herself from Modi for similar reasons. Keeping these things in view, Modi seems to have become reduced to almost political pariah and hence, his further political progress is almost ruled out.

Even back at home, clock has started turning against Modi. BJP lost the Mansa assembly by-election in Gandhinagar district by a huge margin a few weeks ago. Congress wrested the seat for the first time since 1995, indicating peoples’ loss of faith in Modi’s leadership.

This also suggests that Modi’s image of being Hindutva’s poster-boy has also started fading and his appeal is no longer effective on the voters. Former chief minister and Modi detractor Keshubhai Patel has also upped the campaign against Modi saying Modi government was anti-Patel. Patels form the backbone of the BJP support base in the state. RSS and VHP in the state are also strongly against Modi and waiting for his downfall as Modi during his 10 years of rule suppressed the dominance of the two saffron outfits who in the past dictated terms to BJP. VHP international secretary Pravin Togadia and Modi don’t see eye to eye with each other. It is a different thing that Modi government is also allegedly protecting those VHP and RSS men accused of their involvement in 2002 communal riots.

In such a situation at national level and in the state, Modi is all set to become a political pariah after 2012 assembly elections, falling from being tallest saffron leader to an insignificant BJP leader.