As per a recently published opinion poll, Narendra Modi has emerged as the most popular choice for Indian premiership with an estimated 24% participants vouching for Modi, while Congress dynasty candidates got a collective 17% endorsement. Comparison with a similar exercise conducted in August 2011 points to rapidly rising popularity of Modi and fast declining appeal of current establishment. It’s becoming increasingly clear that country is desperately in want of decisive leadership and a huge section of Indians consider Modi, given his track record of exemplary&graft free governance, as a person who can lead country from front and end all pervading paralysis in governance, corruption and institutional degeneration.
The opinion poll findings are no surprise for his admirers who are eagerly waiting on BJP leadership to respond to popular sentiment of its cadre and a significant section of voting population. While some political pundits may deny Modi’s popularity outside BJP constituency, there are enough indications on ‘neutral’ voters ‘s increasing endorsement of Modi. Middle India is certainly warming to Modi
Recently, a local BJP leader in Andhra shared an experience with this writer; the leader met a doctor with a radical-left past who questioned him why can’t BJP choose Modi for PM .The good doctor further explained how his friend got an opportunity to do business in Gujarat with prompt approvals, arrangements and without any expenditure on bribes. Clearly we have good indications that businesses, political class, media and significant general population across India are increasingly aware of transparent practices under Modi in Gujarat. However, it is also imminent that Modi as PM candidate will have to face severe resistance from deracinated English Language media, Nehruvian establishment with possible active collaboration from their foreign sources. They are certain to run a shrill and vicious campaign against Modi to scare minorities, to drive a wedge between BJP and other NDA constituents. Another important argument against his candidature is acceptability for allies and other regional players. Let’s see why these arguments are highly exaggerated
Except for Nitish, no other NDA constituents expressed any reservations on Modi. Some hard facts on Nitish. He is in coalition with BJP with control over some 20 odd MPs with a decent governance record during his first tenure as Bihar CM. His opposition to Modi made him a darling of Delhi media and unfortunately let him nurture an exaggerated sense of importance. In 2010 landslide victory, the combined vote share of NDA in Bihar was still around 39% even after talk of good governance. So, Nitish is still far from political dominance of Bihar – Nitish needs BJP as much as BJP needs him. If he decides to move out of NDA just because of Modi, he potentially risks his government and may have to go for congress plus Paswan support to survive with thread bare majority. If BJP insists on Modi, Nitish most likely would make some noise but might still continue with BJP without endorsing Modi for PM.
Lets look at other prospective allies like TDP, BJD. TDP in Andhra is in volatile position and its very existence is challenged in Telangana region and in coastal Andhra / Rayalaseema it faces tough competition from Congress and YSR congress respectively. Even if he wins significant MP seats in coastal Andhra, Chandra Babu Naidu won’t dare to repeat the United Front experiment of 90’s with Congress support or support Congress at centre or risk another quick election. He will have no other option than to support anti-Congress formation. In Orissa BJP has significant vote share and it can win atleast half a dozen MP seats on its own in a Modi wave. So, the focus of BJP should be to win at least 180 seats on its own, if it reaches that target then getting support from anti-congress regional players is not a difficult task even with Modi at the helm.
If BJP has to improve from his present tally to reach 180 mark, it needs credible leadership at the centre who can rally support and create confidence in cadre and masses. As of now only Modi fits the bill with his popularity, track record and excellent leadership skills. Declaring his PM candidature unambiguously before election will enthuse rank and file of BJP and Parivar like never before. If BJP doesn’t declare any PM candidate, then the same pro-establishment media, whom BJP suspect of mischief with Modi candidature, will highlight the confusion and internal power struggles within BJP. In spite of repeated experiences it would be foolishness on the part of BJP to expect support from pro-establishment media and motivated activists. Coming to minority polarization, BJP in any case has no chance of getting minority votes, enthused Hindu activist counter-mobilization on the ground and Modi’s OBC background could many times offset any potential increase in minority voting percentages.
If BJP as a party really wishes to change the contours of Indian polity, economy and society, then it has no short cuts to achieve it, it has to summarily defeat anti-national & anti-BJP establishment or make them irrelevant. Pussyfooting and incremental politics will only encourage these forces to attack it more virulently.
In the context of Gujarat, Modi made anti-national forces irrelevant while successfully presenting alternative models before Gujarat and nation. It’s time for BJP to extend the success in Gujarat across the country and who else in BJP can do that, better than Modi. If Modi with a exemplary track record in government, can replicate his Gujarat magic across country in spite of severe opposition from pro-establishment media & activists, then in a single stroke he would make these forces irrelevant across the country, going by his track record he has all the potential to do that.
Even if BJP with Modi at the helm crossing congress tally fall short of required numbers, with non-congress, non-BJP, parties holding balance to power, leading to a third front government with outside support from congress, an arrangement similar to United Front experiment in 90’s, Modi will still be an ideal choice to lead BJP in parliament and with the inevitability of failures of such arrangements could emerge with more vigor as an alternative promising leader. Look anyway there is no alternative to Modi in BJP scheme of things, the sooner BJP and Parivar realizes the better for their electoral prospects and to the interests of the country. BJP has to go through Modi phase to continue to be relevant in national politics. Any attempt to limit him to Gujarat on the pretext of allies would severely boomerang and confuse the rank and file of BJP and Parivar. Alternatively, if he comes to national stage as BJP president, will that be alright for allies like Nitish? Won’t they lose minority votes then? Can Nitish stop BJP President from campaigning in Bihar?
Finally, no one knows what is in store for people of India in the coming months, election results in March could bring worst out of this evil, vicious establishment. Country is under undeclared emergency like situation with establishment undermining institutions, individual rights and freedom of speech. Going by the trends the establishment may go to any lengths to secure their position, India may witness bitter struggle against this dictatorial establishment in near future. Who else is better placed to lead BJP and country in such a adverse situation other than Narendra Damodardas Modi?
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