Friday, 28 December 2012

The Modi enigma, the truth

The Modi enigma
Clean Media Correspondent

Ahemdabad, Dec 27 (CMC) Narendra Modi’s swearing-in at Gandhinagar on Wednesday was not just a formal ceremony of inducting a newly elected leader as chief minister. It is no secret that the Gujarat chief minister nurses big national ambitions – the ambition of becoming the country’s prime minister. Wednesday was an occasion for Modi to demonstrate his political mobilisation skills to advance that ambition. His hat-trick of Assembly election victories provided him with an opportunity to establish a powerful political credential for national leadership role. There is no doubt today about Modi being the unquestioned leader of Gujarat – not just of the Gujarat BJP unit. That this has enhanced his stature even beyond Gujarat became evident on Wednesday as a galaxy of BJP leaders attended the oath-taking ceremony. Several leaders from the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) parties too travelled to Gandhinagar for the occasion. Besides, a couple of non-NDA leaders like Tamil Nadu chief minister Jayalalitha and Om Prakash Chautala also showed up.

The line-up of leaders was impressive, no doubt. Symbolically, it was a political boost to Modi. But, beyond symbolism are some critical political realities on which a lot of issues remain as nebulous as ever before. The BJP is yet to take even the first step of projecting him as its prime ministerial candidate. No top leader from either the party or the RSS has acknowledged him as the natural choice for leadership in the wake of his thumping win last week. The party remains a deeply divided house on the leadership issue, and its top leaders are no closer accepting Modi for the leadership even after his third consecutive win in Gujarat.

If the BJP, being the NDA leader, cannot decide on Modi’s unstated national leadership claim it is highly premature to expect other NDA parties to spell out their positions on the issue. Why then raise questions about Bihar JD(U) strongman Nitish Kumar’s reservations about Modi’s national leadership credentials? Apart from internal rivalries, it is also true that the BJP leadership entertains serious doubts about Modi’s acceptability among existing and potential new partners required to make the NDA a credible contender for power in the run up to the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. Even though Modi has consciously attempted an image makeover by projecting himself as a pro-reform, pro-development leader, the fact remains that at the national level his hardline Hindutva image endures.

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