Opinion » Lead

Updated: May 11, 2012 00:17 IST

No cakewalk for Narendra Modi

Achyut Yagnik
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With a newly aggressive Congress in Gujarat and the disaffection among rural communities in the State, the ruling BJP has a real contest on its hands in the 2012 Assembly elections.

The political elite of Gujarat have already set the wheels in motion for the State Assembly elections scheduled in December 2012. Both the national parties, the ruling BJP and the Congress, have started grassroots mobilisation, and their leaders have intensified verbal duels at various levels. Both have completed the first round of constituency-wise reorientation after the new delimitation of seats. Out of a total of 182 constituencies, at least 60 constituencies have either been redrawn or turned into reserved or de-reserved categories as a result of the delimitation. Such alterations in nearly one-third of constituencies have posed new challenges for both parties.

Significantly, some senior Ministers holding important portfolios like Finance, Revenue and Urban Development in the State government, as well as the BJP State president, have been affected by the new delimitation of constituencies. All of them have had to relocate themselves and come to terms with new demographic equations. In the light of this, Chief Minister Narendra Modi undertook and recently completed a constituency-wise assessment to analyse the caste-class composition of voters. This is an indication that he intends to micro-manage the party's planning for the third Assembly election under his leadership. He has already declared his intention to win 151 of the 182 seats and create a milestone in Gujarat's political history.

Tall order

However, current predictions are that it would be a tall order for him and the BJP to surpass their own earlier record of winning 127 seats in 2002, and 117 seats in the 2007 Assembly elections, even in the likelihood of his winning a third term.

While the delimitation is one challenge, three other factors can frustrate Mr. Modi's plans of achieving the record numbers he is dreaming about. The first is the rejuvenation of the Congress party in Gujarat. In the last one year, the Congress has become proactive in the State and through various ‘yatras' and campaigns it has established new links with the people. The party's new aggressiveness is visible at many levels — in the Assembly; in university campuses; in the local media. No doubt it is still far from putting in the shade Mr. Modi's manoeuvrings and theatricals but the present leadership has been certainly trying to join battle with the Chief Minister on every count. Just a few weeks ago, the Congress won the by-election in Mansa, a constituency contiguous with the capital Gandhinagar, by more than 8,000 votes. As Mansa was earlier represented by a senior BJP leader and the Speaker of the Gujarat Assembly, it was a rude shock for the ruling party.

The Congress leadership has also joined hands, though on a limited scale, with grassroots struggles carried out by farmers and tribals to protect their rights over local natural resources. At another level, recently, it represented the case of cotton farmers of Saurashtra and mainland Gujarat to the Central Government and succeeded in getting the ban on cotton export lifted. Although the Congress leadership hardly takes up issues related to landless labour or marginal farmers, its support base among big and middle farmers has become stronger in recent times. Realising the growing discontent among the upper sections of farmers, the State BJP president undertook a “Kisan Yatra” but was unable to get a positive response even in his own area in Saurashtra or from his own community of Patidars, the dominant caste in Gujarat society.

The second factor is widespread disaffection among poor rural communities such as pastoralists, fishworkers and labourers who depend heavily on common property resources. In the name of “development” and to project himself as “Vikas Purush,” Chief Minister Modi has handed vast tracts of coastal land and pasture land to big industrial houses. Similarly, water bodies in a number of districts in Saurashtra and Kutch, including the creeks that punctuate the coast, have been taken over by big industries, either legally or surreptitiously. It is common knowledge that pastoralists and fisherfolk have enjoyed traditional rights over such natural resources for their livelihood. They now feel deprived and distressed. Though no organised struggle has taken root, except the farmers' struggle against the Nirma cement plant in coastal Saurashtra, many villages of Kutch and Saurashtra have knocked the doors of the Gujarat High Court for justice. Their cases are pending before the court.

Perceiving the growing resentment among pastoralists, the Modi government recently announced a plan to develop pasture lands in the first phase of the coming monsoon. But leaders of the Rabaris and Bharwards — cowherds and shepherds — have called it a purely cosmetic plan. Even the Gujarati media have termed it a gimmick by the Modi government.

Mr. Modi's personality, specifically the authoritarian and autocratic streak in him, is the third factor that can foil not only his plan to capture 151 seats in the 2012 election but may even reduce the BJP's strength in the Gujarat Assembly. His style has seen some sangh parivar outfits, mainly the VHP and the Bharatiya Kisan Sangh, distancing themselves from the present leadership. Two former BJP Chief Ministers, Keshubhai Patel and Suresh Mehta, have expressed their displeasure and disagreement with him on public platforms, either openly or metaphorically. Local BJP leaders such as Kanubhai Kalsaria have raised the banner of revolt against Mr. Modi's development agenda in the last two years, and led the successful farmers' movement against the Nirma cement plant. In spite of his open revolt, the BJP leadership has not been able to expel him from the party or initiate disciplinary action against him. Even as the RSS headquarters supports Mr. Modi and may project him for national leadership, local RSS leaders and workers have been resentful and may not throw themselves into Mr. Modi's re-election campaign.

While all the three factors could play a negative role in the coming elections, Mr. Modi's development agenda makes him a hero in the eyes of the powerful and ever-expanding middle class of Gujarat, which is also magnetically attracted to his style that puts off others including his own partymen. Earlier, the middle class was made up of the upper and middle castes but with rapid urbanisation and industrialisation, the ever-growing middle class means a combination of the upper, middle, OBC and Dalit communities in Gujarat.

The middle class factor

To make his appeal more attractive to this broadening middle class, Mr. Modi who started with the Hindutva plank added ‘Golden Gujarat' aimed at pandering to Gujarati parochialism, and market-oriented “development” to his plans and propaganda. Such a mix of three messages has granted him phenomenal popularity among the middle class in the State; with its unconditional support, he equates himself with Gujarat and any criticism against his actions is perceived as criticism of Gujarat and Gujaratis. It is noteworthy that while the Hindu middle class does not constitute the majority of Gujarat's population, its social composition coupled with the State's human geography give its members a decisive say in the urban and rural areas of Gujarat.

There is no one in the Congress leadership who holds comparable attraction for the middle class, or enjoys its confidence in the same way. Also, compared to the BJP's deep penetration in local power structures — the panchayats, city municipal corporations, the extensive cooperative networks or educational institutions — the Congress has limited influence. Neither is the Congress articulate enough to change the terms of the debate set by Mr. Modi. The party has not been able to question the development model or propose alternatives or bring up issues of justice for the victims of the 2002 carnage. Nor does it have influence with the Gujarati diaspora which is campaigning relentlessly but unsuccessfully to get Mr. Modi a U.S. visa and validating his non-inclusive development model in the western world. Yet, with its recent burst of energy in the State, the Congress may improve its performance in the next Assembly elections. Still it does seem unlikely that it will be able to dislodge the BJP from power.

It is certain that after the 2012 Assembly elections, Mr. Modi will start focussing on his next challenge, the 2014 national elections. Whether the national middle class would extend wholehearted support to him and establish him as a national leader is an open question.

(The writer is a leading Ahmedabad-based sociologist.)

More In: Lead | Opinion

Anti-Modi. Is there any true journalist left in India. If Narendra Modi
would drink water they going to tell that look he is drinking cold water
after 2002 Modi is this and Modi is that. 2002 is a keyword for Modi

from:  Sumit
Posted on: Jun 5, 2012 at 03:48 IST

What is "inclusive" compared to exclusive developement. I will tell you.

When roads are built, only a certain community is allowed to it. When electricity, water etc are supplied, only a certain community gets to use them. Are the Gujarat roads closed to muslims? Do the muslim hopuseholds not get water, electricity etc? But when you create corporations, entitities etc dedicated to ONLY a certain community, it is exclusive model. Like Minority Develope Corp. Muslim chamber of commerce. Islamic banking etc.

from:  RC Sharma
Posted on: May 17, 2012 at 08:51 IST

The writer may be wearing an anti-modi attitude but one has to agree that it is not going to be an easy task for Modi this time given the fact that BJP has lost a by-election recently in Gujarat. If I were a member of BJP thinktank, I would have certainly taken note of this warning in a constructive way. It is better to be cautious than snubbing it off altogether, be complacent and get carried away. The threat exists for BJP in Gujarat, may be of the same magnitude as in the past elections.

from:  parikchit
Posted on: May 13, 2012 at 18:41 IST

Zero references, zero statistics and zero empirical models. The last time I checked sociology was a science, not arts.

from:  Saumil
Posted on: May 10, 2012 at 20:22 IST

Folks seem to be seem to be seething from any negative word on Mr. Modi and non-inclusive development. However, is there a parallel with that of N Chandrababu Naidu (wikipedia profile extract below).
'As chief minister, Chandrababu Naidu, has called for short-term sacrifices to turn Andhra Pradesh into an Asian tiger over the next 20 years. Naidu soon slashed subsidies for – among other things – food, and he raised power tariffs. Both CNN and Time gave widespread coverage to Naidu's way of functioning, CNN said, In just five years, he has turned an impoverished, rural backwater place into India's new information technology hub.Time magazine has awarded Naidu as South Asian of the Year. Naidu, was the West's favourite Indian. Tony Blair and Bill Clinton both visited him in Hyderabad, the state capital.'
Bottomline, if the development has been equitable Mr. Modi will get re-elected othewise Mr. Yagnik has a point. And if not, are we gullible citizens who buy into print media easily.

from:  Apte
Posted on: May 10, 2012 at 18:27 IST

As a common man, If seeing the development of Gujarat after Modi's rule, Gujarat became No.1 state in India which brought attention of the whole world in the name of development. Ministers of several states are going outside india to study the developments in other countries, Instead of this they should visit Gujarat and learn how the systems work in Gujarat and How the system they can apply in their state for a higher development and a stronger India.

from:  Rakesh
Posted on: May 10, 2012 at 15:18 IST

If Narendra Modi says he will win 150 seats, you can take it he will win at least 140, if not 150. Modi's micro-management skills the article references are legendary, and his political strategy is flawless. It is my sense that he will rout the Congress in Dec 2012 State Assembly elections.

from:  Iyer
Posted on: May 10, 2012 at 15:00 IST

1-How can Author say Gujarat Development model is Non-inclusive? Ask any Economist(World wide)and get your facts right. 2-Socialism has been the root cause of all of the economic and thus most of the social evils in India and Worldwide. 3-Mr Modi has successfully replaced socialistic model with a Classical Liberal Economic model.Now Gujarat competes with South Korea,China etc.
4-Supreme court appointed SIT has given clean chit to Mr Modi.Earlier
I had sincere doubts on his role in 2002 riots.Now no more.

from:  Asif
Posted on: May 10, 2012 at 10:42 IST

modi has developed the state very well. tell me which state doesn't have local population issues like land rights etc.... on the other hand congress chief ministers are puppets of the gandhis take example of andra pradesh. Mr.modi is a good administrator but he got to publicly apologise for his atleast his inability to stop the riots if not outright fueling them.

from:  mahesh
Posted on: May 10, 2012 at 10:38 IST

In many contexts, THE HINDU, proved itself extending support UPA and allies. Definitely, Indian Media has biased and taking their own stands. Please, I request please do Publicize the development activities done by any party, not the unproven and expired allegations digging all the way for 10 years.

from:  T Vishnu Kumar
Posted on: May 9, 2012 at 23:25 IST

Even if Achyut Yagnik is right in his predictions; Mr. Modi has already made a big dent in Indian history and no one can deny it. If he looses Gujarat elections his march towards Delhi is unstoppable.

from:  K Joshi
Posted on: May 9, 2012 at 21:39 IST

Here are few stats for you. See and judge whether growth is inclusive or just a bubble of industrial development: 24 hr. uninterpreted power supply in villages, chiranjivi scheme decreased infant and pregnant women morality rate drastically (forgot figure); 100 % enrollment of children in school, drop out rate from schools decreased from 48 % to 5 %, zero tolerance policy for terrorism, number of universities increased from 11 to more than 40 (these includes many universities of its own kind like Forensic Science university; Raksha Shakti University); 10 % agriculture growth. Other data you can find on google. These are just highlights. I just explored one day when I was fed up with negativism about Mr. Modi And, thought, how come a communal man (presented by Media and pseudo secularists) is winning so many elections. Hope, my comment would be published.

from:  Parveen
Posted on: May 9, 2012 at 21:33 IST

Hindu should seriously consider providing a 'Like' button below each comment. That way we can get an idea of how the general readers think. I also hope The Hindu gives column space to those who support Modi so we get both view points.

from:  Gajanan Netravali
Posted on: May 9, 2012 at 21:31 IST

It is absolutely absurd that image of Mr.Narendra Modi is slowly coming down. There are hundreds of debacle the congress party has to face before December 2012 in our country because of its inefficiency in handling all counters so there will be a CAKEWALK for Mr.Modi in Gujarat and not as in report.

from:  vasudevan
Posted on: May 9, 2012 at 21:29 IST

Nice write up and in depth analysis of the whole Gujarat politics particularly modi's stand in Gujarat. but the author looks a very pessimistic about the other-way changes in Gujarat. I think local politics in Indian political system has taken a deep might to carry on there policies with full majority. Whatever may be the hardships, Narendra modi is there to rule because local politics is deceivingly emerging in India.

from:  Sahil Showkat
Posted on: May 9, 2012 at 20:59 IST

It is really interesting to note that Narendra Modi is not going to have a safe sailing in the ensuing Assembly elections in Gujarat.Though the Congress is not the best bet at the moment, yet, Narendra Modi, with so many tormented skeletons in his cupboard craving for justice does not deserve to rule the state anymore. Even though the SIT, for reasons best known to them, may be one of them being lack of absolute and clinching evidence which no one can expect to grab in a government sponsored riot like the pogrom post Godhra, has preferred to exonerate him of his complicity in the riots, the conscience of the common man who witnessed the evil hands of the powerful in the riots is not willing to pardon Modi for his clandestine involvement in the crimes. This gets further strengthened with the assertions of Mr.Raju Ramachandran, the Supreme Court Amicus Curiae against the report of the SIT and his upholding the contentions of the IPS officer Sanjiv Mr.Bhatt. All this would definitely reflect in the Gujarat Assembly elections and Modi is sure going to find his Waterloo there. This summary defeat would also scuttle his long time aspiration to rise as a national leader. Of course, it is indeed very good for the nation!

from:  Tharcius S.Fernando
Posted on: May 9, 2012 at 20:58 IST

THE HINDU news paper is only letting pro MODI comments on this slate. Shame.

from:  suchinta
Posted on: May 9, 2012 at 20:47 IST

If this analysis and another analysis on AP BYPOLLS that Jagan is going to sweep all the segments come true , THE INDIAN VOTER & ELECTIONS ARE A MYSTERY .

from:  nuthakki
Posted on: May 9, 2012 at 20:46 IST

The true story finally needs to be declared by someone. Writer has given few very clear indications about the the coming days. The policies that are not about the farmers, the economically weaker sections people, can be learnt through the recent budget of Gujarat Government. Specifically the policies related land is emerging like a 'divine hand' that is pushing the creation of a very famous occupation of land broker (which are locally called 'Dalal') now a days specially in the areas like Kutch and Saurashtra of Gujarat. These are the few of better proofs based on which the quality of Government's vision can be judged. Aggressive congress was needed and now if they emerging like that, they are most welcome. Jai Hind.

from:  Rajan Morbia
Posted on: May 9, 2012 at 20:24 IST

The fact is Modi is wasting lots of public funds for the betterment of Industrialist and NOT for the common Gujaratis. Adani was given free land while there are no space to build toilets! Adani was given free Gas where middle class is crying over petrol price hike. How much more? How much more Modi can fool around people?

from:  Arnav Rao
Posted on: May 9, 2012 at 20:20 IST

SATYAMEV JAYATE - Modi is exposed now....

from:  karan mehta
Posted on: May 9, 2012 at 20:17 IST

I am very sure that BJP is loosing this election. There is no real development has taken place in GUJARAT. Modi has just used PR agencies to project himself as a man of development but actually it is not true. Modi is surly loosing the on it

from:  anushree
Posted on: May 9, 2012 at 20:16 IST

East or West..Congress is the best...Congress is wining this election for out....

from:  Suma
Posted on: May 9, 2012 at 20:12 IST

The columnist has deliberately failed to inform the readers that in the Mansa segment the Congress had lead over BJP in the 2009 Parliamentary elections and that it was due to delimitation of Assembly segments. The delimitation seems to have changed the geographical set up of 2007 constituencies to the disadvantage of BJP. That the writer is biased against the BJP is borne out by several of his write-ups for the last 10 years or so. Therefore I do not attach any value to his article on Gujarat or of those of his ilk published by the esteemed The Hindu. In fact I have stopped reading The Hindu regularly for its bias against BJP and its leftist slant but go through occasionally to see whether it has changed. But I am disappointed.

from:  S.N.Hebbar
Posted on: May 9, 2012 at 19:35 IST

If Congress' leaders work together in 2012 then it must be though for Modi in 2012.there are many points on which Modi government is going failed,like the Crime rate is increasing day by day,Government servant are also against Modi,Fix pay is also an issue. CAG report is also against Modi,so if Congress work strongly against Modi then it will be though for Modi in 2012.

from:  Vivek S. Dalwadi
Posted on: May 9, 2012 at 19:24 IST

No way. People will vote for Modi only. No orchestrated campaign in the Media will work.

from:  G.Narayanaswamy
Posted on: May 9, 2012 at 19:09 IST

When we see the past 60 years of congress rule in india and compare it with modi's way of development,it is unbelieveable that a single person can do so much in just 10 years of his rule. He has given gujarat a international image over india sorry but true. Now people abroad know gujarat more than india correct me if I am wrong. I agree whenever development comes in any region,people living in those areas paid some cost and it may or may not inclusive either.He needs to work there to assure himself development reached to each and everyone. also we should not forget Maharashtra, where farmers are making suicide everyday. At least there is nothing this sort of in Gujarat. I hope modi will win third time to promote himself as national leader and he will.People all over India is waiting for him to stage a strong comeback to national politics by wining third term in Gujarat.

from:  Anil
Posted on: May 9, 2012 at 18:23 IST

It is solely due to Narendra Modi that Gujarat in last 5 to 6 years has developed so much and a spate of MNC's and industries have invested thousands of crore due to which Gujarat has emerged as one of the fastest growing economic region. I can hardly remember the last time any CM ever did so much to bring glory to their state.It's quite conspicuous to the sagacious people in the state the perspicuity of the development. The author rather than highlighting all the developments and welfare to the state which Mr. Modi have brought over these recent years has underscored negative points more which clearly shows the authors prejudice against the respected C.M.

from:  Ankit Trivedi
Posted on: May 9, 2012 at 16:30 IST

According to the author, ..."with its recent burst of energy in the State, the Congress may improve its performance in the next Assembly elections. Still it does seem unlikely that it will be able to dislodge the BJP from power." If this is the prediction, then why waste so much space? Perphaps, to indulge and satisfy the daily quota of anti-Modi rhetoric by the Angrezi media. BTW, there was also a huge burst of energy in the Congress campaign for the recent UP state elections. But, it ended up like a bubble burst.

from:  kvjayan
Posted on: May 9, 2012 at 15:09 IST

Achyut Yagnik do not know that,ordinary people will not vote by reading this. They vote based on facilitates and benefits provided by the government. Otherwise people people would have pushed Modi out long back!!

from:  C S Sundaresha
Posted on: May 9, 2012 at 11:49 IST

well Narendra Modi, the cheif minister of Gujarat is a wise and quite
astute personality in Indian politics. Any thing posed to demolish his
influence need strong logic and reason in it coupled with some
external power and the support of the real benefited ones. the writer
has very truly tried to portrait out the possible reasons to be at
helm in the coming state elections in the state but his doubt about
Modi's regime is questionable. It is well known that in coming future
Modi has to be the national leader of BJP and all these because of his
good governance in Gujarat, dynamic personality coupled with strong
will to bring forth noble things. well, merely loosing a by-election
in Gujarat cannot be seen as probable downfall of Modi's reign. he
wiil be in Gujarat till Gujarat has to prosper at it's fullest and the
people will be with him till the last.

from:  purushottam kumar ishwar
Posted on: May 9, 2012 at 11:01 IST

The gujarat congress seems to have gotten its act together this time and are highlighting the lopsided development of the state and Modi's largesse to big industrial houses especially the Adani's. Modi runs on propoganda spread by his army of followers, but that can take you only so far. the rural masses of Guj are awakening to the fact that they havent made as much progress as they are being projected to as by Modi and BJP...Even the caste coalition of KHAM + patels are forming against Modi's non inclusive style of functioning..Mansa bypoll shows how powerful such a combination is..Modi surely will come up with some communal agenda when the poll nears to polarise the electorate, hope we gujaratis dont fall prey for his machinations again...

from:  jayant chauhan
Posted on: May 9, 2012 at 10:38 IST

The best example of Centre's development model is 25 minute powercut in Parliament (Delhi) and the parliament functioning on generator back-up. In contrast, Gujarat is power surplus state today. Not only that, its going ahead with many more power plant projects. You or me , those outside Gujarat can not defeat Modi. Gujarati people know what they want- solid economy and no lip-service.

from:  Hitesh
Posted on: May 9, 2012 at 10:08 IST

A nice attempt to put the due elections in right perspective but I
think few major determiners of the fate of Mr. Modi and BJP in Gujarat
post due election have been deliberately left out by the writer.
Every day unfolding and building 2002 mystery and Congresses' and BJP's
response towards this will have a huge bearing on these elections. The
more Modi is debated in media the more the benefit is ceded to him
unknowingly. Congress hoods up with fire every time something of
implicating nature comes out of 2002 investigations and BJP retaliates
the same by flagging Modi's development models and his ever increasing
stature as he featured in TIMES magazine. Modi and very tactfully
chooses to remain quiet over SIT reports and amicus curiae report which
silently benefits him. Cong. can't dislodge Modi by abusing his role
during 2002 rather by disabusing his model of development presenting
their own futuristic model of development in 2012.

from:  Ajeet Tiwari
Posted on: May 9, 2012 at 08:59 IST

its a well known fact that modi's guj. development is not inclusive you can call it a pseudo development

from:  swati
Posted on: May 9, 2012 at 08:40 IST

Similar views have been expressed by the author & others in the past Gujarat elections. Fact is Narendra modi has provided cleanest govt with most development in the history of independent India & Common man sees that. Great thing about democracy is that Common Man votes with his wallet & with what's visible to him while the pseudo-intellectuals write w/ their infatuations, obsessions and prejudice. Many more such analyses will be concocted before Gujarat elections to create paid hype against Narendra Modi & BJP and in favor of CONgress. The hype bubble will be pricked by the Aam Admi in December 2012, no questions asked and Narendra Modi will be back with a thumping majority. Delusional dreaming is a fundamental right of the author & his ilk. The more they dream, the more they will be frustrated. So, go on! Make my day!!

from:  Dhananjay
Posted on: May 9, 2012 at 07:25 IST

How can the author declare Modi's development model 'non-inclusive'? Though he tried his best to sound unbiased, he couldn't hide his anti-Modism after all.

from:  vijay
Posted on: May 9, 2012 at 05:08 IST

While we can all have our opinions about Mr. Modi (full disclosure: I am not a fan); it is very hard to take Mr Yagnik’s highly opinionated piece as some kind of poll prediction, which going by the headline it would appear to be. The writer’s own antipathy toward Mr. Modi is well known and it is telling that no opinion polls or surveys have been cited to support his arguments. In the interest of competitive politics that keeps an incumbent on his toes, I hope the writer is proved right. However, I wonder if ‘The Hindu’ will invite the writer to analyse the results, should he be proved wrong. I suspect ‘The Hindu’ will not - and likely move on to the next hysterical campaign against the Gujarat CM.

from:  Arvind S
Posted on: May 9, 2012 at 01:34 IST
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