Narendra Modi is the poster-child of the BJP and if you have travelled to Gujarat in the recent past you are amazed at how far ahead of the country the state is on basic things – power for example. I went to a food processing plant in Mehsana and these guys don’t even have a back-up, no really. If you cover industries and visit as many factories as I do across the country that is an amazing fact.
Most companies in any sort of large or mid-level manufacturing and the plant I went to was a mid-level manufacturer run their own power utility. Depending on the state for power, because they promise it free to everyone who bothers to ask, is useless. Sure, you can’t find a drink at a bar, but you can pretty much find tons of booze and sex if you really wanted to. Other than prohibition, I kind of like going to Ahmedabad, not so much Bhavnagar, but Ahmedabad under Modi, now at least is a great place to go to, and industrialists all concur.
But much like the Congress will never be able to deal with 1984; Modi and his towering ambition will be thwarted unless some sort of peace is made with the demons of 2002. I’ll be honest, as a paragon of development; Gujarat is a fantastic model for the rest of idea. Good roads and power, yes the state is still relatively parched, but despite the ham-handed nature of the land acquisition for the Sardar Sarovar project, water from the Narmada should help.
Yet, whenever people broach the topic of 2002, Modi feels threatened. He claims (like Jagdish Tytler and Sajjan Kumar) no personal culpability for 2002. And an argument you often hear is that the man who presided over the home ministry in 1984 P.V Narashima Rao, (the best Congress PM we have ever had in terms of policy, much, much better than that bungling Surdie) became Prime Minister seven years later. Then again, Rao also sat around while Babri fell – so while he might have set India off in terms of progress he lost the Congress Sikh votes and then North Indian Muslim votes and the Congress hasn’t quite recovered from the latter, though this year things might be interesting.
But unloved as he was at the end of his life, I guess losing North Indian Muslim votes condemned the Congress a hell of a lot, Rao is dead now. Still unloved and unlamented, and that is one major problem I have with MMS to be honest. But in 1991, the country was in deep shit and we didn’t have ten lefty liberals on television telling us how Rao was a bad man.
That said, to ‘blame’ the media for condemning Modi (as some right-wing thinkers do) is also a bit unfair, because 2002 is an open question and even if the media don’t bring it up, you honestly expect 2002 not to be an issue if Modi was to stand for Prime Minister? The fact is by obfuscation and by rehabilitating some of the accused much like the Congress did in 1984, how is the BJP any different?
Until the BJP confronts 2002, and I really don’t know what this ‘confrontation’ entails, it will always be identified as a ‘Hindu Nationalist Party’ run by a bunch of old men in chaddis, which I think is unfair, because the ‘Hindu’ bit should go. I personally believe that the BJP has the most comprehensive vision to restore India’s glory, some of what they plan is bizarre but that is why an opposition and the media are important. Confronting the issues of 2002 will also deprive the Laloo’s Gowda’s and Paswan’s of the world, politicians who have excelled in the politics of non-development of the secular plank. I believe true ‘secularism’ is in the overall development of India, where people of all castes and creeds can have a better future for themselves and their children.
If the BJP can deal with 2002 much like they have dealt with Praveen Togadia (by telling him to shut up and he has been very obedient, and Muthalik must be muzzled also), it won’t be just 2009 that they will have a good chance. And maybe, just maybe we can get rid of these small regional parties who are being clowns. I don’t feel Narendra Modi as a future PM of India is a bad idea, because the man isn’t corrupt and he does have a vision for the future. But if that future has to come about, the past is something that has to be dealt with.