Originally Published 2013-06-28 00:00:00 Published on Jun 28, 2013
The Modi factor disturbed the Congress party also to some extent. Though Jairam Ramesh had called Modi as "India's first authentic fascist", his description that Modi might prove a challenge to the Congress in 2014 did not go well with a Congress veteran who went to the extent of saying that if Ramesh felt so, he might as well resign and join Modi.
Modi factor in Indian politics
Narendra Modi has emerged as a deeply divisive figure in Indian politics. Leave alone the NDA, there is strong dissent within the BJP, itself. No doubt, it was L.K. Advani, the patriarch of the BJP who raised the red flag against Modi. Advani resented his being ignored by the BJP President, Rajnath Singh, when he made a suggestion not to make Modi as the supreme spokesman of the BJP election panel. The RSS chief himself had to intervene and soften Advani and ensure his continuance in the various party posts in which he figured until Modi's elevation. Nevertheless, Advani did not attend the BJP's national executive meeting, something which he had not done before during the last 32 years. This was divisive enough for Modi to be counted as a negative factor in BJP politics.

In Bihar, Sharad Yadav, JD(U) President, as well as Nitish Kumar, Chief Minister, who headed a JD(U) - BJP coalition for 17 long years, came out strongly against Modi's appointment as the BJP's poll campaign chief. The clarification that Modi was the poll campaign chief of the BJP and not the NDA did not convince Nitish Kumar or Sharad Yadav who went ahead and severed the link with the BJP. Nitish Kumar met the Governor of Bihar and informed him of the end of the coalition government with the BJP and asked for the assembly to be convened in a special session on June 19 for seeking a vote of confidence and proving his majority. The NDA headed by the BJP now consists of only two minor coalition partners - the Shiv Sena and the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD).

The Modi factor disturbed the Congress party also to some extent. Though Jairam Ramesh had called Modi as "India's first authentic fascist", his description that Modi might prove a challenge to the Congress in 2014 did not go well with a Congress veteran who went to the extent of saying that if Ramesh felt so, he might as well resign and join Modi.

There is no doubt that Modi is an unusual politician. He was the first politician to resort to digital use in his electioneering. It is now reported that Modi would use 3D holograms to address election rallies. He would also use technology to speak to 500 people in one call. All these modern methods were unknown to politicians of any party till now. Modi is said to be planning 100 days of "yatra" and might hold 75 big rallies throughout the country.

He would not hesitate to exploit his OBC status and particularly in UP and Bihar his backward caste would be emphasised. It is mentioned that for clinching his claim for the top post he is trying to get elected to the Lok Sabha from the Hindi heartland, preferably from Lucknow, Varanasi and Allahabad. There was also a report that he would coordinate with other religious heads like Baba Ramdev. Ramdev himself may take a long "yatra" throughout the country in support of Modi.

Notwithstanding all the hype that is being made about Narendra Modi's approach being development-oriented and his well-known resort to digital technology during his electioneering campaign, Modi does not leave any opportunity to demonstrate his Hindutva credential. It has been announced now that Modi is likely to visit Ayodhya and high-powered team of Hindutva stalwarts headed by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad's Ashok Singhal would greet him and accompany him to the disputed site. Other Hindutva stalwarts in the team are Praveen Togadia, Baba Ramdev, Ram Janmabhoomi Nyas Trust chief Nitya Gopal Das and Gorakhpur BJP MP Yogi Adityanath. This report has since been denied. Nitish Kumar cannot be blamed when he protested loudly against the elevation of Modi and described the same as descent to doom.

The BJP chief of Goa, Manohar Parikar, commented on June 18 that the 2002 post-Godhra riots in Gujarat were a clear-cut case of administrative failure and a bad example of governance. Criticism of Modi from yet another unexpected quarters: Sudheendra Kulkarni, an important figure during Atal Bihari Vajpayee's days, wrote in an article that Modi was authoritarian and a self-centred leader who had shown that he cares two hoots for the party organisation and long-time party colleagues. Kulkarni went on to say that by becoming too powerful suddenly in the BJP's national scheme of things, a selfless leader like Advani, who toiled for many decades to build the party, was being cast aside as a useless relic.

The manner in which the RSS chief pushed Modi to the very top and writing off Advani in the process would show that Modi is out and out a Hindutva candidate, whatever modern methods he might choose in his electioneering.

No wonder, Nitish used strong words when he said that the "BJP was pushing them to doom". That Modi is not a moderate in any sense of the term is beyond doubt.

A book on the life of Narendra Modi has been published. Its author is Kingshuk Nag. He speaks about the rise of Narendra Modi from an impoverished background, going up steadily after joining the RSS. Modi could be ruthless in dealing with his competitors. People like Shankersinh Vaghela and Keshubhai Patel where totally neutralised.

While winding up the debate on the trust motion on June 19, the Bihar Chief Minister made a remarkable speech. He said that the NDA, which consisted of the JD(U) and the BJP, won in 2005 and 2009. The victory was due to Bihar's model which was inclusive, which has affirmative schemes for everybody - Hindus, Muslims, upper and lower castes, Adivasis and women. Nitish Kumar went on to say that the leader of the country should bring everyone together. He added that "our country is so diverse in terms of culture, language, food habits, etc". We need to take everyone together. The RSS talks of Hindutva while his view was that the person who leads the country should be secular and should have a vision of inclusive growth. This country was goverened by a constitution whose basic values are egalitarianism, pluralism and inclusiveness, and together they formed what was called "Bharat ka darshan or the idea of India". Nitish went on to say that the question before India is: Will the constitutional vision triumph or will we surrender to the ideology of division and polarisation? The people of this country will not tolerate it. There was only one idea and that is the Idea of India and any other vision would lead to India's disintegration as a nation.

No better description of Modi's politics is necessary. Modi's elevation as the most important leader of the BJP in the country and his possible nomination as the Prime Ministerial candidate would, no doubt, lead to negative forces asserting themselves in the affairs of the country.

(The writer is an Advisor to Observer Research Foundation. He is a former Governor of UP and West Bengal)

Courtesy : The Tribune, June 28, 2013

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