The long road to Delhi
Gujaratis have given Narendra Modi the verdict he deserves, says Sheela Bhatt
Gujaratis have used the electoral machin- ery judiciously and intelligently to give what is due to Gujarat’s hero, Narendra
Modi. The third consecutive victory is by all
yardsticks a superb achievement. All sections of
society have given the Bharatiya Janata Party
Except in north Gujarat, the BJP seems to
have not lost much anywhere. The emphatic victory is because of the urban middle class’s identification with Modi and Modi’s identification
Gujarati voters gave Modi exactly what he
deserved — and refused to allow him to be in the
league of the Congress party’s Madhavsinh
Solanki, who won 149 assembly seats in 1985 on
the basis of the KHAM (Kshatriya, Harijan,
Adivasi, Muslim) theory conceived by party
strategist Jinabhai Darji.
The hyped expectations will slow Modi down
for some time, but it won’t restrict his ambitions.
In Gujarat, even smaller towns have an urban
sensibility and rural areas are increasingly coming under the influence of the urban ethos. Modi
has reaped the benefits of Gujarat’s urbanization
once again. But Gujaratis have not given Modi
enough to make him the BJP’s ‘undeclared’
prime ministerial candidate too soon. The
Congress party has lost disgracefully, but somewhere its strategy has worked in not giving Modi
‘open skies’, as Congress party leader and Indian
External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid said.
The hype around Modi has been belied by a
complex verdict. Modi the victor has been
trapped by the voters’ verdict. He has fallen victim to the web of hype, exaggeration, hardsell
that he wove around his personality.
His party’s boast of getting 151 seats impacted
last week’s celebration.
Modi has become larger-than-life, but the verdict is one where Gujaratis have gained more
The verdict favors the people of Gujarat. And
they are saying, ‘Narendrabhai, please serve us!
There is still time to shift to Delhi!’
The voters are saying: ‘We want Modi. He
gives us a peaceful and safe atmosphere to earn
our life and livelihood, he gives us a sense of
strength by his vision of development and he
raises hopes for a promising future.’
Voters have not given Modi bountiful votes to cross the
psychological hurdle of earning significantly more than the
125 seats that the BJP itself declared as its goal this time.
Delhi’s political setup would have experienced tremors
had Modi won above 125 seats. Modi did not leave any
stone unturned to get it — he went on Google Hangout,
used 3D technology and spent millions of rupees to project
himself. He did everything within his command to market
himself so that he could move on to the next stage of leadership, but intelligent Gujarati voters applied the brakes on
Modi exaggerated his strengths and the Congress party
exaggerated Modi’s weaknesses. Now voters have chosen
Modi with a caveat. They have given him power because
they want to get on with life.
The BJP’s losses carry the message that all was not well
with Modi’s governance.
At same time they have given a clear signal that ‘anti-
Leuva-Patel community. The Patels were divided, but the division of votes harmed the
Congress party more than the BJP, and helped
Modi in a big way.
Second, cash transfers to tribals contributed
handsomely to Modi’s victory. Modi has used the
cash transfer scheme efficiently to his political
Much before Indian Finance Minister P
Chidambaram boasted about it, the Modi government transferred more than Rs 9 billion
($163 million) to poor people all over Gujarat.
Modi concentrated heavily on the southern tribal belt. He appropriated the entire credit for the
scheme by organizing garib melas and won over
The BJP lost Sanand, where Modi gave land
and huge benefits to the Tatas to produce Nano
cars. But it says something for Modi’s development model that the BJP has won in tribal areas
where cash was disbursed without being awarded Nano-type of factories.
Modi’s government has distributed benefits
worth millions of rupees to around 10 million
poor Gujaratis through hundreds of garib melas
so far. This suggests that in coming days one will
see a change in Modi’s model of development.
The BJP has lost less-than-expected seats in
Saurashtra, but it has lost its tight grip on north
Gujarat and gained in south Gujarat. In central
Gujarat it has more or less remained at the same
level as it did in the 2007 election.
It was known that there was anti-incumbency
against the Modi government in Saurashtra.
Modi countered it by non-Patel (anti-Patel
emotion was not raised to ensure that the BJP’s
Patel candidates didn’t suffer) mobilization in
the BJP’s favor by organizing the Vivekanand
Yatra to keep the youth on his side and by injecting energy in the administration in tribal areas.
Urban Gujarat, by using middle-class muscle
to dominate Modi’s agenda, helped. It is a mutually beneficial relationship. Modi favors urban
Gujarat in his development agenda and middle-class Gujaratis give him votes.
It is a wonderful result delivered by Gujarati
voters. They know best what is good for them.
This is a ‘faida no saudo’ (profitable deal), as
typical Gujarati voters see it.
The less than 125-plus seats means Modi will
be compelled to concentrate on Gujarat for
some time. This mandate will give Modi food for thought.
He presided over a cabinet, many of whose members have
been rejected ruthlessly by voters. It is certainly a reflection
on the BJP under Modi in Gujarat.
But Modi won unqualified success in crushing the
Congress party’s efforts to stand and be counted in Gujarat
after two decades. This will worry Congress party leaders in
There remains no doubt that Modi has won in spite of
anti-incumbency against many of his party’s candidates
and the fact that the Hindutva card was absent. This gives
him the edge which he did not have even in his 2002 and
One should not have any doubt that Narendra Modi is at
the doorsteps of New Delhi. A 125-plus verdict would have
given him automatic advantage right away. Now Modi will
maneuver his way because the third consecutive victory
will make him more impatient than ever.
Narendra Modi’s third consecutive election victory is by all yardsticks a major achievement
SONIL DEDHIA/REDIFF. COM
Congressism’ is alive in Gujarat and they have shown contempt for Congress party leaders by kicking out of the political arena veterans like Arjun Modhwadia (Porbandar),
Shaktisinh Gohil (Bhavnagar), Kunvarjee Bawalia (Botad)
and Sidhartha Patel (Dabhoi).
The entire range of the Congress party and BJP leader-
ship, cutting across castes and class, has been wiped out for
the next five years. Modi’s Home Minister Praful Patel,
Agriculture Minister Dilip Sanghani, Health Minister
Jaynarayan Vyas and Minister of Social Welfare Fakirbhai
Vaghela all lost the election. More ministers would have
lost had they not been helped by Modi when he declared on
the election campaign, ‘Don’t look at your candidate, look
What he actually meant was: ‘Ignore the taint on them,
ignore their corruption and give me your vote.’
Modi’s day has been made by two trends. First,
Saurashtra has rejected outright the caste card of the