For weeks one had been bombarded by the Narendra Modi blitzkrieg whose intensity was of a scale that would induce large-scale distortion of
perception and reality, something like
what mass hypnotists do to a spellbound audience.
Rather like those conjurers, Modi, it
seemed, was everywhere thanks to his
3D projections. There was nowhere
you could run: He was there virtually,
in Google Hangout, and in the pinpoint carpet-bombing by his followers
on social media.
If you let yourself be mesmerized by
this you would believe, as a few vocal
ones do, that Modi is the future; that
the Gujarat election was merely the
first stepping stone in his impending
trek to the prime ministership.
Thankfully, there is something called
a reality check that, well, reality
enforces on you. And that moment
arrived December 20.
All along, one had been brainwashed
into believing that Gujarat was Modi’s
pocket borough, and the state, barring
the ‘pseudo-seculars’ acting at the
behest of the Congress party, would
rally behind him as never before.
The never-before part is interesting.
On the heels of the 2002 carnage of
Muslims, which pitchforked Modi into
national prominence, not all of it the
positive kind, was his high point.
Bagging just a tad less than 50 percent
of the vote, he romped home with 127
seats in the assembly.
This time, we were told by his
numerous followers for who he has by
now assumed the form of the 10th
avatar of Vishnu come to save mankind
— okay, not all of it but at least to save
Bharat — the number would be phenomenal. One-twenty-plus was the
minimum (never mind, it would still
be less than 2002) but in sight was the
145 seats scored by the Congress party
under Madhavsinh Solanki in 1985.
That was thanks to mobilization of
Now that the numbers are out and it
is nowhere near as spectacular as
expected/feared by some or hyped by
many — Modi has bagged just 115
seats, his lowest in three
elections — it is a sobering thought. Is this the
best he can do?
Yes, Modi has won his
third consecutive term
which maybe something
to cheer about for the
Bharatiya Janata Party
(it really shouldn’t cheer
about him if it knows
what is best for it and
the nation), but is nothing new.
Sheila Dikshit has done in it Delhi trouncing — who else!
— the BJP. Naveen Patnaik has done it in Orissa, first in
league with the BJP and then against it. So has Tarun
Gogoi in Assam. And this is only in the recent past.
So if Modi has neither won an unprecedented mandate in
either seats or number of terms, what is all the hype about?
Or is that not a question that should be asked at a time
when the vocalites are telling us the future is him?
These voices will only get shriller in the day as more elec-
Is it mere hype?
A supporter with a mask of Gujarat Chief Minister
Narendra Modi on his turban attends an election
rally at Pavagadh town, Gujarat, October 11
tion data pours in. Already, that the
BJP, despite not putting up a single
Muslim candidate, has won in
some community boroughs is being
held up as a vindication of the state
government’s dubious role in the
2002 anti-Muslim riots.
If poll results are meant to wash
away the stains from the past, the judicial function may as
well be handed over the Election Commission of India.
By talking of 2002 one runs the risk of getting branded as
being stuck in the past when the affected community has so
clearly moved on. Or get poked with another popular
rejoinder: Anyway, wasn’t the Congress party guilty of a
similar crime in 1984 when it targeted Sikhs?
I don’t think either the Muslim community has moved
on, or that the analogy to the Congress party’s misdeed in
1984 is correct.
Taking the second one first, the Congress
party has more than atoned for its sin by
making a Sikh the prime minister since
2004. On the contrary, the BJP has not
made a Muslim a chief minister, not in
Gujarat or elsewhere, so there has neither
been a verbal nor active expression of grief
And the first point, about Muslims not
moving on, takes me to a recent community event where I happened to be the lone
non-Muslim. Since there was nothing
about me, neither dress nor language, to
show the others I was not one of them,
tongues wagged freely in my presence
despite the somber occasion.
Since men are prone to discuss politics at
any event, the talk turned to Narendra
Modi. From anger to dismay, the sentiments ran the entire gamut.
One of them was articulate, comparing
what Modi has done to the community in
Gujarat to what Aurangzeb had done to
Hindus in the past, and spoke of the present as a time when they were paying for
I realized then, that despite all talk of
normalcy, moving on, for a large number
of non-Hindu Indians Modi’s ascendancy
is a petrifying thought.
As for me, speaking purely as a practicing Hindu Indian, what he represents is in
tune with neither the religion I believe in
nor with the ideals of the nation I belong
The BJP, claiming to speak for both, is in
reality speaking only for itself.
Shellshocked by its defeat in 2004, and
silenced by its realization that there is no
vote-catcher in its midst, it is casting its lot
with the Gujarat chief minister. Despite
the Modi cult running counter to everything the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh
stands for, there is a silence of complicity
in a party filled with papier mache leaders.
No wonder Modi, with his three consecutive terms, seems like the new demigod.
Aware that his Achilles heel will hobble his national
ambitions, the Modi we saw in 2012 was not the same we
saw in 2002 and 2007. The BJP, despite all the pro-Mandir
polarization, bagged just 20.3 percent of the vote in the
1996 Lok Sabha election, the figure creeping up to 25.6
percent in 1998 and 23.8 percent in 1999. That was the best
the moderate Atal Bihari Vajpayee could manage, and
Modi knows he needs to do much better to dispense with
pesky allies like Nitish Kumar. Hence the new mantra of
development that he has been harping on, a mantra that
many more qualified and knowledgeable than me have
picked holes in.
Everyone knows that the prerequisite for economic development is peace. Gujaratis, given their industry and drive,
have bought into Modi’s recipe for peace. But the rest of
India needs to remind itself that peace can also be found in
Is that what we seek for the nation, too?
AMI T DAVE/REU TERS