My article titled “Puny Rivals Challenge Giant Modi In Gujarat” published on this website 12 hours before the start of the counting of votes had concluded on the basis of analysis victory of Narendra Modi’s party in the two state elections: Gujarat & Himachal Pradesh. It has come out to be true. The prime minister enjoys the trust of the people of these two states as also the rest of India. The opposition though refuses to change even now. They should be ready to pay the price in the forthcoming elections in 8 states next year and general election 2019. The situation in Gujarat was a bit different this time for some reasons but it would be very favourable for Modi for an all India election.
Narendra Modi had run the government in Gujarat for 12 years before leaving it to the care of his successor Ms Anandiben Patel. She failed to prove herself a good leader and had to be replaced by Vijay Rupani, another ordinary leader. The BJP went into election in Gujarat without a charismatic leader at the helm. People of Gujarat were happy that Modi had gone to Delhi but missed him. The successors of Modi should have done better to run the government. However, the opposition had made the Gujarat election special for it was the home state of Narendra Modi and the party president Amit Shah and a defeat would have impacted not only the prime minister now but the prospects for him for another term in 2019. The opposition was dreaming of taking advantage of the situation, but Narendra Modi & Amit Shah kept a watchful eye on the developments and frustrated the daydreaming Congress Party and its allies.
The election was also special for the opposition had reason to believe that demonetisation & GST had angered the people of Gujarat, who would vote against the BJP. Gujarat is a leading business state of India and cities like Ahmedabad, Surat, Rajkot & Baroda (vadodara) were supposed to have been worst affected by demonetisation and GST. To the utter shock of the Congress Party, these cities gave the BJP 28 out of 32 seats giving only 4 to the Congress Party. The Congress Party and its allies had been running a high-octane campaign against almost all the economic reforms carried out by Narendra Modi but were extremely bitter on demonetisation and thereafter Goods & Services Tax. Rahul Gandhi observed in Surat the first anniversary of demonetisation as the Black Day.
The opposition was snubbed by the Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh voters decisively, which meant they had put their stamp of approval on demonetisation as well as GST. The opposition had misconceptions about the business people and had the notion that such radical economic reforms would not get their approval. Had their gamble proved right, they would have started agitations all over India immediately after the declaration of the results. They have been disappointed by the Gujarat voters.
The Congress Party and its associates made another costly mistake by ridiculing development and the Gujarat Model, besides using filthy language against the Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi. They betrayed their political bankruptcy by ridiculing both. Gujarat is one of the industrially developed states of India. It is a pioneer state in respect of cooperative movement. It is a business oriented entrepreneurs’ state. They have been one of the foremost people from India who carried foreign trade even before modern navigation became available. Mocking development before such audiences only meant the speaker was empty headed. Development for Gujarat means different in comparison to others. An illustration would do: Ms Mamata Banerjee, Chief Minister of West Bengal, drove away the Tata Nano car project and Gujarat readily welcomed it. Narendra Modi was the Chief Minister at that time. Same had happened during the Left Front rule in West Bengal when most industries were closed down due to violent trade unionism of the CP(M). Most of these were relocated in Maharashtra and Gujarat.
Modi’s 12 years as Chief Minister of Gujarat were spotless and clean. The government in Gujarat promoted ease of doing business, mentored development, helped new entrepreneurs set up their units and extended all help to them to run them successfully. Bribery was not common as under Congress governments or governments of its allies. Any state would show commendable results with such transparent and effective governance. Gujarat could do so because the people and the government made it work so. It was that Gujarat Model the Prime Minister referred to in order to encourage competitive federalism to contribute to development of the country for reduction in poverty and promotion of prosperity to make India an economic super power as soon as possible.
The Congress Party instead thinks that Modi was selling the Gujarat Model to Gujarat which failed! Isn’t it carrying coal to Manchester or rather bamboo to Bareilly? Modi has successfully applied the Gujarat Model to governance at the centre and shown commendable results: four Crore (40 million) people who did not require subsidy on cooking gas surrendered their connections, which were allotted free to the poor families. It meant 40 million poor women were helped to get clean fuel for cooking and escape the harm to their eyes from smoke from coal/wood fire. Opening the Jan Dhan accounts for the poor and extending insurance cover to them is another grand achievement of the Gujarat Model, ridiculed by the Congress fleet of leaders. Which Adam Smith or Keynes of the world produced such people friendly and easily workable ideas other than a Narendra Modi of Gujarat following a Gujarat Model?
Only an entrepreneur can take risk in business. The rate of success in such risky business is high if it is a well thought out plan of the Gujarat Model. Narendra Modi took that risk by demonetising high value currency notes of 500/1000 knowing very well he would create any number of enemies in the country, including his home state of Gujarat and other business hubs in the country. He was sure of his Gujarat Model in such an earthshaking measure. He knew the people trusted his personal integrity and believed that whatever he would do would be in greater public interest and the people will approve of it. The people have done so; majority very warmly and others quite warmly. Only the beneficiaries of the humongous corruption of the Congress Party government under Prime Minister Man Mohan Singh were unhappy and cut up. It was these groups which made the loudest noise in the Gujarat election gambling on similar reaction in Gujarat’s business circles and converting their discontent into votes. The Congress Party has lost face and denied power in Gujarat for another 5 years.
The opposition has to understand one thing very clearly: the India of today is different from the India they had so far addressed. It is no more the India of poor farmer, labour, worker, artisan, minority, majority, uneducated, reserved, unreserved castes or many more segments into which they had divided one India into. It is young India. It is educated India. It is knowledge society India. This India understands development. This India understands the need for development. This India wants the opportunities for economic well- being through accelerated development. This India does not want to waste the opportunity or time in realising their aspiration. The issues before this India are complex. The level at which public discourse was carried out in the Gujarat election betrayed complete disconnect of the opposition leaders with this complex phenomenon as they continued to use the old rhetoric of the decades of the 1950, 1960, 1970, 1980, 1990 & 2004.One can’t highlight its futility anymore. This limitation on the part of the Opposition will disconnect them with the voter in the general election 2019. Narendra Modi will prove to be more successful in contrast.
The Gujarat election has done Narendra Modi a valuable favour: One, It has sent a warning to the BJP workers not to take success for granted and turn complacent. Two, it has conveyed to the BJP that the people of India trust the man called Narendra Modi more than the BJP (I have dealt with this subject in some details in my book Narendra Modi: Changing Direction of the Wind And Challenges Ahead). The BJP should not think of disturbing Narendra Modi, as too many voices have been creating unmanageable problems for him by taking decisions or acting according to their free will or making statements without understanding the complexities or consequences in a country rich in diversity. It has been becoming difficult for the Prime Minister to maintain discipline in the ranks as the time for the general election was drawing near, but luck smiled on Narendra Modi and what he could not do even after giving overt instructions to the MPs and party workers, the election in Gujarat has done for him.
Two important developments have meanwhile happened in India which will greatly contribute to the national integration. One is the empowerment of women in the Muslim community by making triple talaq a criminal offence. The potential of Muslim women for quality contribution to the GDP has not even been properly assessed so far. It will be seen once the Damocles sword of Triple Talaq is removed from their head. They are intelligent and creative pool of high grade talent like women from other sections of the Indian society. Once they feel free and compete openly with others, their real potential will be realized. One can only imagine a different India after just 20 years hence.
Simultaneously, as if by destiny ordained, none other than Rahul Gandhi, President of the Congress Party now and Vice President then, publicly proclaimed that he is a Brahman by caste and wears a janeu (the sacred thread worn by Brahman and other upper caste people) and a Shivbhakta- devotee of Lord Shiva. It means the Congress is no more the “secular” party as it had always claimed to be. It has very wide implications. It means total disruption of the business of various religious authorities selling secularism under the banner of Secular Forces and their devastation, annihilation, loss of lucrative business and power. The Congress regents, from the days of Indira Gandhi onwards, who had regulated the political, religious and economic choices of the dynasty will no longer be able to do so. It means the scions of the dynasty will exercise an independent mind and choice. It means the regents will no more be able to run the government for them. It means the Congress leaders will be able to enjoy similar freedom to some extent. It means democracy will ultimately prevail in the Congress Party.
It means a watershed in Indian politics. It means disruption of the entire political scene in India. It means there will be no alliance or Mahagathbandhan of disparate, discordant and contrasting political outfits so disjointed to each other that they don’t bond together except for sharing power to loot the country as was the case during the UPA-I & II under Man Mohan Singh. It means the evolution of a two-party system in India. It means one India, only if the Regents would let it happen. Alternatives to Rahul Gandhi had been suggested several times by vested groups when they rated his sister Priyanka Gandhi above him.
History creates itself from time to time to meet the challenges of the time. It is currently happening for India. India in the next decade will be different from today – a New India!