In the history of Independent India, there hasn’t been a political figure more polarizing than Narendra Modi. People either adore him or abhor him. They see him either as the saviour or as the terminator.
I have read the articles of lots of learned minds articulating on why India should avoid Modi in General Elections 2014. Some of these articles I tried to dismiss as being influenced and patronised by Modi’s powerful detractors. This is much like the people who find pro Modi articles being patronized by Modi himself.
But that suspicion apart, I find most of these articles being a mix of dismissive and alarmist. They list certain instances which they label as supporting top businessmen, or selling out to capitalists. They raise questions on the possibility of replicating the “Gujarat Model of development”. They point incriminating fingers on his role as a perpetrator of the Godhra riots.
What I find most amusing is that even people from within the BJP try to warn of the pitfalls of having Modi as the PM.
The run up to General Elections 2014
Just a year ago the nation was witnessing a complacent government failing on almost all fronts – domestic and diplomatic. Interestingly that complacence was gaudily adorned by a strange air of arrogance. The reason was simple: there was no political outfit on the horizon strong enough to challenge its supremacy. It felt increasingly confident having mastered the art of coalition and alliances. It had the trump cards of Telangana and food security up its sleeves. It had left the biggest opposition party for dead. The BJP was just a party with an aging leader too weak to bind things together.
Then it happened. For some reasons which a non political person like me is still unable to figure out, Narendra Modi was declared the Prime ministerial candidate by the BJP. This was despite the opposition of senior party leaders and the RSS.
Congress leadership was confident enough that Narendra Modi was a soft target given his “non-secular” record.
But as it turned, out lot of political calculations seemed to go wrong. And suddenly the political equations started changing quickly.
Today Narendra Modi seems to be a formidable claimant to the post of Prime Minister.
As a common man here is what I see as reasons strengthening his claim.
1. Ability to lead from the front.
That the BJP was in shambles was no secret. Despite having some big leaders, party morale was down. In Narendra Modi I have seen the zeal to take charge in the most straight forward manner – making no secret of his aspirations to lead the country. He silently went about working really hard in balancing his responsibilities as the CM and task of galvanising the party ranks and winning the support of the masses. India has not seen a leader of this intensity since the death of Indira Gandhi. Of course I am not comparing the two in terms of their political achievements because it’s early days for Mr Modi. But the intensity of the desire to lead and of the confidence that he will be able to bring about a change is very impressive.
2. Combination of Political leader and business leader
There was a time when the most desirable trait for a top post was administrative skills. It’s not so any more. Today people at the top posts across diverse fields including medicine, engineering, law etc. are expected to have sound business acumen.
In Narendra Modi I see that combination which a developing country like India desperately needs. Every sector – agriculture, technology, services, manufacturing – is brimming with potential which if tapped with vision and aggression can fuel the economic growth that can be real engine for poverty alleviation.
3. Reputation of a hard task master
Over the last decade as the CM of Gujarat, Narendra Modi has earned an image of a hard task master: a man, who means business at any cost. In doing so he has earned enemies too. But that has not made him change his style of functioning. One good thing about any hard task master is that he has kept the standards high. This helps the entire system.
4. Ability for Personal Branding
Strong leaders have a knack of self branding. Narendra Modi is a carefully cultivated brand. He has also cultivated the brand “Gujarat”. For many this is quite negative but I believe that the personal brand of a leader goes a long way in deciding the brand of the organisation or the country he/she leads. A weakened brand of Obama has meant a weakened image of the US. It’s high time India was led by a figure with the image and credentials of a decisive leader.
5. Fighting the most negative tag of “communal”
I have yet to meet a Muslim friend who out-rightly supports Narendra Modi. This is a proof that they believe him to be anti Muslims.
Here I would like to make it very clear that I have deep respect for all the religions and I respect individuals for what they are and not because of the religion they follow. I also believe that the most of the common people like me are convinced that Narendra Modi is not anti Muslims. It is simply not possible for anyone with a narrow minded outlook to achieve anything politically in a country like India. I am also convinced that economy driven priorities that Narendra Modi has exhibited, will ensure the safety of one and all. This is because it is impossible for economy to thrive in an environment of mistrust. Also a leader like him would never play with religious harmony which is an integral part of identity of India.
It was because of the communal tag, that his opponents had written him off. So, I consider his ability to fight this grave allegation with a single minded focus on economic agenda to be a strength.
But what about his flaws!!!
There have been some sharp criticisms against him. As a common man I don’t have any authentic data to factually counter them. But I have logical point.
There is no single charge against him which is not shared by many politicians. These include:
1. Providing favours to the industrialists.
2. Being autocratic so much so that people see a Hitler in him.
3. Indulging in self praise.
I am sure that we all can think of dozens of top politicians who can be associated with these flaws. In fact it won’t be difficult to think of many more with far far graver flaws. Although Modi’s flaws are shared by all and sundry, his strengths or rather the combination of these strengths is rare and unique to him.
We often credit Chinese growth to a strong leadership and long term vision.
As a common man, I want to see India led by Narendra Modi. Not only because he is strong but also because no one else comes even close.