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Can Gujarat He-man become India’s Atlas

Narendra Modi is pleased as punch. Is it a dream come true – to be willingly projected as the prime ministerial prospect of the Saffron parivar by nearly all of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) senior leaders in Gujarat?

But is Modi not a hardcore realist who is not taken in by political doublespeak? Is he not a man who knows what the BJP leaders are doing or saying today to stand by him? What they are doing now, is it for their own survival?

If Modi were to win, but not handsomely, or if he is unable to secure a landslide victory, as he hopes and claims, would he be disheartened and chastened? Would he be immediately shown the kind of ebullience he is engaged in now or would it do any good to his image and confidence?

Even if he remains all smiles and continues to dress in the best of clothes with colourful pugrees with a well trimmed beard and designer spectacles, rimmed and elegant to go with his ruddy cheeks, would he still feel fully redeemed in his claims of being a development man or as the phrase goes, Vikas Purush, the he-man of Gujarat, if the win is not good enough for lavish victory parades?

If bychance, and he might well say, God forbid, Modi were to lose in the unlikely scenario and even after riding chariots and horses like kings of yore, what would happen to the BJP and the Sangh parivar? Would their leaders, all of them, not lose their face as well as their credibility? Would they have a face to hide? Would they be able to dream of winning the next general election?

Would they have a mascot to parade even for the Delhi Assembly elections in less than a year from now? Even Delhi Assembly remains a crucial platform to look ahead and jump from in the near future, leave alone their ability to have captured three Municipal Corporations of the Union Capital, one of them by the skin of their teeth?

Would the BJP, despite stringent opposition from the Nagpur bosses, be able to swear by Modi for the next general election in the midsummer or early summer of 2014? Would there be a heart and soul to bring down the government at the Center in the Lower House of Parliament to advance an election for a new Lok Sabha? These are a variety of scenarios with diverse and divergent forces at work in the saffron outfits and their own allies, who are for the time being showing a bit of solidarity, if not real unity.

That solidarity or a build-up to it appears to have been hit, if not damaged. The BJP’s detractors would like to cite the case of Mamata Banerjee playing games from outside the parivar by first doing what appeared to be the Opposition bidding by moving a censure motion in the Lok Sabha? When she discovered to her horror that her would-be ‘friends’ and supporters had left her in the lurch and severely alone, she has pointed out that by moving the no-confidence proposal she was testing the Opposition.

Her reason for the motion to strive for a unity of purpose on the issue of foreign direct investment (FDI) since it appeared to be a common cause.

That common cause vanished into thin air when all of her 22 MPs were left gaping with not a single man or woman to stand up with them. What is the result? She is as angry with the BJP as she is with the Congress. A volte face in the face of promises not kept. Will she now pay back the BJP in the same coin by abstaining or asking her MPs to stay away from the House when it is time to vote on the new Opposition motion on the issue of FDI where the rightists and leftists are expected to join hands against the government of the day?

A dilemma that Banerjee faces and signs of a brewing annoyance and dissidence within the Trinamool Congress are out in the open. A unique party of Bengal is not in a unique political space, thanks to her one time allies way back 10 or more years ago.

The scene keeps switching from Gujarat to Delhi as charges and counter-charges fly against Modi and he tries to pay back in coin.

In spite of this electioneering process in Gujarat, the focus refuses to shift on the FDI in multi-brand retail. The Congress is reported to have made a deal with Mayawati and hopes to reach a similar agreement with Mulayam Singh Yadav even as they remain opposed to FDI in its present form. By merely abstaining from the vote in Parliament, they can bail out the government with losing face.

Yet Modi would be expected to be all for FDI in multi-brand retail as he seeks to attract foreign investment in large doses to Gujarat, whose brand ambassador he projects himself to be. But that hidden or not so hidden policy of Modi is quite contrary to the political grand-standing of the BJP, whose own former minister, Arun Shourie, has now openly supported this government’s decision to attract and encourage foreign investment in many areas of the economy, especially in the financial sector. Many other leaders in the BJP are equally supportive of the FDI policy.

But Walmart has taken a leap in association with its Indian partner by starting cash and carry stores in 17 states and they may have already hit the middlemen or wholesalers and gradually take on mom and pop stores slowly in the years and decades to come.  (IFS)
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