Millennium Post

Like a lotus, just above it all

The state of Gujarat, land of Mahatma Gandhi, is presently witnessing a political struggle between a strongman eager to shift to the national scene and his old time party leaders, two former Chief Ministers and other senior leaders joining hands together after deserting their old party and its mother organisation. The deserters have finally vowed to take on the present chief minister, who is at the helm of affairs since 1997.  The chief minister, Narendra Modi, has been able to overcome many obstacles and problems created by his own party’s national leaders, important functionaries of the present ruling alliance at centre, commissions of enquiry, various courts, his own loyal-friendly-senior-officers-turned-foes and many social activists.  He continues to occupy the same position despite the then prime minister, belonging to his own saffron party, exhorting him to follow
raj dharma
in the aftermath of the post-Godhra riots.  The man who nurtured the saffron party in the 1960s, S S Vaghela, and the man who brought this saffron party to power the first time with a landslide victory in Gujarat, Keshubhai Patel, are both fishing badly in the troubled waters.

The issue of the future prime minister, that is, the NDA’s prime ministerial candidate, has been in the air during last few months despite parliamentary elections being far away, as the present term is likely to continue till May 2014.  Modi has never directly expressed his interest in the highest executive post of the country, though he has also not, indirectly or directly, spoken against this at any forum.  While answering a query by mediapersons on his party claiming to have six potential candidates for the prime minister’s post, Modi stated himself to be
’.  This word in Hindi has two meanings, one being flawless and the other being unaffected.  It may be understood that a person like Modi will not like to claim himself to be a flawless person.  Of course, he might have talked about being unaffected.  Is he leaving everything to the Almighty by sitting idle in the race?  Seemingly, this is not correct, as Modi has been responding to such issues in his own style and with wisely selected words.  Anyhow, the saffron party must boast of possessing six future prime ministers as no other party can claim to have even a single such candidate.  All the six in the saffron party might be aspiring, but whether they will be able to survive the limus test of acceptability within their party and in their weakening alliance, is the question.  

As far as the unaffected posture of Modi is concerned, this cannot be digested easily.  He has been responding to the issues raised by his counterpart in the NDA-ruled state of Bihar.  Modi went on to establish old time reciprocative gestures between Gujarat and Bihar.  With an intention to soften the stand taken by Nitish,  Modi has been organising Bihar day functions in Gujarat wherein he stated that Sardar Patel of Gujarat helping Rajendar Prasad in becoming the first president of India and, in turn, Jai Prakash Narain from Bihar overcome the obstacles coming in the way of Gujarat’s foremost Gandhian, Morarji Desai, in becoming the first non-Congress Prime Minister. Modi could not recollect that the young student activists during the
Nav Nirman Andolan
in the early 1970s approached the then passive JP to visit Gujarat and lead their agitation against the then Chief Minister Chimanbhai Patel.  The presence of the then fragile and physically week JP not only gave a fillip to the movement but also brought him back to the national mainstream.  This incident also speaks of the old relations between the two states. The government led by Chimanbhai was sacrificed by clamping president’s rule and by dissolving the assembly as per the decision of the then prime minister, Indira Gandhi, but not before Morarji Desai sat on an indefinite hunger strike demanding the dissolution of the state government.  It may be recalled that
Nav Nirman Andolan
was not able to lay the foundation of the saffron party in Gujarat.  It was Ram Lehar which proved to be instrumental in opening the first inning of the saffron government in 1995.  Since that the issue of secularism in the state has been hanging in the fire.

This is the issue which is coming in the way of Modi in his elevation at the national level.  Modi cannot claim to be nirvikar as he has been undertaking sadbhavna upvas in the various districts of the state to counter the effect of the upvas being organised by the Congress party.  Modi’s upvases are being interpreted as an effort to play down his lukewarm role in containing riots and inciting riots.  Had Modi been nirvikar in a true spirit, he would have preferred to remain quiet when allegations were leveled by the principal opposition party in the state, the other UPA parties and a constituent party of the NDA.  

Sat Pal is a communication consultant and has worked with several central and state ministers.
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