Modi geared to be showstopper
Narendra Modi is behaving, as if, he has already become the prime minister. He is speaking of the policies his government will follow, will not be vindictive to his opponents. So much so he will not act against Robert Vadra while BJP candidate from Jhansi, Uma Bharti, says Sonia Gandhi’s son-in-law will go to jail in the event of NDA coming to power. Modi says he has no enmity either with Jayalalithaa or Nitish Kumar and even extends a hand of friendship to Tamil Nadu chief minister.
And ‘I may have used harsh words against Sonia and Rahul but this is temporary, not permanent.’ Modi says, ‘harsh words used in poll campaign do not mean permanent hostilities’. Surprisingly, Modi goes soft on Sharad Pawar and says ‘politically, Pawar and I trade sharp criticism but personally both of us are having good relations. Same is the case with Jayalalithaaji’.
The remark assumes significance in the backdrop of apparent hostilities between the BJP and the AIADMK Chief, and will lead many to wonder whether Modi was reluctant to foreclose the option of sourcing numbers from Jayalalithaa, should NDA could fall short of the magic figure of 272.
On foreign policy, he says ‘Visa ban will not cloud relations with US’ and there will be no change in India’s no-first-use nuclear policy which the BJP’s manifesto has already indicated. And, on economic front, he says, his credibility is higher than that of his principal rivals. The BJP, sensing victory, has already earmarked the UPA Chairperson’s office in Parliament for Advani’s projected role as NDA Chairperson.
Modi becoming prime minister depends on so many factors; how many seats the BJP gets and what will be tally of allies. Finding coalition partners among the regional parties is not going to be an easy task. Akali Dal is aligned with the BJP but the Shiv Sena, is a disgruntled partner.
BJP is likely to emerge as a single largest party but getting the magic figure of 272 appears difficult unless there is a powerful Modi wave sweeping both north and south. Modi’s anxiety in the post-poll period appears inevitable and, therefore, he has begun wooing regional parties and shown softness towards the Congress ally – the NCP.
There is Naveen Patnaik in Odisha, both DMK and AIADMK, and then Nitish Kumar in Bihar, a former BJP ally. A couple of years back, he had said ‘no Narendra Modi’, but now he is sending softer signals. So far as Mamata Banerjee is concerned she is against the Congress but she is neither going to be very happy with Modi. There is some trouble in Modi’s own party. Many in the party are still not reconciled to Modi becoming the prime minister. The old guards led by L K Advani are already in retreat. Jaswant Singh has been expelled for six years, Murli Manohar Joshi has been snubbed on the manifesto and it is doubtful if he wins from Kanpur, his new constituency. Joshi is very upset for having been shifted from his original constituency – Varanasi and replaced, of all persons, by Modi.
Should Modi win decisively, it will be interesting to see how he handles the possible emergence of the Bhopal axis of Advani, Sushma Swaraj, and Madhya Pradesh chief minister, Shivraj Singh Chauhan. Modi will also have to learn to balance an alert RSS and powerful state leaders like Raman Singh, Vasundhara Raja and Manohar Parrikar. So far as RSS cadre is concerned, it will be watching carefully if Modi sheds his Hindutva image and recasts himself as a liberal. On his part, Modi is trying to shed his communal image and present himself as centrist.
But, at the same time, he has denied any wrong doing during the Gujarat riots of 2002, asserting that he should be hanged in a street square if he was guilty, instead of being let off by offering an apology. The matter is now in the people’s court, he says. What are plus points of Modi? The first attraction of Modi, if he becomes the prime minister, is that he is personally not corrupt. Whatever may be charges against the Gujarat government, nobody can say that Modi administration is corrupt. No doubt, Gujarat has better infrastructure. The big business houses also love him because he makes it easy for them to make money.
Whosoever wins on 16 May, the two major political parties will not remain the same. The BJP will be recast in the mould of whoever wins. If the BJP becomes the single largest party under Modi it will definitely be a different BJP. Modi says the main focus of his government (if the BJP comes to power) will be to fulfill promises it has made to the people and it will work with a positive attitude. It will not be vindictive to anyone. ‘The vindictiveness of others has made me price for the past 12 years. I will not do that but utilise my time and energy for doing good things for public at large’. IPA