Monday, December 24, 2007

The State Of Indian Politics - Post Gujarat Elections

The state for now is definitely Gujarat. Much has been said, written, heard, spewed, vomited, acted, faked, dramtised before, during and after the elections in Gujarat. There was never any doubt about Narendra Modi's victory in Gujarat. Perhaps what was to be keenly watched during this election was Modi's victory margin, in Maninagar constituency where he was facing Union Minister Dinsha Patel and the overall assembly tally. Both the results have given enough fodder for the analysts and experts to stuff their mouths with and shut them. Funnily enough, they still go on. Perhaps it's the TV studio lights or the press printing machines that are to be blamed. I don't think the English language media that Ms. Ghose refers to, gets it. The average Gujarati, definition of which may vary and is open to discussion, doesn't watch any of the English language news channels, leave alone sit through the analyses and the debates. He doesn't even read the English newspapers, leave alone read the complex and sometimes fanciful Op-eds and guest articles. This of course, is in addition to the national media brand of reporting carried in the regular articles. The average Gujarati is a very real person, more concerned about what's happening with him and around him. Perhaps that little time spent through flipping Gujarat Samachar or Sandesh, the time spent through catching on a bit of ETV Gujarati or Alpha Gujarati or time the spent in the trains to and from work is his window to the external world and a source of knowing what is the world saying about Gujarat. The Prannoy Roys, Barkha Dutts, Rajdeep Sardesais, Arnab Goswamis, Karan Thapars, Yogendra Yadavs and soon to come, Vir Sanghvis (with or without Gangulys) are nowhere on his radar. These media men and women seem to have missed this point completely.

What makes Narendra Modi different from the other political leaders is that he's more real and if one were to use that phrase, in your face, than most of them. Compare him with the Gandhis, the Vajpayees or the Karats, and you find there's something enigmatic about them, as if they're only meant for those rare appearances, with the people that is. In contrast, Narendra Modi is everywhere, with his SMSes, ringtones, masks( Tehelka, of course, had an issue even with that, literally. The cover story was titled The Mukhauta Campaign) and even YouTube videos. While he's able to widely connect with his audience at the grass-roots level, he remains being very subdued and measured in his public appearances. Just being seen is not enough, being there is important.

Now that the General Elections are drawing close, we are in for some entertaining times on TV and in the papers. New phrases around actresses will be coined, like BISPASA it was the last time around. Social and political scientists from JNU, Made-Only-For-TV leaders from all parties will join the presenters and the reporters in entertaining us. But what makes me wonder is that if I, and perhaps Seth, are the only ones who seem to know the possible truth? That the country did neither vote the Congress to power because of its aam aadmi campaign nor did it vote the BJP out for its Indian Shining campaign. What helped the Congress, rather what is now known as UPA, were the huge victories in Andhra Pradesh(with TRS) and in Tamizh Nadu (with DMK), some deft coalition cobbling by M/s Ahmed Patel and co. and the Left's compulsion to align with secular forces and not communal forces like the BJP. That is all, nothing more nothing less. And Mr. Advani, you lost some respect when you recently said about the India Shining campaign being a mistake. In fact, it made a lot of us feel good about the state our country was in then. And the feeling wasn't just restricted to the urban middle-class people. Blaming the campaign for your defeat wouldn't be the right thing to do. Let's see what else is in store for us like he said in that movie - "Pichchar abhi baaki hai mere dost". But Mr. Khan, that's movies and this is politics. And politics is real.


Harish said...

Very well said. Modi represents a very very credible alternative to the pusillanimous, ineffectual, inarticulate, indecisive, rudderless leadership that Manmohan Singh led UPA represents at the centre. Now that Modi has won, Congress and the media are now busy comforting themselves with their imagination that Modi is not acceptable outside Gujarat. If development, national security, assertive and decisive leadership is what people of India want then there is no credible reason to believe Modi will be confined to Gujarat alone.
Regarding the UPA's win in 2004, you are spot on. It was not a defeat of NDA and it's development plank. It was the anti-incumbency in Andhra and Tamil Nadu that sealed Vajpayee's fate. Also he did not package development agenda with a bit of emotive appeal as Modi did. I see no wrong in that as long as it does not create violence.

Arjun Sharma said...

And it wasn't as though the Congress secured a HUGE mandate as opposed to the BJP's disastrous loss. Both of them got nearly the same amount of seats. It's just, as you point out, that the Left decided to align with the 'secular' forces rather than the 'communal' ones.

And India Shining was a very good campaign. You're right, it did make a lot of us feel good about our country. The poor, and late, Pramodh Mahajan would have been very sad to learn Advani apologized for that.

Arjun Sharma said...

Oh you and this Seth person also do this insane analysis thing? Thank God! I thought Harish and I were the only ones. I was scared for my own health.

Hitesh Sharma said...

I am currently living in Kerala, a place that is as non-Gujarat as Indian could be. Amid all the red flags, one actually comes across people who are happy about Modi's win. With an edge of disappointment in his voice a kirana owner tells me how if modi were in Kerala, the Kozhikode International Airport would have been renovated long ago. One bystander says that Modi would have got the SmartCity project up and about. Another added that Modi would have got Cochin's its metro. All this talk in Kozhikode, the center of Muslim Kerala!
Makes me wonder if the 'unacceptability' of Modi is really all that true!
Psst.: I have written a piece on Narendrabhai too!

drisyadrisya said...

Happened to chance upon your blog. Nice post about Modi..

To Hitesh... yes, in the midst of the red-green sea called Kerala you will find people who..... envy Modi and his Gujarat..

read my post titles "Neighbour's envy, Owners pride" at

Shruti said...

one more important thing abt modi is that he has integrity.and he seems one of us.i agree with the made-for-tv phrase.abhishek manu singhvi(is he gujju too?!) is a sure one.and i have to agree with ur views on the english is too biased.and ever wonder,after 5 years,anybody on CNN-IBN will give a shit abt nandigram?