The election victory of the BJP in Gujarat has started a wave of celebrations. NDTV is showing BJP supporters dancing and holding placards saying
“This is the trailer, watch the film in 2014”
- “CM in 2012, PM in 2014”
- “Hit & Fit for PM.”
Shreyas Navare captures it well in a cartoon in the Hindustan Times (left).
Now we will have panel discussions (TV channels have to sell airtime) on questions like
- How will Modi do at the national level?
- Will he be a good Prime Minister?
In my opinion Modi is not going to get a chance to perform at the national stage. Not because he is not an able administrator, which he may be, but because he is not going to get an opportunity.
India has not had a single party government after 1984 when Rajiv Gandhi won a landslide on the back of the assassination of Mrs. Indira Gandhi. It has been an era of coalition politics every since. Even if we ignore the ill-fated (and ill-conceived) third front governments, neither of the two main political parties Congress or the BJP have ever come close to forming a government on their own steam. They have had to form coalitions with regional parties or break away factions (Trinamool, Tamil Maanila etc). Some of these coalitions have been pre-election, some post election.
The coalition partners, mostly, are regional satraps. Not unusual in a federal set up where the States have considerable power. These parties, represent the ambitions of their constituents and they fiercely guard those even nationally.
It therefore follows that no one can be Prime Minister unless all (most) of the constituent parties are willing to have that person as a leader.
Modi is a divisive personality. He evokes feelings of admiration and / or hatred – rarely indifference. Not an ideal coalition leader who needs to be more malleable.
Modi has tremendous backing in one section of the BJP, one aligned to the RSS. However, that section does not necessarily call the shots even in the BJP. Plus there are heavy weights within the BJP who do not want Modi as the leader.
If Modi is projected as the Prime Ministerial candidate, the BJP is not going to get more votes from the right-of-centre Hindus; they vote for the BJP even now. Yes, the BJP may garner a few extra votes from the GDP growth at ANY cost brigade but they will lose coalition partners like Nitish Kumar. That will be a big loss. Plus having him as a PM aspirant will leave a huge flank open for the UPA to attack. Modi’s role, whether as active participant or someone who condoned or someone who could not manage, the riots of 2002 is too juicy to pass up. It will also galvanise the Muslim community to vote for the UPA just to keep BJP out.
Electoral mathematics determines that Modi is not going to ever get that chance to lead at national level and hence this and questions like these will remain hypothetical.
I know that Gujarat has made rapid strides. Some areas of achievement in areas of foreign investment, corporate backing, power generation are impressive. However, we also know that Modi is a master of hype and public relations. Some part of the ‘achievements lustre’ is purely PR. He has famously failed on nutrition for instance.
Plus personally I am not sure I want to accept a leader who is low on human rights just because (s)he can deliver good governance. You must remember that Mrs. Gandhi delivered some good governance in the emergency times. Do I want to live under a Modi government? Hell no.