Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Development or Ideology

This was the dilemma that Narendra Modi, the Chief Minister of the state of Gujarat had before he kick started his election campaign.

He was running for the office of Chief Minister for a record third time heading 55 Million Gujaratis. All his meetings, he was showcasing "Vibrant Gujarat" with all the developmental works he had done past 5 years.

He was elected with a record of 117 Members of Legislative Assemble (MLA's) out of a total of 182 seats. The Congress Party and its allies were halted at 62 seats.

Even though BJP lost 9 seats to its previous tally of 126 MLA's, the margin hardly mattered as the Congress was in a hopeless situation. While the BJP was celebrating, the leaders of Congress Party switched off the cell phones, shying away from the media.

This is another debacle (after been routed in Uttar Pradesh by Mayavati's BSP) for Congress Party and in particular to it's President, Sonia Gandhi as she tried once again to project her son, Rahul Gandhi as the Prime Minister -in-waiting.

Some of the achievements of Narendra Modi are:

* Value of farm output has grown four times during his reign.
* School drop-out rate was down to 3% from over 40%.
* All villages, without exception, were getting 24 hour, 3 phase power for homes.
* The pipelines and canals fetching Narmada water, more than 140,000 check-dams and village ponds across the state had solved the drinking-water and irrigation problems in a state that was perennially drought-prone, arid and dependent on water-tankers ferrying expensive water.
* The number of registered unemployed in Gujarat had actually declined by over 15%.
* Narendra Modi's individual charisma and clean image as a most uncorrupted politician became a huge advantage.
* To top it all, the past five years were riot-free, curfew-free, and despite being targeted by several terror groups from across the borders, terror-strike-free.

Modi's Cultist Image:

This election was all about Narendra Modi. None of the local issues were highlighted and this election looked like a referendum on Narendra Modi.

The English language media which hates Modi, had indirectly helped him by keeping him in the limelight in what it considered as highlighting Modi's misdeeds. As the thumping results show, it boomeranged on them.

Modi's personality of being a macho man with a 56 inch-size chest, a leader who toils for Gujarat, a politician who will get things done in New Delhi and the Hindutva hero who will keep Muslims under control - all these, each in its own way, has helped him win the votes of a majority of Gujaratis.

Gujaratis, who are entrepreneurial and hardworking loved their chief minister who would attend office from morning till late in the night. Also, his decision to sack one-third of the sitting MLA's proved advantageous. He thus overcame anti-incumbency factor in a big way.

Blunders by Opposition Congress Party:

* The Congress gave too much of importance and relied on the dissident Patel leaders in BJP. The public just shunned the dissident leaders and romped home the chief minister.
* Sonia in her very first day of the campaign, called those who ran Gujarat "merchants of fear and death". The Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh said a "reign of terror" existed in Gujarat and as if that wasn't enough, one of the party general secretaries, Digvijay Singh commented about "Hindu terrorists" in Gujarat.
* Bitter infighting in Congress resulted in no viable candidate to counter Modi's charm and charisma.
* Congress Party's personalized campaign against Modi boomeranged against them. They should have delved more on rise in prices !
* Congress was from the beginning, fighting for the sake of survival and existence instead of a strong opposition party.
* Being the head of the oldest party in India, Sonia Gandhi had stooped to the level of the Chief Minister of a state. Sonia has been a disappointment. Sonia Gandhi indirectly helped Modi increase his stature in the national politics.

Contrary to belief's, the Gujarat elections is not about Hindu Nationalism or Congress pseudo-secularism. But, it was a referendum on Modi's economic agenda which does not have a populist component.

While everyone was expecting a close call, the above statement by Sonia, which was over and over again stated by many of Congress leaders, had closed the elections in favour or Narendra Modi.

Modi, who was concentrating more on his developmental works had to shift focus towards defending Gujarati pride and Hinduism because of the idiotic planning of the Congress.

Congress handed over Gujarat to Modi !!

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