It seems that the countdown to 2014 parliamentary elections has begun.
As soon as the Supreme Court ruled that it will no longer monitor the case against him for the communal riots at Gulbarga Society - one of the epicenters of the riots that ravaged Gujarat in 2002, killing 1180 people, most of them Muslims, Narendra Modi, Gujarat Chief Minister, was catapulted into a position of national prominence of political India. He rightly tweeted - "God is great".
The Supreme Court's verdict asks a Gujarat court to decide whether Mr Modi's role in the riots needs to be investigated. That's been quickly interpreted by the BJP and the Chief Minister as a huge vindication. "I have never seen any leader vilified and maligned in this manner, he is an outstanding leader of the party," said senior BJP leader LK Advani.
Narendra Modi decided to go on a three day fast seeking support for his sadbhavna (amity) mission for communal harmony which was attended by all the BJPs bigwigs. Even Tamil Nadu chief minister Jayalalitha sent her representatives to show her support which was also attended by the Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal. It seems that BJP which is struggling with a serious issue of crisis of leadership at the top and was in dire need of a face who can lead the party in the 2014 parliamentary elections has finally found its election mascot and the prime ministerial candidate for the next parliamentary elections in Narendra Modi.
All the top BJP leaders flocked to Narendra Modi singing songs in his praise and proclaiming him as an outstanding leader. They were the same leaders who very successfully checkmated his entry into the national political scene for a very long time on one pretext or the other. Some were scared of his charismatic personality while others were using the Godhra riots to keep him out. Even US did not waste any time when it said on September 14 in the latest report by US Congressional Research Service (CRS) on India that Modi has much more potentiality than Congress's Rahul Gandhi to become the next Prime Minister of the country. Narendra Modi seems to have impressed US with his developmental and progressive works in the state. The report described Narendra Modi as the king of governance. PolityIndia.com had conducted a poll sometime back about the BJP leaders who are candidates to become India's Prime Minister. The names polled were of Arun Jaitley, Sushma Swaraj, Narendra Modi and Nitin Gadkari. Narendra Modi had received 88.8 % of the votes polled.
Narendra Modi who was born on September 17, 1950 was a social and political activist from a very young age and was associated with RSS and ABVP, became the chief minister of Gujarat for the first time in 2001 and Gujarat's GDP grew by more than 10% during his first tenure. Since that time, he led BJP in winning two more elections and is the longest serving chief minister in India. Narendra Modi who has a MA in Political Science is known for leading a frugal lifestyle. He only employs a personal staff of only three people. He is known to be a workaholic Chief Minister and an introvert. Modi is considered as the singular leader of BJP in Gujarat because of his election record and having an autocratic, almost insensitive leadership manner. He ordered the demolition of many Hindu temples that were built without proper government sanction which earned him the ire of VHP. He is described as an incendiary politician.
His biggest test of his political career came in 2002 when a train carrying Hindus burned due to an accident in Godhra town leading to 59 deaths. Riots ensued after rumours spread that it was caused by Muslims in the state leading to 1180 deaths, mostly Muslims. Modi administration was accused of inaction for stopping the riots or even encouraging it. As an aftermath of the riots, there were calls for Modi to resign from his position as chief minister of Gujarat. The opposition parties stalled the national parliament over the issue and demanded his resignation. He submitted his resignation to the Governor and recommended the dissolution of the 10th Gujarat Legislative Assembly. In the following state re-elections, the BJP, led by Modi, won 127 seats in the 182-member assembly.
There is already speculation that 2014 would witness a fight between UPA led by Rahul Gandhi and NDA led by Narendra Modi. Some political parties including the JD-U, which is also a part of the NDA coalition are trying to project Nitish Kumar as the Prime Ministerial candidate. I feel that Nitish Kumar is very good and he has done an excellent job for Bihar but he simply does not have the numbers. Bihar has a total of 40 Lok Sabha seats which JD-U shares with BJP. It is about time that all the parties who are against corruption and terrorism - the biggest cancer eating up our society, should join hands and fight the elections together. There is no doubt that the 2014 parliamentary elections would be like a referendum on corruption and terrorism and it is not a secret for anyone to make a guess about the outcome of the election.
I do talk to a lot of senior leaders from both the Congress and BJP. The Congress leaders always tell me that they do not feel that Rahul Gandhi has what it takes to lead the party to victory in a general election. They even went to the extent of saying that there would be a mass exodus of Congress people from the party before the elections. BJP people always tell me that it is a big national party with no head. It seems that the party has finally found the head in Narendra Modi. He has always said that he believes in Justice for all and Appeasement of none and this definitely has all the ingredients of a mass appeal. All the major political parties should always remember that conflict makes good politics but it does not translate into good policies and it is policies and not politics which makes or breaks a country. As Shakespeare said - Words matter but action is eloquence.