A third life for Narendra Modi
Everyone was expecting a victory for Chief Minister Narendra Modi, but Modi did more than that, he led his party in Gujarat to resounding victory by winning win 117 seats in the 182-member state assembly. It was the fourth time for his party, the BJP. Modi was expected to just scrape through but he only lost a few seats as compared to the 2002 elections.
I have never been a fan of Modi’s but now after his show of strength I cannot help but feel some amount of admiration for the guy. He has won despite opposition within his own party and he has got the votes of the people.
He has been accused by the media of being a mass murderer and modern day Nero. Sonia Gandhi called him a merchant of death recently, and earlier, even the Supreme court had chided him…but finally all this has all come to naught. The electorate has spoken. The majority apparently don’t care enough about Modi’s alleged role in the Hindu Muslim riots in the aftermath of Godhra, a carnage which left more than a thousand people dead and many more injured.
Why he won
While Modi’s charisma and personality certainly played a part in his win, it is now believed that it was his developmental agenda for that did the trick. Apparently, he downplayed the Hindutva card and emphasised development.
Gujarat has achieved much under his governance. Gujarat’s economy is vibrant. The state is a leading industrialised state (20 percent of India’s output). As per RBI report, in year 2006-07, 26% out of total bank finance in India was in Gujarat. It’s per capita GDP is believed to be 20 percent higher than the national average. It’s literacy rate is also higher than the national average – at 73 percent. The people are literate in large enough numbers to look at developmental parameters.
Minal, who lives in Gujarat has written an interesting post on why she thinks Modi won. Her post basically writes about the development in Gujarat that she has seen first hand. She writes about villages that have not got electricity and gives actual examples.
Did Muslims vote for Modi?
Even though an overwhelming majority of Gujarat’s population is Hindu (89.1 percent) and only 9.1 percent is Muslim, and voting patterns of Muslims would not determine the outcome of elections, I wondered whether any Muslims at all voted for Modi.
While searching the internet, I found this article which said there are places in Gujarat which are Muslim dominated, like Jamnagar, Niyana, Arrod and Pardi where apparently there are people who are willing to put the past behind them. A Jamnagar citizen there told the reporter:
“If pockets are empty, there will be violence. If people are jobless, there will be violence. Now that everyone is getting jobs, why should there be riots,” asked Ali Asghar Attarwala, an architect in Jamnagar town.
“Many Muslims are realising that the only truth is development,” said Hatim Modi, a Muslim who works as a defence contractor. “We have been used by others. We won’t ever forget the riots – but the reality is about development.” “And there are no inflammatory speeches now,” he added.
The article goes on to say that Muslims in these areas believe that Modi has softened his stance. I do not know how accurate this article is, and I do not know how representative these areas are of Gujarat, but perhaps people are moving on…after all Modi did express regret over the riots, calling them “wrong”. Ofcourse, the majority of Muslims must have voted for the Congress, but I wonder if this is a trend? Well, India (including Gujarat) is a very diverse country, so it’s difficult to say. This is probably the one of the reasons why exit polls go wrong so often in India.
I may personally believe that Modi should be tried for his role in the riots, but if the law of the land has found nothing against him, what can I say? I personally may not believe that Modi deserves to be Chief Minister the third term round, that he deserves to pay a price for what happened during the riots but again, my opinion hardly matters.
No judgments. This is politics in India.
(The first photo is from ndtv and the map is from the wiki. The third photograph is taken by me on the streets of Ahmedabad and is for representative purposes only)