A small step for Gujarat, a giant leap for India?

RAMYA KRISHNAMURTHY writes from Bangalore: Narendra Modi‘s stunning blitzkrieg will have all the usual pundits taking up all their usual well-advertised positions.

Those who subscribe to his brand of politics will say that the verdict is proof that good governance can win votes, that development is the only permanent band-aid, that Indians are sick and tired of minority appeasement, etc.

Those who don’t buy into Moditva will say the exact opposite. That Moditva, a cocktail of thigh-slapping cultural nationalism and communalism will spell finis to India as we know it if taken outside the State’s borders.

But for those outside Gujarat, and it is easy to forget in the hype that 29 out of India’s 30 States are, the point to ponder is if, in Modi’s victory, the country has taken the first, most strident step, towards a presidential style of politics.

Presidential style, mind you, not presidential form.

Hear me out.

By all accounts, this election has been like none we have seen before. An individual towered over the party, even its senior leaders getting the short shrift. The masks of Modi that fans of the chief minister wore, the chappan ki chaati (56-inch chest) that Modi thumped, left no doubt as to who the people were being asked to vote.

The person more than the party.

Even otherwise, in the five years preceding the poll, the focus and fulcrum of Gujarat politics had been one man.

As one commentator wrote, he was answerable to none and accountable only to himself. He was known to be inaccessible not just to voters but even his legislators. He showed the door to old apparatchiks like Keshubhbhai Patel and Suresh Mehta.

He eliminated the middlemen. He refused to entertain the satraps of the sangh parivar looking for a few loaves of power. He took tough, uncomfortable decisions unmindful of the votebanks that had been assiduously built and nurtured.

All power was concentrated in his office and all decisions were his.

The actions may have been authoritarian and dictatorial, positive or negative, but Modi left no one in doubt as to who was in charge. At the end of years, Modi also left no one in any doubt as to who was seeking the vote. In plumping for him, four-square, out of their own wisdom, the Gujarati voters have sent a clear message that they backed this kind of governance by the leader in charge.

Question is: is this what voters outside Gujarat want too? A jump from the safe, consensual, but eventually ineffectual politics of the past to a more direct, hands-on, individual decision-making process that produces results?

Photograph: courtesy prudentindian

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10 Responses to “A small step for Gujarat, a giant leap for India?”

  1. Mayura Varma Says:

    Hi Churmuri,

    So much for your working against MOdi and for the so called liberal-sickular parties. Eat your crow now.

    MODI ROCKS….

    So now you are busy conjencutring that Modi was a dictator who did not care for his party diktats…just the useless party president Rajnath Singh, who has said that nobody is above the party, to forestall MOdi’s from entering national politics.

  2. Aatmasakshi Says:

    Ramya Krishnamurthy seems to be churumuri’s in-house expert in finding something to cheer about when the broad picture is not so heart-warming. When the JDS-BJP natak was going on, she came up with a theory on how every voter’s mandate had been respected. And now this.

    Modi has won, long live Modi. We should compliment him on a very fine win but no civil society should not ignore what happened in 2002. The development in his State has been much commented upon, but let us not forget that Gujarat has always been leaps ahead of the rest of India.

    In a country as vast as ours, a presidential form or style of governance is a recipe worse than the problem. What we need is inclusion, not exclusion. Modi has won despite turning the latter into a fine art. Hats off to him for recognising what his clansmen need, but let us not be so foolish as to herald this as the way forward for the rest of the country.

  3. E Raviraja Gowda T V Says:

    Losers will have tons of explanations, theories…
    winner takes it all

    Pseudo secular buddhi jeevis, eat your feet! and stop bashing modi for once…

  4. Doddi Buddi Says:

    SoulTruth,

    In fact RK has identified why Modi won. That was because …”As one commentator wrote, he was answerable to none and accountable only to himself. He was known to be inaccessible not just to voters but even his legislators. He showed the door to old apparatchiks like Keshubhbhai Patel and Suresh Mehta.

    He eliminated the middlemen. He refused to entertain the satraps of the sangh parivar looking for a few loaves of power. He took tough, uncomfortable decisions unmindful of the votebanks that had been assiduously built and nurtured.

    All power was concentrated in his office and all decisions were his….”

    You see BJP in Gujarat has no use for dynasty-style politics! I only hope the party will show the ‘Devegowdas’ of BJP like Keshubhai Patel the door:)

  5. Vinay Says:

    Article’s quite sensible and and quite fair and balanced; it isnt leaning either ways – left or right; merely trend-spotting; so i donno what other commentors are bitcihng about; Modi rocks! Suck it NDTV, IBN, Rajdeep Shitdesai, Teesta Shit-alvad!

  6. Vishal Says:

    What had been expected has just been confirmed even more resoundingly than what the political pundits and the psephologists were expecting. Even the news channels that reviled, fumed, prophecised, condemned, sentenced this man not so long ago have gone gaga over him after the results started pouring in. Questions like whether it is Modi’s victory and not the BJPs – whether his success might spell doom for his party have been thrown in across channels. The bottomline is that even the media which, is guilty of pronouncing its verdict on Modi had to find ways to digest the fact that Gujarat’s fate is decided for the next 5 years.
    The Olympics is over and the Gold Medal is given.
    The Congress is cursing and the Left is lamenting – their sorry faces seen across channels trying to explain away the reasons for their defeat – Modiphobia, packaging an illusory development of Gujarat and so on.
    None of them has the spine to accept the fact that their biggest problem was Vote-Bank Politics.
    You go to a state where 90% of the people are Hindus or Jains and talk about communalism. You go to a state which has grown at an average of 10% over the last 5 years and say that there is no development. You go to state where the CM is very popular and call him a killer.
    You have just digged your own grave. Even if Modi’s hands may not be entirely clean, it simply doesnt matter – in fact, i would stick my neck out and say that it is that dirty hand which has won him this election.
    Is this good for Gujarat? It depends on whom you ask – atleast the Gujaratis feel it is good for them. Only the pseudo-secularists are complaining. They must remember that debates wont win elections in India. High-pitched hard-selling probably does.

  7. Anonymous Coward Says:

    >>is this what voters outside Gujarat want too?

    Yes. Yes. Yes.
    We need dynamic, daring and charismatic leaders like Modi and not someone like HDK, yeddiyurappa or a ragi mudde like Deve Gowda.

  8. gaby Says:

    Clearly the editing in the article needs looking at. Why usethe word blitzkrieg- a process to define an outsome of electoral results? If she meant a landslide well 117 is TEN short of 127 that was won in 2002.

    Modi ( or ModY as RV Gowda calls him) is an attractive person to many but is by no means unique as RK makes him out to be by saying ‘ ….this election has been like none we have seen before’. Well as elections go there was mudslinging but not extraordinarily so. Towering personality huh? Well what does one say of MG Ramachandran 1980, Biju Patnaik in 1990, Lalu Prasad Yadav in 1995 and Mayavati in 2007 ( altho’ in my opinion all of them including Mody- dangerous dogs).

    This RK dear was by no stretch of imagination a unique- nay not even an unusual elections. Just a small goonda becoming too big for his boots – like that woman fron Rae Bareilly/ Amethi , the greedy man from Ballia and the foolish Raja of Manda. History has never swallowed Hubris- ModY will get his comeuppance ( or is that just my fantasy).

    As for DB and his polemics about ModY being blah blah and the BJP in Gujarat having no time for dynasty style politics it is exactly the ModY style of politics that engender dynasties- possibly that would be Nature’s revenge- make him the founder of a dynasty !

  9. Anonymous Guy Says:

    Modi is the winner hands-down. No ambiguity, no shadow boxing, No coalition – he can concentrate on his work without having to wake up everyday to play the numbers game. For good or for bad – the destiny of Gujrat is tied to Modi now. Gujrat has chosen.

    Hopefully Karnataka will get its leader soon! A leader from the ethos of our Karu-nadu.

    Gaby,

    Whats wrong with a dynasty?

  10. gaby Says:

    Dont get me started on that one AG- for staters its a patriarchal system that is designed to save sons( potentially stupid chaps)and Bas****s ( trying to cheat the spammers!) rather than let the best person ( or perdaughter:)) do the job.

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