Recently concluded Gujarat state elections saw the charismatic Narendra Modi coming into power three times in a row. Winning the elections convincingly, the stage is set for him to battle for the prime ministerial elections due in 2014. But is his charisma enough to keep the entire nation spellbound?
During his victory speech, his supporters shouted Delhi, Delhi (equivocal to centre) and he replied amusingly that he will go to Delhi for one day if his supporters want him to. Definitely today he is thinking of Delhi as more than a one day sojourn. He knew he has very many chances to be the next PM of India. He has been invariably under the good light for his good governance. He is the chief minister of the highest growth state. Law and order is intact. And particularly corruption is at a very low level.
Given all this, the young India wants him. He gives them the hope of shining India, a India free of corruption, abundant of job opportunities, and high growth rate.
Besides all the positives, his image of being a Hindutva savior can cripple his new-found hope. The Godhra communal riots in 2002 took place under his leadership. Many believe he injected confidence in Hindu mobs to kill Muslims. The Godhra riot was indeed a failure, and possibly the only black spot in his otherwise clean governance. Although the charges against him are yet to be verified, the Godhra riot has made it difficult for him to win support of the Moslems and other religious minorities and also of urban India.
He has made significant attempts to drop his Hindutva image by conducting programs like ‘sadbhavna diwas’ where he flimsily hugged men of every religion. His speeches now don’t contain communal phrases like ‘hindu raj’ but more secular phrases like "I am for 60 million Gujarati, neither for minority nor for majority."
And his attempts seed fruits this election. His party found victory in 24 of 32 Muslim concentrated areas of Gujarat, 14 seats more than the previous election. Majority or minority, at least in Gujarat, has begun to view him from the lens of development and not from his only black spot.
But the question remains: Will he be accepted at national level?
It will certainly be difficult for Modi to decide whether to withdraw his seat from the place he is adored or continue to rule Gujarat. I believe 2014 is the greatest opportunity for him to come to PM seat as the ruling government is facing leadership as well as governance crisis. Modi lights the hope of good governance as well as suitable alternative to the present government. Modi must act quickly and gain support of his own colleagues, particularly of Bihar’s CM who is against the communal leader.
His victory in Gujarat makes it clear that he is accepted as a secular leader, meaning half the battle is won.