On Narendra Modi’s victory

Modi’s victory shows he has quietly reinvented himself

Swapan Dasgupta in The Telegraph:

Those familiar with elections in West Bengal prior to the Mamata storm of 2011 may not find it too difficult to understand the dynamics of assembly polls in Gujarat since 1995. A dominant party, with deep social and organizational roots, was periodically confronted with patchy challenges that often led to occasional upsets in isolated constituencies. It was also the case that an Opposition that seemed moribund during the non-election years suddenly sprang to life and secured tacit endorsements from a media that had its own scores to settle with the established order. No one doubted the end result but there was furious speculation over the margin of victory. Did a spectacularly high turnout — recall that in many parts of West Bengal the long queues meant that polling had to be extended by many hours — suggest that there was a ‘silent undercurrent’ for change? More:

A powerhouse in Gujarat but a flop show outside

Swaminathan S. Anklesaria Aiyar in Economic Times:

If indeed the next BJP prime ministerial candidate is to be a three-time chief minister, there are other candidates too. Shivraj Singh Chauhan of Madhya Pradesh and Raman Singh of Chhattisgarh will bid to become three-time chief ministers in state elections in 2013.

By winning for a third time with an increased majority and vote share in Gujarat, Modi has proved he is among the tallest of regional leaders. But his prime ministerial ambitions depend on his impact in other states. More:

A Modi-fied politics

Pratap Bhanu Mehta in The Indian Express:

Modi cannot be exonerated of marginalising minorities or worse. But consider this. The secular-communal divide in India, except at the extremes, is not so much a divide between two different species of citizens as a fissure running through most of them. This divide is activated by circumstances. It is not a structural fact. Second, we hope that the law will take its course and deliver justice. But Gujarat has, at least, been subject to serious court scrutiny, direct SIT investigations and so on. Even if they technically exonerate Modi, the political culpability remains. It is a political handicap he still needs to overcome. You can look at the convictions of Modi’s cabinet colleagues and point to those as proxy proof of his culpability. You can also look at them and wonder why so many Congress cabinet ministers still have not been made to answer for 1984. The point is not to use 1984 to politically exonerate Modi. The point is that it is hard to attack evil when we so widely condone it in other contexts. Third, the social and political isolation of Muslims is a large, complex phenomenon, in part a product of the tyranny of the compulsory identities the Congress has produced. It is also exacerbated by the fact that friends of minorities like the Samajwadi Party are running no more than protection rackets for them, depending on a permanent tutelage. Unfortunately, attacking Modi has become a way of disguising our larger complicities. It is more about assuaging our guilty conscience than setting things right. No wonder the attacks lose their sheen. More:

King of the jungle

Editorial in The Hindu:

As in 2007, this time too Mr. Modi stoked the fires of Gujarati asmita, treating the State’s “six crore” people — whom he had polarised in 2002 — as if they were an undifferentiated whole. However, not every Gujarati is willing to buy in to this kind of rhetoric; indeed, there are parts of rural Gujarat which do not at all relate to the development narrative that has become the stuff of folklore among Mr. Modi’s admirers. With no credible leader in its ranks, the Congress once again fared miserably. Unsurprisingly, the BJP rank-and-file is pushing Mr. Modi to take the long march to Delhi. It is a different matter that the party’s second rung — not to speak of its key allies — seems not too enthused by this project. More

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