Renunciation of chief ministership will be key to Modi's elevation to the PM's chair
So Modi has indeed vanquished all threats and odds to score a resounding win, proving that pro-incumbency can beat anti-incumbency!
The 2012 Gujarat elections were important for three reasons. One, there were no real issues; it was a plain verdict either for or against a personality. Two, for the first time in India, perhaps a CM was fighting the state elections with an eye on the PM's job instead. And the end result has only proved that Modi did indeed do a great job of balancing the dichotomy. Three, contrary to what the Congress party and the media would want the country to believe, a significant percentage of Muslims in Gujarat have embraced Modi.
So with Gujarat won, Modi now has to chart out his roadmap to the PM's chair. This roadmap will have to be phased across the next 16 months or so.
In phase one comprising the first 4 months, Modi needs to kick-start the process of fulfilling his election promises. So the task of insuring every citizen and of building homes for the poor needs to start immediately and with Modi's trademark hype. He needs to launch innovative development schemes that overshadow some of those that he had undertaken in the past. Basically, he needs to formulate the agenda and chart out the roadmap of the state government for the next five years, before he hands over charge to his protégé.
On May 1, the foundation day of Gujarat, Modi should address a massive rally where every top leader of the BJP is present. Here, he reads out an emotional letter to the people of Gujarat seeking their permission and blessings to leave Gujarat and do his bit for the country. He should make a big virtue of his sacrifice and of his conscience egging him on to take up the national duty. He should even assure the emotional crowd that he will be in Gujarat once every ten days to take stock of the development initiatives of the state government. Hence, on May 1, Modi's protégé, Saurabh Patel should take over as CM, facilitating Modi's shift to Delhi. After this, BJP leaders escort Modi to New Delhi with all fanfare.
But won't it be difficult for Modi to quit Gujarat considering how hard he's worked for the state in the last 11 years? Well, definitely, yes. But if Modi seriously wants to aim for the PM's chair, he doesn't have much of an option. Making a conclusive shift to Delhi is the only way he can dispel the notion and theory that his influence is restricted to Gujarat. And he needs to do it knowing fully well that the road back to Gujarat does not exist for him, given the stature that he'd have gained by renouncing the CM's chair.
But in what capacity does Modi shift to Delhi? He should try and work out in tandem with the RSS, the position of BJP's campaign committee head for 2014. That allows Modi to be the face of the BJP, without being officially declared as the PM candidate right away. And what if JDU insists that BJP name its PM candidate or they walk out? Rest assured that the enthusiasm that Modi will generate once he starts touring the country will prevent BJP's allies from walking off just yet. Don't forget that no regional party would want to quit an alliance just when a new glimmer of hope emerges for it.
Upon shifting to Delhi, Modi has to quickly set a positive agenda for the 2014 elections. A striking feature that differentiates Modi from other politicians is his indefatigable energy and the sense of urgency he carries in him. He is not like your average, laidback politician who is so well off financially that election results wouldn't bother him much. Modi carries in him rare madness to win, which is not seen in any other living Indian politician right now.
Hence, Modi will have to immediately get down to touring each of the 400 odd Lok Sabha seats that BJP plans to fight in 2014 and complete his first visit of these constituencies in 4 months. He needs to utilize his time to evolve as a statesman and also refrain from personal attacks of the kind he indulged in against Tharoor.
Finally, Modi's effort should be to win 200 seats for the BJP. Should that happen, there is no way that the next government at the Centre will not be led by BJP, irrespective of whether JDU remains or walks out of the NDA. Modi is likely to find support from Jayalalitha. With an alliance tally of 250 plus, it is extremely unlikely for regional outfits to resist the temptation of being a part of the government.
Modi thus has his task clearly cut out. But the most crucial component of this plan will be him renouncing the CM's chair. Don't forget sacrifice is a very big virtue in Indian ethos. Gandhi, Jayprakash Narayan and even Sonia Gandhi have been born out of sacrifice. Had Sonia Gandhi become PM in 2004, she'd in all likelihood have been a huge failure. Her act of renunciation though catapulted her to a different league.
Modi today needs to come out of his comfort zone and spend a year in wilderness. This renunciation 'in national interests' will eventually reap richer dividends for him, including the PM's chair.
More about Tuhin A Sinha
Tuhin A. Sinha is an author, scriptwriter and columnist based in Mumbai, India.
Tuhin was born in Jamshedpur. He has studied at Loyola School, Jamshedpur, Hindu college, Delhi and the National Institute of Advertising, New Delhi.
Tuhin is best known for his novels, Of Love And Politics, That Thing Called Love and 22 Yards. That Thing Called Love is now out in several regional languages as well. Tuhin has scripted several TV shows, apart from having worked as story/script/creative consultant with leading Film and TV production houses.
Tuhin is also a guest columnist with TOI, DNA and some lifestyle magazines. A keen observer of national politics, the subject finds its way in many of Tuhin’s writings.
Tuhin is presently working on his fourth book, the Autobiography.
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