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Feb 07, 2013 at 07:14pm IST

Modi should put aside his pettiness and behave like a leader: Aakar Patel

Does the Modi show at DU indicate that he is indeed BJP's face for the 2014 polls? Columnist Aakar Patel joined IBNLive readers for an interaction on the issue.

Q. Why is such a big fuss about Nitish Kumar? BJP contests 15 seats in Bihar which at worst can afford to lose, compared to a strong and energetic message to its cadre. Did Nitish overplay his card, he has more to lose? Asked by: natesa

Modi should put aside his pettiness and behave like a leader: Aakar Patel

Does the Modi show at DU indicate that he is indeed BJP's face for the 2014 polls?

A. Good point. Nitish is being hypocritical. I think if the BJP is good enough to be his partner with all its history, it's biggest and most popular leader, Modi, should also be acceptable to him.

Q. Why are you saying that he is the most charismatic leader of his generation, but he won't be able to take India forward inclusively? And what will be your answer when he really becomes the PM of India? Asked by: BHARAT

A. Charisma has little to do with intent. He is (as home minister) personally responsible for persecuting officers like IPS Rahul Joshi who helped bring Mayaben Kodnani to justice. He needs to put his vindictive and petty side aside and behave like an Indian leader, instead of an RSS man. If, despite this, we vote for the BJP, I have no problem with him as PM.

Q. What happens if Modi cannot be PM in 2014. Will his aura in Gujarat decreases his seats seems to be in decline in Gujarat from 126 to 115. What exactly is Modi political future in 10 yrs? Asked by: karan singh

A. He absolutely owns the party in Gujarat. The BJP leaders who built the party in that state - Keshubhai, Kashiram Rana, Suresh Mehta, Dilip Parikh and so on - have all been booted out or brushed aside. More importantly, their supporters are also all gone. Only Modi's team remains in charge. If he does not win Delhi, he will be dented in Gujarat.

Q. How can we call a BJP CM communal when he is ruling a state having population of all faiths? Is it fair? Asked by: pkg2901

A. We can call him communal, because as home minister he was incompetent at prosecuting the rioters, who included a woman he made a minister though she was responsible for the murder of 95 Gujaratis.

Q. Don't you think congress wants Modi to be BJP's PM candidate, so that it would be easier to form UPA-3? Asked by: avishek

A. Good question. My friend Shahid Latif, editor of India's most respected Urdu paper, Inquilab thinks so. I don't think is is the case however. Modi is a formidable opponent. The UPA should be concerned about him.

Q. BJP seems to be going in with a two pronged approach. Modi is wooing the urban, literate voters with development agenda, and the BJP-RSS is trying to appeal to the rural Hindu segment with Hindutva and Ram Mandir. Will these 2 ideas complement each other? or will they cancel out each other? Asked by: Gaurav

A. Good question. I'm not sure the two constituencies are very different. It is true that a lot of the work that the RSS does, for instance the Ekal Vidyalaya movement, is in tribal areas. But the core supporter of both BJP and RSS is for the most part urban, literate and upper or middle caste.

Q. 3 Questions. 1. JD(U) having an alliance with BJP and stating that a leader in that party is communal and will not accept him, isn't it vote-bank politics? 2. Apart from 2002 riots, does congress and anti-Modi people have anything to talk about? 3. It's time that we youth are looked at as the future of the country rather than just vote banks? Asked by: Adarsh

A. 1. Yes, it is. 2. Congress leaders don't even talk about the riots any more, if you noticed the way the election was contested last year. 3. Up to you. We should all vote for whom we think is right, irrespective of whether the parties see us as a vote-bank or not. They cannot control you in the polling booth.

Q. Everybody is saying that once Modi apologizes for 2002, they will consider voting for him. If we are to understand that Modi wants to be PM, and hes a shrewd Politician too, then surely he would know that his apology is awaited. So is he delaying the apology so that its closer to the elections? Asked by: Gaurav

A. I don't think an apology is what everyone wants. Personally, I don't care about such things. But he must: 1) Stop persecuting IPS officers who stopped the riots. For example Rahul Sharma and Satish Verma. 2) Distance himself from and condemn Mayaben Kodnani, who in jail for 28 years for killing Gujarati children, women and men.

Q. Political parties are neither secular and nor are they not communal. Cong and Left parties have pandered to the other in one state or the other. Then why is it that they try to label BJP as communal, especially people like Modi, Advani, etc. Asked by: EMathew

A. Good point. We must resist all individuals who divide us on the basis of identity, and who are responsible for instigating or sustaining violence against Indians. Whether this individual is in Congress or BJP should not be material. Having said that, no other party in India has a religious agenda as the BJP does because of its connection with the RSS.

Q. Critics of Modi made him larger than life. More the criticism more powerful he will emerge. Your take on that Asked by: rajesh

A. I accept what you're saying. It is true also that the media covers him more than any other leader outside of the Gandhis. There are two reasons for is: 1) Modi is an attractive politician. A wonderful speaker, especially in Gujarati, and brilliant with crowds. 2) His policies are vicious and divisive. They disturb many people. Look at how the outside world sees him - The New York Times or the Guardian.

Q. If we compare Rahul's VP speech with Modi's at DU (Although we cant strictly compare) One talked of Power as a bane, as poison, sounding a bit negative. While the other was more positive, saying Power can make you do so many good things. Is this another subtle message by Modi why hes a better choice? Asked by: Gaurav

A. There is a modesty and honesty in Rahul Gandhi's statement. There is also a realism on the limits of power. But Modi is also right. We vote for people, and empower them, so that they can use that power to make our lives better.

Q. My guess - next PM will neither be Modi or Rahul. It will be someone else from Congress. Asked by: Vishwas

A. I have written that I do not think Modi will accept the candidacy if it is offered to him. Certainly I see little chance of Rahul, after all these years of declining a ministry, jumping to become a candidate for PM. I'm not sure it will be someone from the Congress, given how badly they have messed up Andhra Pradesh and Bengal. Could be BJP or the old Third Front might reappear. It will be a fascinating election.

Q. Going by the social media, it seems a majority of urban population is rooting for Mr Modi. Is it real or efficient media management by internet hindus? Proportionately what is more? Asked by: Kamal Agg

A. It must be real. I doubt that media management can be done with such efficiency in as large a place as India. Having said that, I would not conflate urban population with social media. We must remember that, for instance, half of all Bombay residents live in slums. But I accept that a very large part, and perhaps the majority, of internet users are enamored of Modi.

Q. GDP growth is not linked to growth of a leader. But it is linked to how many poor went above the poverty line. Asked by: prathapvp

A. Good way of looking at it. However, the two are linked to a large extent, unless there is a very strange skew in the mix of GDP components.

Q. Do you think that Mamata will back Modi's candidature for PM to settle score with Mulayam? Asked by: Shyam Vadalker

A. I'm quite sure she has no interest in Mulayam. Will she support Modi? So far as I know, she has not said she won't support BJP, and she had no problem being partners with the BJP under Vajpayee. My guess is, that if BJP makes Modi PM candidate and they win 200 seats, she will fall into line.

Q. Both Modi and Rahul are promising better days ahead? Is Rahul without doing any thing is trustworthy? Asked by: anil

A. Neither man has said he wants to become prime minister so far, so it isn't important in that sense. Rahul Gandhi needs to be looked at in totality. I think he has been underestimated by such people as Meghnad Desai and Ramchandra Guha.

Q. Shouldn't BJP just go in with Modi as PM candidate? Even if the much smaller allies leave them, If the gamble pays and BJP become the single largest party, smaller folk will come back just to be in power? The Jayalalitha's and the Chandra babus etc? Asked by: Raghav

A. Yes, I think they should. He is a big asset to them and will electrify their campaign.

Q. Do you think that Indian media particularly electronic media chanting Modi mantra, I mean to say that projecting Modi in a glorifying manner. Asked by: zubair

A. I don't think so. Modi receives his share of praise and criticism. However it is true that media likes reporting him because of his personality and his controversies.

Q. Who is not communal in Indian politics today? Almost all parties either play minority appeasement card or caste-based politics. We now have someone who atleast is talking about development and trying to ignore religion/caste in his speeches. Can't we say, ok this guy has really moved from 2002? After all even Congress had ministers involved in the 1984 riots! Why do we insist on an apology? Who has apologized in politics? Asked by: Arun

A. As Indians, we should not let political parties get away. BJP cannot tell us, "fine we allowed the killing of Indians in Gujarat but Congress also killed Indians in Delhi" This is unacceptable.

Q. What do you think will happen if say congress gets 100 seats and BJP gets about 175 - would then there be a chance for Modi to form govt? Asked by: Round Desai

A. Yes.

Q. Isn't Modi hounded more that the other mongers of Sikh riots? Asked by: EMathew

A. Yeah. I think this has to do with the fact that the media is more aggressive now than it was in 1984.

Q. Isn't 'communal Modi' a brand propped up by the Media. Nobody talks about Tarun Gogoi and the plight of Assam. Besides who and what is secular in India? Asked by: Karishma Shelar

A. The media, especially television news channels, are extremely sensitive to viewership feedback. They know what works. People are interested in Modi, whether they like or dislike him.

Q. Don't you think Modi should refrain from making sweeping claims about development in Gujarat because it surely comes across as a choreographed PR stunt. Asked by: Ankur

A. He does it quite well. He understands the media and plays it beautifully.

Q. Don't you think he has learnt lesson from the 2002 riots and he has moved on from there and deserves to be given a chance? By that yard stick even Congress is no saint. Asked by: Yash

A. I accept that Congress has it's killers. I don't think Modi is a different man today from March 1, 2002. That to me is worrying.

Q. Is it right to say that Modi is being targeted by the whole lot of opposing politicians, while others (culprits in the Sikh riots in Delhi) have not been targeted like Modi? Asked by: EMathew

A. I would say, broadly you are right.

Q. Modi was a candidate right from the onset of 2010, when the UPA-II scams started tumbling out. So do you think Modi would be leading the country after the next elections? Asked by: EMathew

A. He has a good chance. I would not be surprised if he was the PM after 2014.

Q. In a secular India leaders like Nitish kumar or Patnaik must lead when Congress looses as Jayalalitha and Mamta bannerjee's are very temperamental leaders? Asked by: prathapvp

A. Whoever the people of India vote for (BJP, Congress, Jaya, Mamata) can lead us as long as they have 272 votes in the Lok Sabha.

Q. What is your take on 2014? Will it be like UPA of 2004 where left supported cong? As Mamata is losing popularity fast will left be once again a major player? Asked by: avi

A. Too early to say generally, but I will try and guess. It is possible BJP and NDA return, depending on the PM-candidate. I don't think the Left will do well in Bemgal. It is demoralised and has no leadership.

Q. Can Modi boost the BJP in UP in terms of seats?In which states do you think he will greatly boost the BJP and in which states will he hurt the BJP? How many seats do you see coming to the BJP with Modi as its star campaigner?(not pm candidate) Asked by: supratik

A. Good question. Will boost in states with large urban populations that already have BJP presence (Maharashtra, Gujarat, Karnataka, Delhi). I do not think he will hurt the BJP in any state. There are few people who are already BJP voters who will be put off by Modi. UP is polarised by caste. Modi will make no difference there.

Q. What do you analyse, JD(U) has a golden opportunity to quit this Alliance? Might be Nitish thinking on supporting the UPA-III and getting the special status to Bihar and keep on ruling Bihar. Asked by: Gauthamazad

A. UPA cannot support Nitish without breaking off from Lalu, which they will not. JD(U) needs BJP and will stay with it.

Q. He may be the face of BJP in 2014 elections. But being a leader of one of the 28 states in India where is his acceptability in other states even in his own party cadres and leaders. This is the era of event managers So no much relevance to show in DU? Asked by: prathapvp

A. True. But he is the only man from a state with some level of acceptability across other states. Also some level of rejection. But your broad point is accurate.

Q. Despite all your cynicism on a TV channel cant you be truthful that it was a brilliant speech and he had the audience with him? does it make a difference that he has a PR firm assisting him? punish him? Asked by: Anonymous

A. I am a big fan of the way in which he speaks, especially in Gujarati. I know him personally and am fond of him.

Q. How long do we keep accusing Modi for the happenings of 2002? should we not move on and let the court decide on the matter and if he is found guilty Asked by: Anonymous

A. Not about his personal guilt. I don't think he went out and rioted. I think as home minister he was incompetent in prosecuting the culprits, which is why the Supreme Court intervened and a court then sent his minister for women and child welfare to jail.

Q. Why has Modi not played the OBC card yet? Is it a calculated attempt to foster universal acceptability or his waiting for the right moment? Asked by: Ashwin

A. He comes from a small OBC community called Ghanchi. Not a large vote-bank. But his identity is not caste-based and so he does not fall back on it. He does not see himself in terms of his caste.

Q. Why is the media engaged in a hype over Modi? Asked by: Lakshman

A. He is charismatic, divisive and the most entertaining politician we have. So why not?

Q. I listened to only part of the speech where he spoke about Olympics and Japan. His idea about perception management is outstanding. Isn't some of his success to be attributed to his perception management skills. However, will that go down well with Rural (Non-Gujarat) India. Asked by: Narayan

A. India votes on the basis of 1) language (Tamilians vote for Tamilian parties) 2) caste It is true that Indians, some, also vote on non-identity, ideological basis. These have so far been very few.

Q. Saw and heard you on the show. Though I beg to differ on some of the things that you said, I believe it is high time politicians across the spectrum think of the nation as a whole and work towards its development instead of petty squabbles. Asked by: EMathew

A. I presume that is what they are doing at the moment. I would be upset (and I would be surprised) if Manmohan Singh was spending his time on petty squabbles.

Q. With the current lot of politicians, NaMo stands out with clear vision and communication. Do you agree with the statement? Asked by: EMathew

A. Certainly many people think so. He is a very gifted communicator. I'm not sure his vision is something he has expressed other than in generalities.

Q. Do you think under NaMo BJP will get @ 200 seats? If that happens then BJP will not need JD(U). But under any other leader like Sushma, BJP will not get 150 seats. So going with NaMo makes more sense. Asked by: Anand

A. If they get 200 seats (I don't think they will), JDU will not oppose Modi as PM. In any case, I think you're right. BJP has a better chance of consolidating its vote by contesting under Modi.

Q. Modi played it safe by not talking about any controversial issues(read Gujarat riots) yesterday even though he was being forced to render an apology by protesting groups. Can he do the same when he during the election time? How long do you think he can avoid this topic without reacting to it? Asked by: kartheek

A. Good question. He has avoided media for the most part (he only gave one long interview, to Rajdeep Sardesai) and I think he will continue to avoid them.

Q. A well sanitised, stage managed show. Nothing more, nothing less. Asked by: srinivasan

A. Not sure I agree. He has an enormous following. We should try and understand it and what it is about him that appeals to them.

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