Siddharth Varadarajan

Journalist | Writer | Analyst

If Narendra Modi wins …

20144774811660734_21Al-Jazeera, 9 May 2014

If Narendra Modi wins …

Siddharth Varadarajan

What can India and the world expect if Narendra Modi, the self-styled “Hindu nationalist” who is front-runner in the elections, ends up winning a plurality of seats when results are declared on May 16? The conventional answer is that this depends less on the man and what he represents, than on the scale of his victory.

If he is forced to form a government with allies, the argument goes, Modi would not have the freedom to pursue a Hindutva agenda (of religio-cultural nationalism) and hence there would be no reason to worry. And even if he were to have a majority of his own, some assert, India’s institutions – especially the Supreme Court, the Election Commission, the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) and the media – would keep him on the straight and narrow.

In my view, the argument that Modi would be constrained by his allies is deeply flawed. And while India’s institutions have shown a capacity for independence, there are also reasons to worry.

While there is little doubt that his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) will emerge as the single largest party in the Lok Sabha – the lower house of Parliament – there are three scenarios which need to be considered.

The scenarios

In scenario one, the BJP wins about 170-180 seats and will need the support of not just its allies in the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) but also of major new partners in order to reach the half-way mark of 272 in a 543-seat House, including Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress. Of all potential allies, she is also the only one likely to insist the BJP nominate someone other than Modi as prime minister, a condition the party will not accept. The BJP will either try and form a government without her, and if it cannot, it would rather not make a pitch for power. In such a situation, therefore, a Modi ‘win’ would not lead to a Modi government.

Under scenario two, the BJP wins around 210-220 seats and will thus be in a position to form the government with its NDA partners and a handful of independents and smaller parties. There will be no need for any potentially mercurial partner like the AIADMK’s Jayalalithaa, but parties like the Telangana Rashtra Samiti and the YSR Congress of Jagan Reddy – which would probably be heading the governments in the new states of Telangana and Seemandhra – would either join a Modi government or support it from the outside. They would also be fairly dependable allies since they need to have the goodwill of the central government and come with little ideological baggage.

In scenario three, the BJP wins upwards of 250-260 seats and will be free to form the government without being particularly constrained even by its NDA partners not to speak of anybody else.

While the government run by the BJP’s Atal Bihari Vajpayee from 1998-2004 might have looked and behaved very differently if the party had more seats, the degrees of freedom Modi will enjoy as PM under scenarios two and three will not be all that different.

The fact is that that any government he heads will be very different from the government NDA Vajpayee ran for six years. Modi and Vajpayee may be cut from the same ideological cloth – both men are products of the Hindu chauvinist organisation, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) – but differ in at least three crucial respects.

First among unequals

Vajpayee spent long years as a legislator and was used to swimming in the chastening currents of legislative and coalitional politics well before he became prime minister of India. By contrast, Modi’s formative years were spent wallowing in the stagnant ideo-political certitudes of the RSS. And though he has now been Gujarat chief minister for more than 12 years, he has never had to work with alliance partners or even those whose worldview differs from his own.

Second, Vajpayee was primus inter pares of the BJP and knew the constraints of operating under the framework of a collective leadership within his party. Modi, on the other hand, is used to being the first among unequals. Within the Gujarat BJP, only those leaders have flourished – Amit Shah, Saurabh Patel, Anandiben Patel – who have functioned as acolytes. Nationally, senior leaders like L K Advani and Jaswant Singh who registered their discomfort with Modi’s ascendancy have already been sidelined. More casualties will almost certainly follow, as Modi converts his enormous appeal amongst BJP workers and the backing of India’s corporate sector into a formidable vector of power that will make even Vladimir Putin’s ‘power vertical’ look like an exercise in democratic decision-making.

Third, the nature of the NDA has undergone a change in the decade since it was voted out. It is today more ideologically cohesive and right-wing in political, social and cultural terms than at any time in the past.

What this means is that Modi as prime minister will face virtually no political constraints from within the BJP or its allies when the RSS begins pursuing its agenda, especially in ‘low voltage’ areas like education, culture, proselytisation and women.

Already there are indications that Modi is looking at converting the personality-based election campaign he has run into a pseudo-presidential type of administration, using executive decisions to the maximum extent possible.

If his partners are not able to exercise any restraint, what of India’s watchdog institutions? If the Supreme Court and CAG were hyperactive and defiant during Manmohan Singh’s tenure, an important reason was the structural weakness of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government that robbed it of both cohesion and decisiveness. In fact, India Inc lost faith in the Congress party because they failed to manage and overawe these institutions, thereby jeopardising the edifice of crony capitalism in sector after sector.

The corporates want Modi as PM because they have faith in his ability to resolve the kind of damaging institutional contradictions that led to the cancelling of spectrum allocations, a moratorium on mining, the stipulation that scarce resources be auctioned and not simply parceled out, and the scrapping of projects on environmental grounds.

The unprecedented warning issued by senior BJP leader Arun Jaitley to the judiciary when the UPA government said it would soon name a judge to head the “Snoopgate” probe may well be a harbinger of the manner in which a future Modi government will deal with the courts. “I will be very curious to know the name of the judge who has agreed to ‘lend’ himself to the UPA,” he wrote recently. “I will be surprised if there is one. I hope, for the cause of judicial dignity, no one agrees to be a part of this desperate exercise.”

If the words he used were strong, the reasons are obvious. The “Snoopgate” case involves allegations of the massive abuse of police power by the Gujarat government in placing a young woman under constant surveillance for weeks. Jaitley suggested the judges approached so far all refused to serve on the Snoopgate panel because the case was “political”. But their reluctance could also reflect their unwillingness to be on the wrong side of a man who might become prime minister. How the judiciary would respond to petitions and cases if Modi were actually to become prime minister is anybody’s guess.

Similarly, the defiant language Modi has used to attack the Election Commission after it ordered the filing of a case against him for violating the Model Code of Conduct suggests a worrying degree of impatience towards the constitutional body. “Which government has given you appointment, who is your boss, these cannot be the basis for the functioning of the Election Commission,” Modi told an election rally at Asansol in West Bengal on May 4.

In Varanasi too, he has triggered an unjustified confrontation with the EC. Since the composition of the commission is entirely the government’s prerogative, there is nothing to prevent Modi from packing the body with loyal commissioners.


But even if India’s constitutional watchdogs turn shy and retiring, what of the media? Surely it can be counted upon to call out Modi if and when he crosses a line? A section of the media no doubt will, but with many newspapers and TV stations owned by risk averse or financially compromised proprietors, that section may not be very large.

Shehzad Poonawala, a lawyer who describes himself as a Congress party supporter, recently wrote an article critical of Modi for DNA. The piece – which was essentially a compilation of official quotes from the National Human Rights Commission and other bodies that cast Modi in poor light quickly became one of the five most read articles on the newspaper’s website. But hours later, it mysteriously vanished. No explanation was offered either to Poonawala or the newspaper’s readers.

In the absence of any word from the editor of DNA, one can only infer that someone, somewhere was unhappy about the piece and wielded enough clout to have it removed. The request need not have come from Modi or his office for us to be alarmed about it. For the question to ask is this: Will the frequency and intensity of such requests increase or decrease if Modi were to become prime minister of India?

(Siddharth Varadarajan is a Senior Fellow, Center for Public Affairs and Critical Theory, New Delhi)

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial policy.

55 comments on “If Narendra Modi wins …

  1. unmesh
    May 18, 2014

    now that the mandate is clear, I would like to say that it was just a question of who is lesser of the devils.. congress rule was all about uncertainty and poor implementation of policies, if any.. regional parties , except a few, fail to convince people that they will have a leverage on national platform.. if only AAP had carried on with delhi assembly , it would have provided people with a credible , if not trustworthy alternative.. atleast that was the general openion.. so instead of finacial uncertainty , people chose a seemingly impossible religious one as that is the only vice that seems associated with modi..
    personally , I support modi and the bjp and everything they stand for. I believe that the fact that there is not even a single allegation against him regarding corruption is a thing to be admired. the only thing that everyone else seems to have found against him is a distant blemish which more than compensated for with davelopment. out of the candidates who contested these elections , probably everyone had one or the other allegation against him but only a few with such a high performance delivery. people may regard this coming government as a one man rule but for a country so deteriorated by lawless lawmakers and so misguided by the pseudo intellectuals , that is probably the only solution for a past- cleansing and economically robust future.

  2. deeoak
    May 17, 2014

    good and sensible article …..

  3. RK
    May 17, 2014

    In your thoughts, secularism means supporting muslims and denying hindus

  4. Nicco
    May 15, 2014

    Interesting discussion over dinner last night with one of the sons of these farmers. He is a computer engineer and is one of the folks who have filed a case……very interesting perspective and a small insight into the courageousness of this community in particular and Sikhs in general.

    prompted me to dig into this bit of history, as I had not heard about it.

  5. Nicco
    May 15, 2014

    Interesting discussion over dinner last night with one of the sons of these farmers. He is a computer engineer and is one of the folks who have filed a case……very interesting perspective and a small insight into the courageousness of this community in particular and Sikhs in general.

    prompted me to dig into this bit of history, as I had not heard about this.

  6. Great foresight of the bleak future India is staring at. More and more people must come forward to express their concerns and drill that in to the new generation of India who mistakenly fall for fascism in the belief of the glory it holds for their future. They are ignorant of the danger , neverthless they are India’s future and shouldn’t be let to suffer under a dictatorship.

  7. pinaki pratihar
    May 13, 2014
  8. Panditjugalkishoreshastri
    May 13, 2014

    Two words…self styled and wallowing.
    These two told me all I needed to know about credibility of your presentation. FELLOWS or think tankers are extremely cautious about appearance of detachment irrespective of too many balls (just like your stats) in the air they can’t handle. The English Speaking Aristocracy of India (ESAI) REALLY REALLY relearn the language that awes them enough to cripple their foresight and reasoning.


  9. Mahdi
    May 13, 2014

    Excellent article by Mr Varadarajan. Given the intolerance and impatience being the Modi’s basic nature he would definitely not bear any criticism. So , in case, he becomes PM, we’ll see more staunch repression of any dissent. We are definitely heading towards facing fascism.

  10. Maria
    May 12, 2014

    Dear Siddharth,

    Yes I too had many of the concerns that you have expressed in your article. But after going through the past few months of elections and voting, I have now begun to relax. I feel optimistic that even if Modi comes to power, there is hope for my country. The past and present show that the electorate is becoming more intelligent. Citizens are now participating in local governance. The media is critical and responsive to national and local issues. Opposition parties are forced to become vigilant. The internet is becoming a medium for ‘smart mobs’. So, even if Modi tries to enforce any kind of dictatorial or undemocratic rule on the Indian masses, they will rise up again and throw his government out. Three cheers for indian democracy.

  11. Sudhir Jatar
    May 12, 2014

    I have a very different take on the scenario if BJP or NDA is ‘right wing’ and Modi has no opposition:
    NDA will re-write the ‘aberrations’ that have cropped up as per their perceptions in history, e.g. the Aryans and the hiding of atrocities committed on Hindus throughout history. I am clear that hiding history is worse than fascism.
    Institutions such as courts, CAG, etc will become stronger and we might even see some of the stooges of the Congress and ‘secularists’ such as the current heads of CAG, EC or NHRC being ‘removed’. I at least hope this is done.
    There will be a discussion on the benefits of Article 370 for Kashmir.
    It is most unlikely that Ram temple will be constructed at Ayodhya.
    Corruption is bound to plummet and a strong Lok Pal will be ensured.
    I also feel that governance will improve because it has reached its nadir and cannot go down further.
    All the above will be termed as NDA’s ‘communal’ and ‘divisive’ politics by the Indian ‘secularists.
    This does not mean that there will be “Ram Rajya”, at term used by Rajiv Gandhi, in India in NDA rule!!
    I would like to make it clear that I shall continue in my efforts to ensure transparency in governance not with standing who is in power because for me “national interest” takes precedence over Indian “secularism” as it is practiced today.

    May 12, 2014

    The price of freedom is eternal vigilance

  13. Rebel Ravi
    May 12, 2014

    //Why don’t you acknowledge the fact that there has been peace in Gujarat since the riots. And if you have proof of Modis involvement, im sure congress would like yo hear of it.//… RaGa….Can you please tell me why there were no riots in Mumbai or Maharashtra after the March 1993 serial blasts???

    • haseena
      May 22, 2014

      everybody is saying there is peace in gujarat after the riots see there are no atom bombs showered after the one in hiroshima and nagasaki that doesnt mean that they deserve one or there was peace since then……….the consequences are still faced by those who were when the enemy is at their gates………..not the one who writes their opinion

  14. jaykumar hankare
    May 11, 2014

    Like Modi must take support from mamta…..

    May 11, 2014

    Indias problems are many, and large and very complex. . Coruption is only one of them , altho it is universal and deeply ingrained, There are others like FOOD SECURITY (which worries me most) , energy criss, the climate change, periodic outbursts of large scale violence and demonstrably poor quality of education in our schools etc. I am not sure whether Sri Modi will be able to mobilize enough bright people to advise him on THESE issues . That worries me. ( I hope he will call me …. Ha, Ha, Ha). Those who are close to Sri Modi now are clever, fixers, fdanatics , but not by any standard statesmen. India needs Statesmen who dont grow on trees and that tribe is in short supply everywhere in the world.
    Regional parties are doing a lot of harm and little good, and now they have (at least some of them ) have established their own small empires. They take shelter under the claim that India is a FEDERAL State. Probably Sri Modi will respond thus”Oh yes, but the Centre is PARAMOUNT”. etc. That will be resisted , since the loot and the plunder at the level of the States (currently unhindered ) by small town politicians and street fighters (I mean , the Regional Paties) is profitable . This is a problem.
    To conclude : IT IS VERY DIFFICULT TO PREDICT THE FUTURE !!! devendra oza

  16. Dr Rakesh Lal
    May 11, 2014

    If NM were to become PM he will act against his opponents. Though, it may be arguably a reality in future, if he came to become PM, there is no denying the fact that most of the ardent critic of NM also agree that, if any one can solve Kashmir issue with Pakistan, it is only Modi – BUT AT WHAT COST? It is any ones guess….!

  17. Pradeep Esteves
    May 11, 2014

    A good analysed article, however my thoughts are irrespective of these scenarios, the unleashing of the hitherto (more or less in many parts of the country) dormant fundamental forces and all the staunch “my way or highway” types of the parivar will start crawling out of the woods and make life miserable not only for the minorities or such, but also start imposing the cultural rights and wrongs, for example girls at pubs (Mangalore) etc etc… this is the change in Indian politics that we may see irrespective of the various scenarios… this is more frightening… would you agree Siddharth?

  18. praveen
    May 11, 2014

    very biased article.. that much i can say

  19. 9news9
    May 11, 2014

    Reblogged this on Honest View.

    May 11, 2014

    Being critical of Modi without supporting congress leaves the voter with only AAP .

  21. Neelesh
    May 10, 2014


    Your whole argument centers around seeing Modi through the myopic glasses. It seems you are so confident of his personality despite his significant effort to shed his old image. I would expect you to be more objective and less emotional. Otherwise by similar yardstick you can be seen as high unbalanced with a strong leftist leaning.

    Leave this to you.

    • Siddharth Varadarajan
      May 10, 2014

      I am not aware of these efforts to shed his old image. Please enlighten me.

      • RaGa
        May 11, 2014

        Why don’t you acknowledge the fact that there has been peace in Gujarat since the riots. And if you have proof of Modis involvement, im sure congress would like yo hear of it.

      • Sid Lacey
        May 12, 2014

        There has, of course, been no effort to shed his old image, and if there is one in the future, it will be superficial and meaningless. It’s time to call a spade a spade; Modi is supported by people who believe in making money at any cost. It is very fortunate for them that there is no concrete evidence that his hands are bloody from the riots. Hitler had a lot of supporters who justified the support by saying “but he’ll be good for the economy and will promote business interests”. Very few were willing to say he was a dangerous bigot early on, even though the warning signs were clear for those willing to use their vision.

    • Dr. Sriram Rengarajan
      May 13, 2014

      Two things:
      1. Objectivity is not merely what we like.
      2. All that one does not like are not ‘strongly leftist’ (let alone the argument what if one has leftist leanings at all). Perhaps, as you stand to the ‘right’, you view everything to the left.

      Systematically presented articles on such issues are confronting only this kind of responses. Please be specific on what exactly/could be is false about the article and why could that be so, rather than claims such as ‘lack of objectivity’, ’emotional’, ‘myopic glasses’. Do you, for instance, deny that Mr. Jaitley made the statements quoted in this article? Then make it evident. If the subsequent discussion on the statement is what you don’t agree, please argue your point further.

      Once reiterating the reply of Siddarth: If you are not aware of the current affairs, one of the main criticism on Mr. Modi is precisely that he has ‘not taken any effort to shed his old image’. Understandably this has been the very same point his worshippers boast about.

  22. Nikesh Jain
    May 10, 2014

    Indian electorates in their wisdom will choose the right leader for our country. Let’s not waste ink on judging someone even before he or she has become the Prime Minister. If NM becomes PM and doesn’t act in the interest of the nation, same electorate will throw him out in due course. let public decide who they want as their PM. Varadrajanji chill, relax a little and enjoy.

  23. brajbir
    May 10, 2014

    Much has been written, and much has been ignored.
    When critical thinking is replaced by belief, reason always falls on deaf ears.
    We have seen this happen in history – Nazi Germany – perhaps we will see this happen again..
    Perhaps it is in the human psyche to be gullible, otherwise we wouldn’t believe in God or religion inthe first place

    • AB
      May 11, 2014

      “3. They will side track the argument
      4. They will bring in extraneous factors”

      Tsk. Tsk.

    • Dr Rakesh Lal
      May 11, 2014

      But majority in this world do believe in ‘GOD’…..!

  24. Tauseef M
    May 9, 2014

    Excellent, post…now waiting for the army of paid ‘Modi e-bhakts’ to chime in with their abuse and vitriol…

  25. Kowlasar Misir
    May 9, 2014

    I find the article to be leftist fundamentalism at its best. Mr. Varadarajan, in his many of his writings, displays his bias to the status quo that loots and plunder. One can accept an objective analysis – of there is ever one. The fact that left leaning “intellectuals” lend their support for a dispensation that is dynastic, corrupt and utterly contemptuous of democratic values speaks volumes.

    Fundamentalist ideologies – whether it is left wing or right wing – is the same. I will start taking “fellows” seriously when they actually produce tangible results that alleviate poverty, stimulate growth and educate the masses to be critical thinkers rather than followers.

    • Siddharth Varadarajan
      May 10, 2014

      Dear “Misir” — Please see the pieces I have written in the past before making leveling the ridiculous charge that I am biased towards “the status quo that loots and plunders.” One can be critical of Modi without being in favour of the Congress.

      • Rajbir Bhattacharjee
        May 10, 2014

        And you bother arguing about Modi with Modified people.. My experience with Modified people has been that
        1. They don’t understand the fundamentals of logic and debate
        2. They will deny facts
        3. They will side track the argument
        4. They will bring in extraneous factors
        5. If proven false, they will say that logic doesn’t apply to politics

    • Narasimhan
      May 13, 2014

      It is highly preposterous and irrational to term, any one opposed to rabbid right wing corporate communalism of Modi , as leftists , maoists, commies etc. There is a political ideology known as Liberal Democrat which is being purposefully obliterated by the right wing leaders & lapped up by gullible followers. ..It is times to call s spade a spafr.

  26. Sridhar
    May 9, 2014

    The cynicism being expressed by many intellectuals about Modi being PM is good in many ways.

    1. It will be a massive relief for everyone if Mr. Modi belies all these fears. His popularity will only increase thereby making him more powerful.
    2. The power that Modi has is because of his massive following across the country. In the absence of this support, he will look like any other politician. In fact, given the baggage he carries, his fall will be steeper than his rise if he follows an extremist approach.
    3. Mr. Modi has consistently proved his critics wrong. They said he cannot be a national leader, he will not be able to sell his Gujarat model in other states, he cannot attract allies, he cannot attract neutral voters, BJP has no presence in East and South India etc. All these will be proven wrong if he goes on to be a PM. It only shows he takes his critics seriously and works towards proving them wrong.
    4. Given his modest background, Mr. Modi will want to be remembered as a great statesman who overcame massive hurdles. Having worked so hard, why will he want to be remembered as a divisive figure a few decades down-the-line? Instead, he would want his script to be read as someone who was victimized but still went on to become one of the best ever PMs India has seen.

    The problem with his critics is that they start with a hypothesis, collect incidents, and spin them to support that hypothesis.

    • Gunvant
      May 11, 2014

      I agree with Srithar, but since Mr. Modi has ambition to become Prime Minister which he will if he get majority mandate from the public. Since he has been in politics for a long time and under the leadership of Atal Ji and Shri. Advani Ji, he will follow their footsteps and prove himself as one of the best leader so far India had ever found one.
      1) He has no personal family to look after except his mother that he has full respect for her so he may keep her with him at PM residence to take her blessings.

      2) Since he has full confidence as to how he like to improve and develop the country giving example of Gujarat model, may be he will succeed if he is able to control corruption and keep tight vigilance on his top officials to control any such illegal activities. If he does this, then I am sure he will win the 2nd term also.

      3) No doubt AAP will not get majority seats but surely they have done good job to make public realize that we need alternative Govt. At the same time other political parties also have learnt lessons to fight corruption. If AAP did not come on stage to fight this election then I think BJP would have violated all rules and increased corruption but with the catch dog of AAP they have realized that BJP also have to join hands with AAP to remove corruption and that Mr. Modi has given Promise to BABA RAMDEV that he will take action against all those Congress leaders who have deposits in foreign banks to bring back those funds back to India and use for development for betterment of Indian.

      4) Finally if Mr. Modi don’t do as per his election speeches that he made to win his election and don’t follow his Election Manifesto, then next election he will be thrown out and I am sure public will give AAP change to come to power and show what they can do better and prove their ability to run the country. And I think that will be the day of victory for AAP.

      Even if AAP have not got majority in this election with few seats say 10/15 seats in parliament this time will give them energy boost and learn better as to how one should run the country. I think they have taken right decision to fight this election and should not get upset but rather get trained and move forward and prepare themselves for next general election. As there is a saying ” BHAGWAN KE GHAR DER HAI ANDHER NAI “. So let us have patients and surely AAP will one day prove their ability to run the country, if they maintain their PURITY AND HONESTY and not get involved in to any dirty practice that other major parties are involved with.

      My last comment is that I appreciate Mr. Sharad Yadav Ji who has agreed to support AAP in this election and my suggestion to Mr Arvind Kejriwal that you need someone like Mr Sharad Yadav Ji who believes in AAP ideology and principals to work for the country without corruption. I am sure AAP members will accept and joined hands to make strong foundation between both parties to fight true Anti- Corruption campaign and try to remove corruption completely from the Indian politics. This can only be done by both these parties. If that happens then India will be one of the TOP most leading country in the world.

  27. devbrath
    May 9, 2014

    Modi, if he is voted to power, would be elected on the mandate of ‘growth’, and ‘good governance’, the party’s election planks. He will lead Indian to glory never seen or thought off. You are trying to tarnish the image but this is a lopsided story .He has shown us the glimpse in Gajarat and now he will take us to new shining India ahead of China and US..

    • brajbir
      May 10, 2014

      Perhaps youdon’t know the entire story:

      Here is the GINI story:
      in 1993, Gujarat’s GINI coefficient was the third lowest in the country. Which means that they were the third most equal state in the country.
      In 2010, they are the 11th most equal state in the country.
      To be fair, the rise in GINI coefficient in Gujarat has closely mimicked the rise in GINI coefficient of the national average (perhaps a little lesser). And it might seem that Gujarat is actually doing well with the GINI coefficient.
      however, if you think about it, 7 other states have managed to do it much much better than Gujarat.
      Which is not a surprise. Neo liberalist strategies in India, free perks to industrialists, and a license to rape the land has been the policies of those states (including gujarat) which have driven the national average up.

      The mal nutrition levels – are in fact worse than sub-saharan african countries like Ethiopia and Somalia.. (well, to be fair, it is the case in a number of states in India). But the states which drive the national average up are Bihar, Meghalaya, Chhatisgarh, and (hold your breath) Gujarat.
      Of the states that drive the national average of infant mortality and malnutrition up, the richest is gujarat – by several magnitudes as well.
      which, again, implies, that the wealth that has come into Gujarat hasn’t been put to good use (of course, they haven’t. Adanis, Ambanis and Tatas have been getting freebies)..

      There are poorer states which actually drive the national average for malnutrition down, and perform much better than Gujarat – Manipur Sikkim Kerala Mizoram. Of these states, Manipur remains cut off from the rest of the country for months at end when Nagaland closes roads, and grain prices rise ten folds and petrol sells for Rs. 400 a litre, but they are still able to keep maintain a low malnutrition and mortality index. Kerala is a leftist state, and they are able to do better. Mizoram and Sikkim also have problems with communication and roads and supplies, and are still able to do better.

      There are poorer states which actually drive the national average for malnutrition down, and perform much better than Gujarat – Manipur Sikkim Kerala Mizoram. Of these states, Manipur remains cut off from the rest of the country for months at end when Nagaland closes roads, and grain prices rise ten folds, but they are still able to keep maintain a low malnutrition and mortality index. Kerala is a leftist state, and they are able to do better. Mizoram and Sikkim also have problems with communication and roads and supplies, and are still able to do better.

  28. Geeta Iyer
    May 9, 2014

    The Indian electorate has shown maturity time and again and will surely do so this time too.It is because of the extreme levels of corruption the Congress led Govt indulged in that people are looking for a change. Modi has just capitalised on this and massively toured the country promoting himself as PM candidate for BJP. Unfortunately, nowhere does he speak about concrete developmental programmes for the betterment of society. Minorities and all sections of society truly have to worry-specially women because BJP nowhere speaks of their welfare. Indeed he seems to have caught the fancy of the Hindu male -most of whom are not able to face/accept the massive changes that women have undergone in India with respect to their aspirations, and visibilty in all spheres of life.S Varadarajan is accurate in his assessment of the situation.

  29. Ash
    May 9, 2014

    Siddharth Varadarajan –

    A – Compromising Institutions.
    The only instance I know of where constitutional institutions are compromised are UPA / Congress… Biggest of all is first family converted it into a monarchy system “rule it without any accountability… any whatsoever…”. There are hordes of such instances but converting into a monarchy system is foundation on which everything else sits. Have you written about it ?

    B Shejad Poonawala’s writeup

    Which NGO’s statements he put up ? Teesta’s ilk ? Plz throw some light on this. In the current form, as you have written, at best it appears to be cheap, propagandist and malicious.

    C RSS Agenda
    And I just ignored your narrative about ” ‘low voltage’ areas like education, culture, proselytization and women”.. Piece of crap at best. Any facts ? Or just propaganda or at best anti-hindu belief system you may have. Which most definitely you are entitled to have.

    D Snoopgate
    Let’s wait for SC’s analysis on this. BTW, how much you have written on following snoopgates, which surely are zillion times more impactful on whole nation in each aspect.
    1. Snooping of leader of opposition
    2. Snooping of Finance Ministry
    3. Snooping of millions of Indians requested by UP govt
    4. UPA’s surrendering to US’s snooping of India – India ranks 5th in that list.

  30. Arvind RAJAGOPAL
    May 9, 2014

    Excellent non-partisan analysis.

  31. Noor Ahmed Sheriff.
    May 9, 2014

    A Classic case of the “flexibility” of the Judiciary to please the electoral masters of the day.

  32. Noor Ahmed Sheriff.
    May 9, 2014

    What an article. Clear, crisp and fact based. The tragedy of India is not Modi coming so close to power but Congress not strengthening democratic institutions in the last 10 years to ensure that the idea of India is never under a threat.

  33. AB
    May 9, 2014

    Dear Mr. Varadarajan,

    Thanks for the analysis, again. This goes much deeper than the level of discourse usually seen on television screens. I have a few issues with this assessment, however.

    I was particularly disturbed by the following analogy: “More casualties will almost certainly follow, as Modi converts his enormous appeal amongst BJP workers and the backing of India’s corporate sector into a formidable vector of power that will make even Vladimir Putin’s ‘power vertical’ look like an exercise in democratic decision-making.” I believe this is both uncharitable and rather hyperbolic.

    Secondly, lumping proselytisation and women issues with education and “culture” (whatever that means here) is again unfair and hyperbolic, in my opinion. As far as I am concerned, subjugation of women and openly spreading a particular faith is not the RSS or the BJP’s political agenda. And no, I do not count fringe elements like Mr. Muthalik a part of this ideological family. Feel free to disagree here, but I believe this is a fringe opinion at best.

    Thirdly, I have a major issue with the following argument: “The corporates want Modi as PM because they have faith in his ability to resolve the kind of damaging institutional contradictions that led to the cancelling of spectrum allocations, a moratorium on mining, the stipulation that scarce resources be auctioned and not simply parceled out, and the scrapping of projects on environmental grounds.” The corporates want Mr. Modi on the top seat because he represents simplification of institutional red-tape. As far as I know, and the squeaky clean record of his Gujarat administration’s dealings with corporates shows, this simplification does not involve circumventing constitutional processes. Believe me, the issue that is being made of the non-issue of his government’s land acquisition policies would be nothing compared to the issue that would be created out of any malpractices being employed by his government to favour corporates. Also, the cancellation of spectrum allocations, the moratorium on mining etc. were not “institutional contradictions”. They were the “watchdog institutions” doing their job, and stepping in when the relevant members in the government were breaching the law of the land. To level this charge on Mr. Modi without any basis whatsoever, just because he is perceived to be friendly to investors, is borderline slanderous.

    Fourthly, more pertinent than a rather cynical interpretation of Mr. Jaitely’s words is Mr. Modi’s attitude with the the multiple judicial probes instituted for the investigation of the 2002 riots in Gujarat. While there have been allegations of him interfering with the local police, he has shown nothing but full cooperation when handling the CBI or the judiciary in this issue.

    Fifthly, Mr. Modi’s “impatience” with the Election Commission can be interpreted twofold. His current battle with the Returning Officer of Varanasi is a political gimmick, he is just using this rather shoddy attempt to ruffle his planning to further perpetuate the Modi-vs-the-rest mentality he’s successfully engendered in this election, especially in Uttar Pradesh. His earlier irritation with the Election Commission was actually justified in some sense; he was being charge-sheeted for a mere technicality (displaying party symbols and making political statements within a certain radius of the polling station), while people have got away with far worse. Look at the total inaction Mr. Gandhi faces with regards to his behaviour in Amethi, for instance.

    Sixthly, your comments about Mr. Poonawaala’s article are completely speculative at best. There is too little known about this incident for it to be used in any argument any way.

    While none of the issues I have raised are concrete mistakes on your part, I feel almost all of them are open to interpretation. I tend to think that you’ve given the most cynical spin to this that you possibly could have, and as such the narrative reads as a rather scary and gloomy crystal-gazing exercise. Surely someone with your journalistic expertise could have come up with more concrete examples of Mr. Modi’s well-known authoritarian streak.

    Thanks for the delightful read, as always,


    • brajbir
      May 10, 2014

      Perhaps you haven’t read about the concessions given to the Tatas on the nano plant

    • bmniac
      May 10, 2014

      I am always left amused by our urban wogs sophistry. All state governments at different times have been guilty of overdoing on concessions to industries one of the more interesting one being the concession of bamboo forests at R 1 a tonne by the first communist govt to the Birlas. And it turned out that there was no proper accounting of the bamboo cut and when the bamboo ran out other trees were given, What was worse was the poisoning of the chalakudy river with serious health problems to the local people. Virtually all the state governments, (including the Congress and the Left) with perhaps the TN government have allowed uncontrolled pollution far more damaging than cheap land. And this includes our agriculture. The impact on the poor is the highest.
      As far as the EC is concerned there is a patent failure in allowing a less experienced DM in a crucial constituency (in places like Varanasi the DM is usually an experienced person and with good reason) and in not advising the UP Government in the matter. The EC compounded matters by not sending an observer a good ten days in advance which one fails to understand. Incidentally a good Observer usually is a source of counsel and support to the DM and an independent source of information to the EC.
      The suggestion about packing EC is hilarious. For the last 20 years or so the EC has always been “packed”. A few years back an officer notorious during the emergency was sent as a member to”contain” if necessary the CEC and a second member was chosen to support the no2.. But no 3 turned out to be less malleable than they thought. Among those of us who are familiar with the system there is no doubt about the decline in the overall quality of the EC

  34. Srikant
    May 9, 2014

    Modi, if he is voted to power, would be elected on the mandate of ‘growth’, and ‘good governance’, the party’s election planks. Of course, hidden agendas will also surface, just as they do with other political parties. Will Modi and his ilk be able to turn India and Indians into minority hating Fascists? Tough but a fringe exists and they might be emboldened. But will the run amok? Only if we do not resist, protest and fail to be vigilant in case of subversion, discrimination and muzzling of free speech in 2014 and beyond.

    Modi’s vaunted promises will become his biggest obstacles. The voters, increasingly do not have sympathy if promises are unkempt and no amount of spin can eliminate visible mis rule, under development if it persists in a new Modi led administration. There will be intense scrutiny and moderates within his own party can become spoilsports.

    Modi is the flavour of the season, but for him to continue being that, he has to do good – and quickly. Muslim and community baiting will not go unnoticed and India will not be mute. Dictators will be brought to their knees.

    • Amitsena
      May 9, 2014

      Why you people are always talking about minorities/ Whether this country has something left to talk about majoirities. forget that.
      The analyses given will falter on May 16.

      Modi can become PM if majority is with NDA. If there is no Majority then by hook or crook, other parties will all come together and will stop modi becoming PM. They will resort to any means. Mark it any means.

      Also I think you are unaware of the riots that take place in Non BJP states. They are more than the BJP ruled states. Where were you and your so called media? Didnt come out with article on community baiting then.

      One thing is sure. Modi becomes PM or not for me thats immaterial but in last 6 months he is the only person everybody talks about. Negative or positive. Be thsi article or your comment or Media Hype. Its Modi everywhere and you cant deny it.

      Hats off to this person who has caused jitters in every circle.

      • brajbir
        May 10, 2014

        By your logic, you would say hats off to Adolf Hitler as well

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This entry was posted on May 9, 2014 by in Indian Politics, Narendra Modi.



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