People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 21

May 23, 2004

Beginning Of The End Of Modi Rule?

Babulal Likhure


THE electorate in Gujarat has once again proved the old adage ‘one can’t fool all the people all the time’ by delivering the worst possible blow to the fascist regime of Narendra Modi who is still fumbling for words to explain the debacle and groping to find new manoeuvres.


Apart from the BJP tally in the state dropping to just 14 from its high of 21, a significant pointer of the Gujarat election results that got drowned in the ocean of news is that the BJP stalwart and deputy prime minister L K Advani has actually  lost in as many as three of the seven assembly segments that constitute the Gandhinagar Lok Sabha constituency from which he won.


A close perusal of the detailed results showed that the assembly segments of Shahpur and Asarwa in Ahmedabad city and the state capital Gandhinagar have decisively voted against L K Advani despite his family camping there for a month of campaign.


Not only that, in Ahmedabad Lok Sabha constituency once considered the fortress of the BJP, union minister of state for defence Harin Pathak has lost in four of the seven assembly segments.


Statewide, the BJP has won in only 90 of the 182 assembly segments compared to its all-time record haul of 128 seats bagged in the December 2002 elections, conducted after Modi engineered a Hindutva wave by spewing venom against the minorities during his two-month-long ‘Gaurav Yatra’.


The election results this time have clearly indicated that arousal of communal sentiments, which worked wonders for the BJP and Modi in December 2002, cannot be expected to fetch votes all the time.


The voters’ verdict has also re-validated the contention that the BJP has remained influential among the urban middle class which only seemed to have enjoyed the ‘spoils’ of ‘development’ as understood by the propaganda of ‘feel good’ factor.


As the shocked BJP sits down to make a ‘post mortem’ analysis of the election results, it is becoming amply clear that the party has lost ground in the rural areas where the farmers’ problems were neglected for a long time.


Political observers are unanimous in the view that Modi’s arrogant attitude towards the farmers’ demand for a roll-back of the hike in the power tariff for the farm sector has cost him dearly. Moreover, the city-based middle class BJP functionaries, heavily media-dependent as they are for their views as well as deeds, had no idea about the extent of resentment at the grass-roots level against the party’s policies and conduct of Modi through his tongue-lashing on various subjects.


The BJP, always well-geared to create a hype over its claimed achievements through a section of media, actually met its waterloo by believing its own propaganda as truth. The BJP euphoria was maintained with various pre-poll surveys projecting a rosy picture for the BJP and the NDA.


But, as reports start trickling in from the interior areas, it transpires that many of the respondents in these surveys had intentionally given wrong opinion to the surveyors for fear of Modi unleashing a reign of terror in their villages. Aware of Modi’s various ways of victimising anyone holding a different opinion, many people in the rural areas have now confided to have told the exit poll workers to have voted for ‘lotus’ while they have actually pressed the button with the ‘hand’ symbol.


Such attitude of the rural people towards the poll survey personnel makes the Gujarat verdict akin to the Indian electorate’s reply to the Emergency as manifested in the voting out of Indira Gandhi in 1977.


Shell-shocked BJP leadership, instead of starting a soul searching exercise, has gone haywire in making wild guesses about the causes behind the electoral debacle in the state that had given them a two-thirds majority only about a year-and-half ago.


The Gujarat unit of the Viswa Hindu Parishad, which had contributed a lot in the communal polarization during the last assembly election but remained complacent this time, has blamed the defeat on the BJP diluting its hardline ‘Hindutva’ stand while some of the middle level activists privately say that it was the Pope who had distributed money among the electorate in order to ensure that a Catholic becomes the prime minister in India.


Only a few admit, that too privately, that it was Modi’s autocratic rule, his excessive Sonia-bashing and the neglect of common people’s welfare which have led to the party’s poor showing this time round.




But, there are indications that those who attribute the defeat rightly to Modi’s tyrannical rule are unlikely to keep quiet for long. Modi’s detractors including supporters of former chief minister Keshubhai Patel would certainly raise the banner of revolt to demand a change of guard for the humiliation the party suffered at the hustings.


Keshubhai supporters are reportedly arming themselves with the argument that Modi ought to be removed as he has lost the confidence of the people, as reflected in the BJP losing in as many as 92 assembly segments while it had won 128 of these seats in 2002.


Patel himself was removed by Modi at the behest of the BJP high command as the party had suffered severe reverses in the bye-elections of September 2001 in the midst of allegations of corruption and maladministration.


It is only a matter of time that the BJP top leadership takes the decision to remove Modi from the chief minister’s chair and “show” that it is making amends for all its past misdeeds.