Opinion polls are finally showing that an NDA2 is possible with Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi becoming Prime Minister, something totally unthinkable just a couple of years ago. For some reason these polls have overestimated the BJP and underestimated the Congress both in 2004 and 2009, so one has to take them with a pinch of salt. We could still see a plus/minus of 20 seats from what is being projected.
It is abundantly clear that there is a Modi wave throughout the country. The only thing not clear is how this wave will convert into concrete votes and Lok Sabha seats. But there are many reasons why Modi is steadily rising to the top.
1. UPA corruption: Bofors finished off the Rajiv Gandhi government in 1989. The Tehelka scandal may have contributed greatly to the NDA’s loss in 2004. But the sheer scale of scams that has hit UPA2 has been unprecedented.
Even without Modi the Congress would have been decimated. It is just a matter how the anti-Congress vote would be split and Modi has made the best out of that.
This is one thing that can hit any government in any part of the world at any time. If the economy is bad and inflation is high, then no leader can escape condemnation of the citizens.
While the Congress thought that the Food Bill would bail them out they should realize that just free/low cost grains is not enough. If prices of vegetables and fruits skyrocket then the Food Bill benefits will be totally neutralized.3. Manmohan Singh:
If you declared Manmohan as the worst Prime Minister in the history of Independent India, then it would find many takers. He is seen as a spineless, totally inept and powerless man.
Indians have always favoured strong and dictatorial leaders at the helm and it is but natural that a strong Modi should look appealing over a weak Manmohan.4. Rahul Gandhi:
Had Pappu emerged as a strong leader whom people looked up to, then things might still have been salvaged. The Congress could still have hoped for a UPA3 and Third Front combine to shut out NDA2.
However Pappu refused to become a minister in UPA2 and has absolutely no government experience of any kind. His lacklustre speeches have seen sparse crowds and people even walking out. It is ironic that his best speech recently came in front of Congress workers (who are backing him anyway) and not in front of voters (who will decide the fate of the party in the elections).5. BJP unity:
After AB Vajpayee left, it is the BJP which had been plagued by infighting while the Congress was seen united around party President Sonia Gandhi with Pappu the natural successor. But 2013 changed that. The BJP announced Modi as their PM candidate and after the initial drama around party patriarch LK Advani, there has been absolutely no dissent.
The Congress leaders on the other hand are no longer sure of Pappu but are keeping quiet because they know that they are losing anyway.6. Gujarat track record:
Modi’s critics still rubbish Modi’s development in Gujarat, but the truth is that not a single major scam has come out of the State. Modi has transformed the power situation in Gujarat and even his road network has been found world class by the World Bank. He is always bubbling with ideas and solutions and while his baiters dismiss it as mere trickery, the truth is that all other leaders don’t even have that to offer.7. Oratory:
Modi is currently the No. 1 orator in the country and is already emerging as one of the greatest of all time. If you contest that, then it is still difficult to explain how he gets huge crowds in India whether it’s Patna or Trichy or Hyderabad or Gorakhpur. Sonia and Manmohan are exceptions to the rule that states that the best orators have the best chances of winning elections anywhere in the world.8. Collapse of cases:
Godhra. Gulbarg Society massacre. Ishrat Jahan encounter. Snoopgate… His critics have been busy filing cases and hurling allegations for more than 10 years now: However absolutely none of them have stuck. Though there are still a few months left for the general elections, Independent India’s largest witchhunt so far has spectacularly failed.9. Arvind Kejriwal:
The BJP was overconfident of winning especially in 2004 and somewhat in 2009. This overconfidence was again setting towards the end of 2013, but the AAP’s great debut in the Delhi Assembly elections changed that. First the AAP got spectacular media coverage and then they started projecting Kejriwal as a serious PM candidate. The BJP was jolted out of its overconfidence and they have taken a step back to re-engineer their campaign. The AAP meanwhile has already started getting a great deal of bad press.10. Anti-Modism:
Usually when a government is corrupt and falling, all the Opposition parties unite to attack that party. That’s why anti-Congressism paid great dividends in 1967, 1977 and 1989. This time curiously everyone has got together to attack Modi. This anti-Modism has greatly helped Modi. Parties like the AAP, BSP and SP are seen too close to the Congress to capture anti-Congress votes.
It is a combination of all these factors that has led to the absolute underdog that is Modi coming so close to the PM’s chair. Now the next few months are crucial to decide whether Modi can indeed realize his dream or whether he will fall a tad short of it.
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The author is a Bangalore-based journalist and blogger. He blogshere.