The theme around BJP Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi is that he is great polarizing figure and there is a large section of India which will never ever accept him. As we come to the end of the general elections, it is time to take a look at that.
First things first, the allies: Once upon a time it was said that he would never get them. If you look at a State wise picture, then you come across some interesting observations. In Maharashtra, the NCP, the Shiv Sena and the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena are all bitter rivals, but they have all shown interest in Modi.
While the SS is already part of the National Democratic Alliance, NCP chief Sharad Pawar had a secret meeting with Modi and was open to entering the NDA. The SS scuttled that plan. MNS chief Raj Thackeray has gone on record saying that he backs Modi as PM.
In erstwhile Andhra Pradesh while the BJP has tied up with the TDP, the other rivals in the form of YSR Congress and TRS have been open to an alliance with Modi. In Tamil Nadu while he has already got 5 small parties on board, DMK chief Karunanidhi praised Modi and he also shares a good rapport with the ADMK.
The LJP has been opposed to the BJP for more than a decade has also hopped on board. Other parties like the AGP had shown interest and even NC leader Farooq Abdullah praised Modi.
While the NDA has 24 parties on board (most of them are small parties), the number of parties which have shown interest in Modi is far greater. The truth is that Modi is attracting a greater number of allies than both AB Vajpayee and Manmohan Singh.
In political parties, he has been able to unify the extremes.
The Hindu vote bank has also consolidated around Modi. While Brahmins and higher castes were on board, thanks to Modi’s OBC status, the other castes have also shown interest in Modi’s PM ambitions.
When one talks of minorities, then one also has to include Sikhs, Buddhists and Jains, none of whom have a problem with Modi. You will also see interesting events like Modi meeting Kerala church leaders and he has also received praise from those quarters.
As far as Muslims are concerned, you have to know that they view the BJP with suspicion thanks to the statements of certain VHP leaders and events like the Babri Masjid demolition.
However Modi has been attracting a greater number of Muslim votes in Gujarat and can replicate it at the national level. Also Muslim leaders like MJ Akbar and Shabir Ali (who later quit) have joined the BJP under Modi.
Other leaders like Shahid Siddiqui (former member of the Congress, SP and BSP)have publicly said that Modi should be given a chance.
That Modi has the support of middle class India and educated classes is well known. Off late if you look at TV channels, then you’ll find that Modi has also found acceptance in rural India too. All the anti-Modi reporters are getting surprised when Modi is getting a great response in the villages.
Modi also has a good amount of support among NRIs and corporate India, one of the earliest sections to be sold on the Modi development story. And among extremely Chief Ministers popular in their own States, Modi leads the pack.
The truth is that Modi has emerged as the most popular leader in India by a mile. There are very few people who match up to him in popularity amongst all the cross sections of society?
In many cross-sections of society, he has been able to unify the extremes.
So what is left? If you look at what’s left, then it is the mainstream media, intelligentsia and the civil society, which is an extremely microscopic minority in this country but extremely vocal and pulls punches far above its weight.
This minority is also a huge fan of Congress President Sonia Gandhi and has been extremely quiet and non-critical of her despite all the scams and lack of governance that has taken place in India in the last ten years.
It is in this microscopic minority that Modi is the great polarizer.
In the macroscopic world of diverse India, Modi has already emerged as the great unifier.
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The author is a Bangalore-based journalist and blogger. He blogs here.