25 Dec 2007, 0918 hrs IST
When my book titled Saffron Surge was released recently in Delhi and Chennai, I didn't realise that the signs to further reinforce my hopes for a nationalist upsurge sweeping the country would shine so brightly from Gandhi Nagar.
Modi had to win. There was no alternative. The noises opposing him, representing secular 'civility', often used the most ugly, rather abusive language who hoped for a last minute 'miracle' to see him lose. It didn't happen. And so, for the fourth time BJP and for the third time, Modi is ruling Gujarat. The impact of the win was spontaneously tremendous. As if another nuke test, a Pokaran III has occurred, making nationalists happy and proud.
Gujarat turned India
I was in Rameshwaram, just outside the world famous temple when the news of Modi’s win started pouring in. And people over there, the last tip of our southern side turned ecstatic, as if overpowered with a saffron surge. The enthusiasm and joy on the faces of pilgrims and local Tamils, none having anything to do with Gujarat’s politics was showing up and they loved it. The SMSes I got, a dozen a minute were mostly from outside Gujarat, with the same euphoric sense of victory that had crossed all boundaries and barriers.
The saffron in Gujarat was transformed instantly into a national victory of some sorts which was difficult to explain but easy to feel. Gujarat suddenly became India for a moment and the best of psephologists too forgot there was a Himachal battling the same ballot war. No, Gujarat was the issue, the election and the battleground between ideologies that will now be reflected on a larger screen in the ensuing Lok Sabha polls.
After all Modi, a provincial Chief Minister had to be combated by the supreme leader of the UPA and Congress president and that defined the war zones. She and her son both proved a non-starter in an election that demanded real grit and mettle politically.
A vilified hero
Never in our post-Independence political history, a person was so vilified, abused and attacked as him and his rise and rise again has also been an unprecedented phenomenon that is bound to change the colour and content of political dialogue at the national level. His appeal to the youth and women is seen to be believed, and I too couldn't trust my eyes when I saw the younger element overwhelmingly present in his meetings. He has certainly caught the imagination of the Gen X. Compare it with the flag bearers of secularism.
The hate and poison injected in the rallies and political discourses of V P Singh, Lalu, Paswan and leaders of the Left and Dravida Munnetra variety divide, fragment and institutionalise animosities for each other. Such seculars would get their vote share by creating a ghost of the rivals' ideologies and organisations.
Fragmentation, bending backwards to bow before sectarian fissiparous tendencies, hosting foreigners as voters, humiliating Hindus as a tool to attract non-Hindu votes. This describes the brigade that vehemently opposed BJP's ascendancy in Gujarat.
But to the local voters, Modi symbolised a leader who is harsh on corrupt, non-performer, terrorist and communal hate monger. People believe he brought Narmada waters, put new life in the otherwise dried up stream of Sabarmati, powered villages and helped turn deserts into green lands, implemented new innovative schemes for women and girl child, brought administration under effective control, never hesitated to assert his ideological colours and took pains to invite unbelievable amount of foreign and domestic investment in the state thus earning kudos from fiercest critics as well.
What else do you expect a Chief Minister to deliver? Before elections, there were reports to paint him as arrogant, who doesn't help friends, and keeps a contemptuous distance from Pariwar organisations. And now that he has won, his detractors say his accessibility would be rather more difficult than ever as he is now on 'fourteenth level of clouds'. Usual things that are always said about the persons one doesn't like. But, whom would you believe, people who voted him or those who deserted him?
So Modi showed his mettle. Done. Now what next?
Definitely by astounding his rivals so neatly, Modi has entered the most dangerous zone of his career. His foes are bitter and shall wait every inch to bring him down, every step he takes would be watched and monitored too closely not to give him a space for manoeuvring, his commitment would be on a perpetual fire –test and having reached a climax even before he enters a higher play field, and expectations from him going wild, the sensitive question - how shall he protect himself from the ‘feared fatal fallout of fame’, can only be left in his deft hands and to the will of god. He has to succeed for a greater cause and for that he should be certainly having those friends around him who can criticise him and sound him caution in his high-profile path of deliverance.
A Modi win has also put in perspective the issue of leadership India wants. On one side are those who are pusillanimous, can’t even keep their offices and airports clean and citizen-friendly, provide security to the patriotic, have stinking personal riches but remain unconcerned to the public services, institutions and peoples' woes, who won’t touch a dilapidated footpath dargah but take enormous pride in demolishing an icon of faith and Hindu heritage like Ram Sethu, provide communal budget and reservations for a vote bank and look apologetic when Supreme Court confirms capital punishment to a traitor.
Leaders with these attributes make a solid block of Ayodhya haters, Godhra erasers and mechanical silencers to the cries of Kashmiri Hindu refugees. They are popularly known as seculars. Powerful people in media and governance.
On the other side, the Saffron ones want equal rights and duties of all citizens without considering or discriminating on the basis of their ways of worship, elimination of the majority-minority syndrome, ensuring none is appeased, honourable and safe return of Kashmiri Hindus and deleting the divisive provision of 370 from Constitution, taking up the ruthless elimination of terrorists and their protective modules, paving way to prosperity and an invincible security. In the nutshell, the fight that has been unleashed is between Saffronites and the Sohrabuddinites.
India has to emerge stronger and wealthier in this war of nerves. Especially on economic front - that's the demand of Hindutva.
'No Gopal with empty stomach' and 'build body before mastering Geeta' are the old sayings authenticated by spiritual masters. Every day in RSS shakhas, Swayamsewaks offer their salutations to Mother India with a resolve on their lips to make nation supremely prosperous and glorious. Path to Nirvana passes through road to Lakshmi! Hence the nation should unshackle itself from the yawning gap between planning and applied vision. Strengthening manufacturing sector, enhancing quality of science education and producing more engineers and researchers in pure sciences, improving the standards of research and revolutionising the entire gamut of higher education with better facilitated and equipped universities are the immediate tasks before us.
Who is looking into these areas? With China growing at 9% and having an investment/GDP ratio at around 40%, we need to take a serious note of our standing in next ten and twenty years. Shall we remain mired in petty political games or the national outlook be allowed to override smaller concerns? That's the question India should be ready to answer.
The collective resolve
It's definitely not Modi's fight alone but it belongs to the entire patriotic forces represented beyond the pale of communal divides and language barriers. The proverbial time for the resurrection of Somnath has been brought to this juncture by the sacrifices of thousands of workers and leaders. The talks that Modi has risen bigger than the organisation he belongs to, hurt him most.
Let’s hope the march that has further fortified in Gujarat becomes a march of India, with just one cause in sight –glory of Bharat.