The meaning of Modi

Ranabir Ray Choudhury | Updated on September 19, 2013

Modi’s economic leadership is not everything.

Narendra Modi has a past to answer for.

Narendra Modi’s formal elevation as the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate, should the party win the Lok Sabha polls next year, is a major move, both for the BJP and the nation.

Why was Modi chosen by his party to stand for the Prime Ministership? The straightforward answer would be that he has been perceived by the party to be the most successful BJP Chief Minister. Impressive as this performance is, the justification for Modi’s elevation within the party itself on this count alone does not seem adequate, if the performance of S. S. Chouhan, the Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh, or Raman Singh, the Chhattisgarh Chief Minister, is considered.


There is, however, another dimension to Modi’s elevation that cannot be challenged by anyone within the BJP. This is the man’s reported role in his State’s economic performance for a decade. He has proved that, given charge of a Government, he can accelerate economic growth rate to a respectable level, compared with the other States in the Indian Union. The BJP cannot be faulted in any way if it has chosen Narendra Modi as its parliamentary party leader after the next Lok Sabha elections on the grounds of economic success. The critical question, however, is: is that all there is to Narendra Modi? The Godhra riots of February 2002 are a blot on the nation’s secular face, and Modi was the Chief Minister when the carnage occurred. According to one view, the State Government was largely responsible for the scale of the violence. Indeed, the fact Modi has not apologised for the riots which claimed more than a thousand lives sends out a strong message.

By proclaiming Modi as its candidate for the PM’s post, the BJP has willy-nilly muddied the waters of secularism in the country, which simply cannot be ignored. As laid down by the Constitution, every political party must strive to uphold and promote “secularism” because it is only by doing so that the nation can find its true place in the world. It will, of course, be pointed out that the BJP is for “true secularism” while its opponents have been the votaries of what has been described as “pseudo-secularism”.

This may or may not be true, but what is absolutely certain is that a churning within the BJP is on the cards. Revisiting the concept of secularism through the medium of elections is not the best of things to do.

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Published on September 19, 2013
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