Thursday, December 27, 2012

Dividing Lines Is Gujarat a suitable model for India?

Shiv Visvanathan

One has to ask if the Gujarat model of growth is good for India. Mr Modi’s model of urbani- sation has been beneficial to corporations.
Narendra Modi’s victory for the third time in Gujarat is a moment of triumph that is an invitation for reflection. The question to ponder is not why Mr Modi won but what are the consequences of Mr Modi’s victory. One has to ask what it means for Gujarat and India.
Even a critic of Mr Modi has to accept that he has won democratically, but the critic still has the right to state his doubts.
Modi style of politics reflects what I call the decline of the political in Gujarat. An entire society was faced with a preemptive question wherein the future of Mr Modi was facilely equated with the future of Gujarat. In a way Mr Modi de-institutionalised Gujarat by turning party politics into an effete and ineffectual exercise.
The BJP was consigned to the sidelines and the Congress was content with its impotence. What we watched in Gujarat was not an election or even a referendum.
What was presented was an act of acclamation.
Narcissism of the leader had destroyed the dynamics of local-level politics. Democratic politics is about struggle, debate, local issues and ideological rivalry. One rarely witnessed any of this in Gujarat.
The Congress, after an initial burst of politics, treated the state election as non-existent and was more content to preview Rahul Gandhi as its leader for 2014. It was as if two scenarios for the future — Mr Gandhi and Mr Modi as prime ministerial candidates — met in the present called Gujarat. What one saw was a trailer for the future, rather than a contest for the present.
The results might also be troubling in another way. It reflected a middle-class majoritarian consensus which seems to have little space for minorities, tribals or dalits. The latter three voted for the Congress having virtually no other option. Reacting to the results, the media virtually anointed Mr Modi as Prime Minister. Gujarat felt that Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel and Morarji Desai were not treated fairly by Delhi and recognises this as a moment for redressal. What the media often forgets is that being chief minister and Prime Minister are two entirely separate games.
The scenarios, the expectations, the grammar of politics and governance are radically different.