Is Narendra Modi a good speaker 1 - the information portal on South Asia

With a turnout of almost 59.8 percent (2002: 61.5 percent), the Bharatiya Janata Party (Indian People's Party / BJP) in the state of Gujarat, which has a population of around 55 million and has ruled since 1995, for the fourth time in a row. It won 117 seats (down from 127 in 2002) and just missed a two-thirds majority. The Congress failed to overthrow the powerful but controversial Prime Minister Narendra Modi because of his authoritarian leadership style. So the party only got 59 (in 2002 there were only 51) seats and the allies Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) on three (in 2002 it came out empty-handed). In addition, the Janata Dal (United) one seat (2002: two seats), and - as in 2002 - two independent candidates prevailed. In its election victory, the BJP clearly benefited from the Indian majority suffrage, in which the candidate with the most votes wins the constituency's mandate: it won 49.1 percent (2002: 49.9 percent) of the votes while Congress and NCP together managed to unite almost 40 percent; the Bahujan Samaj Party (GNP) gained 2.6 percent and JD (U) only gained 0.7 percent.

Charisma, friends and enemies

Thanks to a systematic personality cult, Modi - one critic called him "the most schizophrenic personality in Indian politics" - almost exclusively embodied the BJP in Gujarat in this election campaign. Thousands of followers wore masks with his likeness. The Prime Minister, who has been in office since 2001, is a graduate political scientist who is socially responsible for the Other backward castes (OBCs), had once completed a three-month course on public relations and image campaigns in the USA.

Modi's campaign machine ran "as smoothly as an international company". As a speaker, he not only provoked his opponents, but also his foster fathers and party friends. He railed against Muslims and Christians, who were portrayed as the "other", as well as against Sonia Gandhi, whom he accused, together with the central government, of "eradicating the Hindu culture in this country". At the same time he called for the modernization of agriculture, advocated better schooling, especially for girls, and sharply attacked the practice of aborting female fetuses. In both areas he could point to a successful record of his government.

India's billionaire entrepreneurs, from the Ambani brothers to Ratan Tata to Kumaramanglam Birla, are looking to be close, because Modi - some assume he has a "vision for Gujarat" - is seen as a modernizer who is inclined to national big business. He has also received support from influential Gujarat media and celebrities Non-resident Indians from the USA and Great Britain, who sponsored his election campaign with large sums of money.

The prime minister is particularly popular with the urban Hindu middle and upper classes. He countered Sonia Gandhi's sharp attacks because of the pogroms of 2002 with the reference to "the advance of Islamic terrorism" in many parts of India and thus apparently found open ears. A business journalist from Times of India According to Gujarat, Hindus are rarely concerned about human rights violations, but rather because their main concern is terrorism, such as killings in mock incidents (encounter killings) advocate.

Resistance to Modi came from among his party opponents. The Sardar Patel Utkas Samiti, a group led by former Interior Minister Gordhanbhai Zadaphia that organized meetings in more than 140 cities, brought 200,000 people to the streets in Surat alone to protest Modi's "autocratic rule". Her name is reminiscent of India's first interior minister, Sardar Patel from Gujarat, and indicates that she represented discontented sections of the influential Patel caste. The background to their rebellion was that Modi had put the patriarch Keshubhai Patel, BJP founding member and former prime minister, politically cold. Modi sought to neutralize the dissidence by putting up 22 Patels for election on the Saurashtra peninsula. He also sought support from the "backward" community of Kohlis, who make up about 22 percent of Gujarat's population, by selecting 14 candidates from among their ranks. Modi and the BJP also managed to largely prevent the charismatic Uma Bharati, former Union minister and former BJP Prime Minister in Madhya Pradesh, from talking to her Bharatiya Janashakti Party, the "real BJP", to get involved in the election campaign. A split in the Hindutva-Camp should be avoided.

In contrast to 2002, the Hindu nationalist cadre organization behaved Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (National Volunteer Corps / RSS) neutral this time. Even the powerful fundamentalist Vishwa Hindu Parishad (World Council of Hindus / VHP), headed by Pravin Togadia, who is even more radical in his anti-Muslim tirades, mobilized their cadres in this election, as was the case recently. Both organizations had made the success of the BJP in Gujarat possible through their years of grassroots work and aim to become the state "Hindutva Laboratory" close. The background to the boycott was the imprisonment of nearly 30,000 people, many of them Hindutva-Activists after the 2002 pogroms, which aimed to dispel allegations against Modi at the time.

Diffuse Congress election campaign strategy

The Congress invested a lot in the election campaign, but lacked a clear strategy. The party avoided acting as the trustee of the insecure Muslim minority and only nominated Muslim candidates in six constituencies. Despite a 64-page "indictment" from the Congress The pogroms of 2002 against Modi and his BJP were not mentioned at the beginning of the election campaign. Rather, the differences within the BJP and the regional development differences were pointed out. According to the slogan, growth must be inclusive. In the ranks of the Congress Former BJP politicians were now also fighting for power.

The campaign reached its tipping point when Sonia Gandhi dubbed Modi and his establishment "traders of death" because of the 2002 pogroms. Congress-General Secretary Digvijay Singh stepped up the attacks and accused the BJP of "Hindu terrorism". Modi, at the beginning of the election campaign, still emphasizing the economic and developmental successes of a "dynamic Gujarat", now played the card of "pride" (Asmita) successful. He suspected them CongressPresident, against "Gujarat and the poor" and advised her to pack her things and go back to Italy. The central government has taken no action against the spread of terrorism and is reluctant to carry out the execution of Afzal Guru, who was sentenced to death in connection with the 2001 attack on the Indian parliament, out of consideration for the votes of Muslim voters. Modi cleverly put his finger on sore spots and advised him Congress to sweep his own door in the face of the Sikh pogrom of 1984.

BJP Veteran L.K. Advani firmly denied Sonia Gandhi's accusations and said that Modi could at best be called "Hitler" (sic!) - according to Advani, an umbrella term for an authoritarian politician in India. In a televised debate with the Congress- Science Minister Kapil Sibbal spoke to BJP General Secretary Arun Jaitley of more than 5,600 victims of terrorist attacks in India since 2004. Sibbal countered by pointing out 21,000 internally displaced persons in Gujarat who could not return to their residential areas. He announced that if his party won the election, he would hold those responsible for the 2002 massacres accountable.

Last but not least, Rahul Gandhi, son of the party president and newly appointed, tried his luck Congress-Secretary-General to profile in the election campaign. He categorically questioned the Modi government's track record - "a package of lies" - by criticizing the high level of national debt in Gujarat and questioning the employment effects of the numerous investment projects.

The economic and political balance sheet of the Modi regime

The Times of India described Modi as a "good administrator and a fairly clean politician". She referred to the exceptionally rapid growth of Gujarat and the numerous investments, which, however, were mainly made in capital-intensive industries, such as the oil refineries of large companies such as Essar and Reliance. Modi has almost the entire state in one Special Economic Zone (Special Economic Zone / SEZ) transformed.

The cities would have modes, they said Times of India, get the maximum amount of electricity and water generated by the Narmada Dam. Thanks to good monsoon rains, agriculture has shown growth of 12 percent in the last three years and is thus well above the national average. The situation of the rural areas, where more than 60 percent of the population live, has been improved, but also by the water supply from the Narmada-Sarovar project, which is controversial because of its forced resettlement, and more than 100,000 small dams.

Allegations of the Congressthat 80,000 small industries had to close, rejected representatives of the same and stated that this only applies to plastic and textiles and that the closed small factories had reorganized in order to be able to compete with China, among other things. Globalization, not modes, is the cause of the problems, and Gujarat's industrialists are quick to adapt. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh half-heartedly conceded that development had taken place in Gujarat, but that this was thanks to the funds made available by the central government.

However, critics point to the evident ecological destruction and the enormous differences between rich and poor. In Gujarat, for example, indebted farmers have committed suicides over the past five years, although their number, at 500, is comparatively low compared to countries such as Maharashtra or Andhra Pradesh. However, the percentage of malnourished children in Gujarat is above the Indian average. Health and education would be neglected. Other commentators even said that the infrastructure was in poor condition and that there was a lack of sufficient electricity.

Key to Success: Hindu Identity Instead of Caste Alliance

Until the mid-1980s, Gujarat was in effect due to the so-called KHAM strategy (Kshatriya, Harijan, Muslim, Adivasi as common Votebank) as a stronghold of the Congress. Together with strong support from the textile workers of the unwilling Gandhian textile workers union (Textile Labor Association/ TLA) this social alliance guaranteed sure success. The Bofors-Corruption scandal and the organizational weakness of the Congress-Party under Rajiv Gandhi in the second half of the 1980s, the severe crisis in the Indian textile industry with its devastating consequences for Ahmedabad and other centers of Gujarat made it possible for the Hindu nationalists to break open this phalanx.

The Congress there was no outstanding political figure in Gujarat. The most powerful of them, Union Minister Shankarsinh Vaghela, is a former BJP and RSS cadre. That is why Sonia Gandhi, who has meanwhile been tempered in election campaigns, although not a great speaker, had to lead the attacks against the Hindu nationalist camp herself. After the failure of the "soft Hindutva"-Election campaign of 2002 continued the Congress in this choice on caste alliances, the dissatisfaction of parts of the farmers and Adivasis, rural poor and urban slum dwellers, large parts of the Muslims and castles who are allegedly alienated by Modi, such as the Leuva Patels and Kolis, and BJP defectors, some of whom were even allegedly involved in the 2002 massacres.

Also those appealing to the underprivileged Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) showed presence with candidates in 166 constituencies and major events contested by Mayawati, the Prime Minister of Uttar Pradesh. The BSP is likely to have won quite a few votes from Muslims who were looking for alternatives between the BJP and Congress, whom they also classified as pro-Hindu.

In contrast, Modi, the tireless campaigner with personality cult and addressing almost two million people directly, succeeded in creating an identity that transcends traditional caste combinations and focuses on the state of Gujarat - with the clear exclusion of Muslims. This strategy found expression not least in reports that in various constituencies there were no Muslim voters on the electoral roll; reportedly 1,200 in the Modis constituency in Ahmedabad.

Reactions and national significance of the election result

The debacle hit him Congress and especially Sonia Gandhi very hard, not least because of the high election campaign costs. During an evaluation of the Congress-Defeat, the "daggers" were allegedly drawn against those responsible for the campaign strategy.

Prakash Karat, Secretary General of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)called them Congress-Strategy "short-sighted", as it did not really seek to confront the "communalist" BJP. The decline of the party in the last two decades is due to the "identification with the interests of the super-rich and finance capital and the loss of orientation towards the rural and urban poor". Others too Congress-Allies openly criticized the battered party for its election campaign strategy. Ram Vilas Paswan, Cabinet Minister and with his Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) Congress-Allied in the Union government, stated: "This is the real cause for concern. After his second defeat after the elections in Uttar Pradesh, the must Congresswho leads the secular forces in the country, be vigilant. We must not simply accept the way in which Modi, after adopting a tendency similar to Hitler, moves forward. "

Opposition leader L. K. Advani interpreted the result as a domestic political turning point that paved the way for a Comeback the BJP prepared at the national level. The stock market also reacted positively to the Modi win, with shares in Gujarat companies rising, including the state sector.

On the face of it, the election could be seen as a referendum for or against Modi. The otherwise so prudent science and technology minister, Sibbal, made it too easy for himself to grasp the phenomenon of Modi with his remark that "fascists can sometimes win elections". Its clear victory has thrown many calculations overboard. Modi is currently the most popular BJP politician. Does he represent the BJP of the 21st century? The election result will have a major impact on the national scene. Original plans for early general elections are likely from Congress after the clear BJP victories in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh are hardly pursued.

Modi's success in Gujarat makes the militant Hindutva-Ideology may again become a core element of the BJP. The party is named L.K. Advani, their candidate for prime minister, are trying to get the dated Congress led government of United Progressive Alliancewho is in a serious crisis because of the constant quarrels with the communists who support them over the Indo-American nuclear agreement and their economic policy, in order to regain the power it had lost in 2004 in the next general election.

There is little doubt that the gifted speaker Narendra Modi with his charisma will also play an important role within the national leadership of the BJP in the future. Within the generation - according to L.K. Advani and former Prime Minister A.B. Vajpayee - competes for leadership positions within the BJP, dominates Modi because of his successes. His motto "Gujarat today, Delhi tomorrow" could well become a reality, as his national ambitions are evident. It was all the more noticeable that on the first day of the election in Gujarat, the 80-year-old Advani was chosen as the BJP's top candidate for the general election in 2009 at the latest. The impression that Modi's ambitions at the national level should be stopped for the time being arose.

Critics fear that the dynamic RSS cadre Modi with its polarizing political style - "a big divider" - could prove to be a burden for the efforts of the BJP to win important regional parties for a new alliance. A column of the Hindustan Times named the BJP's dilemma: "Modis Hindutva has more in common with the classical fascist demagogues than with the tradition of the Sangh Parivar.The BJP cannot afford to endorse his philosophy. This is the greatest paradox: the BJP has a leader who presents an entire state to it, but it cannot afford to let him rise any further. "

What is certain is that Modi's electoral victory stretched the hardened Gordian knot of Indian domestic politics at the foreseeable end of the legislative period to such an extent that new combinations and even a resurgence of Hindu nationalism at the central level can no longer be ruled out. The election campaigns and the results of the 10 state elections due in 2008 will provide the first information on this, if there is no early general election.

Observers ask whether Modi will succeed in reinventing himself because of his all-Indian ambitions for power and perhaps even utter a word of regret for the pogrom of 2002. Others, however, rather fear that Modi's ideology will threaten secularism and the equality of religions not only in Gujarat, but in India as a whole.