Modi magic still works in Gujarat

It had come just a few months after he had lead the party to a not-so-impressive performance in the 2009 Lok Sabha polls. Modi went silent. Analysts saw it as the sign of a man defeated. His critics ruled: Modi magic has faded.

They were mistaken. Modi didn’t retreat. Instead, he went back to the drawing board to analyse what had gone wrong. Just two months later, Modi was back with a bang, winning five of the seven Assembly segments, wresting all from the Congress. The theme of his election campaign was a neatly packaged development mantra, stressing on how he had taken Gujarat to a new high. The voters obviously bought it. 

A master strategist that he is, he keeps shifting the focus of his campaign according to situations. If in 2002 he could cash in on a polarised vote in the state courtesy the Gujarat riots, 2007 saw him package himself as a development-oriented chief minister. He won both the elections hands down.

Barring the 2009 Lok Sabha hiccups, Modi has been going from strength to strength in Gujarat. The latest is the BJP’s clean sweep of both the municipal and panchayat polls in the state. The BJP has won in 21 of 24 zilla panchayats, 42 of 53 nagar pakilas and 155 of 208 taluk panchayats.

As Gujarat riots continue to haunt him at least at the national level, Modi has worked consciously towards erasing an image of a communal, autocratic chief minister. In the panchayat polls, he fielded as many as 35 Christians and almost a 100 Muslim candidates and almost all of them won. The tickets were given to Christians in Dangs — a tribal area of South Gujarat which had assumed notoriety about a decade ago for attack on the churches.

But his victory is not just a fallout of trickery alone. He rides on massive strides made in the fields of infrastructure and social welfare. The government has introduced award-winning schemes such as ‘Kanya Kelavani,’ (to encourage parents to protect their girl child, educate them for which the government would award them with a fixed deposit) and ‘Jyoit gram’ which gave rural Gujarat uninterrupted power supply.

Apart from agriculture, Modi’s focus is on industralisiation. Even sectors like port development, which was seen as a dead investment, has seen a jump of 34 per cent after he pumped in Rs 2 lakh crore. “The recent Forbes listing has rated Gujarat as one of the leading states in being able to attract FDI and his novel idea of investment fairs like Vibrant Guajart festivals have placed Gujarat on a global map,’’ pointed out Ajay Ummat, senior editor of a prominent Gujarati daily.

Modi’s achievement

Renowned economist Hemant Shah pointed out that the Gujarat was always known to be one of the better developed states. “During the previous Congress regimes, the State Domestic Product (SDP) has gone up to 16 per cent and also come down to the single digit, but   is that he has been able to maintain it at around 10.10 per cent during the last one decade,’’ said Shah.

He pointed out that Modi has been one of the successful CMs who has been able to utilise the Central funds judiciously and implement and execute central schemes. “Hence when the world was still debating about the viability of BT cotton, Modi saw to it that farmers who were investing in non-profit making crops like bajra switched over to the production of BT cotton which was fetching a high price internationally,’’ said Shah. With the supply of uninterrupted power,  Modi has ensured 12 per cent growth in agriculture in the last five years.

Senior BJP leader Yamal Vyas points out that the road for success for Modi has been his vision and conviction of being able to achieve.  But has Modi managed to push behind the ghosts of the Gujarat riots? His critics are not willing to believe, but his electoral successes indicate that the Modi magic is still on.

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