Godhra taint fails to dent Modi charisma

For Gujarat, 2012 is the year when Modi scored the historic third term and strengthened his case to take the top position at the Centre.

The victory was sweet for the chief minister, both in the manner in which he took on the opposition and the way he fought the odds that would usually have resulted in an embarrassing defeat at a time when he was setting his eyes on the prime ministerial position.

Facing a dissident leader in Keshubhai Patel along with relentless attack of the Congress, Modi had to take on every conceivable factors that had spelt doom for many a leader in the past such as anti-incumbency, ghosts of a riot and even two women who had already fighting legal battles against him in the court, not to mention the intense election campaign and the Centre bent on defeating him in the state.

That Modi could even think of a triumph would have sounded preposterous as he began the most crucial year of his career in a bad note. A stampede at a religious place in North Gujarat, farmer suicides and the lurking drought situation, which the Congress and the Centre had deftly used to its advantage by visiting families of dead farmers and announcing special package for the state.

Probably Modi would not have wanted the focus to be on Godhra and the riot that ensued at this stage, but court verdicts had indicted some of his ministers. A few state cops also faced arrests in the fake encounter cases.

While the verdict seemed to charge the Kadwa Patels, it also undermined the credibility of his government with the arrests of Maya Kodnani the minister close to him.

The transfer of fake encounter from the state to the CBI also raised questions on the efficiency of the state police force.

The emergence of Keshubhai Patel as a potential poll enemy was by far the most serious development the chief minister could have anticipated on the election year.

Patel, who has influence in the crucial Patel community, resigned from the BJP to float his own Gujarat Parivartan Party launching a tirade on the chief minister’s leadership credentials and terming him a dictator.

The large turnout to his rallies seemed to confirm that his message of change was going down well with the people, but Modi prevailed at the polls to further consolidate his claims to take the national role.

The chief minister may have sent out a strong message of readiness, but the BJP is reluctant to comment on his possible projection as the NDA’s Prime Ministerial candidate, aware of the differences it would create within the coalition.  While parties like the Janata Dal (United) have openly opposed to Modi’s candidature, insisting on having someone with secular credentials, political pundits have said Modi’s uncompromising leadership style may not prove ideal for a coalition government.

So, while Narendra Modi closes 2012 with a winning note, he has a long and possibly difficult path ahead before clinching his party’s nomination for the nation’s top job and winning the elections. 

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