Narendra Modi, aka NaMo, is the buzzword in India's BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) these days. After notching up three consecutive victories in Gujarat, Chief Minister Narendra Modi has set his sights on the nation's top executive job.
His jibe at Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and the Gandhi family at the party's conclave in Delhi recently is not to be construed as just part of his habitual hate speech, especially against the latter. It is also a subliminal way to influence the saffron mind-set to fully endorse him to the prime ministerial post, post-2014 polls.
If the national council meeting conveyed anything it was that it would be Narendra Modi who would be the party's candidate for the prime minister for the poll next year. Party chief Rajnath Singh could not announce it formally not just because other prime ministerial front runners have not yet surrendered their claims. More importantly, key NDA (National Democratic Alliance) allies, not least Nitish Kumar's JDU (Janata Dal United), still remain at loggerheads with NaMo. And as things stand now, the BJP cannot even dream of coming to power at the centre without their allies.
So even if the prime ministerial wannabes, including senior leader L.K. Advani, decide to prop up Modi bowing to pressure from the rank and file, the task of coaxing and cajoling Nitish Kumar into endorsing Modi's candidature remains a tall order for the saffron party. Therefore, the party is content with holding aloft NaMo as the party's star that is rising on the national scene at a rate of knots.
The star-turn at the conclave, undoubtedly, was Modi not just because the party president and other speakers lavished praise on him on his third consecutive victory in Gujarat. On his part, Modi vent his spleen on the Congress and the Nehru-Gandhi family most viciously and vehemently.
He termed the Grand Old Party which brought freedom from the British as a termite which had been eating up the country since its inception. He ridiculed Prime Minister Manmohan Singh who had ushered in economic reforms in the country in the early nineties that helped economic development take root in Gujarat as well.
The fact remains that Modi just watered the seed planted by his predecessors who were in turn inspired by Manmohan Singh. And going by the enterprising spirit of the Gujaratis, presiding over the state's economic development is no big deal. This is, however, not to trivialise the leadership of Modi in Gujarat. Unlike his predecessors, he is trying to leverage the state's growth story to gain brownie points nationally.
His swingeing hubris after the Gujarat win has perhaps blinded him to the fact that the Congress is still the largest party and the only one that has roots in all the states. He would be a right wally to think that the people would be impressed by his bravado and braggadocio in terming his rival party as nothing short of a termite. In reality what the voters would think is whether a politician who stoops so low can represent the face of the world's largest democracy.
True, the ruling Congress party is riddled by scams of all sorts. The opposition parties are within their rights to present them before the voters. Instead of doing that, Modi prefers to tear into a family that has given the Congress leadership over many years. He says the Congress has a history of sacrificing the interests of the nation for the benefit of the family. To this allegation, the Congress would say that two of the prime ministers from the family became martyrs for the sake of the nation.
I doubt attacking a person or a family would go down well with the voters. As it happens, the BJP has been down this route umpteen times in the past but each time the people reacted by voting with their feet. So the BJP had better concentrate on issues that confront the common man on a daily basis. Sure, it is incumbent on the opposition parties to sensitise the people about the corruption scandals that are plaguing the ruling party. But the "holier-than-thou" attitude of the BJP may not resonate with the voters as they are well aware of the scams that raged during its six-year reign at the centre.
Modi's claim that the BJP is a party with a mission while the Congress is a party for commission can only be taken with a pinch of salt. The people might be tempted to ask him if his party was/is on a mission for commission as they haven't yet forgotten the scam in relation to a "mission for commission" even on our soldiers' coffins.
It's true that the voters yearn for an alternative to the current ruling dispensation; but the fact is that there isn't any at the moment.
The writer is a freelance contributor based in India. All the views and opinions expressed in the article are solely those of the author and do not reflect those of Times of Oman.