For most politicians, especially those in power, elections are a necessary evil; they do not really relish the idea of contesting polls and testing their popularity. But there are rare exceptions. And one such exception is Gujarat’s Chief Minister Narendra Modi.
Not only does Modi sincerely believe that voting in an election is the duty of every citizen so that they become direct stakeholders in democracy, he also describes elections as the “biggest festival in a democracy”.
Addressing party workers in the Isanpur area of Ahmedabad, which falls under the Maninagar Assembly seat that Modi has been representing for the past decade, he described elections as the “biggest festival in a democracy” and termed them as “opportunities to integrate the common man into the political process”. The reason: Not only those above 18 but also small children learn about the political system in our country during elections.
Modi added that elections are not only about victory and defeat but an occasion of ‘Lok Shikshan’ (people’s education). “During elections many issues pertaining to the people come to our notice and if we can work on them after the election, the respect for democracy in the minds of the common people increases tremendously.” Elections are also useful for parties as they are a great opportunity to “strengthen team spirit”.
“You work in Maninagar for the victory of one candidate here and I will work for the victory in the remaining 181 seats… Let us see who wins this race of victory margins,” he said amid applause.
Modi said in the last 11 years his Government has created a new faith and trust in the institution of democracy among the people of Gujarat who had lost faith in the political system due to the political culture of the Congress. Political pundits, he said, should take note of this surge in faith in the system in Gujarat, and then mockingly added they would either take ages to understand this or would not have the courage to write about it.
What is truly remarkable is that Modi has shown that it is possible to restore popular faith in the Government with the same system and the same bureaucracy.
Modi pointed out three distinct issues that have emerged in Gujarat and which are palpable during the time of elections.
First, popular discourse is centred on aspirations pegged to economic and social development. His Government’s performance is measured on the scale of delivery at the ground level. In sharp contrast, when it comes to the Congress, it is seen in the context of mega scams, each bigger than the other.
Second, people now associate BJP with constructive politics of development. On the other hand, the Congress is associated with destructive vote-bank politics. That distinction makes the masses turn towards the BJP.
With economic growth and development comes peace and prosperity. Modi recalled how in the past when the Congress was in power in Gujarat Government Rath Yatras had to be taken out under curfew and even cricket matches required curfew to be imposed. Those things seem unreal today.
The third issue is to do with the Dirty Tricks Department of the Congress whose sole agenda is to malign people, sully reputations and plant scurrilous stories. The Congress, he said, has spent crores on these deplorable methods.
He gave several instances of the Congress’s anti-Gujarat mindset: The Government it heads at the Centre has send bogus IT notices to investors in Gujarat; it has refused to approve the GUJCOCA Bill although Congress-ruled Maharashtra has a similar law; it has prevented the State Government from implementing the piped gas project which would have brought huge relief to millions of Gujaratis, especially women.
The point which Modi continues to make, and which the Congress continues to ignore, is simple: If it has an issue with him, then it should deal with him and not take out its anger on six crore Gujaratis. But then, if the Congress had such political acumen, it would not have been struggling to maintain a toe hold in Gujarat!