Sunday, January 9, 2011

Why the Gujjus love Narendra Modi

Did anyone notice that Narendra Modi preferred to attend the Pravasi Bharatiya Event in Delhi rather than his own party's national executive meeting in Guwahati? Was it a snub to his political masters or was it just a natural preference for business that drove Modi to Delhi?

Everyone knows that NRIs are wooed in this country for the money they can bring back home. Everyone wants the NRIs to invest in their state. But very few politicians can be open about this. The Gujju on the other hand is focused clearly on business. This is what defines a Gujju. As someone who is a "naturalized Gujju", I feel proud to note the progress that Gujarat has made over the last 2-3 decades. For many years now, Gujarat's growth rate has been upwards of 11% per annum......higher than China's. Anyone who has traveled to Gujarat (and Ahmedabad in particular) will agree that the infrastructure in Gujarat is the best in India. The roads are outstanding. I once covered the Bby-Abad distance at an average speed of 81 km/hr. Very soon, the entire stretch from Bby to Abad will be an expressway. Roads are the lifeline of Gujarat.....and the good connectivity is one of the reasons that people prefer to operate from their own small cities and villages rather than migrate to Abad. This explains why Abad's population is only around 55-60 lacs......way too less for the premier city of an industrial state like Gujarat. The Gujarat government has also shown itself to be smart.....they were not the first ones to experiment with the BRTS (Bus Road Transport System).....but after Pune and Delhi failed miserably, Gujarat learnt the tricks and launched a very successful BRTS in Ahmedabad.

Modi knows that Gujaratis care largely for business. He knows that if he can make sure Gujarat keeps shining as it is right now, he is in a position to repeat in Gujarat what the Left has done in WB (ruled for 3 decades). But look at the difference in approach.....the Left ruled WB by perpetuating poverty (making everyone poor.....thinking that's a good goal to have!), while Modi will rule Gujarat by eradicating poverty and making everyone rich. On Gujarat Day (May 1 every year), the Gujarat government issues ads in the papers comparing Gujarat with Singapore....not with any other state in India! When Gujarat holds the annual Vibrant Gujarat mela, it routinely gets lacs of crores of investment commitments! When the Tatas decided to move their Nano car project to Gujarat, the people loved Modi for this. Modi knows this!

Modi also knows one other thing about Gujjus. Because He knows that because gujjus focus only on business, they suffer from a guilt feeling inside themselves. While doing business, they dont really care if the opposite party is a Muslim or a Hindu. The Kutchhi Bohris are muslims but in Gujarat, they are recognized as astute business people. Whoever has money is a good business partner! Deep inside, many Gujjus suffer a guilt complex arising from this. They fear they have not done enough to fight for the Hindu cause. To push back the Muslim aggression. Somehow their focus on business has made them "lesser Hindus". Gujjus are too mild mannered to get together and take out morchas and fight on the streets. Modi knows this. By following a virulent attack campaign on Muslims, he is exploiting this guilt complex. Gujjus love Modi for doing what they simply cannot do themselves.

It's this combination of focusing on business and taking on the mantle of protecting Hinduism that has made Modi the most lovable CM anywhere in the country. Yes lovable. Gujjus love Modi. In his 3rd term, Modi continues to enjoy the honeymoon that new CMs get only in their first 100 days of the first term. Their love and affection for Modi is so strong that they are willing to condone the several cases of corruption that have come up in Gujarat. Gujjus are rational about corruption. They know it exists. That's no reason to hate a CM! They are also willing to condone the suspected hand of Modi in several high-profile murder cases.....including the one of his own party-man Haren Pandya.

Somehow, if Modi could moderate his angularity about Muslims, and if he could focus on economic growth, there's no stopping him from becoming India's PM. As I have argued in the earlier posts, we Indians are hungry for growth. We want a way out of poverty. We want a good quality of life. Indians would willingly make Modi the PM......but if only he could shun his Muslim bashing.

I am sure Modi realizes that this is a hole that he has dug himself into. If he were to quit the BJP, no other party would touch him. And if he stays in BJP, he wont be able to grow outside Gujarat. Does he have the charisma to start his own party? Is this another reason why he did not attend the BJP's meeting in Guwahati? We'll know the real truth pretty soon!


  1. Prashant.. Very well written Blog!!!I think the development can minimize the rift among religions and castes... Just want to add my experience about rural Gujarat..

    I got a chance to visit my native place in May 2010 (after 5years) from 300KM from Ahmedabad and 100KM from Bhavnagar... a small coastal village..and I stunned to see the development.. 24x7 electricity for the residents.. 8Hr electricity for irrigation.. 2-4Hr "Narmada" water supply for each and every house.. the most of family have OWN TOILET.. by using the Govt subsidies (through some NGOs).. Small scale industries are started in these villages..

    The Modi government says they provide the uninterrupted 24x7 Power supply to the 18000 Villages.. that's true.

    One Example: The GEB (Guj Electricity Board) notifies the farmers about the 8Hrs power availability & schedule for irrigation through Print Media, SMSs. E.g. The village A will get the 8Hr power from 6AM-2PM, the village B will get it from 2PM-10PM.. the village C will get it from 10PM-6AM...the schedule will change every fortnight. so the farmers can plan their time for other activities also in Advance... the Govt company makes sure the farmers (or customers!) will get 8Hour power everyday… there is a commitment & delivery.. there is a customer satisfaction. If I compare the Gujarat Village with big city.. e.g. the Karnataka utility company just switch off the power at anytime (or whenever they want!!) for unlimited time in Bangalore!!!.. If you notice..Modi told the NRIs yesterday that Gujarat achieved 9.6% Agriculture growth from 2005-10.. Because there is a commitment of 8Hr power availability (they don’t use the POWER CUT!! Negative term!) for irrigation..

    Second Example: The most of diamond workers used to stay in Surat & Mumbai slum area(in 1980-2000).. they have come back to the villages and started the own diamond polishing business.. that happened only because there is a better infrastructure in villages than Mumbai (and other part of India)..that’s why Surat and Ahmedabad are not getting populated .. the migration is very less compare to other metros.

  2. I liked ur article Prashant! I agree with most of ur points but there are few flawed "Hinduism that has made Modi the most lovable CM anywhere in the country"....the truth is it has actually made Modi untouchable in many states. Eg. Bihar...and all the southern states...Yes Village to city migration is very low in Gujarat but still Ahmedabad is among the most populated city in the country...

    Your para 4 is debatable too...

  3. No No Saurabh.....I didnt mean "Hinduism has made Modi.....". You should read the full line."Its the combination of focusing on business and taking on the mantle.....". I do mention later that Modi has dug his own hole!

  4. PP - i find an inconsistency here.
    Your earlier blogs were about the shrillness of the electronic media. The way they go overboard with whatever they care to highlight.
    If you care to go through Modi's utterances, not once, even obliquely has he targeted Muslims (unless you equate terrorists with Muslims). Modi's present image as being anti-Muslim is the creation the same media with whom you have serious issues. Just that you choose to believe the media in this case.

    The sentence "By following a virulent attack campaign on Muslims, he is exploiting this guilt complex." is completely unfounded - unless your only source of information is one Mr. Rajdeep Sardesai !!

  5. A very unusual but true feeling of a Gujarati Muslim. Link of that one - in Gujarati - in English

  6. Hi Prashant,

    We filmed in Kutch where I am from, and I must tell you how great the Govt support was. I got a chance to very briefly meet the CM thanks to the ministry folks who knew were were shooting, and upon my meeting him, he he knew exactly who we were, what we were filming, and asked if there's anything the govt can do to be of further assistance. We got permits, assistance, media help, and everything we would NEVER EVER get in most other places. If I ever shoot in India again, Gujarat will surely be the top of the list.

    Moreover, you are right, Gujaratis and Kutchis are astute businessmen, which is why they keep no "enemies". I differ on the anti-Muslim image, which is largely created by the media it seems. Unless one says I am "PRO-something" it makes one anti-something else. Have there been issues in Gujarat? Certainly. Where haven't they in India?

    Modi is the man to change India. The ONLY man in the entire country's political landscape and like you I hope he becomes PM. Gujjus rock =)