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Spin and Win

Published Dec 24, 2012 07:29am

One can’t take away from the electoral success of Bharatiya Janata Party Chief Minister Narendra Modi for winning his third successive elections to the Gujarat state assembly with an impressive margin.

But, as Vidya Subrahmanyam, pointed out in The Hindu, he’s far from being the first person to have become chief minister for the third time in Indian politics.

Nevertheless, since Modi, who presided over the state of Gujarat when about 1,000 persons, most of them Muslims, were slaughtered in 2002, has national ambitions and has been winning election-after-election, his victory is significant.

Already, there’s a massive clamour, muted in his own party, the BJP, but very loud on television screens in the country, that Modi should become the party’s prime ministerial candidate for Lok Sabha, or national elections, due in 2014.

It’s almost as if there is a media business plan in place to create a space for Modi in national politics. Every question from TV anchors to the BJP leadership and others is the same: will Modi be the prime ministerial candidate for the opposition party come 2014?

That’s unlikely to change anytime soon.

In fact, as the 2014 elections approach, the clamour for Modi is going to grow louder – it will be helped along by the noisy, 24/7 channels that believe they make national politics – as well as big business which is of the opinion that the Gujarat Chief Minister is a role model.

For the foreseeable future, Modi will continue in Gujarat, but has made his national ambitions very clear when he said his victory was for Indians living beyond the state boundaries of Gujarat.

His image of a “hard” leader, the one who has led Gujarat on the path of development has been assiduously built over the years. The current election was ostensibly fought on the “development” plank, one he would like to take on to the national stage.

Many have picked big, gaping holes in his development story, but that did little to sway many Gujaratis, who believe that Modi is the man for them. In fact, in debate after debate, it’s been shown that Gujarat was growing much before Modi became Chief Minister, but that seems to have been lost in the media din.

So, here’s where spin and win become critical.

It doesn’t really matter what you have done, but it’s what you have projected to have done. Whether it’s on television or on social media, Modi and his supporters have positioned themselves for attacking all those who believe that India stands for all Indians, and that the country’s Constitution is a secular one.

In my conversations with many ordinary Gujaratis, it’s clear that Modi’s “development” plank is a code for excluding the minorities and the poor, who don’t figure anywhere in his “aspirational” politics.

The fact that not a single Muslim contested on the BJP ticket in all the 182 seats in the Gujarat state assembly is commentary enough. But just visit any of the Muslim ghettos in the city of Ahmedabad and they will tell you that nobody – not Modi or the BJP – or even the Congress party – are interested in their lives or welfare.

In a House of 182, only two Muslim MLAs (from the Congress party) have been elected. For a state which has a Muslim population of 10 per cent, that’s commentary enough.

After the 2002 killings, Modi has ensured that the politics of polarisation continues as the real text of his development platform. He has played on the fears of the majority and ensured his return to power. By referring to a Muslim Congress leader as Ahmed “Mian” Patel, Modi once again displayed the depths to which he can sink.

But the Congress party has shown itself incapable and inept in rising to the challenge posed by Modi. The party’s refusal to take Modi head on and their obvious tactical failures ensured that the Chief Minister is being allowed to continue his divisive politics.

A senior BJP leader, who preferred to remain anonymous, said the Congress party had lost the plot on account of poor selection of candidates.

Even with all the media support and the backing of big business, it’s not going to be easy for Modi to carve out a space for himself in India’s national politics.

The country is simply too diverse for a divisive and polarising leader like Modi.

Amit Baruah is an independent, Delhi-based journalist. He is the author of Dateline Islamabad and reported for The Hindu newspaper from Pakistan.


The views expressed by this blogger and in the following reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group.

Author Image

Amit Baruah is an independent, Delhi-based journalist. He is the author of Dateline Islamabad and reported for The Hindu newspaper from Pakistan. He tweets @abaruah64.

The views expressed by this writer and commenters below do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group.

Comments (64) Closed

Dec 24, 2012 03:58pm
2002~ 2012 No riots in Gujrat But In UP where pseudo secular Govt. is there, many around 5 riots have taken place in 2012 only. Why
vijay singh
Dec 24, 2012 08:32am
mr modi has yet to go a long way
Dec 25, 2012 05:18pm
"1000 persons, most of them muslims..." Please check the links below. The first one shows the total casualties in the riots, that were a direct result of the unprovoked Godhra massacre, the second shows the demographic break up of Gujrati society. Now be kind enough to compare the ratio of victims to perpetrators and tell me exactly how did you conclude that most of the victims were of a particular faith? On the one hand our "secularist intellectuals" such as Mr Baruah harp about how diverse and multicultural India is, and yet on the other hand they seem to completely ignore to factor in our diversity and multiculturalism when it suits them. I'm no Hindutva proponent and I for one hope that all criminals involved in the riots are brought to justice, IRRESPECTIVE of their faith. In the mean time I'd like to see just how the author justifies his point of view. As for the question of "spin and win", how is it that the "secular" parties and their leaders haven't been able to employ it to their benefit? I wont mention the point you made by big media houses supporting Modi, the other comments are testimony enough to the general sentiment about that. Baruah ji, no, Baruah (lest the use of "ji" makes me communal),I'm not implying that you are a disgrace to journalism or biased, I'm flat out accusing you. Eagerly awaiting your follow up to this article, I'd like for nothing more than to be proven wrong by you.
Dec 24, 2012 03:49pm
For a moment I thought the article was from yet another great Indian patriot Jawed Naqvi! I am certain that had the analysis been from any of the most enlightened breed of columnists I have ever come across it would have been far more balanced. Those gems include Irfan Husain, Nadeem Parcacha, Kamran Shafi, I A Rehman, Cyril Alemida, late Murtaza Razvi, Pervez Hoodbhoy, etc......and NOT the least our own Indians Mr. Jawed Naqvi or Mr. Amit Baruah. Sorry for stating the facts. You need to learn a bit before you write your opinions as analysis!
Dec 24, 2012 09:18am
India will move forward if Modi become the PM, he is a honest, corrupt free politician who works 21 hrs in a day, unlike most of the C-grade nonsense so called leader..
Dec 24, 2012 03:41pm
Author writes, "since Modi, who presided over the state of Gujarat when about 1,000 persons, most of them Muslims, were slaughtered in 2002," It should be corrected to read: In an unfortunate riot , triggered by Godra carnage where 50 Hindus were burnt alive, 1000 people most of them Muslims were killed. Please do justice to Journalism. People have been reading plethora of articles since year 2002. Don't try to SPIN the facts.
Dec 24, 2012 08:44am
a very biased article, i wonder if u have been to gujrat
Dec 24, 2012 09:32am
which big media are u talking about.. TOI, NDTV, CNN IBN, Hindu.. non of them support modi..
Mustafa Razavi
Dec 24, 2012 10:03am
Mr. Barauh should have pointed out that the official figure of 1000 dead is only half of the official figure provided 10 years ago. The independent figures are much higher than that.
Dec 24, 2012 09:02am
Amit Baruah are not independent Journalists...They are paid one by the so calls secularist. Please check the Muslim's percentage in the Gujurat state govt officials.... It's the best among india.... check the Muslims population's education/percapita income and all compared to other states...There is not even a single communal riots in last 1decade under Mr Modi....This itself a great achievement.... In 2002 what happened is unfortunate...(He had joined just 4months prior to the riots...he had no experience even as a misister)....He handle the state and made the progress of the state nicely....... Grow up Amit
Dec 24, 2012 03:22pm
If modi become even pm or even have ability like indira gandhi this time hard run due to coliation government even leader like vajpeyi feel very discomfertable now the test of modi begin
Dec 25, 2012 05:29pm
What a joke man.........keep it up hahahahahahaha
Sure Kant
Dec 24, 2012 01:39pm
Can you name which section of the media supported him. I, who read many English newspapers and watch English TV channels, saw nothing but full-throated criticism of Modi. Did I miss something? But reading the comments, I must brand Mr Baruah a liar!
Dec 24, 2012 01:39pm
Official figures are 754 Muslims and 258 Hindus and whats wrong in voting for him if he has done incredible job as CM, He has won 9 out of 12 Muslim majority constituency. Gujrat riots are not justifiable but before calling hindu's mass murderer People should think about the Godhra riots so no one is innocent.
Dixit Patel
Dec 24, 2012 01:40pm
Which media supported to Mr.Modi ?? None of lot.For your information Muslims having more opportunity compare to any other state in India to grown up them self at every respect.
Dec 24, 2012 11:35am
Looks like the author is relying more on pakistani news channels & other local sources for information. If no he should have known that the so called "pseudo secularists" dominate indian media and they leave no stone unturned in Modi Bashing. But they fail to forget that people are smart enough and they will leave all corners of class & religion to vote for development.
Dec 24, 2012 11:35am
Amit Baruah seems to be enjoying Modi bashing. The media has been hell bent on tarnishing Modi's image. I as an Indian know how well our media chooses it's own special person to hype to the core. The fact is simple. Modi defies the media and its calculations and through his honest and corrupt free style of governance delivers the goods to the state. An example is Tata nano project. When Mamata was belligerent, Tata chose Gujarat for his new plant. Tata is an example of a value system. Amitabh Bachchan is the brand ambassador for the state of Gujarat. So, Mr. Amit Baruah, pls tell me these people are biased.
Dec 24, 2012 11:12am
Which "media" has been supporting Modi? It is a miracle that he managed to win a third time despite the media demonizing him for the past ten years.
Dec 24, 2012 02:30pm
The generalized condemnation that Modi receives from the India media for the past 10 years speaks volume about the egalitarian, secular, rule of law democracy in India -- it will keep Modi quarantined as a local Gujarati phenomenon not as an Indian idol.
Jag Nathan
Dec 24, 2012 02:31pm
All you Modi haters - grow up. Modi got elected and that's end of story. There is no law in India that requires Modi to have Muslim candidates. The fact that Modi's so called Hindu candidates won seats even in Muslim majority areas should tell something. As for Gujarat riots, can we first get some justice for the 4,000s of Sikhs massacred by the Gandhi goons from Congress before we talk abut bringing Midi to justice. Can the government give justice the families of the innocent Hindu women who were burned alive in Godhra? Amit Baruah and his ilk on the left walk around with blinkers and are no one takes them seriously. If anyone cared Modi would not be CM again.
Dec 24, 2012 02:52pm
I don't understand these writer can see the truth or interested in money or criticizing to be known as critics. Congress uses minorities as if they belongs in their pocket and because their deeds our misguidance and lack of will to educate them has divided our society. Being not educated enough they become victim of their ploy. If you take my words, in India, its congress lust for power, has created all the problem. But I feel that our society is maturing enough to understand these ploy which writer and congress leader can't foresee. And mark my word, congress too, will get the same fate what Lalu got in bihar because of same reason..
Nasah (USA)
Dec 30, 2012 04:57pm
Almost makes me cry for a leader like Modi -- why doesn't he come to the United States -- we need him here to improve our US economy and our human rights? Why nobody in the US, UK or EU wants him to enter their countries -- why the West treat him like a leper? Where is the leader for whom people are ready to sacrifice other people's lives.
MAH, Abu Dhabi
Dec 29, 2012 02:30pm
Because seemingly it is more important for them to down others than to uplift their own countrymen, including Muslim Indians. Sad!
Nasah (USA)
Dec 31, 2012 03:17am
Obviously you haven't.
Dec 24, 2012 02:18pm
Psedo secularists at work again. Dawn should refrain publish such articles with bold letters such as Muslims are the only the victims creates more animosity than Aman.
Dec 24, 2012 12:39pm
I dunt knw if Modi is capable of becoming PM but am sure that out of the current lot available...he definately is the best choice...
Dec 24, 2012 08:09am
It's always happens every where when good people shy away, bad people get in. Like mosquito.We all who live or lived in the Sub Continent have that experience.And I don't understand why educated, talented people ,businessmen fleeing from West Bengal,and educated, techie and enterprising Kashmiri Muslim young men rushing to Gujarat. Any how Modi is a great divider, not a healer.We, in the Us, since my arrival, have elected wrong person as the President.
Naresh Sharma
Dec 24, 2012 08:11am
Mr. Modi Have won 48 seat out of 52 seats in Muslim majority areas of gujrat.. he is a great leader!!!!
Dec 24, 2012 08:13am
It should be read as " Since my arrival in the US, the Americans have elected a wrong man as The President, five times".
shrirang, Navi Mumbai
Dec 24, 2012 04:22pm
Out of 9 Muslim majority area's BJP won 7. This clearly shows, muslim in gujrat know who is best for them.
Dec 25, 2012 04:57pm
A Well respected newspaper like the Dawn must be careful before publishing this kind of crap devoid of facts. The authors like Amit are dime a dozen in India who will see what the editors wanted. The article article is bereft of the facts pertaining to Gujarat and the only spin is his own displayed in this article. 1.Media support for Modi? Inspite of his governance achievements (UN has given awards for Gujarat on governance) the entire english media baits modi for riots when even Supreme court SIT has found no evidence against him. If this is what author says after the SC judgement after SIT, then its simply wilful propoganda. 2.Gujarat muslims in police force is more than their percentage of population which no state has matched. 3. No riots have occured after 2002, the same riots were the consequence of burning of innocent hindus , 59 of them ,including woman and children that the author misses out. In fact there is no differnce between the ghairat brigade of pakistan and pseudo secularists like Amit, both pander to muslim fundementalists. 4.Gujarat is the fastest growing state among the large and prosperious ones, grown rapidly while you are already rich is remarkable. 5.Most of the growth that gujarat has seen is due to modi in the last decade, and his political will have curbed lumpen elements -both hindu and muslim. 6.After the decade of modi bashing the only ones who lost credibility are these Main stream media (which includes this author) and NGO's. with the advent of social media the isolation of these authors is complete. Bloggers must surf the internet to know about modi themselves rather than depending on these paid stooges.
farid maharaj
Dec 25, 2012 11:23am
please dont spread false information there are no 52 Muslim majority seats (areas) in Gujarat....if yes u would be calling it names just as u did to Malapurram...
Dec 25, 2012 11:20am
Modi has a long way to go. He is hit and fit for PM. He has taken gujarat to great progress. If he becomes PM, he will make India a developed country.
Dec 24, 2012 06:25pm
I'm with you 100 % and thank you for your wisdom.
Dec 25, 2012 09:00am
Dec 25, 2012 02:12pm
" There are educated muslims (including women) who are working under him (Modi) for the BJP
Dec 25, 2012 02:06pm
"They (media) really don
Dec 24, 2012 07:24pm
Looks like the write is part of English new channel...who are always after Modi.. simply write against modi & get a rajyashaba seat or some award from Congress govt.. all these English writer are paid by Congress.. we have seen how Bharka Dhutaa & Sagavhi acted in Meera tapes & how they played a daalla role in dealing with leaders of congress party.. Sorry to say this write is stilling not able to see the progress of Gujarati people & now sure if he has visited Gujarat once.. He is writing in Dawn , keeping Pakistani reader happy.
farid maharaj
Dec 25, 2012 10:59am
again the spin repeat a lie till it becomes the truth......the minorities are not in any bodies pocket, see UP, Bihar, West Bengal Kerala.....stop the BJP propaganda
Dec 25, 2012 12:21pm
Even Muslims in Gujrat want to move on and join development. But as there is war economy, similarly there us ' Modi hate' economy. many of these journo and NGO survive on pathological Modi Hate. There really don't want Muslims to join in development. Their interest lies in division in society. they need some one to hate. And which media is supporting Modi? NDTV? Hindu? TIO? Which one?? come on Mr Bharuch. Fact is all this gang which live on Modi hate are just not able to digest that Modi is more and more popular.
Dec 24, 2012 08:02pm
farid maharaj
Dec 25, 2012 10:35am
sorry to spoil ur spin story but i have lived in Gujarat well before modi and its people and state were developed since then thru shear hard work and astute business sense, see the Gujaratis any where in India or abroad and they are flourishing without modi,
Dec 24, 2012 09:26pm
Mr. Amit Baruah , you had written this blog only to please the Pakistani public but in this age of internet era , everyone knows the fact. No Indian media had praise modi before election and you are just writing rubbish.
Dec 24, 2012 09:29pm
i pray for Modi to be Indias next PM, he will be the next vallabhai patel known as the iron man of India.
Dec 25, 2012 09:51am
Leave Modi, who else has an easy path to becoming a Prime Minister in India ? No one takes the pain to write such full page articles about anyone else including Rahul Gandhi because they dont stand a chance to be the next PM. The fact is Modi is the acceptable candidate to most of the indians across caste and communal spectrum.
Dec 25, 2012 04:22pm
Its actually 9 as per their own police records
Dec 24, 2012 11:22pm
gujarat villages have 24 hr electricity but other states even city dont have?? gujarat is one of the small recipient of rain (dry) though its irrigation system make agriculture growth 12% compare to whole india 3.1% last 5 years 5 automobile companies came to gujarat for factory......! AWARD WINNING TRANSPORTATION SYSTEM IN AHMEDABAD MODI HAS DONE THESE THINGS
Dec 25, 2012 11:57am
Next Vallabhai Patel? You mean Patel was a butcher of Muslims too?
Dec 25, 2012 11:49am
Don't lie. Can you show some reports indicating that?
farid maharaj
Dec 25, 2012 11:45am
Gujarat already had these prior to the modi rule..
Dec 26, 2012 06:35pm
you want to know the name of the state that accomplished all the developmental goals you mentioned atleast 10 years ago?? Kerala... strange that kerala's chief ministers were not hailed as next prime ministerial candidate for India... is it because they do not speak hindi or do not adhere to the right wing's view of Hindutva? So stop portraying him as the developmental god because other people have been there done that. Educate yourself
Dec 25, 2012 04:18am
I'd like to ask Amit a direct question... WHAT CHOICE DO WE HAVE?? 1. Rahul Gandhi (Iliterate, mama's boy, a proven fool who suffers from a severe case of foot-in-the-mouth disease) 2. Mulayam Singh Yadav (a corrupt panderer and a thug-lord, who would stoop to any low to get power) 3. Mayawati (a corrupt panderer, a power hungry narcissist) 4. Sushma Swaraj (possibly corrupt, doesn't have a pan-indian presence, lacks charisma) 5. Arun Jaitley (possibly corrupt, doesn't have a pan-indian presence) 6. P Chidambaram (definitely corrupt, proven inept in both home and finance ministries, chief-lackey of madamji) 7. Narendra Modi (polarising, authoritarian sure.... but incorruptible, hard-working, lives a humble life, has certainly developed Gujarat... have friends there who can't stop singing his praises... so this info is first hand...) Since 2002, Gujarat has seen 10-yrs of relative peace... which was unheard of earlier... There are educated muslims (including women) who are working under him for the BJP... and his muslims supporters have swelled in the recent elections...
anil tiwari
Dec 25, 2012 05:50am
Kaun se duniya mein rahethey hain aap??? The entire media is controlled by the Congress party and is against Mr Modi. What ever the media may say, a lot of Muslims voted for Mr Modi and this is why he has again won the election. In the not too distant future the Muslims of UP & Bihar too will discard the Congress Party and the likes of Mr Mulayam Singh who is nothing but a first class mafia. Once, the Indian Muslims get into the main stream and adopt modern education & technology this country will change and prosper like Gujarat etc.
Dec 25, 2012 03:10pm
Correction: people do. and then, only then , that party picks a person as their candidate , to elected by the party as the next P. M.?
Dec 25, 2012 06:26am
can you write in english please
Dec 25, 2012 03:02pm
Media don't elect a P.M.,people.Now in India majority of people vote with and for their pockets.And since India had a direct election system to elect a P.M.? Does not a party had to have a majority in the lower house of parliament, and the, only then that party picks a candidate to be elected as their and chose as a prime minister? ( Recently it's with the the help of other parties). Calm down it's long way to go.
Dec 25, 2012 06:00pm
' Modi is a second Vallabahi Patel! ' Heaven help us! I remember my Late Father telling me that the reason he decided to emigrate to Pakistan in 1950 after giving ' Secular, Socialist India a chance was because of this man and his visceral hatred of Muslims. He knew then that there was no place for him in India. Pakistan, be prepared to accept Gujarati Muslims. They have no hope in India.
Dec 26, 2012 01:43pm
LOL!... Is that supposed to be a logical argument??... Cos it is devoid of it...
Dec 26, 2012 03:50am
Could you answer which part of South Asia has 24 Hours Electricity supply throughout the state including remotest villages ? Which part of South Asia has experienced peace without any curfew for last 10 years ? Which part has shown growth comparable of that of China in Industrial and Agricultural output ? Which part of of South Asia talk about their leader so fondly and come out of their homes to defend their leader(70% of record Voting may be highest in South Asia) ? Where is the leader for whom people ready to sacrifice their life ? Even a little children who only recognize his close family members can recognize Narendra Modi and hail him as his Leader. Grow up Mr. Baruah and keep your words that media is for Modi.
Dec 26, 2012 04:55am
dream on
MAH, Abu Dhabi
Dec 26, 2012 03:54pm
I wonder why this article and most other articles on Dawn website is full of comments from India. Either Dawn needs to find better readership, or these other people from across the border need to find better things to do in life instead of swamping other nations' opinions.
Dec 27, 2012 12:45pm
Internet is not bound by borders. Dont become another Jinnah.
Jag Nathan
Dec 28, 2012 05:31pm
As an Indian, I read your newspapers, Dawn being one of the best. We have a keen interest in whatever happens in Pakistan and the viewpoints of the people of Pakistan for it affects the long term stability and prosperity of India.
Dec 28, 2012 01:56pm
Because Dawn cares to hear about Indian's prejudiced opinions that the Indians papers themselves don't care about.

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