"The only things redder than the red carpet that Japanese government officials have unrolled for Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi today are the faces of his dissidents in his home State, and his detractors elsewhere who are looking to declare him persona non grata on his home turf" - these lines published in one of the web based news sites perfectly summed up the mood in the opposite camp as Narendra Modi's delegation touched down at Tokyo's Narita Airport on the evening of Jul 22.
Rubbing even more salt to the wounds was the unprecedented welcome Modi received from the Japanese Government. He was received with the rank of a Cabinet Minister in what is yet another example of how the international community views Modi and his work in Gujarat.
That the self styled liberals were unhappy with events was known but that they would train their guns so soon came as a surprise. Leading charge was none other than Minister Ambika Soni.
"He may try and win over as many contracts for the development for Gujarat, that's what his job is but lets not do it at the cost of other states." (Smt. Soni to the media)
These observations by a Union Minister, while in absolute poor taste are nothing new. About a month ago, it was the same Ambika Soni who was coercing journalists to ask her desired questions at a presser in Ahmedabad and it was she who made "startling" claims that 80% of Gujarat's children were going malnourished.
Yet her recent statement merits greater scrutiny. The immediate context was the Maruti Standoff in Manesar where Congress-ruled Haryana is seeing what we can call the worst labour stand off in recent years. But as always, Ambika Soni erred big time by speaking what she did and as usual, Modi proved smarter and statesmanlike as compared to the ill informed Minister.
Around the same time as Soni was spewing comments devoid of either fact or logic, Modi was interacting with the foreign media after an Investment Seminar in Tokyo. He was asked questions on almost all the ‘controversial' issues be it his PM ambitions, an image trap and the BJP's chances in 2014 but the answer that brought out the true statesman in him was when he was asked about the stand-off in Manesar. He answered:
"It should not happen anywhere in the world, not in India or in Haryana or Gujarat or anywhere in world. It's not an issue (about) where it happened. Human safety is a priority and I do feel that we are concerned about those who have lost their life, but I am sure that Haryana govt is capable to handle the issue and they will handle it."
On foreign soil, Modi spoke not as the CEO of Gujarat but a leader who speaks for India, a leader who will not make hay over the darkness of others but one who will give sunshine to the entire nation. Soni, in contrast, stood like a pygmy vis-a-vis Modi. Not only was her lies exposed, but also it brought out the growing insecurities among the top leadership of the Congress Party on what Modi can do in the sphere of Governance.
As Modi himself pointed out in the same interview - Gujarat's landmark contribution is a paradigm shift towards politics of development. The logical implication is the decline of tokenism and populism, which pushed the Congress into panic button.
Ambika Soni may want to repeat her golden words not for Modi but for her colleagues in the Ministry of External Affairs. On the morning on Jul 24, less than 24 hours after Soni was proven wrong in context of Modi, the Indian Ambassador to China went to inaugurate an exhibition that portrayed India in extremely poor light.
The instant question that comes to mind is - what happened to Soni's doctrine of ‘nation before state?' Did her own Government err in sending its envoy for the exhibition? Do Indian Embassies in sensitive locations not brief their ambassadors properly on his movements and public engagements? Or was he allowed to go there deliberately? Can we call it a UPA version of the Look East Policy - use Beijing when Tokyo doesn't help? Why put egg on our faces only because a dynasty wants to settle scores with a development icon?
These are questions Soni and her colleagues may answer but till then, lets revel in the host of investments Modi is bringing to Gujarat (not at the cost of others) and enjoy a fantastic show of statesmanship by him in Japan.