The big election is due in another two months and it is believed that it will shape the course of Indian politics in the near future. But the question is: Has the Congress any chance at all to dash Narendra Modi's chance of making it three in a row?
Poll timing not suitable for Congress
To start with, the timing of the all-important Gujarat election is not suitable for the Congress. While the latter aims to cash in on an anti-incumbency factor against Modi, the problem is there being a stronger anti-incumbency storm brewing against its UPA government at the Centre. It seems a jaded Congress knows that the Gandhinagar throne is beyond the reach till the time Narendra Modi rules Gujarat.
The party has not shown any desperation to reclaim its lost ground in Gujarat, unlike in Uttar Pradesh where despite a tough four-way tussle, the Congress at least tried to rebuild its grassroot base. Rahul Gandhi has not made any effort to rebuild the party in Gujarat with a long-term aim.
Congress clueless to deal with Modi's personalisation of power
The Congress also looks clueless to counter Modi's highly effective personalisation of power in Gujarat. The personality cult of Modi, which experts said, was a new phenomenon in the BJP and the Sangh Parivar's brand of politics and was not appreciated by the Sangh Parivar for it puts organisational and cadre-based politics above individuals. But yet, Narendra Modi prevailed for the Sangh Parivar did not have much scope to oppose him for opposing Modi would mean opposing Hindutva and the development model, something which would be suicidal.
Modi's dynamic politics ensured his long stay
The Gujarat chief minister, meanwhile, also ensured that he did not remain over-dependent on the Sangh Parivar to earn electoral dividends. Narendra Modi ensured that he had the confidence of the Gujarati diaspora and banked on latest means of communication to maintain contact with the people. The man achieved a great success in constructing the Gujarati identity and the 'credit' for this also goes to his critics who went to using the same coin of 'Gujarat pogrom of 2002' to debase Modi.
Public perception a big advantage for Modi
Public perception is a big factor in politics and Modi's public image as an 'extremely efficient administrator and leader' has helped him. A major section of the Hindu urban middle class in India today, which is fed up of religious extremism and the moderate but corrupt (and hence inefficient) politicians of the Congress, find an icon in Modi who give wings to their aspirations against all enemies.
And if he ensures economic growth and symbolises an alternative to the tainted political leadership, then whether he is authoritarian or not, does not really matter. Narendra Modi, at the end of the day, is not a politician who believes in cheap populism like many other leaders in contemporary India.
Modi blended stability with progress
Modi has not only given the state a stability but also took up enough initiative to see it making progress. Long stay in power does not always ensure rapid growth and it has been seen in West Bengal where despite being in power for 34 years, the communists have actually led the state to decay.
Narendra Modi, during his eleven years in power, has not led the state to stagnancy which he could have easily done, given the huge mandate he has got. Complacency never had a place in Modi's books. Five years ago, Modi said during an interview to a channel that an ambitious leader should never leave his work base. Is Rahul Gandhi hearing?