All right thinking people who feel strongly for the genuine progress and prosperity of our country have heaved a sigh of relief at the BJP declaring Narendra Modi as its Prime Ministerial candidate for the 2014 general elections. Yes, there was a power struggle, as there is and should be in any real democracy in the world. It was a tough contest and the best man won. But many in India have become so accustomed to dynastic succession, that a democratic succession exercised through contest in the true spirit of democracy is construed as a great aberration, or an indication of a dysfunctional political party. Dynasty has even changed the democratic terminology, particularly among the media. Never before have I heard the words "anointment" and "coronation" recklessly becoming idioms of a democratic leadership change.
Some of the despondency that was gripping the country has started to lift. During the last few years, one heard the same questions over and over again across the spectrum: where is this country heading? Is there any hope at all for the future? Because what every patriotic and responsible citizen saw during the last decade of UPA rule was a directionless drift, apathy towards national interest and the welfare of the people, a complete breakdown of the state machinery, and a supreme commitment to corruption. The poor of India experienced the highest form of cruelty inflicted on them through the unprecedented rise in the prices of their already meagre food consumption articles, which all the misleading promises of the Food Security Act cannot compensate.
For me personally, it was a momentous event, something that I have been consistently urging the BJP to do for the last few years. And when I say this, I speak about the interest of the nation, and the leadership it needs today, and not about the interest of any particular person. Regardless of the unceasing propaganda hurled against Narendra Modi, his popular appeal among the intelligentsia and the masses had already been acknowledged, even by an unfriendly media, through the series of surveys and opinion polls that put him at the top of the list for future Prime Minister. People believe he has the qualities that are required to forcefully stem the steep descent of our polity into a completely failed state. Clearly, it is refreshing and promising for people that they do not find any resemblance between Modi and any of the present political leaders of the UPA. Instead, they see in him everything that the UPA leaders are not — the last ray of hope that can end our nation's nightmare and deliver our country back to us.
However, the road ahead will continue to be pitted with challenges. Narendra Modi's enemies outside his own party, though strangely sobered and bewildered about how to handle this new blazing star on the Prime Ministerial firmament, will continue their vilification campaign against him, despite their previous failures. They know that they don't have anything substantial to attack him with. His record in governance and achievement has been impressive, whether on the development or economic front. There is no taint of corruption in his decade long tenure as Chief Minister. The SIT found nothing to implicate him personally in the unfortunate 2002 riots. Having exhausted these, Modi's enemies have been forced to downgrade their weaponry to a weak propaganda of some vague and non-existent accusations that even they find difficult to substantiate.
For example, accusations against Modi have now changed from the political to personal, using hazy, nebulous words. The worst his enemies now call him is a "polarising figure", whatever that means. Well, in my view, if Modi is able to polarise opinions regarding what is good for the country and what is not, I think, the polarisation was long overdue. Next, he is accused of being "divisive", again without explaining what it means. After ten long years of UPA's paralysed governance, it appears that anyone "decisive" is now derisively labelled as "divisive". Do these accusers, supported by some sections of the media, consider it more beneficial for the progress of our nation and people to continue the non-decisive UPA leadership model of "coalition dharma" of corruption and inaction, which has almost destroyed our country, and made us a laughing stock in the world? Today, we are pathetically known the world over as an aspiring global superpower reeking in corruption; a power which has lost the ability to govern or protect its national interest and is ever too eager to sell its national interest for private gain. All opinion polls suggest that India has had enough of the UPA's consensus and compromise leadership model, and instead requires a strong, firm, no-nonsense leader.
Modi's enemies have spread another canard, that he is no "team leader", that he's a "one man show", again without providing any details or substance. I can only ask that if he were indeed not a team leader, would he win three elections in succession in Gujarat, surrounded as he was by powerful opponents holding the keys to every national investigation agency in the country and instigating every possible dissenter to revolt against him? I ask these puerile critics to compare the intra party revolts within the Congress and the UPA constituents in states across the country, with the Gujarat BJP, before they loosely throw around terms like team leadership, divisiveness and polarisation. But I do notice that the misuse of the word "communal" to describe him has reduced drastically.
I claim that even though I have several admiring friends, and perhaps several critics, neither my admirers nor critics have ever accused me of being communal or in any manner hostile to Muslims. I have repeatedly expressed my deepest admiration for the Prophet of Islam before audiences of all hues. I always impress my students with the Prophet's invaluable words that "he who walks in the path of knowledge walks on the path of God" and "the ink of the scholar is more valuable than the blood of a martyr". I believe I have the perfect credentials for categorically informing the public, who has for too long been bombarded by disinformation about Narenbhai being an anti-Muslim fanatic, that he is not so. I would say the same under oath in any court of law. The Muslim minority is as safe with him as Prime Minister as any other citizen of India. My Muslim friends must accept my guarantee, on which I stake all my reputation. Narenbhai deserves the vote of every patriotic Indian.
The people of India and most parties have realised that there is no one with a greater pan-Indian charisma and natural communication skills than Narendra Modi, so much so, that he is evaluated by the electorate on his own merit and nothing else. He has the rare gift of holding an audience spellbound. And no one can deny that charisma and communication skills are indispensable qualities for the leader of a large and pluralistic nation like India. The best example of the lack of these qualities is the UPA government.