Wednesday, September 12, 2012



Shri Narendra Modi, the Chief Minister of Gujarat, never allows grass to grow under his feet. While the Congress Party is still confused as to what should be its strategy and tactics for the forthcoming elections to the State Assembly later this year, Shri Modi, like the proverbial hare, has already started racing ahead. He has inaugurated his and the BJP’s State election campaign with a powerful indictment of the state of corruption in the Government of India.

2. It is evident Shri Modi will have a two-pronged election strategy which will focus on his record as the Chief Minister and highlight what he projects as the injustices and step-motherly policies of the Government of India towards his Government.

3.Will the Congress tortoise be able to catch up with the hare and overtake it ultimately? The answer to this will depend not only on its stamina and winner instinct, but also on its ability to project before the voters of Gujarat a credible alternative to Shri Modi in terms of individuals and policies. One sees no clear sign of any logical thinking  in the Congress.

4.The 2009 elections to the Lok Sabha clearly showed that demonization and denigration of an individual does not bring in poll dividends. Instead of placing before the voters an attractive policy alternative package, Shri L.K.Advani focussed the entire campaign  of the BJP on an attempt to demonise and denigrate Dr.Manmohan Singh as the Prime Minister. It did not pay.

5. Similarly, the BJP’s current campaign of demonization and denigration of the Prime Minister is not showing signs of bringing in any significant poll return. The people are increasingly disillusioned with the Prime Minister and the Congress because of their perceived sins of commission and omission.

6. This disillusionment with the Congress and the PM has not been translated into a fascination for the BJP and its leaders. There has been a definitive corrosion of the support enjoyed by the Congress, but this corrosion has not been to the significant benefit of the BJP and its leaders. There are no signs of a gathering pro-BJP wave in the country. Disillusionment with the Congress and scepticism towards the BJP are the defining characteristics of the current public mood in the country.

7.Against this background, the Congress has to realise that any election campaign in Gujarat based on a continuing demonization of NaMo for the communal violence of 2002 will bring in ever-diminishing returns. The time has come to jettison the policy of demonization of NaMo.

8. The Congress election campaign has to be based on a clear understanding of the ground situation in Gujarat and the electoral strategy of NaMo and his supporters in his party and from the diaspora.

9. NaMo enjoys three formidable assets---- his record as an effective administrator, his achievements in developing the economy of the State and his reputation as an honest leader who has not allowed corruption to flourish under his watch. The public perception of his record as the Chief Minister is going to be his best poll ally.

10. But NaMo is not a paragon of all positive qualities. There are two negatives in his personality and leadership which have not been brought out by the Congress. The first is his drive to build a personality cult around him by skilfully exploiting the modern means of communication and the virtual world and the backing of a group of IT-savvy individuals from the diaspora  about whose background and credentials the voters of this country know very little.

11. The entourage of Mrs.Sonia Gandhi and Dr.Manmohan Singh is a relatively open book. One cannot say the same thing about the entourage of NaMo, particularly the diaspora members of his entourage. This entourage, with the diaspora members driving from the back seat, has been seeking to bulldoze NaMo’s way forward towards winning another term as the Chief Minister and ultimately occupying the Chair of the Prime Minister.

12. This lack of transparency regarding his entourage and particularly of the NRIs who have flocked to his flag should be a matter of concern to the right-thinking persons in our country. In the attempt to build a personality cult around him and make him seem 15 feet tall, his entourage has been quietly trying to identify and undermine the potential challengers to his way forward.

13. NaMo has been in power for a decade now. Has the time not come to discourage the trend towards a personality cult by trying an alternate leader? An accepted principle in many democracies is that a personality cult would prove detrimental to the health of democracy. That is why many democracies have put a limit to the number of years  a head of Government or State can hold office. There are two-term limits in the US and France where the head of State/Government is directly elected. Even in authoritarian societies such as Russia and China there are two-term limits. No leader, however brilliant, should be allowed to occupy the chair of the head of the Government for a long period.

14. In countries such as the UK, where the head of Government is not directly elected, there is no constitutionally laid down limit, but their political culture sees to it that there is no bulldozed attempt to build a personality cult. The most worrisome aspect of NaMo’s personality is not his attitude to the religious minorities which has become more benign and positive now than it seemed to be in 2002, but his attempt, with the backing of his entourage, to build a personality cult around him.

15.Secondly,NaMo’s economic achievements seem so dazzling that nobody has gone into them in depth. Who are the ultimate beneficiaries of his economic policies---- certain corporate houses or the common people as a whole? Is his gathering support thanks to people-friendly policies or corporate-friendly ones? These are questions that have not been posed and discussed in depth.

16. Nobody can question NaMo’s achievements. They are there for all to see. But, nobody can fail to be disturbed by the personality cult being built around him. And one should not hesitate to raise questions about the ultimate beneficiaries of his economic policies.

17. Has the time come to seek an alternative to NaMo and his policies? That question has to be addressed in the weeks ahead before the Gujarat elections. ( 13-9-12)


(The  writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai, and Associate of the Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-mail:  Twitter @SORBONNE75)


















rajeev said...

Yet again, the article is full of assumptions, prejudice and with an agenda with fabricated jargons like "personality cult" etc..

Since public votes for someone term after term, we also throw in a concept tool - limit number of terms. If we cant beat those who deserve, lets reserve.

Next time, please post some objective criticism.

rajeev said...

And before you make prejudiced guesses on me, no I am no cult member and have nothing to do with NAMO.

My criticism against your article was as a regular neutral reader of your blog.

Unknown said...

Sir, I agree with your point of "Personality cult", but I have one question, if personality cult is so dangerous to the health of democracy, then why do you want Priyanka Gandhi to lead Congress in 2014.

Or, is there a difference between personality cult and dynasty cult?

Unknown said...

Dear Raman, Most good economic policies in today's world helps the corporates directly and helps millions of common people indirectly. Thats how it works. Unless u consider policies like NREGA that just involve throwing away money as good economic policy

Unknown said...

While NaMo's achievements as an honest leader and pro-development leader are indisputable, the only reason why he should be removed is "personality cult" and that he has been doing good work since a long time now.

This "personality cult" is more detrimental to democracy than say "dynasty cult" because these are different things altogether.

The entourage of the Sonia and Manmohan may be an "open book" but their economic policies, implementation and honesty have been stellar. So leaders should be judged based on percieved character of their "entourages" and not the electoral success or the economic growth they bring about.

The GDP growth of Gujarat has been the highest in medium sized states but that should not matter because NaMo is in power for over a decade.

NaMo should be removed because he is "using" IT savvy guys and the diaspora abroad who are basically not very bright minds and very easily influenced.

So basically, rephrasing your words - time has come to get leader (who may not have the track record or the intentions) from the vast ocean of mediocrity and dishonesty that Indian politics is.

Gunny said...

Is Sonia Gandhi not building a personality cult around her?

What about Rahul Gandhi sir? Is there no personality cult around him?

Are you living in denial that you are a part of the personality cult around Mrs. Gandhi?


Moon Uranus said...

Respected Sir,
All the logical contortions to deny Narendra Modi any future role in Indian governance can be done by a constitutional amendment that nobody named Narendra Modi can run for any post, including Ward Councillor.
Also lets stop this cult of personality by electing Priyanka Gandhi as the PM.

BalajiS said...

Dear Sir,

You are happy about a Italian born lady indirectly controlling PM of a
billion people by using paid media.

But you are saying an Indian CM does not have the right to use Indians but living abroad to promote his ideas,
vision for future of his state.

Its like " somebody stole our tent." joke.

Modi had to use these IT saavy people and social media because for ten long
years the entire indian media/intellectuals/journalists/opionionists are spewing venom
without an iota of of evidence against him and they keep quiet when Assam burnt and violence happened
in Mumbai.

You deleberatly ignored/missed this media bias completely.

Our dear PM is fighting with an Washington Post reporter for good-conduct certificate
instead of working for people of India. And you have words of praise for him.

Sonia Gandhi is very active in fighting Advani and BJP in parliament,
very active during Presidential elections, giving dinner/lunch parties to political leaders,

but does not care for Assam problem/Power crisis/Coal gate/2G.

Well done and Hope you have received your cheque already!

Wish you write many more articles and enlighten the Indian readers!

rsrirams said...

Sir, More than personality cult, there is a bigger danger of family cult. Dont you think so. We have had more success with PVN who is outside of the family. Shouldn't Congress be advised to look outside Gandhi family.

shyam lal said...

"NRIs who have flocked to his flag should be a matter of concern to the "right-thinking persons"in our country" ... I like that nice attempt MR Raman...jock of the year!!!...
considering his 11years shining leadership and you only got this silly matter to point out to him???????.... in that case Cong. is so luckyyyyyyy!!!!!

hey what about if Burkha dutt is become next prime minister ??????? (sorry I mean Barkha*) bye the way she also have "personality cult"......

A right thinking persone should most worry about ... the "corleone family" that ruling the nation,

should worry about "ThE SiLeNce "" ( "My silence {on corruption} is better than thousand answer" )bo

Unknown said...

Hilarious article this one! All this appears under a blog called STRATEGIC analysis!! Wow!!

What They don't Want You to Know said...

Within 6 months I have gone from the highest respect for your views to that of total disdain for them. The comments before me make my points eloquently enough.

A highly intelligent analyst like you now espousing the views you do makes me think that you are either becoming soft in the head or, perhaps, you are deliberately pedalling these lunatic views to evoke the sort of response you're getting for reasons only you know!

Either way, your argument for constitutional limit of terms served is valid for the wrong reasons: citing Modi as justification is plainly idiotic as his record actually favours the argument for unlimited terms.

A more interesting point you may care to consider is that corruption alone is not the cause of India's weak governance: it is the present parliamentary constitution borrowed from the British without thought. Note that the Americans developed their own constitution when they achieved independence and it is their system, that is, a presidential system, that we should adopt. Otherwise I fear we shall still have weak multiparty coalitions even when we've got rid of corruption (hope!)

What They don't Want You to Know said...

PS I should declare that I am a sinister member of the diaspora but neither Gujarati or involved with Modi. Anyway, why this fear of NRIs - we're not eligible to vote!

InstantKarma said...

Dear Mr. Raman,

Your article is selective and incomplete in its analysis on the following counts:

1. You have not outlined the differences between the "personality cult" of Modi and that of the media-sponsored, scam-funded, personality/dynasty cults surrounding members of the Gandhi family.

2. There is a difference between demonisation and holding our leaders accountable. Intimidating witnesses, perjury, media trials, denials of visas, and labels like 'maut ka saudagar' equate to demonisation. Calling MMS an underachiever and a tragic figure, questioning the involvement of leaders in the largest scams of independent India - this is the work of responsible citizens. That the Congress leaders have not responded to these genuine queries or have dismissed these concerns has severely damaged their credibility.

3. You have de-emphasised able governance, honesty and a track record of achievement at a societal level as a pre-requisite for leadership and promotion. It is only because Modi delivers that people all over India support him. There is a six-decade old hunger for progress. The Congress has been given mandate after mandate like no other political institution in human history. But they have chosen to use that mandate to create an unsurpassed business model of corruption and communalism and constantly downward revisions of the "Congress rate of growth."

I realise it must be devastating to have dedicated one's entire life to the service of political masters only to find that their policies have undermined the progress of Indian health, education, economy, and security. However, we will respect you all the more for writing (as you often have done) in the cause of India's interests.

Today, the majority of Indians believe the cause of India's interests is better served by Modi than by any member of the Gandhi dynasty.

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Saradha Vishwanath said...

Dear Sir
I have always enjoyed reading your well researched, logically infallible arguments in this column. But I feel this article by you certainly has flavours of your personal prejudices and biases than pure rational thoughts which is often your hallmark. If I try and take the essence of the article you are only saying Namo has proved well with his achievements and nobody can deny and fight with him on this platform but you are worried about the personality cult he is weaving around him. Herein lies the dichotomy.. Namo is a leader not a manager. He is charismatic and will have a personality and aura like most leaders have. If you chose to call this fan following a personality cult then so be it. What is wrong. If it is indeed a false image created with the help of the silent and unknown IT Savvy people, Namo should have been exposed by now. The whole country' english media has been tirelessly working against him for 10 years. Or, Are you suggesting that 10 years of all of India' media is no good in exposing truth when camouflaged by a few IT savvy confidantes of Namo.

Let us not forget all great leaders had a personality cult and not all were harmful. Not far away from home - M K Gandhi, Subash Bose are good examples. They were leaders and personalities for fan following for decades.. Anything wrong with that.
At a global stage, Kennedy, Churchill, Lee Kwan Yew, Fidel Castro all stood by their people and country and had millions following them on their path. Anything wrong.
Even by the wild stretch of imagination of English Media in India, we were to consider Namo as a personality wh o has a cult like following, a dictatorial type working etc and demonize him, I am sure Mr Raman with all your experience, love for the country and feeling of despair and helplessness you sometimes show in your articles, you will agree that
Dictatorship is not good often but when you are lucky, you get people like Namo just like elsewhere in the world when they had Lee Kwan Yew.
Personality is necessary for a leader and a good leader will have a cult like following. A matter of fact. Law of the land should be stronger to reign in any illegitimate act by such leaders and such provisions do exist. If he appears cunning, give it to him for that. He is a political leader after all and not a Saint who has a personality cult with fan following. Politics is his Dharma

Just my humble views as I see this particular article of yours more as an aberration from your usual chain of thoughts which is rational and unbiased with clear focus.

Best Regards

Unknown said...

@What They don't Want You to Know

Who says NRIs can't vote! Of course you can. Check out Form3 available at all Indian Embassies.

Do India a favor by voting in the next elections! Cannot believe what trick UPA will pull this time around. SO all patriotic NRIs must vote!

Paresh said...

Sir, I am one of your most ardent fans. I once again repeat that I have no political affiliation. But even I feel that your current article is extremely biased and immature.

Unknown said...

If what is being written here is biased, just read through what the author has quoted on Twitter!

arpit said...

I think Mr Raman mixedarticle with briefing to Gandhis by mistake or something. This isn't analysis. This is 'why modi is demon and how to take him down' manual for Rahul Gandhi or whatever. Coming the content

1. No one can fail to be disturbed. This is definitely part of congress brief, it seems

2. Question about hiring IT savvy professionals. Well, your idiot Gandhi, who couldn't even clear a degree, has a team too, And quite bigger one at that.

3. Truth of achievement. Well, we all know the truth of Dynasty's achievement now. Gujarat has 24x7 electricity. While fortress of congress for decades, UP, well, let's not talk about that.

4. About being in power, well, we first need laws to throw these dynasties out. Why is it a problem if modi has been in power for years? Kerala has seen a 25 year CMship. Why didn't you go ask for law there?

By the way? The cheque from 10janpath come yet? Encash soon, else will bounce

arpit said...

5. Very smartly, this article, exactly like congress machinery has not remotely mentioned riots.

6. Question about ultimate beneficiary of progress, well how do you decide one? Employment is benefit enough? Security enough that a girl can roam around alone at midnight without any fear? Or uninterrupted electricity supply and 1500km long canal network for farmers? OR NAVEEN JINDAL, Kalmadi, A. RAJA are better beneficiaries?

7. Modi is on Time Asia cover, with caption 'modi means business' and PM is on WP with caption 'tragic figure' well, that speaks for itself.

Please go tell your bosses at 10Janpath that this article circus didn't work, and please don't sent idiot Gandhi there...else he won't be capable to stand in panchayat elections next Time

shyam lal said...

could you please explain " Kerala has seen a 25 year CMship"
In kerala, there never been CM ship . ?And what about problem with low there. ?

arpit said...

Sorry, I meant Tamilnadu...M karunanidhi has been a chief minister for 25 years

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