The many troubles plaguing Narendra Modi ..

It would suddenly seem as if something has very drastically changed in the political situation in the country. The rise of Narendra Modi to the center-stage as the head of the campaign committee of the BJP has led to an incredible amount of discussion, all centered on the man. One can somewhat overlook the innumerable discussions hosted by TV channels on the Gujarat chief minister, since TV channels go all out to exploit the flavor of the moment, and Modi was the flavor of the moment. You had the interesting scene of spokespersons and others from different political parties all coming onto a program where they would do nothing but discuss Modi, and do this for a number of days. I don’t think even Modi realized that he would get such a huge publicity boost from the announcement that happened. And post this, the Congress seems to be searching about what to do – even a reference by any other member of the BJP brings out the Modi word in their response, and if Modi says something, that brings out the heavy artillery, with important ministers such as Chidambaram coming to react to the statement.
So it would seem that Modi has a lot going for him. After all, there are a large number of people across the country who have never heard of him (the media thinks that everyone in the world has heard of Modi though) and all this continued description and discussion is bringing him to the forefront. Even the recent visit by him to Uttarakhand, and the controversy about Rambo and rescuing 15,000 people was supposed to be in terms of making fun of him (you should have heard Congress ministers trying to make fun of him). However, there were also many reports that highlighted that he setup an efficient team for rescuing pilgrims, and with anti-incumbency against the Congress high, such articles find a lot of sharing happening in urban and semi-urban areas. And then the Congress brought in Rahul Gandhi, which was more of a disaster, since it was seen as too little, too late.
But .. there are many many items that are going against Modi. Some of these are:
– All the internal dissension in the party is causing PR problems. In Indian parties, typically there is a single leader who has built the party or taken command of it, and he setups his family and friends as the next in line. There is no dissension, since those who dissent are thrown out of the party and they setup similar structures of their own. The BJP does not fit into such a structure, and hence people are very uncomfortable seeing all this dissension in the party. And this dissension has not yet completed, although Modi wishes that it would have.
– The party is in a bad shape in many states electorally. The losses in the bye-elections in Uttar Pradesh were bad, and so was the loss this week of the Lok Sabha election in Mandi in Himachal Pradesh. To be anywhere near coming to power, Modi has to aim for sweeps in the states of North India (in difficult big states such as Uttar Pradesh where the BJP vies with the Congress for the third place, much behind the SP and the BSP and in the smaller states such as Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand where the seats are not many, but all of them count). For the BJP to come to power, it has to win around 180 seats on its own, to get allies and also ensure that dissenters in the BJP do not push Modi out of the picture by pushing a non-controversial leader to the front.
– Fight the corruption demon and yet make compromises. Modi has made his name through sustaining a high development rate in Gujarat and the spin off of this high development rate is a perceived lower corruption level. However, Karnataka is a tough challenge. Yedurappa being out of the BJP cost it around 10% of votes and a huge number of seats, closing of the southern gateway. They need the votes he can bring along with him, but he is also one of the most prominent figures to be labelled with the corrupt mark, and to bring him back into the BJP will cause cracks on the corruption front.
– A huge spotlight on the Gujarat model. With the perception that Modi will use the Gujarat model as his role model for aiming to win the votes of people looking for development, there will be a lot of focus on finding chinks in this armour. There are already a number of stories about problems in human development indices, problems with growth rates of minorities, and so on. These will increase as time goes by.
– Attack by the congress. The Congress will go after with Modi with everything that it has – this includes the CBI, SIT’s, tax and economic officials, everybody, with the aim of bringing him down sometime in the next few months. The way to overcome this – portray yourself as a victim, which Modi and others in the BJP have already started doing.

In spite of all this, Modi has a chance. There is a huge section of people tired of the Congress, and the BJP needs to attract these rather than letting them go to the regional parties, and also striking the right alliances.

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