Narendra Modi today claims to derive inspiration from Sardar Patel and Swami Vivekananda even if his original icon was the long-serving RSS chief Guru Golwalkar. Patel and Vivekananda are natural choices for the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate: with Patel, there is the instant strongman from Gujarat connect, while Vivekananda gives him the image of an ‘inclusive’ Hindu nationalist. The truth is Modi’s real role model in the 2014 election is someone very different: Former prime minister Indira Gandhi.
Predicting elections can be injurious to the health of journalists and pollsters, more so when there is still a month to go before voting. Even so, there is a near unanimity that Narendra Modi is poised for a hat-trick of victories in Gujarat. The CNN IBN-The Week-CSDS poll done a fortnight ago, in fact, puts him as much as 14 points ahead, which if translated into seats should give Modi a comprehensive two-thirds majority triumph. The Modi groupies will no doubt attribute a victory solely to the charisma and achievements of the Gujarat chief minister.
On the face of it, a Narendra Modi’s politics is as different from Mayawati’s as a Gujarati dhokla is from a Lucknowi seekh kebab. One is a Hindutva icon, the other is the Dalit mascot. One is a chief minister of a fast-track state, the other of a state still struggling to catch up with the rest. One prides himself on being a CEO-like politician, the other is credited with a transferable votebank. One is trying to live down his image as a hate figure for minorities, the other is trying to live up to her status as a symbol of caste empowerment.