Narendra Modi has arrived at 7, Race Course Road. Many would say this is where he desperately wanted to be, this is his destination, his destiny.
But from what one gathers about the man, he will take this new address as an important station to board the next train. Modi sees himself as both the author and protagonist of the upcoming 15 years or so of India’s history, and this overwhelming mandate will give him the ink to script India’s new story.
He will want to be remembered as the country’s Super PM, not just PM. That’s a guess, but one can figure a man who so heavily guards his thoughts only through a set of guesses drawn from his personality and actions.
But those expecting Modi to nurture a Super NDA Vajpayee-style may be disappointed. Atal he is not, and in this election, he has electorally eclipsed BJP’s enduring icon and so has no obligation to emulate.
Modi is a loner who has gone from strength to strength without many friends, and the BJP under him will single-mindedly expand its base. Geographically, results from southern states, Bengal, and the Northeast are just a trailer of his intention to go where the BJP hasn’t, so is his conquest of voters’ minds, dissolving centuries-old caste lines which a Brahmin-Bania party could not.
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He will also focus on controlling as many state assemblies as possible so that the BJP gets commanding numbers in the Rajya Sabha as well.
On the global stage, a nation reflects the persona of its leader. Nehru and Vajpayee wanted India to be the compassionate statesman, visionary, charming talker, global peacenik.
Modi is likely to make it competitive, determined, hard and mean if need be — a nation which makes sure it takes at least a little bite more than it gives. He would try to make sure India’s generosity stems from her strength, that action against it begets a sufficient reaction, overt or covert, even if it means waiting out months or years.
Narendra Modi accepts sweets from a party leader at the party headquarters in Gandhinagar. (AP)
His external and internal decisions are likely to be informed by pragmatic transaction rather than statesmanlike imagination. On the domestic policy front, he will most likely give UPA’s welfare schemes an overhaul. NREGS, which the BJP views as a scheme which created no assets, will be revamped. Aadhaar has made citizenship a matter of declaration of documents; not determination of commitment or contribution by an authority.
Five Year Plans may give way to longer-term planning which Modi favours. Sweeping reforms that simplify taxes are likely. Modi is likely to give an immediate push to road-building to create jobs in the hinterland. The internal target is apparently 25 km a day of highway creation. UPA’s best was 11 km a day.
To do all this, he can now pack his cabinet and core team with professionals like Arvind Panagariya, E Sreedharan and even Raghuram Rajan without going into niceties of accommodating old-guard politicians.
He might not touch the controversial ones right now: Uniform Civil Code, Article 370, and certainly not Ram Mandir. But at least the first two will arrive, eventually.
Lastly, Modi admires China. He studies the country closely. The name Deng Xiaoping must not have escaped him. Deng, a determined leader not unlike him, changed the course of Mao’s China by opening it up for reforms. Deng was at heart a nationalist, a reluctant Communist in the Communist party. Deng presided over Tiananmen, but left a legacy of reforms that overtook the memories of massacre.
History makes parallels inevitable.