India-The Economic Powerhouse or Underdog?

It is only post 1991 that the Indian economy was taken seriously by the rest of the world. The economy’s honeymoon period began soon enough with the growth of the service sector. Growth rates took off and suddenly India found itself among the world’s fastest growing economies. Under the policies of the Narsimha Rao led government and the able financial expertise of Manmohan Singh, the economic turnaround was successfully overseen. Then came the Vajpayee led NDA which practically did wonders for the economy. Vajpayee’s national highway project was lauded throughout the nation and created the kind of infrastructure that the Indian economy needed.

The economic sanctions after the Pokhran tests hurt India quite a bit. However, the country bounced back on the back of pro-privatization reforms pushed through by Vajpayee. Then, in 2004, a change in government brought the Congress-led UPA to power. This was the Indian economy’s honeymoon period. Growth reached a staggering 9 % and it was balle-balle for the Indian economy. However, it wasn’t entirely due to the policies of Congress. This government had the advantage of an economist Prime Minister and they were riding high on the seeds sown by the Vajpayee government. Growth did reach record highs but the infrastructure was put forth by Vajpayee’s vision. The erstwhile government had to merely steer the economy along the right paths.

In 2008, just a year before the general elections, the global economic meltdown began with the Lehamnn brothers bankruptcy. India survived the worst stage and people thought we were on our merry way again. However, that was not to be. As the Congress-led UPA got re-elected, the economic doldrums began. It exposed UPA-1’s lack of policy review and a subsidy-rich regime which had its effects on the exchequer. The farm-loan waiver scheme, brought forth as an election sop, has had lasting effects on the fiscal deficit.

Slowly but steadily, India’s image as the poster boy collapsed. With a rising fiscal deficit and a sky-rocketing current account deficit (CAD), the Rupee tumbled to record lows. Since then, growth has slumped and in 2013, the finance ministry found it hard to tackle the CAD crisis. Sensex and Nifty were also affected by the downturn as India was declared behind nations like Pakistan and Nigeria on the Ease of Doing Business Index. A weak finance ministry and a feeble Prime Minister’s Office were unable to tide the country over the downturn. It was only after the Congress top brass realized that the subsequent elections would be fought on economical basis and provision of jobs; its archaic license-raj measures were eased. Despite having an economist Prime Minister (perhaps the most able economist considering the 1991 reforms), the Congress led UPA converted the economy to the global underdog.

Recently, on the back of favourable predictions for BJP’s business friendly Modi, the Sensex and Nifty have climbed to record highs. Even the Rupee has become South Asia’s best performing currency with foreign inflows. Foreign investors have shown an optimistic approach towards the economy which in 2013 was downgraded by prominent rating agencies. What India needs though, is a stable government, first of all. Secondly, one that is business friendly, arguable the current BJP. The subsidy regime must be ended with high expenditure on the Food Security Bill and the subsidy on LPG cylinders. The next government must realise that jobs entice the public more and dearer than subsidies. The best way to earn votes in the current scenario is ensuring growth and jobs for the youth. Good Economics is indeed Good Politics!

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Same-Sex Marriage – An Indian’s Perspective

Same-sex marriage is widely regarded as a western phenomenon. A union, recognised in western countries only, which is “corrupting” the minds of the Indian youth today. In India, Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code criminalises unnatural sex under whose ambit fall homosexual acts. The debate regarding its criminalisation was thrown to light when in 2009, the Delhi High Court declared this section unconstitutional. Subsequently, in late 2013 the Supreme Court overturned this ruling and vested the right to amend this section upon the legislative.

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One must understand that a country progresses not only economically or infrastructurally, but also socially. Civil rights are a major part of any country’s constitutional freedoms and the denial of which can be considered grave injustice. The concept of homosexuality may seem new to Indians but it actually is not. Indians are as homosexual as any other race. It is the society which has up until now prevented people from coming out of the closet. Ask yourself this, how many people around you are openly gay? Probably, none. If a prominent actor or sports personality was going to come out as gay tomorrow, would you be able to look at him/her without prejudice? Will you value their contributions as much as you do now? Answers to these questions are tough.

There was widespread public outcry when the Supreme Court criminalised homosexuality. And rightly so, the Court has denied people a basic human right. Courts or political parties have no right to dictate terms to the people of this great nation or to justify their sexual acts. One must be allowed the freedom to engage in consensual acts of any nature one deems appropriate. To criminalise it is injustice of a gravest kind. This could be blamed on the conservative mindset of the populace. If we have only about 74% literacy, we cannot expect our good old citizens to accept something which was unthinkable almost a decade ago. Public discussion about gay rights is still taboo in Indian society and nobody wishes to engage in this. One could point to the lack of recognition and the fear of exposure of the LGBT community for this.

The LGBT community in India however has a long way to go. After the Supreme Court’s decision, many prominent political parties, including the BJP (poised for power in the coming elections) came out in support of the Court’s direction. Even though gay marriage has become legal in several countries, India still recognises it unnatural and criminal. The archaic laws and beliefs are to blame for this. The country is under a transition period and the focus on gay rights has taken a step back. The esteemed and honourable Supreme Court has ruled against it thus, section 377 is here to stay.

What the country needs is a better information and educational system in terms of homosexuality. If people are made aware about its spread and acceptance in other countries, maybe they wouldn’t find it so unnatural. The community needs high-profile supporters. More and more people like Vikram Seth need to come out and voice their support for India’s LGBT community as currently, they are few and unorganised. Sustained efforts to educate the public are the need of the hour.  I guess we need Bollywood someone like Karan Johar to lend some much-needed support to this community.

The Crisis in Ukraine

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The Ukrainian crisis of 2014 is one of the most controversial issues today. It brings back memories of a Cold War and a USA-Russia face-off. But how did this materialise? Who is to blame? What is its geopolitical significance?

Up until the crisis, Ukraine had a pro-Russia government under Viktor Yanukovych. This government recently rejected a resolution to join the European Union due Yanukovych’s proximity to Vladimir Putin. This sparked off widespread peaceful revolts in Kiev, Ukraine’s capital, for the ouster of Yanukovych. It was argued that a pro-EU Ukraine would benefit economically, however, it actually would have been in a danger of becoming a NATO front. When the protests turned violent, the President, Yanukovych was impeached and escaped overnight to Russia leading to the establishment of a pro-Western interim government. This prompted Russia to invade into Crimea, an autonomous region in Ukraine. Crimea has the most number of ethnic Russian speakers and Russia claimed that it entered Crimea to protect this populace. However, Russia is guilty of violating Ukraine’s sovereignty. The European Union and the US now blame Russia for escalating the crisis and by holding a referendum in Crimea to secede to Russia.

Russia has alleged that the protests that sparked off in Kiev were largely funded by the West, especially US. To a great extent, this is true as the United States government has always believed in having a favourable regime. The US has supported Svoboda (a neo-nazi, ultra-nationalist political party in Ukraine) as the subsequent government. The ball was now in Russia’s court. Russia decided not to back down and invade Crimea citing safety for the Russian minority. The West has tried its best to convince the people that it is Russia who escalated this crisis. However, it cannot claim the moral high ground. Especially the US as it has other debacles like Vietnam, Afghanistan and the Middle East in its history. US is again guilty of its hypocrisy as it has tried a regime change, which has been countered by Russia. US has decided to impose sanctions and all its usual economic isolation.

However, Russia, in trying to protect the Russian minorities and in trying to prove a point has brought Russia and US the farthest they’ve ever been since Cold War. A war is highly unlikely. US will soon have to accept what has transpired after China backs Russia (although they didn’t vote in the Security Council). With the dependence of US economy on China, the crisis will soon be swept under the carpet and important lessons will have been learnt. The most important one, don’t mess with Russia!!

Kejriwal vs. Media ; End of an Era

Before you read the article, I’d like to request you to watch the following video, which will tell you exactly what transpired. Only the first half of the video is relevant in context of this article.

As you saw in the video, Kejriwal has threatened to lock-up the paid media if he ever comes into power. This incident prompted strong reactions from both the Congress and BJP. Some even likened it to the emergency era where free speech was banned and media houses were supposed to get their content approved by the government. Overall, all the TV channels and journalists heavily criticised Kejriwal for his comments. However, the situation has been blown out of proportion by the media, which is nothing new.

What Kejriwal said was that Modi has paid several media houses for favourable broadcasts and for maligning Kejriwal’s reputation. Now to what extent is this true, is debatable. But I support what Kejriwal said about locking-up such paid media. Media is highly important in developing a citizen’s mindset towards issues. If media has been paid, then it is not actually free speech. Many journalists said that Kejriwal was threatening the freedom of speech and expression, but what he actually did was threaten the corrupt media. It is comparable to the following circumstance : If a politician has taken a bribe and a whistle-blower wants to punish him, all politicians try to malign this whistle-blower and defend the guilty politician because he was just doing his duty.

But, all that said, Kejriwal has been highly critical of the media that was responsible for his meteoric rise. Some sections of the media allege that Kejriwal is frustrated with the controversies of AAP, emerging on a day-to-day basis. Kejriwal is trying to convey that a section of the media is corrupt and shows favourable news about Modi but what about the rest of the media? Surely the BJP doesn’t possess so much wealth that it can bribe all media houses. Even during the ill-fated emergency when Indira Gandhi wanted to censor the newspapers, quite a few newspapers decided to go out of business instead of publishing government approved news. This shows the integrity of the Indian media. Kejriwal must accept it that the media can criticise anyone and everyone. Just the way, it gave a shot in the arm to the AAP during the Delhi elections, it can bring down its reputation in a matter of days if such controversies arise.

Naxalite Movement – India’s Homegrown Terror

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Although, modern day India is highly capitalist in nature, it wasn’t so until before 1991 when socialism prevailed. However, India’s socialism never really took off as lives of peasants and landless labourers were nothing less than nightmares. Under the erstwhile government, India’s peasantry suffered. This led to formation of hardcore communist parties under Mao Zedong’s ideologies. Ultimately, giving rise to what is today known as the Naxalite-Maoist insurgency.

This movement originated and took a violent turn in West Bengal’s village Naxalbari. The militants fought for rights of landless and tribal farmers who were exploited frequently. Various factions of Communist Party of India were formed with a huge support base among villagers and peasants. They ambushed policemen, government servants and anyone and everyone who exploited the landless locals.

Slowly and steadily, they grew in number and the movement became violent. The Naxal movement originated in West Bengal but soon spread to nearby states of Orissa, Jharkhand, Bihar, Chattisgarh and even as far as Andhra Pradesh and Karantaka. Naxals demanded right for the farmers, through violent methods. Some of their deadliest attacks include the slaughter of 76 CRPF jawans in 2010 and their daring attack on the Congress leaders of Chattisgarh in 2013. One of their most recent attacks was on March 11, 2014 when they ambushed and killed around 15 CRPF men.

What has the government done to tackle this situation? It introduced the ‘Integrated Plan of Action’ to fight the Naxals, which was successfully implemented in Karantaka. It included proper development and police funding in backward areas of the state. The government has also announced pardons to Naxal cadre who surrender. However, this hasn’t taken off as the fight of the Naxals is for equality and development, which cannot be guaranteed by surrendering. Naxalite movement is still quite strong in Chattisgarh. Naxals engage in guerilla warfare and the backward and forest regions of Chattisgarh provide them perfect cover. Government has deployed the CRPF to fight this insurgency however, success has been limited. India has alleged that neighbouring Pakistan and China have supported this movement by provision of arms and ammo.

So far, government’s success on the Naxals has been quite limited and requires sustained efforts. The slaughter of CRPF men in ambushes is nothing new. The country is reeling with caste discrimination and inequality. Tribal farmers are neglected and exploited often. The aim of the government must not be to fight and kill the insurgents; it should be to provide social development and upliftment of these sections of the society. India’s progress would be deterred unless it is inclusive in nature. Unrelenting efforts must be made to engage the Naxals in peace-talks and to ensure and promise growth in regions like Chattisgarh, Jharkhand and Bihar to tackle the insurgents. The onus is on the government to solve the problem non-violently.

Indo-China Conundrum

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India and China share a relationship, which has continued since time immemorial. Our two nations were even connected by the Silk Road. Lately, however, the media has presented this relationship as quite rocky. What we Indians must understand is that quite like India, even Chinese history was imperialistic and tyrannical in nature. The Indians have been quite wary of the Red Dragon’s rise, economic and military in nature.

Probably the first major conflict was the Sino-Indian war of 1962 under Nehru. It was on the backdrop of Nehru’s Panchsheel agreement, to ensure safety from border disputes. However, Nehru’s approach towards boundary demarcation was quite nonchalant and India’s support for Tibet’s independence cost us dearly. After a comprehensive defeat, the slogan of “Hindi-Chini Bhai Bhai” was lost forever. Quite a few border skirmishes followed and continue even today. China is widely perceived as Asia’a big bully as, by the power of its might, it deters other countries to explore oil in the South China Sea (international waters). Even China and Japan have major disputes mostly due to bad blood. Owing to all this, India has seriously considered increasing its military might and army deployment on the LAC (Line of Actual Control). However, our indigenous weapons development is negligible and our economy is subdued due to vast trade imbalances with China. India doesn’t possess enough militaristic superiority to argue its position in terms of Aksai Chin. China, however, openly claims Arunachal Pradesh as South Tibet. For India, it is important that status-quo is maintained. We cannot sustain an arms race with China and nor should we engage in one. Why?

Most people in China are not even aware about a Sino-Indian conflict or about tense border relations. Even popular Chinese dailies have spoken against a possible Indo-China conflict. An Indo-China conflict is highly unlikely as it may have the potential to start a World War and due to a significant military arsenal of both countries. However, what concerns Indians the most is the friendly relations of China and Pakistan. It is of course a worry that if Pakistan finds a trade and military ally in China, it would ring bells in India. China has recently helped Pakistan build infrastructure around 10km from the LoC. Also, China has a good influence on our neighbours like Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. India must therefore tread carefully. But by creating a monster out of China, we are depriving ourselves an economic opportunity. Transfer of technology from China and greater trade relations are to India’s advantage as China has been a contender for the top spot in world politics for quite some time, currently acquired by the US which is on a shaky ground. We would do ourselves a favour by engaging in trade with China.

Secularism and Caste-ism

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We Indians pride ourselves in our myriad cultural diversity. When we attained independence, several prominent political commentators argued that the idea of India as a country was flawed and India might descend into anarchy and political degradation as a result of diversity. But by sticking together for as many years as we have, we have proven that there is unity in diversity. However, are we really united?

Today we have Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Parsis etc., living in harmony (of course not always). When we look at countries like Pakistan, Iran, Syria, Libya, all Islamic nations, they have more unrest than we have ever experienced. Therefore, our concept of unity is not flawed, it is our innocence and trust which is misplaced. OBCs, SCs and STs, due to their illiteracy and backwardness become easy targets of politicians of an exploitative nature. They mount their guns on these people’s shoulders. This is the principal reason for the backwardness of our country and for the increase in regional parties.

In a vast country like ours, secularism is a crucial characteristic. But secularism in politics is always opportunistic in nature. Take for example Ram Vilas Paswan’s LJP, which left the NDA in 2002 after the Godhra riots, citing secularist issues. Yet, they decided to join the same BJP with the Prime Ministerial candidate, arguably responsible for the riots, because of his popularity. The irony is that the BJP welcomed them with open arms. Today’s secularists are pseudo-secularists. A prominent political spokesperson from south India asked a South-Indian political party whether they’d be willing to support BJP for the forthcoming elections. The party denied it outright owing to BJP’s pro-Hindutva ideology. But when the spokesperson asked the party that if the BJP secured more than 220 seats, listen to what the party said, then the BJP is a secular party. (As seen on a CNN-IBN debate).

BJP, maybe one of the least secular parties of all times, is trying hard to shed this image of its. When faced with questions about their aim to build a Ram Mandir in Ayodhya or their alleged hand in Godhra, the party’s spokespersons falter. The fact of the matter is, BJP is a hardcore right-wing party and can never claim to be secular unless it actually proves so (if it forms the next government). Congress, which has been so proud of its secularist advantage over BJP, is nothing more than opportunistic. When the 1984 pogrom took place, Rajiv Gandhi stated clearly, “When a big tree falls, the earth shakes”, referring to her mother’s assassination and in a way justifying their alleged hand in the riots. Therefore, no party can claim to be secularist in nature. They all have their ulterior motives which they will always satisfy by a divisive rule.

Castes are as old as religion itself. What is it if not racism? The backward classes were discriminated against since time immemorial. Therefore, the Janata Party in 1978 decided to appoint the Mandal Commission for caste-based reservations. Its findings were implemented a decade later by V.P. Singh’s government. There were widespread protests from upper castes and colleges. There were self-immolations as well. What these reservations did, was deprive the meritorious students of general category an equal opportunity and instead allowed backward castes to punch above their weight. The concept of reservations in India is to enhance a vote-bank. How the Congress wants to include Jats in these categories during election season portrays the nature of our politicians.

But the real question is, is this reservation feasible? The fact is that caste-based reservation is discriminatory in nature and pointless. If there should be any reservations, it should be based on economic lines. Are all OBC families poor? Are they so deprived that they cannot compete against the average Indian? Only economically backward families should deserve such preferential treatment. There are poor Brahmins and millionaire Dalits. For instance, when I appeared for a national level examination, the candidate next to me belonged to Scheduled Castes. But his Nikes stated otherwise. We have been hammered with this ideology that all backward classes are poor. That is not the case. It is actually the creamy layer which reaps the benefits.

Caste-based reservation denies the right to equality. It is against the idea of secularism. But of course our pseudo-secular political parties can never understand that. If any government wants to make real changes in the situations of these classes, it should ensure primary education and vocational training. “Give a man a fish; you feed him for one day. Teach a man to fish; you feed him for a lifetime”. Government must not handout freebies in the form of seats in colleges or government jobs. It not only deprives meritorious students and opportunity but leads to inefficiency and the provision of services to someone who doesn’t deserve it.

All this leads to civil unrest and may even lead to a widespread civilian protest. Instead of discriminating against people like this, governments must spend more of their time and money in breeding equality and abolishing age-old caste divides. Just like there are no more Maharajas, there should be nor more Dalits. When one classifies oneself in such a fold, it breeds stereotypes and prejudices.

Sedition Case…Are We Anti-Pakistan?

So apparently, Kashmiri students in a Meerut college were expelled for supporting Pakistan in an India-Pakistan Asia Cup cricket match and celebrating after Pakistan won the match. The college has maintained that there was a clash between these 67 Kashmiris and other students who were rooting for India. Is supporting another country (especially a country like Pakistan a crime)?

First of all, this would not have happened if someone supported Australia or maybe England. But Pakistan is more or less a sworn enemy for most Indians. What must be taken into account is that when we see Kashmiris supporting for Pakistan, even during something as insignificant as a cricket match, it automatically gives rise to separatist fears. Pro-Pakistani elements are obviously present in Kashmir, which are separatist in nature. Most Indians have utter disregard for Pakistan as a nation. The wars, terrorism and beheading haunt our countrymen. So when people from an “integral” part of India (which is a highly disputed region), it gives rise to fears of dominance of Pro-Pakistan elements in Kashmir.

On top of that, Hafiz Saeed, a LeT commander (who roams freely in Pakistan) offered scholarships to these students. A Pakistan daily went as far as saying that Indian security forces lack tolerance. It stung because to some extent, it is not entirely false. However, a hypocrite like Pakistan (who in a similar circumstance would have hanged them with a blasphemy charge) has no right to criticise or meddle in our internal affairs.

One must agree that the action to suspend these students that too for only 3 days is not a very harsh reaction. The authorities may claim their suspension was due to a ruckus that they created but the underlying reason is clearly a different one. At the end of the day, we appear anti-Pakistan, while 67 students suffer but one might say that these students were taught a lesson in nationalism.

 

Why voting for AAP isn’t feasible?

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Underestimation can be a dangerous enemy in polls. Obviously the Congress and BJP discovered it (too late perhaps) in the recently concluded Delhi Assembly elections. The Aam Aadmi Party, although not the single largest party, decided to form the government with Congress’ outside support. Its foundations were as shaky as a drunken man. AAP had made it quite clear that it would indict Sheila Dikshit and her government in corruption charges. But just 49 days later, after an intense dramatic rule, the AAP government fell and not because of a Congress betrayal. Kejriwal resigned as he was not allowed to table his pet bill, the Jan Lokpal Bill.

The AAP originated on a turbulent note, due to differences between Anna Hazare and Kejriwal. Kejriwal’s move to change the constitution by forming a government was highly commendable. But should we vote for him?

  1. Stability :- Even a laymen realises that stability of government is key to development. Not only for the stock markets, but also for welfare policies and infrastructure development, it is imperative that we have a government which lasts for its full term. The AAP has no chance whatsoever to form a government as it will not even contest in 272 seats. Instead, what it will do is, eat up the anti-Congress vote, garner a few seats and not join a coalition until its populist demands are adhered to. It is riding high on its Delhi success and believes it can replicate a similar result on the national scene. Even if it does so, it will prevent the most likely government, NDA, from gaining majority and we would those have a loose coalition with opportunistic parties giving outside support. AAP’s sole objective is the passage of the Jan Lokpal Bill, which by all standards, cannot be passed as AAP will never get a majority.  Therefore, at this moment, a vote for AAP is a vote wasted.
  2. Inexperience :- Now many of you may not agree with me in this point but it is better to have a modestly corrupt government who can work efficiently than to have a totally non-corrupt government who spends more time on the roads than in the Parliament. The AAP’s brief Delhi stint has shown that it lacks vital political experience which even third front has in plenty. No doubt its ideology is comprehensive but it lacks experience to implement it. Politics is a shadowy game and one has to get his hands dirty in order to implement one’s will. The AAP lacks political wisdom due to its relative newness.
  3. Populist Measures :- What India badly needs is to give a boost to the economy which is ailing after a 5 year Congress debacle. GDP growth is sluggish and job creation is lagging behind. By abolition of FDI in multi-brand retail in Delhi and by the provision of free water and subsidised electricity, AAP has proven itself to be a Congress B Team. If at all AAP has a position of the slightest power on the national stage, it will leave no stone unturned in creating a burden on the public exchequer.

All that said, the Jan Lokpal Bill is one of the greatest deterrents to rampant corruption in the Indian society. Hats off to the AAP for trying its best to pass this bill and to denounce its toothless version. But AAP must understand that there is scope of governance beyond the passage of an anti-corruption bill. Kejriwal will do more good for the country by being its prime protester and anarchist than by being its Prime Minister.

And here’s Kejriwal humour….

Bhartiya Janata Party – India’s MODIfication

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The BJP emerged as a political party in 1980 after the breakup of the Janata Party. It became a major political force to be reckoned with after its superb performance in 1996. Its significance rose widely after its successful five-year term under Atal Bihari Vaypayee. Its popularity rose on the back of the Ram Mandir dispute in the early ’90s. BJP has a Hindutva ideology and a right-wing approach which is criticised by many. In today’s turbulent times, BJP led NDA has emerged as the chief contender to make a government at the centre. What defines the BJP?

1. Narendra Modi :- Arguably, the most popular and favourable Prime Ministerial candidate that the country desires. His appeal may not be comparable to that of Vajpayee, however, his Gujarat report card is quite favourable. His humble origins and background work in his favour and his rallies have the ability of drawing a vast multitude.

2. Ideology :- The BJP’s ideology is more or less pro-Hindutva. It aims at building a Ram temple in Ayodhya which eats away quite a few of its Muslim vote. The BJP has put forward its demand for the abrogation of Article 370 which grants Jammu and Kashmir a special status. J&K has been and will remain an integral part of India and granting it special status defeats the sovereign nature of the constitution. BJP also aims at establishing a uniform civil code, not established by the Congress for appeasement of a Muslim vote bank.

3. Godhra, 2002 :- A chink in the armour of Narendra Modi and a thorn in the BJP’s side. Narendra Modi’s role in the pogrom is still argued although he has been given a clean chit. Of course he isn’t completely innocent, which is evident after the conviction of Maya Kodnani and his aide Amit Shah’s brief spell in jail. But, one of Modi’s plus points which get overlooked is that after 2002, there has never been an incident of rioting or hate crimes against any particular community, which were widespread in Gujarat in the ’90s.

4. Allies :- Compared to the Congress led UPA, BJP’s NDA has found it quite tough to garner all-weather allies. Its Hindutva ideology discourages regional parties to join it due to the fear of losing a Muslim vote bank. BJP may rack up opportunistic allies due to a favourable wave across the country. However, these allies may betray it for opportunistic gains elsewhere (Jayalalitha left the alliance in 1998, Ram Vilas Paswan’s LJP after Godhra and recently Nitish Kumar’s JD(U)).

Even after all these considerations, the BJP still emerges as a front-runner in the race to win the elections. Its pro-development agenda, strong leadership and the Congress’ downfall have favoured the voters towards it. But can it convince the population of its newly adopted secular approach and inclusive growth agenda? Can the Muslims, a major vote bank, ever fall in line with Modi’s beliefs?