BREAKINGVIEWS - Modi's Gujarat win doesn't mean he will rule India

SINGAPORE Sat Dec 22, 2012 5:59am IST

A supporter of main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) holds a poster featuring Narendra Modi during a jubilation ceremony outside the party office in Ahmedabad December 20, 2012. REUTERS/Amit Dave

A supporter of main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) holds a poster featuring Narendra Modi during a jubilation ceremony outside the party office in Ahmedabad December 20, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Amit Dave

Related Topics

SINGAPORE (Reuters Breakingviews) - Narendra Modi's resounding election victory in Gujarat has made Indian businessmen optimistic. Many see his win, the third in a row, as a sign that the centre-right leader with a reputation for effective administration could be ruling the nation in 2014. But a chequered past, an autocratic personality and the peculiarities of India's coalition politics make Modi less than a shoo-in.

The result of 2014 polls could be dramatically different from what investors are hoping for. A real possibility is that smaller regional parties come together to forge a weak, purposeless centre-left government - just to keep Modi out.

Modi's ambition to rule India has undoubtedly received a boost: His centre-right Bharatiya Janata Party's winning tally in Gujarat, while falling just short of a two-thirds majority, was a big blow to Sonia Gandhi's Congress party.

The Congress, which has ruled India since BJP's shock defeat eight years ago, will most likely fight the next general election under the leadership of Sonia's 42-year-old son Rahul, who doesn't have a track record in governance. By contrast Modi, who is 62, has run Gujarat for 13 years, and even his detractors grudgingly admit that he hasn't done a bad job in attracting investments to the state, creating jobs and clearing supply-side bottlenecks, especially in power.

But the BJP is reluctant to nominate Modi as its next prime ministerial candidate because of an unproven charge against him of abetting an anti-Muslim pogrom in 2002. That means he won't be acceptable to coalition partners like Nitish Kumar, the chief minister of Bihar, for whom Muslim votes are important. If the coalition breaks up, a non-Congress, non-BJP "third front" of regional parties could emerge. Supported by the communists, the third front could undermine both the BJP and the Congress.

Modi's Gujarat campaign was all about his achievements and his promises. His supporters believe that, as prime minister, he could craft pragmatic, pro-business policies and get them implemented by curmudgeonly bureaucrats. But in national politics, a personality cult is a liability. Modi's autocratic style could render him unsuitable for managing a large, unwieldy coalition, which is what the next government will most likely once again be.

CONTEXT NEWS

- Narendra Modi, the 62-year-old chief minister of Gujarat, snatched his third straight victory in elections for the lower house of the state assembly. Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party won 115 seats in the 182-seat lawmaking body. The main opposition, Sonia Gandhi's Congress party, came in second with 61 seats.

(Editing by Peter Thal Larsen and Katrina Hamlin)

(The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own)

FILED UNDER:
Comments (0)
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.

  • Most Popular
  • Most Shared

Shares Hit Record

Sensex, Nifty rise to second consecutive record high

Sensex surges 500 points on BOJ easing, L&T gains

The BSE Sensex and Nifty surged to record highs for a second consecutive session on Friday after Bank of Japan's surprise expansion of its massive stimulus programme raised hopes for additional foreign inflows, boosting blue-chips such as Larsen & Toubro.  Full Article 

REUTERS SHOWCASE

Ban on E-Cigs?

Ban on E-Cigs?

Govt considers ban on e-cigarettes, sale of single smokes.  Full Article 

Commodities

Commodities

Silver futures in India hit four-year low on global cues.  Full Article 

BOJ Policy

BOJ Policy

BOJ shocks markets with surprise easing as inflation slows.  Full Article 

Cost Cutting

Cost Cutting

PM Narendra Modi boots officials out of the first class cabin  Full Article 

Leisure Riding

Leisure Riding

Harley-Davidson woos affluent young Indians with bike culture  Full Article 

Shadow Banking

Shadow Banking

China's shadow banking sector growing rapidly, third largest in world - FSB.  Full Article 

Moody's on India

Moody's on India

Moody's welcomes India's policy steps, but wants to see more.  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device  Full Coverage