Modi vs Kejriwal – the background

Narendra Damodardas Modi, (born 17th September, 1950), was the third issue of Damodordas Mulchand Modi and his wife Heeraben. Born in the family of a grocer in Vadnagar, Mehsana district, of the erstwhile state of Bombay (Gujarat of the present day), Modi started his career as a tea – boy in a tea stall, jointly owned by his brother, in a bus terminal. He had completed his schooling in Vadnagar. Following this, he took up a job in the staff canteen of the Gujarat State Road Transport Corporation, when he was eventually absorbed as a ‘Pracharak’ for the RSS. Modi had earned his Masters in political science from the Gujarat University, while still operating as a full time Pracharak for the RSS.

Arvind Kejriwal, (born 16th August, 1968), in Haryana, graduated from the Indian Institute of Technology in Kharagpur, with a Bachelors degree in mechanical engineering. Following this, he had joined the Indian Revenue Service (IRS), in the capacity of a Joint Commissioner for the Income Tax Department. He had played a pivotal role in the implementation of the Right To Information Act (RTI) and was also instrumental in the drafting of the Jan Lokpal Bill. Kejriwal had bagged the Ramon Magsaysay Award for Emerging Leadership in 2006, for his significant contribution in the implementation of the RTI Act. He used his Magsaysay Award fund to establish an NGO – Public Cause Research Foundation, after his resignation from the IRS. He had launched the Aam Aadmi Party in 2012 and made a blasting debut in the 2013 Delhi State Legislative Elections, after defeating Sheila Dixit in a hands down victory, with a margin of 25, 864 votes.

Modi vs Kejriwal – entry in politics and ascendency to power:

Modi’s entry in politics was marked by his absorption in the RSS. Modi had been adamantly pressing the party high command in Delhi for a long time to take the place of the allegedly incompetent, the then Chief Minister of Gujarat, Keshubhai Patel. When BJP lost a by election, things had started to fall in place for Modi, starting with the dethronement of Keshubhai Patel. Luck was in favor of Modi, who had found a political mentor in LK Advani, one of the architects of the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP). Modi also happened to hold the right deck of political cards to aggrandize himself in Gandhinagar. Under the patronage of LK Advani, Modi’s political growth was rapid, and he had soon become a political factor to be reckoned with. So despite many disagreements, Modi had finally enshrined himself as the Chief Minister of Gujarat and the Modivta effect was palpable. Even during the 2002 riots of Gujarat, there was no dearth of endeavors on the part of Advani to shield his star protégé Modi from the accusations thrown at him, regarding Modi’s alleged involvement in the riots. However when the crunch came for Advani, Modi like the ruthless politician that he is, preferred to look the other way and had focused on his own growth. Modi has so far being successful in maintaining an iron curtain over his alleged involvements in the 2002 riots of Gujarat.

Arvind Kejriwal, an integral part of the nationwide anti – corruption campaign, parted company with Anna Hazare on the Jan Lokpal Bill issue, after a prolonged discussion with Hazare, which decided that the differences in opinion between Hazare and Kejriwal were irrevocable. While Hazare wanted no party color to be associated with the Jan Lokapal agenda, Kejriwal had opined that nothing will be achievable through talks. He was in the favor of politicizing the issue and the survey conducted by the social media India Against Corruption had reaffirmed Kejriwal’s opinions. Following this, Kejriwal had announced the formation of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) or the Common Man’s Party, which came into being on November 26th, 2012 in congruence with the anniversary date of the adoption of the Indian Constitution. AAP had trounced the three times Chief Minister of Delhi, Miss Sheila Dixit, running under the Congress banner, in the Delhi State Legislative Assembly elections by a margin of 25,864 votes, the Government being formed by AAP through a tie with the Congress Party and Arvind Kejriwal finally became the Chief Minister of Delhi.

Modi vs Kejriwal – as politicians:

The mastermind behind today’s effulgent and radiant Gujarat is undoubtedly Narendra Modi – a personality that one can either respect or condemn, but definitely not ignore. The fact that, today Modi is the Prime Ministerial candidate of the BJP, is backed by his strong track records and strategies, that had enabled him to climb the political ladder from the lowest rungs of a mere party worker to the present day Chief Minister of Gujarat for three consecutive terms. And it is evident, that if Congress fails to gain a foothold in the 2014 elections, it is Narendra Modi who will emerge as the choice of the nation. Given the deplorable condition of our country, we need a strong and charismatic leader at the helm and undoubtedly Narendra Modi fits the bill. With an exemplary system of governance that he had displayed in Gujarat, Modi is the kind of political persona who believes in playing his cards at the right place and at the right time. The love – hate relationship that Modi has with the media might at the face seem to be a disadvantage, but Modi is a man who is endowed with the rare quality of converting a disadvantage to an advantage, and surely enough, the said media relationships have only contributed to the growing popularity of Modi. Modi as a person is very reserved and though many questions crop up regarding his private life, it is seemingly impossible to penetrate the curtain of his austere personality. His colorful yet tough political career, though punctuated by certain shadows, portrays him as a communal minded, ruthless, inexorable and astute politician, as perceived from a distance. Besides, his almost cinematic ascendency from that of a political villain to a hero, and the probable future leader of our nation, especially in the eyes of his own constituency in Gujarat, deserves immense appreciation. ‘Modibhai’, as fondly dubbed by the people of Gujarat, is a much revered and unique leader of the state under whose excellent governance Gujarat today is a model State, recording the maximum number of NRI investitures. As further decorated by Modi, “In Gujarat’s model of governance, we have moved out of the traditional piecemeal actions and knee – jerk reactions. We now look at a whole new approach to the fundamental changes that would yield qualitative and quantitative leaps. My role is that of a facilitator and the real credit goes to Team Gujarat and the people of the state”. However, one cannot really overlook the controversies that surround Modi associated with the 2002 riots of Gujarat. While Modi has been granted a clean chit by the Special Investigative Team appointed by the Supreme Court, many case related to the riots are still pending at different stages in various courts of Gujarat. But then, for a man who has made his bones at the top, controversies and the blemishes caused by them comes as collateral. However, controversies or no controversies, political experts are congruent on the opinion, that Modi has the true grit and the necessary political experience to become the future leader of the nation. While the media is engaged in a post mortem of Rahul Gandhi’s candidature as the Prime Minister of India, Modi seems oblivious of such contestants. A strong believer in the principle of ‘every man for himself’, his transparent political priorities are headed by an urge to serve the nation, with an emphasis on ‘systematic, non – corrupt and good governance’, rather than a mere struggle for political survival. In his perception, starting from a shoemaker to an individual averting a serious accident, are all instances of service to the nation. With no ambitions to be a member of the elitist Prime Minister’s club of India, his aspirations are crystal clear – ‘to wipe the tears of the poor people’ and to ascertain benefits to the underprivileged in every corner of the nation. Credit also goes to the Modi administration in keeping terrorism absolutely under control in Gujarat, despite the fact that the State has a common boundary with Pakistan. Demurring to associate religion with terrorism, Modi has further acknowledged, “It is not in good taste to associate terrorism with any religion. Terrorism has no religion and you cannot associate it with humanity. Someone who is human cannot be a terrorist. Only the one who ceases to be a human being becomes a terrorist”.

One of the basic issues of the poll plank of Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) before the Delhi Assembly elections, had been a corruption free Government. The party’s resolution and the emblem – a broom, seem to have struck a chord with the urban voters plagued by inflation, corruption, rising unemployment and under employment of the youths, not to mention a significantly slow economic development. Kejriwal had dubbed the party’s blasting debut as a ‘historic win’ and had initially declined to form a government through a coalition. However finally Kejriwal had sought the support of the Congress in forming a government and is now the Chief Minister of Delhi. The future strategies AAP, as declared by Arvind Kejriwal happen to be extremely interesting. Commencing with a month long ‘Jharu Chalao Yatra’, that is supposed to cover all the 70 constituencies of Delhi,  Kejriwal and his greenhorn AAP is consistently adhering to its original pledge of the anti – corruption crusade, an issue that has come under the limelight in the last couple of years with the consistent campaign for a Lokpal Bill. The Jan Lokpal Bill, an alternative edition of the Lokpal Bill, is an issue that has been constantly upheld and advocated by the Gandhian anti – graft activist Anna Hazare and has provided the social activists with a cause. Arvind Kejriwal was also an instrumental part of this anti – graft campaign, but it seems that at some point of the journey Kejriwal’s political aspirations had been ignited and he had fallen apart with Anna Hazare. Under the circumstances, the question inevitably arises that whether Kejriwal was using Hazare as a platform to high level politics? Keriwal’s vote – bank happens to be a certain significant faction of the middle class, a middle class with a per capita expenditure of Rs. 2460 per month as confirmed by the National Sample Survey Office (NSSO), in their last survey of 2011 – 2012, based on consumption. The survey also indicates that an approximate 30% of the urban population of the nation falls in this category. Considering a family of five members, the estimated per capita expenditure will be Rs. 12, 300. In Delhi, an approximate 42% of the urban population falls in this category and this faction of the middle class happens to be the targeted vote bank for Kejriwal. Disillusioned with both the Congress (designating themselves as the poor man’s party) and the BJP (a party for the middle class on the face but actually has its support originating from the more solvent echelons of the society), Kejriwal’s middle class comprises of auto – rickshaw drivers, small scale businessmen and the likes, who are often subjected to harassment by the legal authorities, owing to their weak societal foothold. Naturally Kejriwal’s anti – corruption promises became a hit with the said class. Kejriwal’s other promises like free water and slashing of the bloated electricity bills by as much as 50%, as per the AAP manifesto had been designated by the skeptics as ‘unrealistic reforms’. However in an incredible political stunt, Kejriwal has been able to deliver both the promises regarding water and electric bill, through an increase in the Government subsidy in these sectors and through the application of certain conditions. It needs to be seen whether the drastic reforms introduced by Kejriwal are really sustainable or not. While Kejriwal living up to his promises, bolsters the party’s claim of replacing the rickety political systems with a more effective one, the parallel anti – corruption crusade proves to be Kejriwal’s variegation of strategies of not putting all the eggs in one basket. Kejriwal has indeed set off on a good political start, given the fact that the AAP is only a year old and Kejriwal is just a debutant in the game of politics.

Conclusion

Narendra Modi is the Prime Ministerial Candidate of BJP in the 2014 Loksabha Elections while the AAP will be contesting in about a100 seats. While Modi is known for his strong Hinduvta isuues and anti – Muslim sentiments, Kejriwal at least pretends to be sensitive towards the Muslim community. While the entry of Modi in politics was natural, the raging corruption of our country paved the way into politics for Kejriwal. While the three times return of Modi to power marked by landslide victories, reaffirms the faith that the population of Gujarat has in Modi, Kejriwal’s supporters are mainly a faction of the middle class in Delhi. Simply put both Modi and Kejriwal are fighting for political power, only the arena for Modi is much larger and the contestants’ superior. However, as far as leadership is concerned, I will always put Modi ahead of Arvind Kejriwal because a Ramon Magsaysay Award does not always define leadership qualities.

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