The game of swings and roundabouts



At eight in the morning on December 20, before the votes have begun to be counted, Hemant Fitter, a spokesperson of the Gujarat Parivartan Party, is predicting a certain defeat for Narendra Modi.

He has a litany of complaints against the Gujarst chief minister that have been the refrain of many Modi opponents through the election campaign. Nothing he says today is new to me or anymore – Tatas get electricity at Rs 3 per unit while ordinary Gujaratis have to pay more than double that amount, Modi has time only for crony capitalists, the poor do not even get a look-in, he has stolen lands from tribals to hand over to rich friends, he sells government land at Rs 480 per square metre to industrialists while the Indian Air Force has to pay an enormous and unbelievable sum of Rs 9,000 per square metre for the adjacent plot, he covered up the gang rape in Surat some months ago but wants death penalty for the rapists in  Delhi, etc.

How many times have I heard all of that from a million people on the campaign trail and today I am glad I finally stepped into Modi’s Gujarat to see how different it really is from Mahatma Gandhi’s and Sardar Patel’s. Despite better sense, I am very tempted to believe Fitter when he says Gujaratis know what is good for them and that defeating Modi is crucial to prevent the state from receding a decade or more for, as he puts it, Modi is all hype and no substance. “Good marketing but no performance.”

As results pour in, the BJP is leading in 79 seats and the Congress in only 40. “These are just early trends,” Fitter’s faith is unshaken. “I have to go to a television studio. I will see you in the evening with a victory sign -no one will be able to form a government in Gujarat without help and support from Keshubhai.”

The GPP ends up with just two seats and the BJP, at 115, is only two seats short of its 2007 tally of 117. It seems like the Congress has taken those two seats tallying at 61 against its previous 59 seats and Keshubhai is now of no consequence. But Fitter is a brave man. I think he will not speak to me again but he calls me soon as he is out of the studio to say he had read the Gujarat ‘janata’ wrong. “They have obviously held Hindutva dearer than their own progress. Nothing else explains this result.”

But Dr Ganesh Devy, a social scientist who has been working among Gujarat’s tribals for nearly 30 years, disagrees. “I don’t think it was Hindutva that united Modi’s voters. It was more the fact that he ran a prime ministerial race. Gujaratis thought they could correct a historical wrong done to them when Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel was denied the job of Prime Minister. But I am not disappointed. The fact that Modi has been unable to increase his tally shows he is static. Whatever his boasts, he will climb no further. This is the beginning of the end for Modi.”

Senior journalist and political analyst Ayesha Khan agrees with that perception. “Modi had all the advantage at these elections. He had absolute charisma, he had power, he had the money and he had the party machinery. His opponents had none of that. So he should have posted something like 135-odd seats at the minimum. If someone says he can still be the Prime Minister, I would say that the man would have to be absolutely madly and blindly in love with Modi. All that he can be is chief minister – again.”

Zubair Gopalani, businesman and educationist, who was the most certain that Modi would “go out of the window”, cannot even bear to take any phone calls today. “Let him try for Prime Minister if he wishes. Gujarat will then be rid of a bad chief minister.”

Cassim Unia, a senate member of Maharaja Sayyajirao University of Baroda, had always been cautious, though hoping against hope but always once bitten, twice shy. “The results are on expected lines,” he says. He is happy with small mercies – Modi after all got two less seats than he had in the previous House. For, as Khan warns, “it may not be a significant number but it indicates something has gone wrong for Modi and something has begun to change.”

They all have their own reasoning for what went wrong with Modi – and it did. For it is true that he should have won more and not less than his previous tally if Gujarat was really shining. But I am surprised that while trolls abuse and accuse journalists like me for seeing no good in Modi, I am now in turn pilloried by them for being part of the national media which supposedly eats out of Modi’s hands and does not educate even Gujaratis about the truth of, well, Gujarat.

“What can we do, Madam, if the Gujarati people are kept in the dark about how their state is really being sold down the drain,” says Fitter who wanted to quit the BJP for how it has been destroyed by Modi but couldn’t do so sooner for as a saffronist, his ideology did not match the Congress’ which, before the GPP, was the only option for people like him. I am startled when he says “Modi speaks untruths, speaks those untruths loudly and speaks them a hundred times to turn them into the truth. But they remain untruths.”

Now that one I have heard before on the campaign trail and wonder why, if such is the feeling among large sections of Modi’s six crore Gujaratis, that disenchantment did not show up in results. While the pundits chew on that one, I am sure Modi will, too. For different reasons. For his victory speech was far more conciliatory than it could have been under the circumstances. He won, of course. But he did lose two seats in the bargain, which even the BJP leaders in Delhi described as a ‘modest’ victory.

A bit like winning on the swings and losing on the roundabouts, isn’t it?

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  • Sumit Bose

    Ms Sujata, your tone (not surprisingly) indicates, in NM’s victory lies India’s defeat. Let me make a feeble attempt to correct your bias (but that will have no effect, as there are no envelopes attached, and we all know hunger is a terribly cruel taskmaster) in the victory of our beloved Italian ex-maid was India’s defeat, and moral bankruptcy, we have to recover from that terrible lapse.

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  • Ramesh Kumar

    MENTAL SLAVERY IS FAR WORST THAN PHYSICAL SLAVERY. I HOPE YOUR MASTERS LIKE THIS IRRATIONAL BLOG.GOOD LUCK ,SUJATA.

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  • Govind

    Sujatha,
    You are indeed good at convoluted thinking. Your blog suggests that the Gujarathi voters are a bunch of fools who does not understand what is going around and that it is only “intelligent” people like you know what is better for them.

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  • pankaj#1

    Sujata;
    Ek muhavara hai…barah saal ke baad bhi poonchh tedi ki tedi rahi.
    Your contact person here for this piece are- digruntled Fitter, some one named Ganesh Devy(?), Ayesha Khan, Zubair gopalan, and lastly, Cassim.
    What does it tell us? A very careful selection of people, who can not praise Modi, even he would have won 150 seats.
    Much senior journalists then you, have praised Modi and his administrative, political acumen, when Sangh parivar, disgruntled BJP people and Media with impotent congressis were arrayed against him. Now, congress could muster only, shankarsingh, ex BJP, Keshubhai, ex BJP to counter real BJP – Modi. Shame on you.

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  • Modi_is_God

    Sujata -I cant stop giggling on your frustration. You are so much frustrated by Modi’s win that you cant even write properly. You have come up with bunch of stupid and ridiculous arguments and charges against Modi. I cant stop but really enjoy your plight. People like you do not understand anything about politics and can keep on demonising Modi while actual electrorate will keep pn bringing him back with more seats everytime. I wish one day Modi becomes PM and you are forced to lick his feet….would love to see you do that.

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  • naresh

    Sujata, you are like a blind man of hindostan as beautifully described in late Gen Sundarji’s book -The blind men of hindoostan-

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  • Mesro

    Your blog is funny in a bad way!!!!! I am laughing at your frustration!!! Anyways, have a nice day!!!

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  • Indian_Abroad

    Congress and other Pseudo-seculars are almost non-existent in Gujarat now for 20 plus years. If they don’t straighten their tails they will be wiped out from rest of India as well.

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  • samk

    sour looser…. You guys will never start writing against Modi… you dont like him because its fashion among you guys to hate him. He got the thumping majority but here you are discussing as if he has lost it…. it shows your narrow mindset and certain agenda…. You cant stop him now… he will be India’s PM and you can chew your own words… poor loosers

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  • Azad Murtad

    In short ——-’When the going gets tough ,the tough gets going ‘

    is now———”when the going gets tough, the bluff gets blowing”

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  • Vinod

    THE PRO-CONGRESS MEDIA AND SECULARISTS LIKE SUJATA HAVE GONE BERSERK.

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  • Anonymous

    Real secrete of Modi`s victory is his image of terror who kept Muslim community as a surrender position,development and good governance is his mask to fool the nation.Gujarat is already prosperous from middle age,Modi`s contribution for development is nil.Definition of good governance in Modi`s dictionary is terror ,so common Gujarati love him and voted him

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  • http://twitter.com/iam_not_here Kushagra Bhatnagar

    Hello Sujata, Hope you are doing well.

    Vir Sanghvi pointed a political pattern in India: After 84 riots Congress won an overwhelming majority; 92 riots were followed by BJP-Shiv Sena government in Maharashtra. 2002 riots paved the way to Narendra Modi. However, the vital difference is both Congress and BJP-Shiv Sena were soundly defeated in the election followed whereas Modi just scored a hattrick.

    Do you feel this reflects mindset of voters in Gujarat? Perhaps they prioritise something else than
    secular beliefs?(or lack of it)

    (PS – I met you at Surya Palace in Surat when you were there
    to cover election campaign of Bhupinder Singh Hooda)

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    Sujata Anandan Reply:

    Hi Kushagraha,

    Lovely to catch up with you again. Of course, I remember we met at Surat and had an interesting conversation.

    Vir is right when he says riots always consolidate vote banks. Gujarat was no different/ The difference was not just that Modi has done a hat trick but that the government was involved in the riots and given this year’s results it worries me that the Hindutva vs secular votebank in Gujarat could have stratified — 60 per cent to Modi, 40 to Congress. For I have never known another election where each side made neither any gains nor any losses in five years. Usuawlly does not happen at least in Indian democracy. This would mean that Modi would keep winning with those 60 pc and the deprived would be increasingly marginalised. That is extremely worrying. alos because if the situation continues as it does we could have another vlood bath, this time engineered by Modi ’s opponents and that is not godd for democracy either.

    But when I travelled through Gujarat I was suprised by how many voices are raised against Modi — which we cannot get a sense of from our drawing room sitting before tv sets, and something will have to give somewhere. Lets hope it wilkl be expressed peacefully through the ballot and not the bullet. I am not disappointed. I think the process has begun given Modi got two seats less despite having everything the Congress did nt have. The next elections should be interesting.

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    Kushagra Bhatnagar Reply:

    I agree with you. It appears two neat blocks of voters exist
    in Gujarat and currently the numbers in block favouring Modi outnumbers its counterpart’s. Its potentially a
    dangerous situation for as you rightly pointed is prone to manipulation by the other side with violent results.

    But do you reckon parties who claim to be secular would actually go about engineering violence?

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  • kanishka

    Sujatha, you are not trying to pull wool over the eyes of average Indian; what you have been attempting is puling wool ALL OVER THE BODY of the readers who are educated and politically aware lot.

    MODI is a PHENOMENON that represents all ASPIRATIONAL Indians of any caste, class, gender, region or religion except pseudo-secularists of Khangrace and some diehard old horses with hidden Jehadi bones.

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  • corrupt congress party

    these congress paid writers who spent all their life demonising and criticising modi and his performance and who perhaps don’t even belong to gujrat are indeed showing their frustrations and disgust and unable to grasp one single fact that modi is on his way to be the next prime minister in 2014 or even sooner and these gossip mongers are at a loss that they cannot with all their combined efforts cannot keep modi away from his agenda and the agenda of the people of india who want to see a progressive prime minister who can and will take independent decisions as the prime minister should and not be dependent on any phony gandhi italian maid’s family members directions to take a decision and not only that these media people cannot and do not want to see india free of scams and corruptions. what a convulated article full of half truth and lies .

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  • corrupt congress party

    what a frustrated btich is this writer sujatha, all her contacts are imaginary slime bags such as ” FITTER” , ” GANESH DEVY” , “AYESHA KHAN”, ” ZUBIR GOPALAN” AND ” CASSIM”
    it speaks that you are not only asked to go on writhing garbage and un truth what ever shit it takes you to accomplish your purpose of demonising modi. if that is your misssion then you have not failed miserably but have made a fool of yourself and this writing skill is less than the grade 8 students and real thing to be ashamed of . further more it also goes to prove what calibre your bosses or employers are and if they are really proud of your article or the think that it is high time you are fired at once. either they should do it or modi would certainly make sure when he comes in as the next prime minister that a person of your calibre is not allowed to write garbage and un truth

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  • Anonymous

    Whenever I need a good laugh I read Ms. Anandan’s blog and thankfully I
    am never disappointed.

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  • Javed

    Lets gang rape this b1tch.

    Okay bad idea – too ugly. Let’s gang rape her drivel blogs. It’s only fair.

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    Javed Reply:

    Apologies But this pro Congress bias blog is too disgusting. ripping this blog to shreds comment still stands

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  • Javed

    Lets gang rape this b1tch.

    Okay bad idea – too ugly. Let’s gang rape her drivel blogs. It’s only fair.

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  • Manish

    How is he meant to reduce unemployment without getting companies to set up shop in Gujarat? It almost seems as if Modi will be ridiculed no matter what he does.

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  • AshishC

    Don Corleone, Michael Corleone and Luca Brasi.
    Michael is more suave and sophisticated than his father. But, his ultimate loyalty is to the family.
    Luca will survive till he is useful.

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    Ravi Reply:

    Now why does this analogy ring various bells.

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  • Rajendra Verma

    no compensation for soldiers fighting at the borders, country sold to muzlims

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  • Anonymous

    For people like Raja Goonda, I support fake encounter. Let Vanjara out of prison for few days..

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  • Raj Shekhawat

    What is the difference between Mayawati and Raja who is defined to be goonda. Mayawati also acted like a goonda to the gallery of Dalits. Wonder why Mayawati is made out to be any different. Her behaviour has been no less. She has equal number of goondas in her party.
    At first I was quite angry on the character of Raja Bhaiya, but find that he may be better than both Mayawati and Mulayam. He has royal blood and behaves like a royal.

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    Impi Reply:

    WoW! Please welcome an upper caste moron and his prejudices. This is why India is such a fu@c#ed up country. A ‘royal’ criminal evokes sympathy while a dalit woman CM evokes disgust, never mind that she was more effective in controlling the law and order situation than either the current CM or the Congress or the BJP.

    Mayawati made UP safe for everyone including DALITS. I only wish she could have looked to the future and built schools for them instead of statues. But in a country where ‘royal politicians’ are corrupt, criminal and murderers, and eugolized for it, why should she be far behind?

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  • Sam

    http://www.salveovita.com/blog/tips-designing-small-fitting-bathroom

    The nature and state of the bathroom has always been regarded as a symbol of wealth convenience and decadence. The first task that you need to do is to have a work plan that depends majorly on your budget and preference. You should be in possession of accurate bathroom measurements, the essentials and other components that you may incorporate like the cabinets and shelving.

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