Critics can argue that such ambitions are normal and should be present among many leaders inside the BJP as it is not a family-led party and also that Mr. Singh is just an individual and not any iconic Kshatriya though he is popular. They can also argue that affiliations to UP and Gujarat are not at all any factor dictating who should lead the government if the BJP comes to power.
All objections are correct but then Mr. Singh cannot dream to challenge Mr. Modi if he did not have high varna and was not from UP. This is the reality and complexity too in the present context. Other contenders should have some equivalent merits too in order to challenge Mr. Modi’s Prime Ministerial ambitions and in reality none other in the BJP appears to be having so.
In fact, UP matters more than any other state even if the BJP does not perform very well in the state. But in reality the BJP is expected to perform very well in UP this time. There is additional nostalgia about Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Mr. Singh is contesting from Mr. Vajpayee’s former constituency, Lucknow.
I tell you caste and region should not
matter for any Indian politician of any political party. All eligible
Indians can dream about becoming the Prime Minister of the nation by
free and fair means. This is true about a Tamil, a Bengali, a Muslim
of any region, a North Eastern, a female, an underclass, a rear caste
person and in fact, it is true for any one having Indian citizenship.
But in reality things are more complex.
Ideally speaking, what should matter are the leadership quality of the person, his and her integrity, character and commitment to Indian nation and its culture and cause. In India, there is one additional requirement: fluency or minimally a working knowledge in Hindi and English though this can be overlooked and bypassed under extreme circumstances.
Now Mr. Singh too has high integrity,
high character, great administrative abilities, good commitment to
probity and accountability in public lives, other than having good
leadership quality. He speaks very good Hindi and can speak good
English as well. So he can also dream to become the Prime Minister
should the BJP get a chance.
But the argument against his candidacy is that he is not leading the campaign this election and is not formally projected to be Prime Ministerial candidate for the party. Formally, there is no ambiguity in the BJP about who should lead the party while in governance.
So what? If the NDA does not get a
majority, as is cent percent sure, then the parties outside the NDA
thinking about supporting it, from inside or outside, could have a
say as to who should lead the alliance. And Mr. Modi is not the
favorite of all, not even of all high-positioned inside the BJP.
Here the identity would matter a lot but then if Mr. Modi asserts personal ambitions and agenda against the interests of the party then he can spoil chances of anyone and everyone in his party or even those of many others once his party is finished even before it started.
Sure, the BJP cannot sacrifice governing New Delhi just because of Mr. Modi but then it would be considered breach of faith and reversal of verdict, should it attempt doing so. The fact is that the BJP is all set to emerge out as the single largest party in the forthcoming elections and Mr. Modi would have far greater contribution in this regard than any other individual in the BJP can have, including Mr. Singh.
Therefore, there is question of trust and that of consistency combined with accountability. But the fact is that Mr. Modi is not bigger than the party itself and his status and charisma is not higher than the party’s wish to rule over Indian Union. Still, in all fairness Mr. Singh should avoid tweeting such comments and for the time being should accept Mr. Modi as the only choice for the post of Prime Minister, if and when the BJP gets a chance to form the government in New Delhi.
Mr. Modi on his part should be ready to accept what is inevitable in the most extreme situations. But skeptic can argue that when there is an inevitable parallel path in case Mr. Modi’s candidacy fails then what is the point in raising caste and regional arguments. I can only say that those still matter and without them probably the party could opt to sit in the opposition in the Lower House of the Parliament, if it fails to get a majority with Mr. Modi as its leader.
Therefore, equations are not as simple as believed by many. The bottom line is very clear that there is nothing objectionable about Mr. Modi’s caste, class and region. The equally true is the fact that Mr. Modi is very popular all over India, particularly in the North and within North in UP. People chant slogans like ‘Har Har Modi’; hail victory to Modi. And in Varanasi many enthusiasts and supporters of Mr. Modi have even modified a bit of Durga chant to portray him as a deity.
All this is okay. But still personal vendetta also matters and here comes the caste and regional equations. I strongly believe that Mr. Singh is a very decent man and a gentleman too and that he would not play any foul game with Mr. Modi. I am also certain that he would play a fair game while arranging a majority for the BJP-led NDA.
But in case the BJP
sincerely fails to make potential partners and allies agree to Mr.
Modi leading the coalition government then it would have no option
but to abandon Mr. Modi for the sake of party’s greater interests.
It would be a sad day should it happen. But Mr. Modi should be strong hearted to allow his party to win at his personal loss. However, I hope that in the end if the BJP can arrange majority in the Lower House of the Parliament post-elections then Mr. Modi would lead that coalition government.