The Bharatiya Janata Party pulled off a nail-biting finish in the Gujarat assembly polls for a record sixth straight win. The results turned out to be a seesaw, with BJP and Congress running neck and neck for a period in the morning. At noon, it was clear that BJP was capturing the throne of Gandhinagar. With a final tally of two digits (99 seats), BJP would be far from jubilant this time. With Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s obvious advantage of being a son-of-the-soil and mascot of Gujarati pride, the party aimed high with 150-plus seats. However, it faced a tough challenge from a resurgent Congress, liberally helped by the media frenzy, as well as young Patidar and Dalit leaders Hardik Patel, Alpesh Thakor and Jignesh Mewani.
These polls promised to toughest for PM Modi who has ruled the state unchallenged for 12 years and catapulted himself to Delhi. He must be having a big sense of relief after managing to secure the state for his party. “The results proved that there is a strong support for politics of good governance and development. I salute the hardworking BJP karyakartas (workers) in these states for their hard work which has led to these impressive victories,” he said commenting on the verdict,” he said.
There is no doubt that persona of PM Modi played a big role in tilting the scale towards BJP in a combat that saw him cornered by all unified forces. This was eerily reminiscient of Napoleon’s tryst with destiny after he lost at Waterloo. As the Chief Minister of Gujarat, Modi ventured on his election campaign in the fashion of Alexander – setting his own agenda, stopping at nowhere and conquering everything. As the country’s head, he is ruling like Napoleon – keeping only the national interest in front of him and heeding none else, including ever sulking elements of his own party. He had to pay price for this governance and as media made us believe, his home state was to become his waterloo. Even as he earnestly and studiously went out to his faithfuls, it was projected as his desperation and despair.
And the scene resembled that fateful war. All opposing forces had united against Modi. Rahul was leading the charge and was amply helped by media organs. He was projected as a gladiator, the next David who was bent to slaying Goliath. Hardik Patel et al had their caste dominions behind them refusing the much-needed support to BJP that usually came from these quarters. So much so that Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Gandhinagar wrote a letter urging members of the Christian community to save the country from “nationalist forces”. The Archbishop cited examples of how such prayers saved Europe during the victory at Lepanto (referring to the battle of 1571 in which Holy League of Venetian and Spanish empires defeated Ottoman Empire in the Gulf of Patras).
Muslims voters were already written off from the voters’ base of BJP that left Modi and his Man Friday Amit Shah frantically making calls to voters. This was the narrative that the liberals built. And they waited for Waterloo to happen.
However, that did not happen and why? The reply comes from original emperor’s mouth. M. Benjamin Constant, a noted writer, has wrote in his memoirs how people from France loved Napoleon after his defeat at the hands of his enemies. His description of his relation with France is only a reflection of Modi and Gujrarat. Constant writes,
After the departure of the Colonel, being alone with the Emperor in the garden, I told him that his person seemed to have remained very dear to the inhabitants of the Isle of France; that the Colonel had informed me that the name of Napoleon was never pronounced there but with commiseration. It was precisely on the day of a great festival in the colony, that they learned his departure from France and his arrival at Plymouth; the theatre was to be particularly attractive: the news having arrived during the day, in the evening there was not a single colonist, either white or of colour, in the house: there were only some English, who were exceedingly confused and irritated at the circumstance. The Emperor listened to me. “It is quite plain,” said he, after some moments’ silence; “this proves that the inhabitants of the Isle of France have continued French. I am the country; they love it: it has been wounded in my person, they are grieved at it.”
And doesn’t Napoleon’s longing for French people sound so resonating with what Narendra Mod says? In Napoleon’s words,
“Ah! the French people undoubtedly did much for me! more than was ever done before for man! But, at the same time, who ever did so much for them? who ever identified himself with them in the same manner? But to return.—After all, what could be their fears? Were not the Chambers and the new Constitution sufficient guarantees for the future? Those additional Acts, against which so much indignation was expressed, did they not carry in themselves their own corrective—remedies that were infallible? How could I have violated them? I had not myself millions of arms; I was but one man. Public opinion raised me up once more; public opinion might equally put me down again; and, compared with this risk, what had I to gain?”
“I am not only, as it has been said, the Emperor of the soldiers; I am the Emperor of the peasants, of the lower ranks in France…. Thus, in spite of all that is past, you see the people return to me—there is a sympathy between us. It is not so with the privileged classes; the nobility have served me, have rushed in crowds into my ante-chambers, there are no offices that they have not accepted, solicited, pressed for…With the people it is another thing; the popular fibre responds to mine: I am come from the ranks of the people, my voice has influence over them. Observe these conscripts, these sons of peasants, I did not flatter them, I treated them with severity; they
did not the less surround me, they did not the less shout ‘The Emperor for ever!’
(Memoirs of the life, exile, and conversations of the Emperor Napoleon, Emmanuel-Auguste-Dieudonné Las Cases)
And this is the secret why people of Gujarat voted NOTA (more than 5 lakhs!) but not to Congress or its ilk. Notwithstanding BJP’s faltering with governance and liberal bogey of discontent, people have loved their “Emperor”.