A SWOT Analysis

Article excerpt

New Delhi, Sept. 14 -- Gujarat's chief minister Narendra Modi is to my mind the most interesting politician of our generation. Certainly, he is the most charismatic. Of no other leader from the last 25 years can we say that he created a national following on the strength of his personality and his performance alone. Modi is also easily the most talented of our politicians. He communicates with his audience directly, clearly and without needing the media. Few can match him for the sort of passion he generates with his words. This makes him like one of the Greek demagogues the comic playwright Aristophanes so despised. Modi has many here who dislike his policies and his record just as much, and it is difficult to say that this is unjustified. In fact, his biographer Nilanjan Mukhopadhyay classifies Modi as our first non-Nehruvian leader, meaning someone who makes absolutely no concession to secularism.

Within the BJP, the debate of his leadership was actually settled by the grassroots. It is the pressure of the ordinary worker of the party, whose language Modi speaks and whose thinking Modi reflects, which has put Modi in charge of the BJP's campaign. This happened, as we have observed, in defiance of the establishment under LK Advani.

The RSS Sarsanghchalak and his aides, who have been unhappy about the way Modi has run Gujarat as a oneman show, have also been steamrolled by the ordinary karyakarta plumping for Modi.

And so, while this is not admitted, the issue of Modi's candidature has been forced on the BJP's old guard in New Delhi, which was so far assured of its primacy, but no longer.

What sort of prime ministerial candidate will Modi make? Last year I explored aspects of this in a blog post for the but from Modi's personal perspec-

newsmaker tive. What does his leadership mean for his party's 2014 prospects? Let's look at this through what the corporate world calls a SWOT analysis, which is to say the internal strengths and weaknesses of the strategy and the external opportunities and threats it faces.

Strengths: The obvious one is clarity of message. The electorate stands informed: vote the BJP and get Modi. Compare this to the Congress, still waffling over who its leader is to be - Manmohan Singh? Sonia Gandhi? Rahul? Someone else? The voter doesn't really know. Nor is this clear for the Third Front and other formations. The only candidate at the moment is Modi.

The second strength is unity of theme. Modi stands for uncompromising Hindutva and business-friendly policies as his record in Gujarat shows. He also represents a toughon-corruption image that has broadened his appeal in the middle class. The third is the discipline and hard work that Modi is bringing to the campaign. He is a first-rate campaigner and we will see a 2014 run that will be innovative and pulsing with energy and ideas. …