Modi’s Victory

Modi has emerged the clear winner at the end of the most interesting Indian election of my lifetime. I did not follow his leadership of Gujrat as it happened although I have read a ton about it, and have watched many relevant videos on YouTube, many at his official channel itself, but I did follow his election campaign, and I must say I was captivated. He ran an excellent campaign. If he is going to be as efficient and effective as Prime Minister as he has been as campaigner, he will give India double digit growth rates, and give himself 10 years as Prime Minister. He will turn the BJP into the new Congress. He might even get the BJP past the majority mark all on its own the next time around.

2014 is that watershed year when India embarks on its journey to catch up with China and possibly even surpass it. The surpassing might not happen on Modi’s watch, but he is in a good position to prepare grounds for it, just like Deng Xiaoping put China on a certain path of economic growth.

Modi’s humble origins both in terms of class and caste are no small detail. That someone of his background can get the top job makes India look good.

What was amazing to me while I watched the election campaign was that no one else was even running for the top job, not Rahul, not Nitish. It is as if Modi had the entire runway all on his own. He had a free hand. One lesson of this election season is, you can not win if you are not even running.

To me Nitish is as big a story as Modi himself. Modi won, Nitish lost, but remember that Nitish started opposing Laloo when Laloo was at his peak, and Nitish eventually snatched the top job in Bihar from Laloo and performed way better than the Yadav. I still see Nitish as a future Prime Minister. But that involves Nitish hanging on to his chair now, and performing well in the Bihar state elections slated for next year. He should be able to get something like a 60% majority next year. He gets a third term and keeps being the top performing Chief Minister, and his time will come. Maybe it will be Nitish who will succeed Modi, if not in five, then perhaps in 10 years.

With a weakened Congress, the country stands a strong chance of going bipolar in that the Congress will have no choice but to become a junior member of a Nitish led front down the line. The Congress might become weaker still.

The people of Bihar did not want to lose Nitish. They routinely told pollsters they will vote for Nitish next year.

I see a scenario where Modi is the Prime Minister, and Nitish is the Opposition Leader, even though he is in Patna and not in Delhi. The Opposition Leader eventually grabs the top job. The dog finally catches up with the car.

Nitish could do two more terms and a Bihar model could be one where once agriculture and infrastructure are in good shape, the total focus is on the knowledge and service economies. After taking care of roads and bridges and electricity, Nitish next focuses on broadband and takes it to all cities, towns, and villages. And there is a major focus on knowledge entrepreneurs who are based in Bihar but who serve the global economy.

What you have to know about Gujrat is that it is already better than most economies in Europe in every way. Gujrat competes with the likes of Britain, France and Germany. Gujrat is India’s California.

There is no personal animosity between Modi and Nitish, never has been. There is political competition. And that competition is good for Indian politics, and the Indian economy. Those who wish Modi and Nitish were on the same side don’t realize that the competition is a good thing. Nitish did not make the mistake of parting ways with Modi. Parting ways was the only way he could some day become Prime Minister.

India is already the number three economy in the world. China is about to become number one. America is going to be sandwiched between China and India. At some point India is going to take over America, and then eventually it is going to take over China. Modi is going to put India on that journey. That is why the country is so excited about him.

Modi is seen by many as right of center along the lines of Reagan and Thatcher. I am not sure that is a good comparison. I think the better comparison is with Deng Xiaoping. Deng was pragmatic to a fault. It does not matter if the cat is black or white, as long as it catches mice, Deng liked to say. (written on 5/14)
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