27th August 2013
How Modi can get the support of people like me, and improve his electoral prospects
Modi is an excellent speaker. He is a competent administrator. He makes (feeble) speeches in the direction of good policy although he doesn't understand either freedom of speech (he bans books) or good economic policy (opposes FDI in retail – instead of taking a more nuanced regulatory approach).
While both are deeply wedded to socialism, the Congress is better, in some ways, than Modi in terms of economic policy, despite its far worse set of leaders.
Both BJP and Congress are totally corrupt. So in most respects there's nothing to choose between them.
The great negative for BJP is its aggressive and militant (fake) "Hinduism" – which worships swords and whose leaders (including Modi) often attack (condemn) Muslims as a group (not just those who are violent).
And India remains determined to not create a classical liberal party. So a genuine good alternative is ruled out, at least for 2014.
Things are therefore pretty bad for India, regardless of who comes to power in 2014.
Tips for Modi
Swami Ramdev has given up the idea of a political party (it was for a separate political party with broadly classical liberal policies that I was actively working with him) and has thrown full support behind Modi – without explaining to me why he has done so. I don't agree with this decision of Swami Ramdev, as I've explained earlier on this blog.
Modi MAY become a good PM without changing himself, but he has to do a number of things before people like me support him for the 2014 elections:
1) He must abjure violence. This involves not holding (and waving about) any sword in any public ceremony. Can we imagine Gandhi ever handling a sword in public? Modi sends STRONGLY VIOLENT signals which overwhelm any good he may be doing. And he must ask RSS to stop worshipping swords. I even suggest a commitment to prohibit swords (except for Sikhs who can wear a small kirpan, as required by their religion). Hinduism does NOT require anyone to go about brandishing swords and other weapons. Plus he can't be both a PM and perform religious actions on the same platform. As CM/PM a person must control his religious urges in public. Lighting a lamp with a candle is acceptable, not brandishing swords. Religion is a private matter and must be kept out of politics.
2) He must take responsibility for his incompetent handling of the riots in Gujarat. Either he was complicit in post-Godhra killings (for which evidence is overwhelming, in my view, but for which he has not yet been officially found guilty by any court) or he was incompetent. Assuming he was innocent (we must give the benefit of doubt to everyone who is not proven guilty), he was terribly incompetent. He should acknowledge that as a new CM he was incompetent and failed to protect a thousand people in his state. He should say that he has learnt how to manage such difficult situations and will never allow violence under his watch again.
3) He must FULLY dissociate with the Ram temple issue, and with VHP. This idea – that he can somehow back VHP in its revival of Ram temple issue – and still become PM is ridiculous. The people of India can sense Modi's personal backing of VHP. Statements by BJP and VHP clear: they are working together. He CANNOT force his "religious" view of the world on an entire nation. Let the law decide its course, or (as I say) let the government get out of managing ancient buildings and just regulate them. That will allow the sale of that property to "Hindus". The Hindus should thereafter be required to DEFINITELY rebuild the Masjid (it was, after all, an ancient Indian monument of some architectural value) and also build their own temple on the side.
4) He must find out who killed Haren Pandya: It is ridiculous that his own Minister (the only one who opposed him) was killed in broad daylight but the killer has not been found till date. All circumstantial evidence point to him (Modi). This is not about incompetence. It reeks of complicity.
5) He must lift his ban on books. Freedom of speech is paramount. He can't ban books even if he doesn't like them.
6) He must commit to total reform of governance and economic policy using world-best policies of liberty. He could (if he likes) use the SKC agenda (which I've already sent to his think tank for review).
If he does these things I will support him and thus BJP. And when many people like me join in support, then Modi WILL become Prime Minister.
Remember this is about INDIA, not about Modi. I don't care about any single individual, but I do care about India. Politics is, to me, about what is good for India. .
If Modi is unwilling to do these things, the country will likely reject BJP and will have a hung parliament again. India will suffer badly as a result. No one wants Congress but if Modi is determined to not broaden support beyond his violent VHP and other "Hindu" goons, then Congress will likely come back.
India will, once again, be the loser.
Instead of thinking about his brand of FAKE "Hinduism" (real Hinduism is universal), let Modi think about INDIA.