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Modi won't damage BJP's prospects unless he is declared as the PM candidate: Mukund Padmanabhan

Updated: February 8, 2013, 6:44 PM IST
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Modi won't damage BJP's prospects unless he is declared as the PM candidate: Mukund Padmanabhan
Modi vs Rahul: Will the 2014 national elections be all about two personalities?

Senior associate editor of The Hindu Mukund Padmanabhan joined IBNLive readers for an interaction on whether the 2014 national elections will dwindle down to a fight between Narendra Modi and Rahul Gandhi.

Q. We Muslims know Modi is capable and honest but is it not that he looked other way while 3000 Muslims were butchered? Can India accept him? Asked by: bashir

A. Yes Bashir, I understand where the question is coming from, and it is one that will agitate the country if Modi is made the BJP's prime ministerial candidate or, if he becomes, Prime Minister. I guess while the question will remain, the fact that the SIT report found no complicity and the fact that this has not been proved will be in his favour.

Q. Rahul, talking about reviving congress party, does not he reveal party is not yet in place to make it in elections? Contrastingly, Modi already making waves with policy governance isn't he more ready for PM? Asked by: Ram

A. Yes, Modi is making waves, but there is still a difference in that Modi needs to convince his own party, and sections of the VHP and RSS, who have not seen him in a very kind light, that he is the best bet to lead the BJP in the next election and become Prime Minister. In Rahul's case, this is there for the asking - so the two cases are quite different since the party is already in his hands if Rahul wants it.

Q. Dear Mr Mukund, If Modi will be projected as a PM, it can be because of his Governance and exposure around running the various functions/bodies in a Govt. How about Rahul, what will be Congress's criteria for projecting/nominating him as a PM candidate? Asked by: Rakesh Jain

A. Good question Rakesh, and I think if one does not use dynasty as a justification, the only answers can be to draw attention to his organisational skills, being Congress general secretary from 2007 and now its Vice President. But there is still a difference between running the youth congress and running a country - and I feel it would have been a good idea for him to have been blooded in a ministry so that objections like yours would not crop up.

Q. It is much better if they spoke of how they would like to see India in the next 5 years. And what they would do to bring down inflation, and cost of food rices down? Unless we hear about the visions they have and how they plan to achieve them, is it right to consider them as respective leading figures of 2014 elections. Asked by: EMathew

A. Well, it's much too early for either of them to do that as they are not declared prime ministerial candidates. Such specificity in terms programmes and vision would become necessary once this became clear of course.

Q. 2014 election should be fought on the basis of what would one do for the country to take it out of its current situations. Whosoever brings out an action plan for the next 5 years and what the achievement would be in the future is what India needs. Do you concur? Asked by: EMathew

A. Yes, although I am not sure what you mean by current situation, I think the economy is paramount. And we need a clear economic vision for the next five years, one which allows the economy to grow, provides for some redistribution of wealth, and clamps down on the evil of corruption.

Q. If in 2014 it's Modi v Rahul then actually 2014 will be centered around Modi, Modi and Modi alone because congress will talk about 2002 as Rahul has nothing to offer and BJP will put forward development model of Modi, it will not even election of two personalities. Your take on 2014 and Modi. Asked by: shashi

A. Well, am not sure if it will be Modi and Modi alone in such a scenario. We know for instance that Rahul was responsible in a minor but significant Congress revival for the Lok Sabha election of 2009 in Uttar Pradesh where the Congress got more seats than many expected. Of course, this did not work in the Assembly election, even to Bihar. But I would not write him off even if Modi will have the opportunity of presenting the development plank more effectively than Rahul will.

Q. Hello sir, will Modi be able to replicate his Gujarat formula all over India or is India more complex and he may fail. Asked by: natarajan

A. I don't think its a question of complexity but of politics. If Modi becomes Prime Minister, it is almost certain that he will be the Prime Minister of a ramshackle coalition, and be at the mercy of coalition partners. He does not have this problem in Gujarat, which he is able to run almost single-handed. So, I suspect some of his mystique will rub off if he becomes Prime Minister thanks to the fractured verdict and the nature of coalition politics.

Q. If Ram temple is irrelevant in today, how is Godra relevant and should both be buried and go ahead. Asked by: BANU KULKARNI

A. Well, the Ram temple does come up as an issue now and then in elections - although you are right if you are suggesting that it does not generate the kind of wave the BJP tapped into in the late 80s. Similarly, I doubt whether Godhra and the Gujarat will shape the election, but I don't think you can discount their impact on the way people vote.

Q. A Modi versus Rahul contest atleast on administrative issues is a no contest. But will vote-bank politics determine 2014. Asked by: subbulakshmi jagadeesan

A. Well, we don't have a presidential election system, so am not sure if the electorate will become polarised between Modi and Rahul even if the media portrays the contest this way. Regional, caste and other such compulsions will continue to play a role.

Q. UP to Maya and Mulayam, TN to Jaya and Karuna, MH for NCP and little for Congress, Gujarat for Modi, MP for BJP because of outstanding work by Shivraj Singh Chauhan.....my questions is how is it possible to Rahul Gandhi to revive congress and face the wrath of nation because of absolutely worst performance by UPA-II. Asked by: Prithviraj Chavan Pune

A. Reviving the Congress and doing better than the BJP in the election are two different things. Those who wrote the Congress off in 2009 after all were surprised by the result. I don't think the performance between performance and results are as closely correlated as people think they are. We have had many non-performing governments winning over and over again in the States for instance.

Q. Mr Mukund, Rahul talks of making 95 paise reach to the poor, changing the Political system, I mean why are these thoughts cropping now? His family anyways was always at the helm of affairs in Congress, why didn't he do such reforms earlier? Asked by: Rakesh Jain

A. Good question, am not really sure what the answer is beyond saying that the opportunity for change existed before, given the influence he has over his mother, and ipso facto, the party.

Q. Currently when i saw two speeches one was by Rahul Gandhi and 2nd was by Modi and if blind people also vote he will definitely vote for Modi as his vision is clear and he already touches everything. What do you say? Asked by: Atir

A. Well, I don't think its fair to compare the speeches. Rahul was speaking at a party event on the occasion of him becoming Vice President whereas Modi was making a speech to students, an event which presented an opportunity to spin out some vision for the country. I think a much better comparison will be made when they start making campaign speeches in 2014.

Q. Why this issue is raked up again and again is beyond my comprehension. Here is a man - whose father was not even a Sarpanch and he has been one of the best CMs we have and here is man who has nothing other than surname Gandhi. What is your taken on the subject. Asked by: Parth

A. My take is difficult to summarise in a few lines. But I think your contrast ignores a phenomenon in India, of people being elevated in high places despite the lack of administrative experience -- what was NTR or Jayalalithaa before they became Chief Ministers. What was YSR's son, for instance. How much real political experience did Mrs Indira Gandhi have in comparison with other Congress party men when she became Prime Minister? All I am saying that the lack of experience does not necessarily imply he will be bad at administration; as for Modi, yes, he has experience and there are aspects to his administrative style, which have been recognised and even admired by his detractors.

Q. Modi has traveled a long distance since 2002 and is now looked/known as able administrator and possess good governance skills. while Rahul has nothing in is kitty to showcase. just making emotional speeches doesn't make any sense anymore. What's your say? Asked by: Anil

A. I think I answered a similar question just posted above this -- so could you please read that answer as the answer to yours as well, Anil. Thank you

Q. Is there a possibility of a BJP led by Narendra Modi winning 220 seats.And does he enjoy popularity in rural areas? Asked by: subbulakshmi jagadeesan

A. I doubt it very much Subbulakshmi - it will need a miracle and a consolidation of a kind unimaginable now for the BJP to win 220 seats in the next election. The BJP does have a rural base in some states, for example parts of coastal Karnataka, so I don't see why Modi should not get support in such places as well.

Q. Why are we so hesitant to support an individual who seems to be getting connected with the Indian masses on the basis of merit and performance and not on the basis of caste? Asked by: stephen

A. I imagine you are talking about Modi when you say merit and performance, but is it fair to imply (if that is indeed what you are doing) that Rahul's appeal is on the basis of caste?

Q. If we analyze the speeches of Rahul and Modi, we will find Rahul makes an emotional pitch, whereas Modi makes a business one. In today's matearalistic world is is not advantage Modi? Asked by: Prem Kumar

A. Yes, if we go by the two speeches that were referred to earlier, I agree that the advantage lay with Modi.

Q. In which states will Modi greatly boost the BJP and in which states will he hurt them?Similarly will Rahul boost the congress in any states? Can JD(U) afford to break ranks with the BJP over Modi and risk losing to Lalu Prasad? Your estimate of the seats the national parties led by Rahul and Modi would get is? Asked by: supratik

A. I don't think Modi will damage the BJP's prospects unless he is openly declared as the prime ministerial candidate, which the party may be unwilling to do given the risks of this. If they did however, I think there would be alliance problems in Bihar definitely as your question anticipates. Some parties, such as the Telugu Desam, which regrets its association with the BJP earlier and may not think of tying up this time, will close their doors on the BJP firmly if this were to happen. I don't think Rahul faces this kind of problem. I am not an election forecaster really but my guess is that neither the Congress nor the BJP will reach anything like 200 seats. But who knows, I could be totally wrong.

Q. Sir, What about Modi's popularity in Southern states? And when it comes to urban youth, Modi is showing clear majority. What's your take on Modi's popularity in rural India? Asked by: Srikar

A. Modi seems to have struck a chord of popularity with those who buy into his development mantra, those who prefer a strong authoritarian leader, and those who favour a strong Hindutva line. I suspect his following is greater in urban areas in the south than in rural ones.

Q. Why is 'The Hindu' opposed to Modi? Any specific reason? Asked by: chinmay

A. I am afraid I cannot speak on behalf of 'The Hindu' Chinmay, given that I do not edit the paper. I would like to think however that we are fair in covering him, even if our editorial views are critical about some of the things he stands for.

Q. Will it be Modi versus Chidambaram as 'The Economist' claimed? Asked by: subbulakshmi jagadeesan

A. I did read that! I know it sounds a little ridiculous, but I would not rule it out altogether. If Rahul finds the going is tough and that it is not worth projecting himself as the next PM, then the Congress may have to go with another choice -- not Manmohan Singh. And Chidambaram, who has been in the limelight with the recent round of reforms, may well emerge as a candidate.

Q. From a commoner's view Narendra Modi has morphed into a pan national phenomenon with his popularity touching even east and south India. He has a creditable track record. Will a novice like Rahul match him in appeal and popularity. Asked by: chinmay

A. Parliamentary elections are not determined by such popularity as we have seen time and again. So it is entirely possible that even if more people prefer Modi, the BJP ends up faring worse than the Congress. Or the other way round for that matter.

Q. When there is so much talent in congress why are they and media pushing an incompetent and hugely hesitant Rahul? Is it not a disservice to nation as handling a country is not an easy job? Asked by: nagendra

A. Yes, it's not an easy job certainly, but am not sure if the media is pushing Rahul - he just became Vice President and the Prime Minister has been repeatedly saying he will step down in favour of Rahul if the party wants it etc. So, it seems reasonable to conclude he has taken an important step towards making a stab for the top job.

Q. How was Modi's SRCC speech and was he succeeded to attract youth and will speeches like that make him pan India leader, because what I get from that speech was that he was connecting his campaign with pride of India like brand India 21st century is India's century etc.. will he succeed in achieving emotional touch with the youth of this nation. Asked by: rajesh

A. Yes, I think he put a very positive spin on things, which went down very well with the audience; the speech reflected both hope and pride, themes which touched a chord with the audience. Whether this is enough to make him a pan India leader is another issue.

Q. Why are you comparing with Rahul? Almost all the other netas (including BJP) work based on religion/caste. The only difference is Rahul is campaigning based on his ancestor legacy. So meritocracy vs all other inferior methods? whats your opinion. Asked by: stephen

A. I am not comparing Modi with Rahul -- that was a question posed by CNN on the basis of the reasonable belief that both had emerged as leading prime ministerial candidates of their parties. Rahul has organised the Congress campaign in 2009 and I think its an exaggeration to say that he is campaigning on the basis of his ancestral legacy -- of course it is another matter if this forms a very large basis for his appeal.

Q. Rahul seems to be very sensible in not to aim for PM's post as he knows he will get it 1 day or the other. if not in 2014. So shouldn't Rahul spent more time in learning the tricks of the politics than going head on with this Modi nonsense in 2014? Asked by: Muzamdar

A. Frankly, I think it is sensible for both of them not to aim for the post unless they are confident their parties will get something like 220 seats on their own. Otherwise, they will both be reduced to weak players in the face of coalition politics and will lost the mystique they have. Modi's particularly is built on him being a strong leader -- and it will be tough to be this way if you lead a weak and disunited coalition.

Q. English Media has been constantly attacking Modi for his alleged role in Gujarat Carnage. Nobody bothers to think why Gujarat 2002 happened because Hindus were burnt alive, that was trigger. English Media does not shed a drop of tear for Kashmiri Pandits who have been thrown out from their own motherland. Nobody talks about them. If inclusiveness test applies to Muslims it applies to Hindus too and Modi is right man to lead nation. Your take on the subject! Asked by: Parth

A. There are separate issues you have raised here Parth. Your critique of the media and its bias about how it has handled different issues related to communalism is a valid point and needs to be debated. But the media's alleged bias cannot lead to the conclusion that Modi is the right man to lead the nation.

Q. Rahul Vs Modi would be no contest. What has Rahul got to demonstrate on his achievements except family background. Do you think that the Congress would project Rahul as its PM candidate or would they have a solution wherein he works as a remote control as is the case of today. If everything works out then he takes credit and in case it does not work out the Govt is blamed as also coalition politics is blamed. Don't you think Rahul should make the Congress project him as a PM candidate and prove his credential of running the country along with coalition politics? Asked by: Anonymous

A. Good question and I don't really know the answer. I think however it would be a mistake for Rahul, if the present political climate sustains, to project himself as leader, as the Congress is unlikely to win enough seats to allow him the space to provide strong leadership. It would be much better if he threw his hat in the ring when he is convinced that the Congress would put up a strong performance.

First Published: February 8, 2013, 6:44 PM IST
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