The recent piece by The Economist on the Indian elections has become a barometer of how the outside world views the front-runner, Narendra Modi. The last line is: “India deserves better”. The New York Times analysis had a similar tone and tenor, as did the Guardian. The ghost of 2002, it appears, will hover around his chair for some time to come, even if that chair is the one in the corner office at South Block, which Manmohan Singh seems eager to vacate. The cause for the concern is reflected in the massive, unprecedented media blitz that the BJP has launched. Apart from the huge budget, it is so symbolic of Modi operandi, the way that things will be in a Modi-led government: a one-man show. Pick up any major newspaper over the past 10 days and his unsmiling visage is the first thing you see. And the only thing you see. There is no other leader, not even the party president.
Equally, it spells out the way that his government is likely to function. It is also indicative of why India Inc, and the stock markets, are so gung ho about the prospect of Modi at 7 Race Course Road. The Economist in its Schumpeter column looks at how big business would like Modi to govern. “They (corporates) hope Mr Modi will make decisions fast. They want to see him unleash his administrative skills on the central-government machine, banging heads together, rationalising Byzantine procedures and making rules predictable. Clean firms also hope he could use his oratory and force of personality to combat graft. Plenty of people may feel India Inc’s support for Mr Modi is unprincipled. But at a time when confidence in the country’s economy is at a low, it is easy to see why firms are drawn to pragmatism, and backing their best hope for a government that works better.”
A government that works better is not such a stretch considering the record of UPA II. What is key is whether big business has embraced some grand illusion or is their faith justified? Most of them are going by his record in Gujarat where his pro-business policies, focus on infrastructure and sops for the private sector will be the legacy he leaves behind if he moves to Race Course Road. What is even more indicative of Modi Operandi will be the fact that Gujarat