Narendra Modi, by default
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The re-election of Modi may propel him to the national stage since he is very popular among the Indian middle class throughout the country. More importantly, even if the BJP and its mother organisation, the RSS, do not appreciate the personality cult à la Modi that unfolds itself at the expense of the traditional collegiality of these organisations, they may well rally around him by default. L.K. Advani is too old and the party president, Nitin Gadkari, is facing allegations of corruption. Senior BJP leaders like Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley have already supported him in the perspective of the 2014 general elections.
Modi will benefit from his clean image and the general assumption that Gujarat is a model of development, at a time when corruption and the economic slowdown have become key issues — especially for the middle class. But the rise of Modi may be resented by coalition partners of the BJP, including the
JD(U) which may hesitate to alienate its Muslim voters.
Another restraining factor may come from the judicial side. Modi may not be directly affected in spite of the credible allegations of a senior policeman, Sanjeev Bhatt, that he was responsible for the 2002 killings. But his right-hand man, Amit Shah, has been recently chargesheeted — like half-a-dozen other senior policemen — for a series of fake encounters.
Last but not least, external pressures may play a role. After the 2002 riots, the US decided to not issue Modi a visa and the EU decided to boycott him. The Gujarati diaspora, a major force to reckon with, will now lobby the Obama administration and European governments. David Cameron has been the first to send his high commissioner to meet Modi just before the elections. Other leaders willing to develop business relations with Gujarat may follow suit.
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