There is a famous Modi Model which has been ideated, projected and sold by Narendra Modi, which was lapped up by a large number of people and was the reason for his ascension to Prime Minister. This Modi Model was camouflaged into a robust model of development and Zero Tolerance for corruption. Decisive and strong leadership is an integral part of that model. But this model has another side, which, like Anurag Kashyap’s film, is dark and edgy; in that part, there are no democratic bones in its body. There is no place for disagreement and dissent. And that is the part that is coming to the fore now.
The first sign of nervousness in the opposition camp and the first sign of victory are complimentary to each other and happen simultaneously. The BJP has ruled Gujarat long enough to get delusional about its own immortality in the state. Modi won the state for the BJP for three consecutive terms and before him, the BJP won twice despite being faction-ridden. But since Modi moved to center and Anandiben Patel took over the reins of the government, there are clear indications of BJP losing ground and she is nowhere close to what Modi was.
Ideally, the Congress should have been the perfect replacement. By now, they should have successfully challenged the BJP and left it feeling insecure. Unfortunately, the Congress in last 20 years or so has been reduced to a non-entity. It has ceased to even be a political party. This has created a vacuum in the political space. It is this vacuum which AAP is filling up very fast. It is emerging as a real alternative. They are taking up small and big issues on behalf of the common citizens of Gujarat and fighting it out in the streets for them.
It is this fighting spirit which has made the BJP nervous. Therefore, in this context, when traders of Surat district invited Arvind Kejriwal for a meeting and interaction, and he readily accepted, Anandiben Patel had sleepless nights and finally the Vice chancellor of the university that was selected as the venue announced that the permission for the venue of the meeting was being revoked. Anandiben Patel did not stop there. She threatened the traders’ association and they were reprimanded for daring to call Kejriwal to Gujarat. They were told that their business would be ruined if they went ahead with the function. The President of the Association was also asked to give in writing that he had been misled by the AAP. Poor man had no option but to capitulate.
The Vice Chancellor said that the venue could not be given for political activities. The gentleman has forgotten that the same venue was used by the BJP and Congress in the past many times. He also said that university had no idea that Kejriwal was coming for the meeting.
It is rather clear that the BJP is nervous with the exponential growth of AAP.
AAP also wanted to hold a protest in Bhavnagar in February about the corruption charges against Anar Patel, the Chief Minister’s daughter, but permission was not granted. Yet again AAP volunteers were detained. In Saurashtra, our planned Padyatra in April to save Gauchar or land for grazing by cows was not allowed. Senior leader of the AAP Gujarat unit Kanubhai Kalsariya was arrested and then got bail.
So now there is a pattern. Under the Indian constitution, every citizen and group has every democratic right to protest against the government. As long as such protest is peaceful and doesn’t resort to violence or doesn’t threaten the sovereignty of the country, the government of the day has no reason to stop a protest from taking place.
Unfortunately, during the Modi regime, the state has turned into a police state. All voices of dissent are muzzled. Disagreement is strongly disliked by the BJP government. There is a long list of government officers who had to pay a heavy price for the disagreement with then Chief Minister Modi. Many landed in jail. The non-governmental organizations that exposed misdeeds of Modi government are being hounded even now. Several cases are lodged against them and their finances have been choked by the government. This is dictatorship in democratic attire.
Unlike her predecessor, Anandiben is not a charismatic leader; she does not have a similar grip over the administration and the party. She is perceived as a weak Chief Minister who is struggling with intra-party factionalism. AAP’s rise has made her very nervous in a state which in the last 20 years has not seen a robust opposition. But like AAP in Delhi, which is fighting the relentless onslaughts of the Modi government, AAP’s Gujarat unit will withstand BJP’s intimidating tactics and dirty tricks.
AAP is not like the Congress that it will buckle under the BJP’s pressure. Anandiben might be smiling with the cancellation of Kejriwal’s meeting in Surat but AAP will come back strong soon with a massive mobilization and Kejriwal leading the rally. That will be the crushing blow to her corrupt regime. It is just a matter of time.