Gujarat Has Started the Process of Disowning Modi

Future historians may trace the political meltdown of Narendra Modi to the events this week in Ahmedabad and the rest of Gujarat

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday appeals for peace in Gujarat, says violence does not benefit anybody. Credit: PTI Photo/TV Grab

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday appeals for peace in Gujarat, says violence does not benefit anybody. Credit: PTI Photo/TV Grab

Being the very smart man that he is, Narendra Modi will be the first to recognise — even if he does not acknowledge it publicly — that August 25, 2015, is the day when Gujarat finally started the process of disowning him. Future historians may even mark August 25 as the date when it all unravelled and the Modi political meltdown began. An over-statement? An exaggeration? A wishful fantasy?

Consider this: from March 2002 to August 24, 2015, nobody, and that means nobody, other than Narendra Modi had been able to collect a crowd of five lakh people in any part of Gujarat. The last time such a large-scale mobilisation took place was way back in the mid-1970s, during the days of the Navnirman Andolan. The August 25 congregation, right there in the heart of Ahmedabad, took place despite Modi’s wishes and his long-distance monitoring and micro-managing of everything political that goes on in Gujarat. And, not since 2002, has the Army been asked to come out in aid of the civil authority. Words in headlines like ‘curfew’, ‘police firing’, ‘deaths’ belonged to a bygone era, so we were told. The rockstar who mesmerised the suburban Gujaratis at Madison Square Garden has been upstaged by an upstart: a hitherto unknown Hardik Patel, who has the native Patels eating out of his hand.

It is ironic that only 10 days ago, on Independence Day, the Prime Minister was using that grand pulpit at the Red Fort to exhort us to beware of the danger of ‘casteism’ and communalism. And then, a few days later, he was in Gaya, Bihar, showering goodies and special packages on that “bimaru” state, singing songs of his own politics of development, and preaching against the vendors of caste politics such as Nitish Kumar and Lalu Prasad Yadav. Now, on his own home turf, the caste calculations and demands have erupted gloriously.

The backstory

There is a context to this Patel eruption. And, it is necessary to recall that context.

In 1981, it was the Patels of Khadia in downtown Ahmedabad who raised a violent voice against a new reservation regime. That agitation was directed at the newly elected Congress government, headed by Madhavsinh Solanki. The Congress had stormed back to power, riding on the KHAM strategy. The KHAM—Kshatriyas, Harijans, Adivasis, and Muslims—inclusive promise had yielded massive electoral dividends and Gujarat’s political landscape was drastically re-arranged. The Patels were ejected from the commanding heights of Gujarat politics which they had occupied for many decades. In the 1985 Assembly elections, the Congress repeated its performance, consolidating its political dominance. The Patels again soon found an excuse to raise their voice against ‘reservation’. This resentment among the upper castes, especially the Patidars, was easily shoehorned into the new Hindutva project. Over the years, the Hindutva forces patted themselves on the back for their ability to invoke the religious idiom to get the better of the caste-centric KHAM and its inclusive politics of social aggregation of the disadvantaged.

Now, the same Patels are demanding reservation. Gujarat is back to the 1981 days.

The end of the post-2002 era

The Patels were and are at the core of the Modi constituency. They are vocal, aggressive and assertive in their sustained support at home and in the NRI portals for the post-2002 Modi and his narrative.


The post-2002 Modi and BJP were able to enlist, enthuse and ensnare the Gujaratis in an epic battle in defence of Gujarati asmita. The Patidars applauded the new Hindu hriday samraat, first as he struggled against Vajpayee who chanted the strange mantra of  rajdharma. Then they cheered him as he locked horns with a Sonia Gandhi who levelled the maut ka saudagar charge, and next they sided with him against the ‘vicious’ UPA that would demand accountability in fake encounters.

The Long March to Delhi ended on a triumphant note. The Hindu hriday samraat is the lord and master of all he surveys from Raisina Hill, the pseudo-secularists are licking their wounds, and even the judiciary seems disinclined to uphold secular values and practices. The majority in Gujarat has nothing to fear. Its ‘protector’ is the chief magistrate and sheriff. The intimidated Muslims have already retreated into their pitiful ghettos.

The eruption in 2015 of Patidar violence from the same BJP strongholds of 2002 suggests that the objective conditions that propelled the Modi phenomenon in Gujarat became redundant with his election victory on May 16, 2014. Suddenly, the objective conditions that sustained the Modi phenomenon have melted away.  In pure realpolitik terms, the ‘2002’ business has finally lost its power and raison d’etreEven anti-Centrism, the main plank of the Modi phenomenon in Gujarat, got dismantled on May 24, 2014, when the new Prime Minister took his oath of office in the Rashtrapati Bhavan forecourt.

What’s left of the Gujarat model

The all too obvious communal underpinning of the Modi project apart, the Patidar eruption demands a sober reassessment of all that we have been persuaded to believe about the Gujarat model of development.

The thinness of the so-called Gujarat model now stands so demonstratively exposed. Those who questioned the claims made in its name were dubbed anti-Gujarat and damned as pseudo-secularists. The pain of deepening economic inequalities was never allowed to intrude into the ‘vibrancy’ optics. Rather, those at the receiving end of the harsh economic realities were palmed off with the Hindutva rhetoric and practices. Those realities have not vanished.

Nobody, for example, was allowed to ask how many local Gujaratis had been given jobs in the famed Nano project at Sanand. For that matter, no one knows the terms of the agreement between the Gujarat government and the Tatas. All we have been told is how a pro-business, pro-market, pro-growth, pro-industrialisation Chief Minister had grabbed the opportunity to entice an entrepreneur, scorned by those backward looking politicians in West Bengal. That was the defining moment when the ‘vibrancy’ of the Modi model was reaffirmed and consecrated. Soon the captains of industry were queuing up in Ahmedabad to issue the certificate of good conduct to the then Chief Minister. The road to Delhi was mapped out.

Before and after 2014, there was no dearth of cheer-leaders extolling the Modi phenomenon and its relevance, demanding that it be replicated throughout the country. The best and the brightest among the pundits proclaimed that India stood tutored in the new grammar of development, merit, growth, liberating modernity. An alternative reality emerged on August 25.

If the Gujarat model of development was so successful, so transformative, so revolutionary, how could a 22-year-old become the fulcrum for a caste-centric mobilisation? And why should Bihar buy into the presumably post-caste ‘development’ rhetoric?

Harish Khare is Editor-in-Chief of The Tribune

Courtesy: The Tribune

  • Atul Jain

    Modi has the ability to convert a “melt down” into “build up”, So chill Writer!!

  • Sheela

    Modi cannot be blamed for rot system of quotas implemented by the then
    great Congress. so all evils have roots with congress only.

    this is an opportunity to abolish quota system n bring policy to
    implement merit basis admissions/ employments. there should be some
    schemes where benefiicaries for one or two generations voluntarily give
    up the quota to start with.

    • Harish

      One should not attribute anything good that has happened to Modi and anything bad that has happened to the congress. Since Keshubhai, there has been some latent resentment in Patels, though this has been subsumed in the Hindutva phenomenon. Some Patels feel bad that Keshubhai who was a much taller leader than Modi was later sidelined. Lot of posters seem to have a lot of faith in Modi that he can rectify the situation. One can’t be sure. Part of the reason behind Modi’s success in Gujarat was also the ineffectiveness of the congress. If any alternative leadership comes up, the situation may be different.

  • Subrata Bhaumik

    If collecting 5 lakh crowd is the hallmark of leadership, then left front would have continued in WB or Mamata would have continued to enjoy unblemished popularity as CM of WB. Leadership is a mix of twists and turns, successes and failures, taking steps in certain direction and making course correction as the need arises. Hardik Patel is enjoying the elixir of popularity, sloganeering and euphoria of all round attention. We saw the same atmosphere in Kejriwal’s public gatherings. Ultimately, AK has turned out to be a person, “also ran”. Let the dust settle down little bit. Narendra Modi will not bother. CM of Gujarat will act with a combination of court rulings, meetings and discipline, whenever called for.

  • Vishwas

    Successful ploy of Congress and inside enemies of Modi on the eve of Bihar election. But Modi sure will diffuse it.

    • Kartik

      or an internanl sangh fight between togadia and shah

  • Dharmesh Gelani

    The problem with the journalist from outside are they dont understand mind set of ppl here in Gujarat and start analyzing everything from their perspective.

    The only reason this issue got so much support or there was this huge crowd everywhere was due to kids with 93% not get admissions in govt. college and poor ppl from patel coummunity not getting jobs in Govt. It was a emotional issue for everyone.

    But if anyone analyzes it as a force against BJP or MODI they are highy mistaken. Keshubhai tried it very hard to be leader of the entire community and so is Hardik Patel. As soon as Patels see someone trying to play politics in the name of patels or try to serve their vested interest Patels will see through it. They are smart enough to vote on the basis of issues and longterm benifit of the State as a whole.

    Modi’s power & BJP fanfollowing is very much intact

    • Vish2801

      Couldn’t explain better. The Patels supported Hardik because Patels see the opportunity to raise the voice against reservation, many other open castes supported us because they do know Patels aren’t getting the OBC status but trying to make a point & if possible solve it through talks. This Hardik guy has ruined that opportunity, he’s trying to mislead public by threatening to stop the essential supplies to the cities, this isn’t how Patels behave. I doubt if this opportunity will come again because Hardik’s goons have damaged public properties & image of Gujarat, other open communities & some sensible OBC people won’t support the movement further, it’s a big shame for Patels. 🙁

    • Kartik

      ther’s no such thing as a poor patel

  • pappus_escape_velocity

    It’s just awesome, how all anti-modi people are jumping in.. in this Patel drama.. everyone who hates modi is making statements left and right.. looks like they were waiting for something like this.. and this is definitely manufactured by AAP and congress.. Lets see for how many more days this drama continues.. Patels are not going to get reservation .. thats for sure.. but this incident may very well highlight all modi baiter’s and their real agenda..

    • Pushkar

      AAP? don’t think so. They didn’t have enough money and volunteers to fight Bangalore elections. Manufacturing something as massive as this out of question. If ever AAP had so much support in Gujarat, it must have reflected in APP winning a few lokshabha Gujarat seats in 2014 from. AAP is definitely a biggest threat in future to traditional parties like Congress and BJP but dragging APP unnecessarily here because of your fear and hate makes no sense.

  • Raja A

    Reading carefully, this is actually more a challenge and also opportunity for Congress than BJP. Congress politics, not only in Gujarat but also throughout the country, has created a web of impression that forward castes = corruption, growth, rich, good life; lower castes + christians + muslims = poverty and insecurity. Now the roles seem quite reversed with this agitation where there is a feeling that not all forward castes are well-off and leading contended lives. The choice in front of Rahul Gandhi is to drop his anti-forward castes, anti-Hindu politics and take leadership of the simmering discontent or leave it open for other players like Kejriwal to jump in and push Congress towards extinction. Modi has assured five years in PM chair. The question is how the discontent against him is cogently manipulated. If Rahul Gandhi or any other current crop of political leaders fail, Modi might win the chair once again in 2019 – albeit with loss of majority but help from fence-sitters like Mamta, Jaya, Jagan, Patnaik etc.

  • Kruteshpatel

    Gujarat has missed modi in this crisis and it was proved that modi was able administrator who could keep check on any disturbances.

    • Ananda

      Agree this incidence actually prove no one can replace Modi anywhere

  • ProgressForIndia

    Another know-it-all predicting Modi’s demise. What makes this latest “expert” any different from the past ones? What is Harish Khare’s track record in political predictions?

  • https://www.twitter.com/chipmaker_tweet Kal Gandikota

    My Humble Request to Sri Hardik Patelji!

    Dear Sir, I am not an expert in the matter you are trying to resolve but I wholeheartedly felt it was my duty as a human being to submit this comment/feedback. I humbly request and pray other listeners/readers submit their comments too on how to best solve these types of problems with you standing by your side. Sometimes we tend to think the members of our communities, religions, castes, tribes, languages, gender (including LGBT), towns, states, countries etc. are like us. Like us, they have same principles, ethics and morals. However for most of the time, for Indian borns, it looks like not the case. For instance, most of the time, I trust all Indians share their burdens, problems and discuss/consult each other. However, when incidents like these happen, my trust, unity, empathy and compassion towards fellow Indians are wearing down.

    Truly I feel anguish that entire Gujarat halted…what about a worker feeling anguish because he could not find work for just one day to feed himself and his family…..what about a small dhukan businessman who is feeling anguish that the sales weren’t enough that day to meet the expenses and how he is going to pay back his loans and what happens to his entire family if he goes bankrupt in future!..What about a farmer who is praying anxiously for rain, water and electricity for his village so he also could repay the loans and don’t need to worry about the fate of his wife and children if he goes bankrupt in future!

    I hear sayings “Blacklivesmatter”, “Whitelivesmatter”, “Christianlivesmatter”, “WomenLivesMatter”, “GayLivesMatter”, “LesbianLivesMatter”, “WeaversLivesMatter”, “KissanLivesMatter”, “JawanLivesMatter” etc… Just as they are expressing their frustrations, I too feel like expressing ‘Every Single life matters’….”AllLivesMatter”… If one wishes to eat plants, even how the plants lived/raised with what fertilizers before they ended on the dinner table matters. If one cannot get away eating meat for health reasons, even how that animal lived(its hygiene, what it ate) before it ended on the dinner table matters …then how much more it should matter the lives of human beings(especially in a democracy)? ”EverySingleLifeMatters” in the universe. I read in newspapers that 9 lives were lost and many injured. If that life was of your own brother or sister or parents, how would you feel? Would you have felt they died in a great cause or they died early in vain following you?

    Sardar Vallabhai Patel may be from your community, however he was an Indian first and Gujarati next and not Patel first, Gujarati next and Indian afterwards. If he was alive, would he be happy with your speeches? I read and listened to your speeches. You have very valid points but the way you are presenting them matters. Though I am not affiliated with any religion, sometimes I am inspired listening to ‘Asaduddin Owaisi’ or ‘Baba Ramdev’ or ‘Pope of Vatican’. They make every effort to see that their followers do not deviate from the causes for which they stand. However, hearing your speeches, it appears you are polarizing not just Patels but everyone else in Gujarat/India/World against Patels…..Even a Hollywood movie called “Elysium” has a villan named “Patel”…

    World watches instantly via internet what happens. News and comments posted via Internet are probably being read by nations across the world. Imagine you were at a festive gathering and a fight broke out between family members…everyone at the gathering are watching and doesn’t it generate awkward feelings? Then how much more damage these kind of agitations are causing Patel communities across the world?…Did you assess? Did anyone assess? I implore all rich, affluent, powerful elites of Patel community to assess the situation in Gujarat and take necessary steps to prevent further violence which will only damage the Respect and the Reputation of Patels among Indians and other nations of the world. As a match-stick can set forest trees on fire and char them and those amongst them and around them, I urge everyone not to be frustrated, to be humble, compassionate, wise and impartial in their judgments. As Hon’ble PMji noted, please seek elderly-educated-powerful Patels to negotiate(talks) with State and Central Governments. I am sure some solution could be worked out which will benefit not only Patel communities of Gujarat but also every other Caste/Jathi across India.

    What is more important….that which you eat, that number system to count your moneys and wives and children, those herbs by which you get healed, that which you play with, that which you exercise/meditate or that with which you kill or that which you switch on and watch/talk from or that which comes out of your mouth? As a match-stick can set forest trees on fire and char them and those amongst them and around them, tongue has the power to set minds on fire. Hence please don’t be frustrated, spread hate in the hearts of Patels and others, please be wise, humble, compassionate and impartial in your judgments.

    When one feels anguish one seeks remedies…some pray according to religions….some tell friends and families….Some go to Psychologist for counseling….Some are coaxed/forced to Psychiatrist for medicines to silence them…some are silenced permanently etc…Amazingly many found answers in those methods but some like me haven’t…. What kind of my fate(Karma) is it that we both are born in a democratic country like India where no one is concerned/partake in Democracy until one gets a chance to secretly vote otherwise one perishes or they isolate us or seek revenge? Or is it a remedy that I too resign from my profession like you and join a political party or a religion or an activist Five-star NGO to meet my needs to survive in the largest democratic nation of the world? After introspecting, I think my remedy is to meditate/investigate/collect evidences…seek the truth as Sri Krishna Bhagavan said, Jesus said, as Muhammad(PBUH) said, …as Mahatma Gandhiji said…seek the truth…So after work, when I find time instead of watching fiction, I research on internet…on weekends I go to library and read newspapers and magazines….I pursue the matter with the same zeal as if I was learning for the sake of my profession, for passing exams, like a doctor learning to save lives….Indeed, I tell you the truth, every single whole-hearted learning(not just by-heart learning) by every leader(including you) ultimately saves lives across India(world) even if my learnings cannot save my own life.

    Hence, I beg every leader/every representative of Patel community to not be discouraged. If you yourself get discouraged/agitated/frustrated, who is going to guide ordinary people like us? I was reading/hearing the news.…at least the Media workers get paid….Political leaders get paid/have money….Does it mean I cannot participate in a Democracy if become poor like a day-wage worker in future?….or should I actively participate in a Democracy only after I become so poor like that and have got nothing to lose including my life like you?…..Hence, please wake up and realize there are bigger causes that I pray you take up the mantle for!

    Please kindly exchange your faith, beliefs and thoughts peacefully with patience, respect and dignity. If peoples of Gujarat(India) are convinced, you have them at your side; even if they are not convinced you may have plausible friends on the other side that do not harm people or vandalize properties! Violence will only ruin the respect and reputation of Patels not only across Gujarat and India but also in the community of nations. Unfamiliarity breeds fear and contempt in ignorant/naive people. Hence, please have patience, compassion and empathy towards even your aggressors and clearly articulate so they become your supporters, your friends and empathizers.

    I wish you understand my message of peace, love and hope. I do not wish nobody hates nobody for the problems though we were at the same level as them when we all came out of our mother’s wombs (without malice and deceit)…. I am not affiliated with any religion, any caste or any political party; however I would say everyone who has empathy, patience, love and compassion is divine born. Such a person cherishes life. Everyone who comes to know the value of life is for peace. And where there is peace, there is hope for the living. When there is hope every member of community strives for its prosperity.

    India has been a secular nation even before the birth of collective religions in the West Asia/Mediterranean. Most of Indian culture, traditions, customs, art, temples, and scriptures got destroyed in the last 1500 years. They(invaders and those trying to appease invaders) created several caste systems which never existed in India before. India had only four Varnas which too are not birth-rights (Please Check Bhagavad Gita/Vedas/Upanishads). People’s houses, farms & families were torn and properties, wifes, sisters and children were confiscated. Few thousand human libraries were killed and ancient universities/mandirs (only mode of knowledge transfer in those days) got destroyed…People walked into oceans as deep as possible with boxes of scriptures in their hands and sacrificed themselves. They constructed temples inside oceans to bury those scriptures….but still even the ocean temples got blasted since 1500A.D. and scriptures destroyed. Entire fabric (social, climatic, economic, political, biological, physiological and psychological) of India is torn apart and the common people living there now are so poor and suffering. (Please realize, we are all same people but the parties, languages, religions, castes and ideologies are so different).

    Now, there are 800 million strong youth in India. For me, it indicates not only optimism but also pessimism of civil-war. India’s youth need work. As you see, all the wars/protests in the Middle-East should not only be viewed from the perspective of Collective religious propaganda but also from the view of otherwise peaceful but hungry youth taking arms to feed themselves and their families. This indeed is a grave danger. However, they are not the only ones to blame. It is obvious that since the last 3500 years, West Asia/Mediterranean is torn by collectivist religious and political ideologies. Such ideologies even caught fire leading to the fires of slavery, women-trafficking/prostitution and colonialism across the entire world. One such fire got Gujarat into this current mess. In some nations of the world, entire population is taught to carry arms as part of military exercise just like those people of Middle-East/West Asia. What would these nations do if they did not have jobs? Hence, the biggest thing to worry for rich & powerful of all the religions/castes of the world is poverty. I hope you/they use everything in your/their domain to alleviate the problems and not scheme to exterminate the poor and the meek. As long as people are well and their needs are satisfied, they will be doing their jobs and stay pacified. When they become very poor, that’s when they challenge the status quo.

    The modern world is faced with grave challenges of more poverty, pollution, dirty politics, parasitic economies, adverse climate changes and Global warming. Let’s humbly meditate and introspect

    “Do we, even now in 21st century, fight amongst ourselves and try tearing Mother India apart or we now vow to stitch a new garment of Peace for her?”

    Message to Gujaratis:

    Instead of killing your own people, vandalizing their properties(including their Govt properties), I hope all privileged know your own country, its laws, its constitution, its people, their cultures, customs and traditions. I wish you also travel across Gujrat/Diu/India not only to enjoy the trips but also advise/teach your fellow citizens your experiences/wisdom (old & new) for peace, progress and prosperity of not only Gujarat and India but the entire world. (Given a chance, like you, they are also keen, highly adaptive and always refine themselves!) Different members of communities of villages, towns and cities (including Govt officials) may meet (civic engagement/community engagement) once in a while to meditate what’s good for themselves, communities, humanity and creation…It need not happen only in some remote place or a state capital or a nation’s capital or any world capital or a holy city or even in Heaven… It should start in every home or every city/town/village in a chai dhukan, cricket maidan, online, or park or just in a plain ground where everyone can hear everyone else…And that’s the true gathering of people in the name of Allah/God/Gods of any religion!

    Let’s strengthen ties between all “human beings”(Manavatha Vadi) and make the world one big global village. (Vasudaiva Kutumbakam!)

    Please kindly forgive me if I said anything wrong or hurt your feelings! Also due to time constraints, please kindly forgive my Indlish mistakes too!

    Om Sarve Bhavantu Sukhinah
    Sarve Santu Nir-Aamayaah
    Sarve Bhadraanni Pashyantu
    Maa Kashcid-Duhkha-Bhaag-Bhavet
    Om Shaantih Shaantih Shaantihi||

    Satyameva Jayathe!

    Kal Gandikota

    Note: I am not affiliated with any political party or any religion and and I have no interest in starting one! Before some mischievous people hack my comment, copy To:

    1. All Political Parties
    2. Naxalites and other Revolutionaries (in SAARC Nations and the world)
    3. Newspapers of SAARC Nations and the world.
    4. Translators of all languages of the universe.
    5. All sentient beings of the universe

    • chakrs

      Very well written. Hope it has an impact.

  • S.C.SHAH

    Dear Mr. Harish,

    Your observation is true and correct. However, the need of the hour is
    what is the solution of the problem? Let us concentrate on the answer rather than
    effect. As such, this problem needs effective investigation and solution, not
    just discussions.

    How many educational institutions are training skilled workers? As such
    we have opened factories to train peons and clerks in the country. Society has
    glorified the jobs of peons, clerks, and other administrative work. Particularly
    in government where nobody knows there work since instruction is in English and
    corruption beyond limit.

    We have undervalued the importance of skilled work and agriculture. Politics
    has spread false rumor saying trader is making abnormal profit.

    Youth is not getting work as all wants government service for the
    reasons known to all.

    Is this not the part of duty of editor to get investigated the problem
    and guide society?

  • Patel

    Hardik your observation is correct. If you ask any patel community member, how local government allowed police autocracy, police entering their home and beating them and local gov never come to help them. What result local gov is expecting, people are enjoying it and going to reelect to get more of it.

  • Sithanthi Alfred

    whatever goes up will automatically come down,the deification of super duper leader NaMo,the development maestro,the doctor who will cure UPA’s policy paralysis and deliver a robust economy etc etc is coming down fast and will soon hit rock bottom with his overall non performance,according to his mentors in the RSS.The Hardik Patel strike hit the PM below the belt,the Trade Union strike against Modi’s ‘labour reforms’ was a hard knock from which no PM will recover soon.The Gujarat Model has been stripped naked by this young man Hardik .The people of this country can still hear BJP’s sloganeering against a proven economist PM Dr Manmohan Singh,the man behind India’s ‘economic liberalization’ and his brilliant team members who did their best to control inflation and price rise,still left behind a fairly good GDP and ECONOMY was never in the ICU then but it is now,under Modi, the economy is on the ventilator.The Patels run hundreds of schools,colleges,medical and engineering colleges as well,it isn’t about raining meritocracy among Patels and lack of seats,its more about Modi’s lack of vision in his Gujarat Model that has brought these men into the streets.