Despite the much-talked about Sadbhavana mission and endless praises from within an outside the country for his inclusive governance, Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi’s chances of climbing the most powerful post of the country still remains grim. Latest in the series of setbacks, the Gujarat High Court has handed the Ishrat Jahan encounter case to the CBI last week, causing a major embarrassment to the Modi government. The decision came just a few days after the Special Investigative Team concluded that the encounter that killed Ishrat Jahan and three others was a fake one orchestrated by the top cops.
The three day 'Sadbhavana Upavaas’ was a desperate gesture of goodwill from Modi who tried to bring some Muslim faces on stage along with leaders of Vishwa Hindu Parishad. However, his choice to reject a skull cap offered by a Muslim cleric at the event was celebrated in the Indian media which said his new-found love for Muslims is just a sham. While his detractors used it as just another chance to prove his anti-Muslim character, Modi really had to pay for that public gesture which took him back to square one in the political sense. While Modi’s argument of “Why can't I refuse a skull cap and still be secular?” sounds logical in all rational argumentations, it’s no surprise in a society that always moved on symbolism rather than logic where gestures mattered more than any healthy political debates.
The truth remains to be widely accepted that Gujarat is one of the most efficiently governed states in the country and Narendra Modi was successful in keeping his government out of any major corruption scandals and attracting large investments from India and abroad. The United States on its Congressional Research Service (CRS) on India said that Modi's Gujarat is the best example of effective governance and showered praises on the chief minister for his governance and administrative skills. Reliance Industries Limited Chairman and Managing Director Mukesh Ambani said that Modi has put Gujarat on world map.
When all is said and done, his endless efforts fail to erase the traces of blood with which his image is drawn in the minds of millions, not just in the state alone. His hardline Hindutva image has been under severe criticism and many, including his party’s close ally Nitish Kumar, decline to buy the thought that he is a changed man and this very image shrinks his political vicinity and weaken his political traction.
His presumably-desired prime ministerial ambition is still far beyond any chances of realization as his political critics would never see a changed man in him and the more he tries to erase the memories of the 2002 riots from the general public, the more his alleged involvement gets complicated. There are many cases pending in courts in connection to the historical Gujarat riot and these will definitely go on for year, and may be for decades. His political fortunes will be seriously affected by these and each controversy surrounding the riots will make ensure that Modi remains under this perpetual shadow and makes him virtually unelectable as prime minister.