Narendra Modi is back. That is hardly news; he has won twice before. He keeps getting roughly the same number of seats; it is getting a bit boring. It would seem that those who voted for him did so without listening to him. For example, he wrote to the prime minister to desist from his plan to give away the Sir Creek to Pakistan on December 15. Anyone who saw his message must have harboured some doubts about his cogitative capability. And yet the Gujaratis gave him a thumping majority. They keep electing him somewhat mindlessly. He did not even mention industry in his election speeches; still industrialists keep flocking to Gujarat.
And yet his reelection makes news — while the achievement of the chief minister of West Bengal, who threw out the communists who had been ruling for a quarter century, is forgotten. One would have thought that people would come flocking to this dragon-slayer and lay out entire factories before her. Instead, she has to trudge to Delhi and Mumbai, display her finance minister for his pro-industry credentials, court moneybags and request them with uncharacteristic politeness to come to West Bengal. Is the world being unfair to her? Is politics an irrational game? Or has she not got it quite right?
She may have got it right at last, but her party has not. Just recently, ABG Haldia’s officials were abducted. Her response was that the abduction was fictitious and had been staged to malign her government. Assuming for a moment that it was so, it was hardly something she should have put her credibility at stake for. If her information was correct, the police could have arrested the abductors and shown them to be ABG Haldia’s men. While she was away trying to attract investors, there were similar reports of men from her party stopping work on projects which did not employ their protégés in sufficient numbers. Of course everyone knows by now that the reports were concocted — that the men working on the projects wanted a holiday and thought up a reason. But it is odd that of all the industrialists and contractors working in Gujarat, no one complains of abduction and intimidation. It is, of course, possible that they are being threatened day in and day out, but that they are too afraid of Mr Modi and his men to make a noise about it. If that is so, one would want to know why they are flocking to Gujarat, and not running away instead to Maharashtra or Tamil Nadu. Or to Bengal. It is common knowledge that politics is expensive, and that parties everywhere collect money. But some parties have apparently worked out ways of collecting money that do not turn employers away. Next time the chief minister makes a trip out of the state, she should investigate how they do it elsewhere.