Gujarat has put development back in business, albeit in a mutated form. Development as a stand-alone electoral platform has failed in state after state. Modi’s blending it with aggressive Hindutva did the trick for the BJP.
Hardline Hindutva alone did the party no good; by 2004, coalition politics wiped out this agenda. The emphatic win in Gujarat may spell a different political model, one that is not a one-shot deviation of some tired, centrist, political formulation. It presages interesting political times in India.
At the same time, the cost of such developments must be considered by all reasonable citizens. Communal polarization and growth will not go hand-in-hand in the long run. If the cost is one factor, the utter incapacity of “secular forces” is another. It’s time the Congress and the Left executed some strategic improvisations, and did a rethink on their token secularism. Episodes such as Nandigram show how hollow their arguments on this count are.