What is the Gujarat model?
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Let me begin with a confession. Despite this election in Gujarat being a rehearsal for the 2014 general election, I did not personally cover the campaign. Overwhelming commitments related to promoting my new book made travel impossible, so I was forced to rely on dispatches sent by comrades in other newspapers. I noticed that most of them remain as unforgiving of Narendra Modi as they are forgiving of Rajiv Gandhi for the same crime. Before sitting down to write this piece, I also trawled the Internet to see what the main players had to say in their campaign speeches. The Internet makes it quite easy to cover election campaigns from a distance.
After spending two whole days doing my research I discovered that the two men who we hear will be our main contenders for prime minister in 2014 said very different things. Modi talked of development and progress and the future of Gujarat and his achievements in this regard. Rahul Gandhi dwelled on the past. He said his hero was Mahatma Gandhi and explained why through a family bedtime story. He based his admiration of the Mahatma on a story he had heard from his childhood.
His great-grandfather was in jail during the freedom movement when Gandhiji spent a night in the Nehru family home in Allahabad. But, instead of sleeping in the comfortable bed made up for him in an Anand Bhawan guest room he chose to sleep on the cold floor because he knew that Jawaharlal Nehru would be sleeping on a cold floor in his cell. If there was a purpose to this tale, I missed it. Did Gandhiji sleep on the floor every time one of his comrades spent a night in a jail cell? Or did he sleep on the floor because he liked to?