While its not clear whether or not Modis central position in Election 2014 will polarise the nation along communal lines, the impact on election rhetoric may be a bit clearer. Though the BJP has been painted as anti-reform and obscurantist, Modis USP is very clearly development; indeed, going by popular imagery, he has come out with a Gujarat model of development. This includes being proactive about delivering irrigation to large parts of the state, being modern enough to understand that GM crops like cotton are the key to future growthGujarat is the only state in India to deliver a 10% per annum agriculture growth for close to a decade. Successfully wooing Ratan Tata and Suzuki with generous offers of land helped Modi establish his pro-industry credentials, and executing a major urban transformation in Ahmedabad while relocating people without the kind of furore seen elsewhere in India showcased his project execution skills.
Modis ability to deliver all this, were he to become Prime Minister, will obviously be constrained for a variety of reasons, particularly if he is part of a fractious coalition, since operating as all-powerful chieftain in a state is relatively easier. But who cares about such niceties in an election. If the BJP is to project itself as a pro-development party with established credentials, chances are the UPA will have to up its pro-growth act in the next 12-14 months in the run-up to the general elections.