By Aditya Narang:
Yes, the title has been copied from the advertisement of a famous detergent and I can be very rightly accused of plagiarism. But this statement has never been so true, as in the case of Mr. Narendra Modi, the politician with a 56 inches chest. From a childish tagline, it has evolved into a gospel truth, an axiom as far as Modi is concerned. The unabated shower of praises from our beloved media channels and their far more adorable and respectable journos has not only assisted Modi in catapulting his image from a regional satrap to a leader who’s now seen as a potent contender for the nation’s top job, but also made him a sort of wounded hero among the masses who is fighting a lone battle against his detractors.
In India’s political discourse, Modi has been perceived as a politician who has based his politics on the hatred nurtured against a particular community. One of the Supreme Court’s judges has also dubbed him “Modern day Hero who looks the other way when Christians are being slaughtered.” In short he’s seen as a communal politico who ignites the flame of hate among people and earns political currency out of that. But does this argument hold water?
If the occurrence of riots during the regime of any politician is the yardstick for measuring secularism in millilitres, then the Congress is certainly the most communal party our nation’s ever had. Most of the riots and communal clashes have taken place during Congress’ rule. Moreover during the anti Sikh pogrom of 1984, the erstwhile Prime Minister, Rajeev Gandhi had tacitly justified the genocide of Sikhs after his mother was assassinated by her Sikh bodyguard by stating that, “After a large tree falls, the earth is bound to shake.” But to everybody’s astonishment, nobody christens Congress or the Gandhis “communal”. Then why single out Modi? And as far as comparisons are concerned, in post Godhra riots of 2002 the people belonging to both the communities died unlike the anti Sikh riots in which there was a planned slaughter of Sikhs by Congress’ workers. One aspect to be noted is that no perpetrator of the 1984 pogrom has been brought to book whereas Babu Bajrangi and Mayaben Kodnani have faced the music. No doubt, both the acts were ghastly and have been condemned just by everyone. If we delve deeper into the past, the Congress has been as intolerant and “communal” as it accuses BJP to be. After Mahatma Gandhi was shot dead by Nathuram Godse, a Brahmin, hundreds of Brahmin households were set to fire by Congress’ foots soldiers. Mind you, the utterly inhuman and barbaric killings in Gujarat can never be justified nor am I trying to do so. What I want to explain is that no party, especially in India’s context can be termed as secular or communal.
Now the question in front of us is- What can be the reasons of Modi’s meteoric rise in the arena of politics? Let’s deal with some points as follows:-
• Any publicity is good publicity- The media has always taken a stern stand against Modi and in some way, intentionally or unintentionally, tried to shape up a certain image of Modi in public. And to add to that, the ever caustic remarks of Congress’ politicians such as Mass Murderer, Butcher, Anti Muslim, ‘hatyara’ etc. This created a sense of curiosity among the public and made them more info-hungry about Modi. They tried to dig up all the articles, videos, opinions etc about him and apart from the usual hate material, they also came across the developmental work carried out in Gujarat under Modi’s regime. Because development itself is inclusive, a road or bridge is open for everyone irrespective of his caste, creed, sex or religion.
•Oratorical skills- Modi belongs to a clique of politicians who have a brilliant command over language and can sense the pulse of the crowd. He waves his hands, makes all kind of gestures and compels the audience to go gung-ho during his speeches. Just like an astute performer delivering his act. Sarcastic remarks are his specialty. Take this one for example- “मित्रों, सबके पीछे CBI पड़ती होगी, मेरे पीछे तो SRP पड़ गयी है. SRP मतलब सोनिया, राहुल और प्रियंका.” And the crowd responds in an expected manner- “देखो देखो कौन आया, हिंदुस्तान का शेर आया.” Public and the youth in particular admires the brash and candid nature of his rhetoric. YouTube has plenty of his videos in which he proudly proclaims- “मित्रों, गुजरात बनाने के लिए 56 इंच का सीना लगता है.”
•Techno-friendly- It can be easily concluded that Modi is a person who is at ease with technology, and not only that, he knows how to capitalize the gigantic presence of youth on social networking sites too. Be it his tweets after any incident of national concern or his Facebook fan pages loaded with amazing media content about him- latest updates about the developmental works in Gujarat, his witty and sarcastic statements about his detractors. His popularity is evident from the huge and dedicated adulation he commands in the cyber space. 1 million plus fans on Facebook are a testimony to this fact.
•Identity politics- From a long time, we have been seeing that there is a sense of discontent among the Hindu populace based upon the political manoeuvres of our craving for power politicians who never shy away from doling out benefits for a special community in order to gain their votes. This menace has two dimensions. Firstly, it circumscribes a community to a mere vote bank who can be, after extracting votes, left on their own fate which is pretty abject. And secondly the majority community feels victimized by this virtually incorrigible practice of nurturing vote banks on the cost of their rights. Reservation for the minority community is a clear manifestation of vote bank politics. For this very reason, a major chunk of Indian population adulates Modi like a Messiah, or in their own language- “हिंदु ह्रदय सम्राट”. Because on many occasions he’s manifested a no-nonsense approach towards populist vote oriented politics. He has, time and again, said that he has neither done anything for the minority nor for majority. The sole guiding force for NaMo (as he is called by his fans) is development of all but appeasement of none. He formulates every policy eyeing the betterment of 6 crore Gujaratis. For instance, Modi himself belongs to a backward Gujarati community called Ghanchi (the oil sellers), but unlike Lalu or Nitish who love to flex their cast muscles, he has never played the backward card i.e. never appealed to voter in the name of caste.
In my wisdom these factors have surely worked in the favor of Narendra Modi. He has proved that developmental politics can be the agenda for polls in our country. But we should not forget that a sizable part of our nation’s population is still averse to Mr. Modi (all the credit goes to the smear campaign carried out by the loyal (read sycophantic) Congressmen as well as the loyal media houses who have deliberately kept the ghost of Godhra alive. For Congress’ ardent followers he may be the merchant of death but for a huge populace, he’s the merchant of dreams. A man who can deliver by his sheer decision making ability in the turbulent times when the nation is pestered by the remote control governance style of UPA-II and policy paralysis . On top of that is the unparalleled charisma that Narendra Modi has. So for the time being, chant NAMO NAMAH.