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Issue No.: 561 | March 2014

Narendra Modi - A Man for All Seasons

Firoze Hirjikaka
His aim is to spin a dream of India that only he can fulfil. His forte is that he almost makes it sound believable. By the time reality sinks in, it will be too late to do anything about it.

I can hear the groans already. There he goes Modi-bashing again, they snigger. I must be stubbornly misguided. Political pundits and savants are constantly telling me NaMo the Magnificent is the one point solution for the ills that inflict our benighted nation. Modi's ascension to the throne is inevitable and unstoppable. He is the new messiah who will get rid of corruption, have us all cruising along on carpet-top roads, luxuriating in uninterrupted electric power; and put the faltering Indian economic engine firmly back on track. Anyone who questions his unalienable right to be Prime Minister is not only uninformed, but also unpatriotic.

One may not be enamoured of Narendra bhai but one cannot help but gasp in admiration at his speechifying. He has perfected the art to a sublime level. He starts off calmly and sedately and with perfect cadence. His mellifluous opening "Bhaiyon aur Behenon" instantly warms the cockles of a rapt audience. They tingle in anticipation of what is to follow. The one-liners and clever barbs expertly targeted at the Congress hierarchy have them rolling in the aisles. Like this gem about the Finance Minister "Chidambaram has come from Harvard, but I have come from HardWork.” They particularly admire his cleverness in using intemperate remarks uttered by his political rivals and turning the tables on them. Modi's exploitation of Mani Shankar Iyer's sarcastic "chai-wallah" barb against him was a masterstroke. Making virtue out of a reality, he appealed to the wounded pride of tens of thousands of India's tea vendors and co-opted them as his loyal followers and standing army. He made out Sonia Gandhi's "khoon ki kheti" remark as a vindictive, desperate cry of an adversary who has exhausted her store of effective weapons. Almost on cue, he can lead his audience to delirious shouts of hai hai. Towards the end of his speech, his voice rises to a crescendo, like a Beethoven symphony racing to a thundering climax. Whichever way you look at it, it is a bravura performance.

Modi is a politician for all seasons. He instinctively gauges what a particular audience wants to hear and adroitly tailors his address to suit the prevailing temperament. He caters to the human instinct of preferring to kick a man when he is down, rather than listen to a litany of his virtues. He realizes that taking clever pot shots at his political opponents will usually evoke greater enthusiasm than talking about the achievements of his Party. Take his recent speech in Kolkotta where he shamelessly pandered to Bengali pride. Why, he even managed to rope in President Pranab Mukherjee, who happens to be a Bengali, by shedding crocodile tears for the latter over the injustice done to him by the Congress Party in denying him his rightful post of India’s Prime Minister. The intention was obvious. Anticipating an inconclusive verdict in the forthcoming Lok Sabha election, he was trying to curry favour with the man who might be called upon to give a final verdict. I suspect, however, that Mukherjee is too shrewd a politician to be swayed by such transparent tactics.

At a business enclave of Muslims "Ummat Business" held in Ahmedabad in February, Modi donned the avatar of an avuncular guidance counsellor and extolled the latent talents of Muslim youth. He gave assurances that his government would do everything to promote and encourage their skills. His audience was either too bedazzled or too polite to ask the anointed one why he had not done anything for Muslims in the past 12 years, in a state where he had ultimate authority and as one who virtually governed by decree.

Modi's next stop was in Assam where he declared how his heart bleeds for the neglect and injustice meted out to the people of the Northeast by the Congress. He conveniently forgot to mention that the Northeast has not been on the BJP’s radar for decades, but Modi does not bother about inconvenient facts. The icing on the cake was when he managed to establish a tenuous connection between the famed Assam tea and his chai-wallah origins. This man is a class by himself. His aim is to spin a dream of India that only he can fulfil. His forte is that he almost makes it sound believable. By the time reality sinks in, it will be too late to do anything about it.

And so the Modi juggernaut rolls on. This is quite an achievement considering that there are senior members within the BJP itself who are not comfortable with Modi’s autocratic style of functioning. Modi has positioned himself so brilliantly that anyone from his Party who would dare to voice dissent would be immediately denigrated and deemed unpatriotic. As things stand now, Narendrabhai is unstoppable. The Congress has become irrelevant. The ego of regional party leaders will ensure that they cannot form a viable united front. Since the BJP will in all probability form the largest block in the forthcoming elections, but still fall short of a majority, the regional leaders must be salivating at the prospect of horse trading for ministerial berths in the new dispensation. They have watched in envy and frustration at how Congress leaders have been raking in the moolah while in power. They are hungry for their share of the pie. If it involves playing second fiddle to Modi, it is an acceptable compromise. Modi Zindabad.

FIROZE HIRJIKAKA is a retired civil engineer, a blogger
and a freelance writer and a member of the Advisory Board
of Freedom First. leonardo8_99@yahoo






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Times of India
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