Modi’s double personality: Image making vs. sincerity
-Dr. Abdul Ruff
For years before the 2014 parliamentary poll, the right wing BJP and the media lords supporting the BJP plus Hindutva ideology have systematically carved out a super personality called Modi to assume power as Indian premier. As the elections approached the growing Modi phenomenon become very strong as a loud messenger for development, making India a super power to outsmart the USA and other world powers. People believed all gymnastics the media and Modi supporters showcased in public and voted the BJP to power, not knowing the real hidden agenda of Hindutva forces that have maintained links with Congress governments.
Reports are yet to come out in the media about the process of corruption in the Modi government. Nothing moves in India without out corrupt practices as the rulers consider corruption as a necessary ingredient for development. That explains why government does not punish big political leaders engaged in corruption and only occasionally punish small clerks for taking a few Rupees as bribe.
Except that he originally belonged to a poor family, Narendra Modi as prime minister of India does not differ from his predecessors – at least most of them – as he suffers from a split personality – one side showing he is sincere and another – he is also a dramatist. Although his aggressive rhetoric and total silence on the RSS program of “Ghar wapsi” and other sedition drama taking place in the country ever since he assumed power in New Delhi, Modi never cared to assure the people of the country that he would not let the purely Hindutva agenda over power democratic and secular traditions of India under his leadership. He like any other shrewd Hindutva politician of the majority community (Hindu) took care not to offend the Hindutva forces with any kind of warning or mild warning not to express their ultra fanaticism so openly.
Unlike his Hindutva predecessor in PM’s chair Atal Bihari Vajpayee, PM Modi has never tried to be a (secular) statesman in order to take entire nation not just the RSS and BJP – behind him. He seems to aim at an image by applying a combination of the political, intellectual skills in speaking and touring the world.
Modi has been very effectively using his marketing skills so that the perception general people of him and Hindutva BJP eventually changes to benefit him and the party so that Hindutva vote bank increase nationally. Being a RRS leader, PM Modi simply cannot criticize other RSS members, after all, he overs to them for his phenomenal rise to power from being a tea sale boy at a Gujarat railway station. Also, if he is eager to rerun as PM again in future, he requires their help and he know it too well.
Modi’s gigantic electoral victory was built on his ability to combine all possible skills plus the RSS ground work.However, the corrupt Congress led UPA government of Sonia-Manmohan Singh in which every minister was free to loot the nation resources seems to have assured Modi the benefits of being a Congress man by mold.
Modi has been a work-in-progress for almost a decade before the 2014 election. Since he became the Gujarat chief minister, several key events and his own performance conspired to turn Modi into a mix of many features: Massacre of Muslims in his home state Gujarat when he was the CM made him a hero among the lawless Hindus in Gujarat and elsewhere in India. He soon became the embodiment of Hindutva, Development, Clean, Patriotic and Terminator of the Congress and its corrupt, dynastic, incompetent culture.
Anti-corruption movement launched by Hazare-Kejriwal in Delhi offered the right kind of opportunity for Modi to take the centre stage of Indian politics. The absence of real competition with Congress and other parties falling aside and thus alternatives politics or leadership proved fortuitous.
Within the BJP, former Deputy PM LK Advani was old, sidelined and politically washed-up and his ally Sushma Swaraj didn’t have a mass base or a history of administrative distinction. Outside, Manmohan Singh was weak, meek and discredited, Sonia Gandhi was unacceptable because of her Italian origin, and Rahul Gandhi was unacceptable because of his dynastic past, made even more disagreeable because of pathetic track record; regional leaders were political minnows. Rahul Gandhi is like a fighter trying to make his way back into the ring after being knocked out in the first round in the previous bout.
The political space and popular mind space was ripe for invasion. Modi became Mr. Right if not Mr. Clean (in every sense of the word), who swept the nation off its feet and captured the throne and the title of Indian emperor with dynastic suits. PM Modi’s greatest achievement is his image of Mr. Right initially but it is slowly waning as he is not sincere enough. In his first year in power, there has been no scandal. It seems PM Modi and his team has shown no signs of continuing the UPA culture of a scam-a-month. Then there came a bundle of scandals involving ministers and a BJP CM. PMO is heavily guarded fort and not many can enter there and so no one for sure knows what is happening in PM’s office.
Even while following the UPA template of governance, implementing some of his predecessor’s decisions, Modi seems to have ensured that his government remains free of taint with a simple yet effective ploy: complete centralization of power and making his ministers powerless.
PM Modi’s refusal to decentralize administrative powers seems to have saved his skin so far. In a government, money can be made only if decision-making is decentralized and people down the administrative ladder have the power to grant favors and accept bribes. In the Modi government since the PM is the fount of all important decisions, none of his ministerial colleagues is in a position to grant favors and seek money in return.
Thus far, PM Modi could not implement his favorite Hindutva ideology as the RSS wants him to do. Before the election, many had feared that Modi would follow a sectarian agenda; his government would actively divide the society to ensure that the BJP rules for many years. There were fears of more of Godhras and Gujarats on national scale. But Modi possibly has not given green signal for “patriotic” Hindus to engineer and execute them as their favorite hobby so that BJP could increase its mass vote base. However, Modi has been guilty of being silent on such criminal issues and letting off the loonies in his government and parliament and assemblies for raising the communal temperature.
Hindutva lives on thanks to expansive networking by the RSS, aided by the Congress governments. Modi retains the title of Hindutva maharaja, primarily because of his past and his position on the spectrum of mixed secular and Hindutva politics. As long as the Congress and regional parties like Janata Dal, Trinamool Congress and Samajwadi Party are perceived as anti-Hindutva, Modi will remain the choice of the right wingers by default.
Electoral key phrases like development, smart cities, bullet trains, double-digit GDP growth and more employment opportunities have remained just slogans. India economy is falling as production is very slow and stagnant. Though on the economic front, inflation is down, the government has met its fiscal deficit targets, and industrial production and GDP have not shown any real increase.
Modi has been barely able to save his reputation of ‘Mr Development’. There is little sign of the one who vowed to bring rival nations to their knees, stare down Pakistan, compete with China, solve the Kashmir conundrum. Diplomacy cannot be dictated. Modi’s foreign policy has been more about usual business deals and NRI events rather than ill-advised machismo that was meant to bully neighbours into submission. It is impossible. It is good that Modi has turned out to be a pragmatic statesman than a rabble-rouser. But this vanishing act may, in fact, cannot be counted as a victory for Modi or BJP.
In the troubled Kashmir Valley, the BJP is purring like a docile partner who is unusually quiet just to ensure its alliance with the PDP lasts as long as possible so that Hindutva could be put into practice in Muslim dominated Kashmir.
Modi had vowed to terminate the Congress, rid India of the ma-beta government. For a while, it appeared the Gujarati Terminator had achieved the dream of a Congress-free Bharat as Congress lost the parliamentary poll and subsequent assembly polls miserably. However, one can’t say Congress is dead in India. More over BJP has the potential to revive the Congress prestige by promoting corruption. In the Parliament, the Congress is putting up a spirited show, blocking Bills it wants to delay, helping Modi pass the laws it wants.
Modi is still the undisputed leader of India. Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal has not shown any interest to spread the AAP message outside Delhi while entire nation’s looks for Kejriwal or a leader like Kejriwal to guide them. He is more a state leader fighting petty battles than a man cut-out for a larger national role. While idea of Modi is no longer as compelling and powerful as it was in 2014, he would soon become just another leader playing to his base politics.
It is indeed unfortunate that Modi led down the people of India who trusted in his capability for shaping their future much better. Anna Hazare would not play the poll politics and Kejriwal is still undecided about his national role.
Efforts to make an unreal or false image of a leader would vanish in due course, only genuine concerns for the people and nation can make the image and personality of a leader grow from strength to strength. People benefit only from such selfless leaders.