The writer T.R.Jawahar is Group Editor of Chennai based News Today, Maalai Sudar and Talk Media publications.
Modi the politician and Modi the Prime Minister are just minor manifestations of Modi, the mighty man. In these days of celluloid super heroes, India has found an invincible one in flesh and blood. Beyond politics and polls, India’s story is the story of Modi, a story that is unfolding as an unbelievable history.
In the 1970s the famous tagline ‘Indira is India’ reigned. Her father Jawaharlal usurped the fresh born nation as Nehru’s India. Nehru was charismatic, was loved and exuded soft power, often, a self defeating softness sans power. He knew the art of attracting people with gimmicks that ensured undentable posthumous glory too.
Indira’s charisma came from her image as an iron lady. She was feared more than she was loved. Unlike her father, she was visibly a tough nut to crack and succeeded in making a virtue of it. She was bold and no pushover, a fact acknowledged by global leaders who dealt with her as also local opponents. After the 1971 war when Bangladesh became independent, none less than Vajpayee, a die-hard critic of the dynastic Congress, hailed her for ‘not only creating history but also geography’.
Vajpayee was the first non-Congress leader and PM who gained the attention and admiration of the masses. He was unfairly equated to Nehru as a pacifist. Seemingly so, but to deem that as a weakness would be poetic injustice to this poet, because he headed a disparate and desperate coalition and accommodation and adjustment were the order of his time. Though he did not have the latitude to display hard power, while Nehru buckled to the Chinese in 1962, Vajpayee touched a heroic height in Kargil. Also, while ‘chacha’ Nehru’s endearing, litterateur image was a well cultivated and contrived ploy, Vajpayee was a natural man of words.
Modi is all that and much much more. He has charisma that is fostered by both earthy love and respectful fear. He combines soft power in foreign diplomacy and brute horse power in bulldozing terror. Literature and poetry may not be his forte, but his Man Ki Baat heart-to-heart communication with his people has become the greatest ever example of the connect that a leader could engineer in modern times. Indeed, the rise of Narendra Modi from a humble party worker, through various layers of the hierarchy, his ascension as CM of Gujarat and successive victories there, and finally, as BJP PM candidate and PM, for the second time now, with record mandates, is the stuff of an indic epic.
No leader or Prime Minister in Indian history has enjoyed the trust of the people as Modi has. PMs of the last century had an advantage: There was State controlled media. The private ones were not too far-reaching or varied. Politicos in power were largely insulated from incisive and intrusive analysis. Today, the faith the people have in Modi is not because of the all pervasive media, but in spite of it. More than his performance as Gujarat CM, it is his non-corrupt track record too, that has propelled people’s undiminished belief in him.
Even M Singh was supposed to be clean, but in my view, he was a ‘honest and honourable’ humbug who turned a blind eye to the corruption of his partymen and allies. Modi’s stint in Gujarat as well as in Delhi in the last five years carried nary any taint of sleaze, despite the motivated mudslinging by muddle headed muffs that all came unstuck. A decade rule by United Plunderers Association (UPA) between 2004-14 had bankrupted the nation morally and monetarily. Incorruptible Modi arrested the slide with a firm hand and the people have thumpingly said ‘aye, aye’ in polls and Parli.
Trust comes with responsibility. Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown. And Modi’s round-the-clock and calendar work and vigil has become legendary. He is tough on himself first before pushing his colleagues and officials to not just execute but also excel. He has taken some of the most difficult and very unpopular economic decisions that have no doubt hit the common people hard. But strangely and surprisingly, they have swallowed the bitter pills prescribed by him with the confidence that one reposes in a doctor. Only Modi can pull off such hard choices.This brownman’s burden is indeed enormous.
Modi’s persona is also a reflection of India’s resurgence as a global power, politically and more importantly, civilisationally. None can deny the Hindu consolidation that is happening in this long enslaved and mentally colonised nation. The attack on its culture and traditions all through history, but more painfully in independent and so-called secular India, has not only been halted but also exposed. The pent up frustrations and fury of a suppressed and oppressed land of yore, has found voice and vision through this one man, despite his own diplomatic efforts to underplay it. That said, he misses no opportunity to unhesitatingly display his Hindu credentials despite the overwhelming mist of the secular smokescreen. He is the long awaited strongman, a karmaveer in the mould of Bhagavad Gita. Modi breathes Bharath; if that is jingoistic nationalism, so be it.
Modi has completely destroyed the caste arithmetic that dominated and divided the Indian polity and has unleashed a sort of social renaissance. He has singularly called the bluff of Gatbandhans. But for a few oddities elsewhere and in his own party, the nasty dynasty politics is almost on the way out. The stupendous success of this simpleton is a stinging slap on the face of the entrenched, elitist and pseudo-intellectual India. Really, Modi has rewritten the rules of our politics and society, for ever and for the best.
On a lighter vein, it is difficult to find a showman like Modi. He knows the pulse of the people and is an adept at playing to the gallery with absolute self assurance, at home and abroad. He has mastered the art of converting even criticisms into positive publicity. His regal demeanour, designer dresses, well-timed addresses, gesticulations and gestures and his booming baritone are all tell-tale marks of a master of this game. This brave man can morph into a caveman in a jiffy and still hog the limelight. But even all these are for a greater purpose as he spontaneously and sincerely surrenders his individualism to national interest.
But there is something that draws me to Modi most. He has been at the receiving end of much hatred and vilification. The current poll was fought by the Opposition on the single agenda of bringing down Modi the person, not even BJP the party. I can write at length on the efforts made by many vile vested interests – religious groups, activists, media and of course, opponents – in spewing and spreading venom on him on every possible occasion and through every known medium.
Yet, Modi took it all in his stride and remained undaunted, eventually to not only survive them gamely but also succeed grandly. His poise came from his conviction of what is good for the country, his commitment for the causes he believed in and the compassion he had for his people as an underdog himself. His composure never betrayed the pain that such slander caused. He just went about his job in the direction he had decided and with the dedication embedded in his DNA. Whatever the distractions, like Arjuna, his focus never wavered from the target.
Therein lies the message from Modi, a modern Messiah, for everyone’s life, private and public.
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