Deconstructing Modi Part 2

72 Comments

[Part 1 here]

Human beings love stereotypes. They simplify the complexity of the world by reducing complex problems, like understanding a human being and what makes him what he is, into a series of comparatively easy generalizations from which so-called logical conclusions can then be chained together .(“He is Bengali. Hence he must support Sourav Ganguly”) All of us do it, present company included, though we do not often fess up to them, because some types of stereotyping, if they fall within the set of politically incorrect no-no-s (sexist being the flavor of the season), bring about firm raps on knuckles or eternal hell-fire and damnation, whichever is quicker.

There is a stereotype for the Modi-supporter. A rather definite one. Male.  Finds insults to their religion on a piece of toast and in that, reflects perfectly the intolerance of the Islamists. Cow-slaughter-opponent. Wants Muslims to “know their place in India” or “go to Pakistan” or “embrace their ancestral Hindu religious heritage and return to the fold.” Finds papal conspiracies under each stone. Misogynist. Angry. Vituperative. Fascist. Intolerant of contrary opinion. Book-banner. Professional troller.

Like most stereotypes, this one too has a bit of truth in it. Hard-Hindu-rightists, many of whom do satisfy a subset (sometimes an improper subset) of the properties described above, unequivocally support Modi. That I don’t think anyone would deny. However all supporters of Modi, as a matter of fact most supporters of Modi, are not dyed-in-saffron. If the hard Hindu right really formed the majority of India’s urban Indian population (as the left-liberals would like us to believe), we would be having civil war and the Togadias and the Singhals  would have been household names.

That these figures are politically insignificant while Modi isn’t, should say something.

Namely that Modi has made inroads into a rather significant section of urban adults, who are center and moderately off-center in terms of their position in the political spectrum.

So what is it then, if not hardcore Hindutva, that drives Modi’s appeal for a mainstream urban demographic?

The simple answer is that, in terms of rhetoric (whether that will translate into achievement as a prime-minister of India is another matter), he has distinguished himself from all that have come before him.

Ever since independence, the model of doing politics in India has remained more or less the same.  I will call it the “Congress model” in honor of its creator, but, to be fair, it has been adopted by almost all parties in India.  Cause it works.

In this model, you first carve out a minority (religion, caste, geographical region, language, dialect, economic), create a narrative of deprivation and of fear (in India, everyone feels deprived and scared, and for good reason too, so this is rather easy to pull off), convince them that “we” (the party) shall protect this minority from “them”, and then give the target minority “stuff” (blankets, TV sets, subsidized rice, “guaranteed” employment, their own separate state, construction of a temple, reservations in jobs). Given the arithmetic of our political infrastructure and the splitting of votes due to the multi-party system, once you mobilize “blocks” of voters and get them invested in your success through a mixture of hurt, fear and good old giveaways, you can pretty much game yourself to victory.

The urban middle-class has watched this happen for decades with a sense of helplessness.  They know that the Indian political class does not care for their interests, because they do not have to, for they can continuously chip away and create more and more minorities, the gift that keeps on giving on election day.

My favorite example of this kind of politics is Nitish Kumar. If there is a Social Justice League, then Nitish Kumar is the Iron Man. Of late, the man, has emerged as a darling of the no-Modi-no-Rahul gang, because of his record in Bihar as a champion of “human development”. Now one can say that after Laloo Yadav, anyone would be an improvement (kind of like how any bowler who bowls an over after Agarkar appears better than he actually is), and Nitish has definitely been the beneficiary of low expectations. However the story here is not about him, per se, but about this amazing “Maha Dalit” category he created, a kind of premium club-membership from among the Dalits, who are to get land as well as radio-sets [Link]. The membership to this elite circle has been dictated solely by political expediency and nothing brings this out more than the fact that while every Dalit section has, in fits and starts, been re-classified as Maha Dalit (in the way Google makes you feel special by sending you an invite to a service before they roll it out to everybody),[Link], one of the last to be given Maha Dalit status (they were given the status after much drama) were the Paswans, because ahem, Nitish Kumar’s bete noire is Ram Vilas Paswan. Yeah. Paswan. Very subtle.

Yes ladies and gentlemen, this is what passes for “human development” policy in India. Either cynical schemes of land-and-radio-handouts or massive tax-payer-funded-socialist-wetdreams-named-after-Gandh-Nehru-family-members Yojanas, centralized bureaucratic behemoths that very naturally become cesspools of corruption and money-siphoning.

The urban middle class, salaried and tax-deducted-at-source, crushed by inflation and a weak economy, see these schemes for what they are— attempts to take their tax-money (the real rich are once again “protected” by the political classes since they fund them) and redistribute it, for the purpose of buying votes. And the fact that we are still fighting “garibi” using the exact same rhetoric used by Indira Gandhi and more or less her methods tells its own story as to how effective these social justice and poverty alleviation schemes have been. Now Dreze and Sen may show their figures and statistics in hard-cover tomes, EPW may bleed footnotes and the JNU-types may get their jholas in a twist, but politics, dear friends, is played out on perception. And the perception is that besides proving food, fodder and job security for politicians, reservations and selective hand-outs have not worked and common wisdom on the streets and in the living rooms of urban India is that “social justice” cannot be accomplished by taking someone else’s jobs and someone else’s income and giving it to someone else.

Modi has messaged it differently. In that he has quite good. What he has brought to the proverbial table is not entirely original but in the Indian context it is. Namely that the US-Republican ideal of “less governing, more governance”, of government as a facilitator of development and not its driver. of government creating an environment for you to stand up instead of proving you a crutch, bought on someone else’s tab.

The urban middle class likes this. It is novel, it stands to logic.

Gujarat is his model-home, encased in a big glass display with fancy lighting, and he is not shy of showcasing it at every opportunity.

Which is why a substantial part of the Congress strategy has been to puncture that ideal. Not entirely accidentally, there has been doubts raised in the mainstream media about the Gujarat model—that it lags on “human development” indices, that other states have done better than Gujarat and that given the traditional business acumen of Gujaratis, their development does not depend on Modi at all.

Well, Modi’s fan-following has not really fallen for that argument. Politics, and I have said this once before in this post and possibly say many more times before this series is finished, is a matter of perception. And the perception is that Gujarat has done exceptionally well under Modi and in this narrative, Modi’s brand ambassador has been Gujaratis. Their first-hand-accounts of the prosperity of their state and most importantly, their repeated voting for Modi in election after election, bucking anti-incumbency, have rather conclusively settled the question of their satisfaction with what Modi has achieved. And as to the whole “Gujaratis are business-minded-and-would-have-done-well-regardless” silly generalization, one can say that Bengalis are known to be studious people (since we are on stereotypes based on regions) but that  has done nothing for the moribund education system is in the state, which was decimated thanks to decades of CPM government.  (Like Modi, CPM also bucked anti-incumbency but even at its height, urban Bengal [namely Calcutta] was never satisfied with Basu’s rule, in the way urban Gujaratis are with Modi’s. How did Basu keep his control? Well, I have written on this in great detail in the past. Hence will not retread).

So, yes, leadership matters. Maybe not as much as leaders would like us to believe, but it does.

The second part of Modi’s strategy has been to be take a stance against the classical Congress model of politics. He has articulated an alternative way of doing things, one that is focussed, almost obsessively, on development and wealth creation, in a way that has resonated with his target audience, and actively against creating “sarkar hai mai baap” expectations of entitlement. As part of his messaging masterclass, Modi has been canny enough to distinguish himself from the classical narrative of the BJP.  BJP’s “minority” card has always been the “mandir”, (crystallizing Hindus around a historic “hurt” and then promising to solve it by building a mandir) and while realpolitik will prevent Modi from totally abandoning that issue (after all he has an election to win and core-bases to retain under his banner), it is very evident that his heart, once he has become the PM candidate, is not in it. That “sauchalaya before devalaya” comment (and yes poor Jairam Ramesh has every right to feel hard-done-by for the lifting of the concept), which by the way did not sit well with the hardcore right,  is about as firm a statement of his priorities as one can get. A significant section of the urban Indian population, who are not the Hindu-hard-right, can and will appreciate that a politician, belonging to the party of the mandir, feels that Indians defecating in the open today is a greater shame than what a Muslim conqueror did to us in the middle-ages. As also his decision to not come out in support of someone like Asaram, [Link] which many of his colleagues did, again a decided snub to the base.

Modi has maneuvered to the center and that is exactly what’s working for him.

In this context, his battle with Advani has also helped, distancing as it has him from the brand image of the BJP. And no one was a bigger mascot of the brand than Lal Krishna Advani. But what exactly did he stand for? Except bringing down the Masjid, and a bizarre Bieberish admiration for Jinnah, who orchestrated the greatest killing of his core constituents the country has ever seen, nothing much. When Advani, whose new-found credentials in the mainstream media as a proponent of moderation I find particularly ironic,  hints that his problem with Modi is that he is too much Modi and too less BJP (BJP, in the sense Advani understands it), he might unintentionally be giving Modi his biggest endorsement.

But wait, you say, are you trying to say that there is nothing radically “Hindu” about Modi? Are you saying he is secular in the way BJP has not been? How come you have not mentioned corruption and the public sentiment towards Congress and the UPA—don’t you think that’s played a part in Modi’s ascent? What about the media narrative? And how come you have written so many words without mentioning “Gujarat 2002”?

Please be patient dear madams and sirs. There are more parts still to come. That is if I can persist with the “enthu”.

[I have had the enthu. Here is the third part]

{Image courtesy India Today}

Advertisements

72 thoughts on “Deconstructing Modi Part 2

  1. Modi confuses me. On one hand, his rhetoric is clearly forward-looking. On the other hand, I wonder how much his hands are tied with RSS baggage. Snubbing LK Advani is one thing, but snubbing the mother-ship may not be that easy on national issues. Having said that, one also needs to ask, if not Modi, who else? That confuses me even more.

    • Somdeb,
      Your confusion is a result of an incessant media outcry about Modi being “Hindutva icon” and so on which is not true. The “other side of modi” explained here by greatbong is actually his true side. The fact is that as GB said, politics is about perception. Hence Modi has to fortify this image from time to time, by the kind of symbolism and rhetoric that he resorts to in his rallies and Social media.

      The reality is that Modi is an extremely practical and pragmatic person. Sample this. For all the “BJP is about Mandir” talk, he ordered razing of around 80 temples in Gandhinagar as a part of anti encroachment drive.
      http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2008-11-13/india/27906304_1_temples-gandhinagar-ashwin-patel
      This brought about a lot of wrath from VHP types. So much so that Praveen Togadia openly declared that he would have Modi defeated in 2012. But the practical Gujarati understands all this and did not buy into this and voted him back.

      And 2012 election also proved to everyone that RSS cannot dictate terms to Modi. He has now single handedly brushed these organizations aside when it comes to political interference. And people in Gujarat love him for doing the right thing, for which he has been given the mandate.

      The temple demolition is just one example of his true policy. There are plenty others.

      For once we should latch on to this opportunity to change the political discourse in our country – From competitive populism to competitive development.

    • Since somdeb hasn’t responded yet, allow me to take a shot at it…
      RSS is an unelected and unrepresentative organization that should fight an election if it wants to influence government policy. But we know that’s not going to happen. And we also know that Modi (or any of the old timers in the BJP who rose through their ranks) are too easily influenced by them and are too indebted to them for their political careers.
      That’s why for most people in this country who want to look forward from the era of the early twentieth century, who don’t see the future of India through the lens of the RSS, Modi’s relationship with the organization is a baggage.

      • shubs<
        For a avowed Marxists like you (and you know I know you for many years here), your eager comment on RSS and Modi's relationship with it, smacks of high hypocrisy. But then again, when has that been an issue for our comrade friends.

        For now, throw everything you have into stopping BJP from coming to power. The harder you try, the easier it is to show why BJP needs to win.

      • @Utsav, the only connection I have with Marx is the answer that I learnt for my 8th or 9th standard exam history exam on who the person was. But one expects these gems from you. Anything less would be disappointing…:-)

      • Yeah, that’s pretty much it. I would hate to see India’s domestic and foreign policies be colored by RSS’s overt religious agenda. That’s not to say Congress is bheja tulshi pata (i.e., innocent). As GB points out, they have mastered the art of fear-mongering along many dimensions, not just religion.

        Modi grew from within the core RSS organization. His oratory definitely embraces forward thinking. But he is not fighting the elections as an independent candidate. How much of his policies will be influenced by RSS is not obvious, and hence cause for concern for some.

      • @shubs,
        Thanks a bunch for your response. I do not understand your point though.
        Why influencing of government policy by an un-elected person/body is objectionable? Assume I am the government. Also, I respect/adore/listen to Amartya Sen who is unelected/non-representative(no assumption required here, I am really in awe of that person). Now, I, as a government, implement policies which are inspired by Amartya Sen. What is wrong? If my policies are not palatable to a certain class of people, they can surely vote me out. So Amartya Sen’s policy implementations are indeed accountable to public, though Amartya Sen himself might not be. Hence, even though Modi is influenced by RSS, what is objectionable in that? Influence of RSS on modi is irrelevant.
        So I am back to my original question. Can you spell out the specific policy of RSS that you find unpalatable?

      • @Somdeb,
        I was waiting for your response. Thanks.
        I just now (15th October, 9:00AM, Indian time) went to RSS website (rss dot org). I see they have 3 ‘headline’ agendas:
        1. Protest against displacement of Hindus in Jammu.
        2. Protest against weak handling of China.
        3. Addressing the concerns of persecuted Hindus in Bangladesh.
        (Disclaimer: I did not dig into all of the RSS website.)
        I did not find the ‘3-headlines’ overtly religious. Nor do I understand why being overtly religious is bad as long as you do not kill/threaten/subjugate others. I have also learnt not to judge somebody by what media/third-person says. Hence I tend to go to the “horse’s mouth” to find out point-of-views (in this case the rss dot org website itself).
        When you say overt religious agenda, can you be more specific? Do you consider bullet#1 and bullet#3 as overt religious agenda? Yes, they are concerns about Hindus but do you find it objectionable (if persecutions are true)?

        PS: Arnab, let us know if you find this discussion thread going off-topic. I shall desist from commenting further on this thread then.

      • Sambaran: The RSS describes itself as “Expressed in the simplest terms, the ideal of the Sangh is to carry the nation to the pinnacle of glory, through organising the entire society and ensuring protection of Hindu Dharma.”. I consider this overt religious agenda.

        IMHO, Hindu dharma belongs in homes and temples and in one’s personal life, but not in the government of a secular nation. Again, I am not saying Congress doesn’t play this game either. But, we are not going to improve our religious vulnerability by letting an openly religious body have any influence on our government.

        Modi without the RSS baggage is probably the theoretically optimal solution for India. It remains to be seen how well he can operate independently. We can certainly hope.

      • Sambaran, what I should have said was “RSS is an unelected and unrepresentative organization that should fight an election if it wants to **run** government policy and play kingmaker in a democracy of a billion people”.
        “Influencing policy” is too wishy-washy language for an organization which pretty much dictated who should be the PM candidate of the principal opposition party of the country.
        I’m sure most people wouldn’t take issue with some of their agenda (isn’t it true of ALL such organizations all over the world?). If they are so confident of the purity of their purpose, why don’t they contest? Doodh ka doodh…as they say.
        And as commented in an older post here on GB, I’m sure the Darul-Uloom-Deoband could potentially then play kingmaker in a hypothetical future government too. Would you then still say “Why influencing of government policy by an un-elected person/body is objectionable?” Why not just dump elections and have unknown senior citizens in the various quasi-religious organizations that dot our country just select our PM?

  2. thanks for such a cogent analysis of the indian political scene – NaMo’s approach is indeed a paradigm shift in that he is appealing to the literati for the first time. I am no fan of either Modi or BJP but surely since the present development model in India is just not working so maybe it is time to try out other options? I would never imagine condoning, leave alone encouraging BJP politics but Modi is eschewing policy for perception.

  3. “Now Dreze and Sen may show their figures and statistics in hard-cover tomes, EPW may bleed footnotes and the JNU-types may get their jholas in a twist”. Yep, no stereotyping at all going on here.

    • He never claimed that he’s immune from using stereotypes now, did he? Sample this from the first paragraph: “All of us do it, present company included,…”

  4. GB, isn’t it also stereotyping when you say that the urban middle class loves NaMo?
    Also I feel LKA was discarded not for being emblematic of the old BJP of temple days but because as you put it “he had moved way too much to the center”.

    • Do read my first post. Which many dismissed as being a lengthy disclaimer.:-) (not an entirely unfair characterization). I precisely (or as much as I could) laid out the terms and assumptions there. Modi is Indias biggest urban middle class political brand. And yes there are a lot of people who hate him too (and I said that before). But that’s par for the course for being a brand. Like Apple.

      • The genius of Narendra Modi is in

        1. Becoming “India’s biggest urban middle class political brand” DESPITE 11 years of non-stop bad-mouthing by CONGress, NGOs & main stream media with ALL the might & power available at their disposal.

        2. Delivering 10% average annual growth for 10+ years in ALL 3 sectors of the economy – Agriculture, Manufacturing & Services.

        No one in the history of India has done that.

        He has more of his speeches on line than any other Indian politician & probably any other politician in the world. There is not a single statement or policy of his that smacks of fanaticism or non-secular behavior.

      • Yes I did read the first one 🙂 but still considering this post starts by talking about stereotyping of the “Internet Hindu” I felt it was apt that stereotyping works both ways.

  5. I was expecting more of Rocky Mittal’s “thar thar kaanpe virodhi” deconstruction rather than one more stab of “outside modi” piece. though now I see that the title says it all, the part one promised to deconstruct the rock-star like adulation/exoectation modi evokes.

    neverheless interesting article.

  6. Finally a post on Modi which is more analysis and less rhetoric. This has made me eager for the upcoming parts.

    And you should seriously think about writing a book on Indian politics (about real events), considering your ability to analyze it, (saying this as I have read your posts on politics in Bengal).

    U raak saar. 🙂

    • yeah right calling Modi’s supporter as Trolls LMAO. The bias is clearly evident But well written to project an unbiased tone.

  7. Extremely interesting, too me the biggest advantage Modi has that he has been willing to learn and adapt to real politics in the country, and he has an amazing set of skill sets, a brilliant orator, an efficient administrator/organizer , connects with students, connects with audience in mass rallies, excellent marketeer, I was travelling in tier 2 towns in UP, you ask them what do you think about Modi, they always say”Accha Aadmi Hain, Kaam karta hain,” His reach beyond urban middle class is expanding, May be in further posts you can explore these themes: Is it that India is changing? Younger population? More demanding? asking for a new brand of leadership? ; Modi’s consistency in messaging? watch his old interviews from 04,01 the semantics may change but the core message is remarkably consistent…And Modi’s is very practical, he would be happy to cut a deal with Yeddy, get a gun trotting MP in his party as it helps him win a couple of seats.. Also could you explore how intellectuals have dealt with him? Modi is the quintessential anti intellectual /anti Nehruvian , who cares two hoots about what the ELM thinks about him? Also Modi is rooted in Indianness? Will talk about Maharana Pratap, Shivaji, Narayan Guru etc..Very good analysis ..Much much better than what we read in newspapers?

  8. The best articulation EVER, I have read about Modi. Spot on. I think of Modi’s politics as ‘Politics of Abundance’, whereas all others follow ‘Politics of shortage’.

    The problem of politics of shortage is that the shortage should continue to exist, otherwise the politicians will loose their vote bank. Hence backward castes should remain backward. Poor should remain poor. Mandir issue should remain an issue. Minorities should always feel discriminated etc.

    The advantage of ‘Politics of Abundance’ is that the moment you give something to people they start expecting more and you need to give them more development and the upward cycle continues. Owing to Modi successfully delivering on this cycle, today our image of Modi (and corresponding expectations) has reached syk high and clearly cut above the rest of the politicians.

  9. Great analysis — quite balanced, which is some achievement in these polarised times. Apologies for the extra long comment, but your article made me recall how I have seen Modi over the years.
    The first time I encountered Modi was when he was in Delhi, before the Hajuria-Khajuria crisis took him back to Gujarat. Back then, whenever he appeared on media talk shows, he was stridently Hindutvawadi, not very different from a Singhal or Togadia in his rhetoric. The oratorical skill was always there though and it was impressive though laced with the same old tired narrative of majoritarian victimhood.
    The next time I noticed him was after the 2002 riots (I was out of India when they happened and did not see Indian media coverage of them and there wasn’t much international coverage). But his speeches during the subsequent assembly elections were quite crude, and I was repelled by the naked bigotry in them.
    Until all this time, I do not that think he had been associated with ‘development’ or ‘progress’ at all. What was in the news at the time was the almost blatant attempts by the Gujarat state machinery to subvert the judicial process in the 2002 riots cases – the best bakery case for example, the buying and intimidation of witnesses, changing judges etc.
    I think the turning point was after Singur fiasco, when he managed to snag the Tata Nano factory in record time. I think that really captured the middle class’ imagination — everyone had been dismayed by how the Trinamool had sabotaged it. The nano was seen as a project which was the epoitome of rising India and homegrown innovation. Most of his subsequent actions have followed this script — large, expeditious grants of land to big business. That in my opinion is when he really overhauled his image.
    So in a way, I can see how people who came to know of Modi only at that time swear by him, but as someone who has seen both of his avatars, I am a bit circumspect. The question is, is he a mere political opportunist, or is he ideologically a hardcore Hindutvawadi. To what degree is he willing to compromise on core Sanghi ideology to get power and to retain it? I do not know.

    • You are talking about NaMo’s development credentials in 2007 (Nano pullout). Look at this 2004 interview http://www.ndtv.com/video/player/walk-the-talk/walk-the-talk-narendra-modi-aired-april-2004/290236 . He is talking about development. There are records of him talking about development as soon as he took over office. I can understand how you feel that the judicial process was subverted after 2002. I felt the same. Form an opinion after reading this http://www.manushi.in/articles.php?articleId=1685 .

    • “I can see how people who came to know of Modi only at that time swear by him, but as someone who has seen both of his avatars, I am a bit circumspect. ”

      This is an almost perfect timeline. And it matches perfectly with much of his online following who were almost too young when Modi was cutting his teeth in this business.

      • What I really find intimidating and scary about Modi is how he is creating his own propaganda machinery.

        For every doubt or question you may have, there are people ready to counter with online links and marketing collateral to assuage that particular apprehension you may have. All of them on related websites, belonging to a nebulous network of related organizations. It’s like being continually under assault from a flock of bible-salesmen.

        Is it futile to resist? Will we all be assimilated?

    • I think you are talking from a very personal perspective and the GB says “Gujaratis are his biggest ambassadors”. A Gujju’s (from Gandhinagar) perspective here:

      1. Bhuj earthquake – 2001 relief work was botched up and there was large scale mismanagement and corruption there. Keshubhai ousted. Modi comes in. Kutch grew faster than any other region in Gujarat since then.

      2. Early 2002. Aunties around my house complain that they now need to get tiffins ready earlier. CM has a nasty habit to come in to offices and departments unannounced. Uncles living around my house had to leave for office by 10.

      3. 2002 – Godhra happens. I still remember the photograph of that poor man with folded hands crying for mercy. It haunted me then and it haunts me now.

      4. 2004. Uncles at my sister’s wedding in Bbay discuss how Gujarat’s bureaucracy is changing.

      5. One of my uncles worked in one of India’s largest paints companies. He was a regular visitor to my house in Gnagar until then. He used to come with a bag full of money. The visits decreased and then stopped completely.

      6. 2005-07 – Dunno whether it was 05 or 07. But I do remember the rallies that the BKS – a wing of the RSS took against Modi asking for free power. Also remember a neighbouring aunty complain that they wont have free electricity in their houses in the village any longer.

      7. 2007 – Ahmedabad was changing – thats what the newpapers were saying. There were so many things in the pipeline. BRTS. metro, riverfront, Kankaria. Nothing on the ground though – except maybe better roads – thanks to Vajpayeeji.

      8. 2008 – Tata comes to Gujarat. The financial meltdown follows the world over.

      The great part about Modi is that he always thought for the long term. Examples:

      1. Central government says lets start manufacturing weapons in India and Modi starts Defence University in Gnagar.

      2. He realized that Gujarat missed the IT revolution because of a lack of higher education universities. When I passed out from HSC in 2000, there were 16000 engineering seats in Gujarat. Now there are around 50-60000.

      3. Billed electricity helped ensure that ground water is not wasted and ground water levels in most of Gujarat have risen considerably since then – as has agriculture production.

      I could go on and on and on. Bottom line is – In choosing the lesser evil Modi seems divine right now.

  10. I liked your blog , including the posts. Very much intimated by good English , both of blooger and posters, nevertheless trying to put in my view in poor English.
    1. The hatred for NaMo in MSM has nothing to do with Godhra 2002 , it was very much evident in MSM like Hindu and TOI [ the two newspapers I subscribe] much before February 2002. In fact , my sympathy towards NaMo dates back to that time as i sensed, from articles in those newspaper , that the reason of him being targeted is because he belongs to “others / them ” . [ The OTHERS are those groups / castes who are born to be ruled and US are ones having divine right to rule ]. The main undercurrent was , at that time, hatred because of his overhrow of rule of “patels”. To make it further clear , I am still sympathetic to polticians like Lalu, Mayawati, Mamata and Modi .
    2. During February 2002 , my admiration for him grew because of the way he exhibited the administrative skill , inspite of being a novice at that time, in containing the riots in few days . These riot prone areas of Gujarat have history of rioting lasting for weeks or months and he brought the situation under control in days.
    3.Then started the the most shameful part of recent history when MSM ganged up together as they found their agenda of “remove Modi ” is a ripe low lying fruit ready to be plucked . Instead of going for rioters , justice for victims and punishment for culprits , the complete focus of MSM was “remove modi” . I was shocked but desparately looked for evidences and proof for modi’s culapalibilty before condemning him. Unfortunately could not find any one [ Here I mean those ones which are legally acceptable in our courts and found acceptable by people having trained eyes and ear and not some hearsay and rumour]. I put back his name in my list of admirable politicians.
    4.Now , the oft repeated comment that NaMo is liked by majority of Urban Middle Class. I don’t think it is very much true. A large number of urban middle class owes their postions to connections and “bread crumbs” thrown by ruling class. It is very unlikely that for common good anyone will sacrifice their personal interests. In last 60 years , the present ruling class have made a vast people as parasites who live on doles / “bread crumbs” . They are in influential position in bureaucracy, media, arts, education,literature and business.
    5. To stop hatred in MSM, NaMo have to assuage the fear of these class , who fear loss of priviledge and “bread crumbs”. At the same time , many of his followers may be looking for these “bread crumbs” as theirs after overhrow of present ruling dispensation. The last NDA government was idealistic to the point of foolishness and majority followers of defeated party continued to get the bread crumbs . This allowed the regrouping and their coming back to power. How he handles this will be a thing to watch.

    • #1. India is bigger than Gujarat, and most Indian’s lives are not touched by what happens in Gujarat.

      #2. Surely, you and I lived in parallel universes in 2002.

      #3, #4 and #5. Now we know that Pakistan does not have a monopoly on conspiracy theorists.

      • #1. India is bigger than Gujarat, and most Indian’s lives are not touched by what happens in Gujarat : True ?? . All the hatred and poison spreader cites “what happened in Gujrat”. Don’t comment blindly or at least believe in what you peddle.

      • @Prem Rou: Let’s not be facetious. Are you seriously comparing the reaction of the rest of India to internal caste dynamics of Gujarat (“overthrow of rule of patels” etc.) to that of mass killing of human beings?

  11. There is another variant of the urban middle class person who would want Modi as PM- the ‘supporter-by-default’.
    In essence, a person who is deeply skeptical of Modi’s apparent shift towards the centre but also juxtaposes Modi against Rahul Gandhi, sighs, and thinks, compared to THAT, might as well give the former a shot. 🙂

  12. It would be interesting to see as to whether the social-media savvy junta can make a difference in the general elections or not!

  13. We wanted to plant six pipe bombs around the venue to carry out a series of blasts and send across a very strong message. We had planned to target Modi’s rallies in south India,” they said.

    During the earlier round of questioning, the arrested trio had revealed that they had included several BJP leaders from south India in their hit list.
    The police even claimed that they had found a diary with the name of the targets.

    This Al-Ummah group has been accused of murdering a BJP leader in Salem and targeting a rally by BJP leader L K Advani in Tamil Nadu.

    http://www.rediff.com/news/report/al-ummah-planned-to-blow-up-modi-with-17-kg-of-explosives/20131014.htm

  14. Hi GB, in part 1, you wrote, you are trying to deconstruct popular culture and you did it excellent in part 2; you are putting reasons for urban middle class liking Modi etc, can you share your views of Modi in part 3 also because in a sense you are a hybrid urban middle class, staying not in India and commenting about India, Thanks. How do you feel about Modi being PM, personally……

    Thanks.

  15. If Congress has done so well ignoring the salaried urban middle class, why is Modi bothering to assume a position that appeals to the same? Or have we finally been milked dry thoroughly enough to qualify as a minority vote bank? Yay… amrao sorbohara!

  16. Who is India’s Nate Silver? I would love to see a demographic breakdown of Gujarat state election turnouts vs. expected turnouts nationally – urban / rural, Hindu / Muslim, male / female.

  17. What I find interesting of Congress party is this. It is a klpetocracy, a system of family centered around power center. It has bunch of dangerous eco system around it promoting the mafioso using various schemes: minorities,free food,reservations, scare mongering.

    Then the mafia loots and lets others to eat the crumbs. They all support each other and destroy any one who tries to fight the system. Every institution is perverted and taken over to serve the interests of kleptocratic rulers.

    When I saw the following article, I could not stop laughing. What a similarity in style and substance! Vadra and Rahul and their untold wealth, foreign trips; who funds them? No one knows.

    Daddy’s Girl: How An African ‘Princess’ Banked $3 Billion In A Country Living On $2 A Day
    http://www.forbes.com/sites/kerryadolan/2013/08/14/how-isabel-dos-santos-took-the-short-route-to-become-africas-richest-woman/

  18. Interesting post – but I am sure there are no easy answers. I agree with you on the fact that Modi does use PR effectively. But if one were to think of Modi in terms of marketing fundas, its not just all promotion. There is a very good product at the core. The state highways, internal roads in Gujarat are far better than the roads we have in some of our metro cities (there are places where roads are equally bad, but they are relatively few). The power situation is way ahead than anywhere else. Water supply, land records and the list goes on. What Modi has managed to implement is what impacts people in their daily lives and that is the reason I say the product is good. Add to that the perception of not being corrupt and you have a great recipe. One can argue that industrially Gujarat was anyway developed and Modi can’t lay claim to achievements on that front, but on the infrastructure front, he has delivered. In fact even industrial houses now talk of speedy clearances, follow up on investments etc. His track record in 2002 is patchy at best and that might haunt him. But is there substance to his claims on governance? There definitely is. and maybe that is what we need today.

  19. Looking at the comments I can not escape the feeling that Bengalis have some special resentment against Modi. Forgive me for stereotyping but I have also known real life bengalis to espouse such views. And I believe there are two reasons for such a view –

    1. There is an intense jealousy that Mamata didi is lower in the national hierarchy of politics than Modi. After centuries of waiting finally Bongs have got a leader who understands that mere pontificating about sundry “world issues” cannot be the path to Nirvana. That she is genuinely trying for development is an added bonus.

    2. The second reason is the “secular” reason.

    • Not all Bengalis are from West Bengal, or have even a remote emotional connection to West Bengal, let alone pieces of work like Mamata Banerjee.

    • @vivek

      That is why i apologized in advance. I was stereotyping in a half serious way. I have know both Modi haters and Modi supporters among bengalis. the modi-bashers are predominantly muslims – no surprises ! but even some non-muslims wistfully sigh about mamata didi while bashing modi as if the public has somehow cheated them by not supporting didi.

      no offenses to any bengali – modi-basher or otherwise

    • @utsav

      i do agree with your words. I would like to top it off by saying that Modi-hatred is not primarily due to any deep rooted “values” instilled by communists. but was a tactical ploy by the communists.

      before 2004 elections, communists went to village after village of bengal and showed them gory videos of gujarat riots … they spread pamphlets about modi killing 5000 muslims and in general did a huge – i mean HUGE – miscampaign … that was the primary reason they won so handsomely in 2004.

      how do i know this ?

      from my bengali muslim friends whose “bari” is in some village. so much so that ALL of them were shocked when told that hindus also died in the riots. they were in a state of denial when told that the casualty figure was not ~5000 but ~1000. and 25-30% of the deaths were of hindus. I am not making it up … one of them even said that the pro-modi faction was misleading the world by editing wikipedia articles. after seeing so many videos at an impressionable age, many – actually ALL – of them have a visceral reaction just by hearing modi’s name.

      the misinformation is complete, absolute, TOTAL … and i feel no amount of positive campaign by BJP/Modi is going to reverse that.

      So, they shouldnt even try and thereby waste their energies by trying to convince the muslims. they will be convinced the same way gujarati muslims are convinced … after modi’s rule (if he wins) by way of improved governance. campaigns cut no ice among muslims.

      a part of the above is also true regarding some (i mean some, not all) bengali hindus too.

  20. @ Bulla
    You have to understand that generally speaking, most of the Hindu Bengalis (since most Bengalis in India are Hindus anyway), who dislike Modi grew up with a steady diet of anti-Hindu education, both from their families and education system in Bengal.
    See, since the mid 70’s Bengali Hindus have been brought up to romanticize “struggle”, “pseudo-rationalism” and “secularism”, and “Bengali cultural pride”. While all of them are independly good qualities DEEPLY ROOTED IN HINDUISM, a misplaced concoction of the three managed mostly by Leftist intellectuals, gives rise to a irrational, pseudo-secular, and over confident idiot living in a delusional version of historical perspective.
    While most of these Bengalis leave Bengal due to lack of jobs and opportunties, for more Hindutva friendly geographies (like Mumbai, Bangalore and Gujarat), they continue to preach their delusional ideas (thankfully in vain) to others.

    The biggest irony is that these very Bengali Hindus, face the biggest threat of extinction at the hands of Islam (after Kashmiri Hindus ofcourse), given the Islamic demographic lebensraum going on in West Bengal.
    I say all that as a Bengali acknowledging that there are exceptions to the rule.

  21. So Bulla,
    Dont lose heart in Bengal. Remember that for every Leftist moron that comes out of Bengal’s misfortune today, there was a Narendra (swami vivekananda), Shyama Prasad Mookerjee, Mharashi Aurobindo Ghosh who inspired what is BJP today and Narendra Modi of tomorrow.

    If Bengal survives the shadow of this Marxist fed generation and the impending Islamic lebensraum through the next 3 decades, it will rise again. And hopefully, Narendrabhai Modi will help us Bengalis acheive that.

  22. @utsav

    i do agree with your words. I would like to top it off by saying that Modi-hatred is not primarily due to any deep rooted “values” instilled by communists. but was a tactical ploy by the communists.

    before 2004 elections, communists went to village after village of bengal and showed them gory videos of gujarat riots … they spread pamphlets about modi killing 5000 muslims and in general did a huge – i mean HUGE – miscampaign … that was the primary reason they won so handsomely in 2004.

    how do i know this ?

    from my bengali muslim friends whose “bari” is in some village. so much so that ALL of them were shocked when told that hindus also died in the riots. they were in a state of denial when told that the casualty figure was not ~5000 but ~1000. and 25-30% of the deaths were of hindus. I am not making it up … one of them even said that the pro-modi faction was misleading the world by editing wikipedia articles. after seeing so many videos at an impressionable age, many – actually ALL – of them have a visceral reaction just by hearing modi’s name.

    the misinformation is complete, absolute, TOTAL … and i feel no amount of positive campaign by BJP/Modi is going to reverse that.

    So, they shouldnt even try and thereby waste their energies by trying to convince the muslims. they will be convinced the same way gujarati muslims are convinced … after modi’s rule (if he wins) by way of improved governance. campaigns cut no ice among muslims.

    a part of the above is also true regarding some (i mean some, not all) bengali hindus too.

  23. Sample this: An action video game developed for Android phone by a US company shows Modi running towards ballot boxes collecting votes. In Surat, they’re selling sari boxes with a sticker: Modi lao, desh bachao. In Jamnagar, a shopkeeper is peddling yellow NaMo pedas, a sweet with the 63-year-old politician’s face etched. Haryana folk singer Rocky Mittal has cut an eight-track album of Modi songs. They’re selling Modi jalebis too. Even in Patna, some tea stall owners have agreed to name their shops after Modi following an arrangement with BJP. A Bangalore chartered accountant has created a NaMo Rap video that’s gone viral.

    http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/NaMo-industry-net-worth-may-cross-Rs-500-crore-Experts/articleshow/24364584.cms

  24. I hope people here realize the difference between a Modi and a BJP government.
    By all accounts, Modi is a go-getter and pragmatic person. Arguably the best person to lead India right now.
    Having said that, it is foolhardy of people to expect a smoother governance with the BJP at the center. Remember, the BJP is as corrupt (if not worse than the Congress); how well Modi takes care of it will go a long way in deciding his legacy.

  25. Pistolpete,
    BJP under Vajpayee was better than all other gov’ts. BJP under Modi will be the best ever. People in India just need to understand that there will always be some whose interests will not match the best interests of the rest of the country.
    They just need to try that they themselves are not one of them.

    The enthusiasm that people are showing in the virtual world needs to translate into votes on the day of the election. If people in the age group of 21 to 40 go out and vote, nothing can stop BJP from getting 272 seats.

    • Futurator,
      As much as I would like to share your enthusiasm and upbeat spirit about the future, I know I would be heading for disappointment.
      The problem: The heartland of India (UP, Bihar, MP, Jharkhand, Uttarakhand) sends in ~35% of LS seats. The quality of the candidates is like choosing between a douche and a turd (and that includes candidates from BJP); hence wouldn’t be getting my hopes up high.
      Secondly, Modi has a huge (say almost rock-star) following among the urban youth; the problem is the # of LS seats were (and will be decided till the near future) by people in slums/uneducated/poor people who aren’t exactly capable of making the right call (not to sound smug here, but their votes can be easily bought and it ain’t exactly a secret. Also these people are easily swayed)
      Thirdly, Modi doesn’t seem to have a strong following in the heartland. Methinks, that the BJP leadership in those states are riding the Modi gravy train. If the BJP comes to power, they would be asking for their pound of the flesh.
      Hoping that I would be proved wrong; but don’t keep your hopes too up.

  26. In a treeless desert with just one mango tree, I find it funny that you people are quibbling about which variety of mango tastes the best.

    Modi led BJP is the only option you have to secure India’s future.

  27. Replace a few things below and you have the perfect description of Pakistani Taliban.

    Human beings love stereotypes. They simplify the complexity of the world by reducing complex problems, like understanding a human being and what makes him what he is, into a series of comparatively easy generalizations from which so-called logical conclusions can then be chained together .(“He is Bengali. Hence he must support Sourav Ganguly”) All of us do it, present company included, though we do not often fess up to them, because some types of stereotyping, if they fall within the set of politically incorrect no-no-s (sexist being the flavor of the season), bring about firm raps on knuckles or eternal hell-fire and damnation, whichever is quicker.

  28. Sorry meant this para

    There is a stereotype for the Modi-supporter. A rather definite one. Male. Finds insults to their religion on a piece of toast and in that, reflects perfectly the intolerance of the Islamists. Cow-slaughter-opponent. Wants Muslims to “know their place in India” or “go to Pakistan” or “embrace their ancestral Hindu religious heritage and return to the fold.” Finds papal conspiracies under each stone. Misogynist. Angry. Vituperative. Fascist. Intolerant of contrary opinion. Book-banner. Professional troller.

  29. Junaid wrote about Modi supporters-
    “Replace a few things below and you have the perfect description of Pakistani Taliban.”

    response:
    You know Junaid, when you replace a “few things” in the Pakistani army, you get the Indian army. You see it is those “few things” that matter. And it is those few things that make the difference between a dogmatic believer in Jihad, and a caring, concerned and brave patriot.

  30. Arnabda,

    Your view on Nitish kumar and his “human development” is very much the awesome dna of greatbong style of writing. You take an elephant and make a comic representation of it by only the tip of its trunk and make a really funny revelation about that tip that makes us laugh till our tears come out. When you apply this to movie reviews, it is really awesome and after all movie is just a fantasy and fiction and any masala added to it is good. But when you apply this to political views it is simply not working. It is actually dangerous I would say, as a less alert mind might think that the whole elephant is actually the tip of its trunk, and then go vote for its rival, the crocodile who will eventually eat him. Nevertheless, I respect your point of view and the way you want to put it is absolutely your choice. But, I am just worried because most of India falls under the “less alert” section of humanity.

  31. Hello Arnab,

    While I look forward to the next installment of the “Deconstruction Modi”, where I presume you will look at his “communal baggage” and other such etcetras, here are some points which came to my mind on reading this post:

    1) I may be nitpicking here but find it a bit of over-simiplification what you call the “Congress-model” of politics i.e. essentially raising the bogey of victimhood. Such a model would have been a dream of any psephologist but we all know Indian politics is much, much more complex. Talking specifically about Nitish, people are already talking about chinks in his human development theory – and these people belong precisely to the anti-Modi, anti-Rahul gang you refer to.

    2) Where I agree with you is that perception is more important than reality and that’s where Modi has done a damn good job, there is another factor. That is the gullibility of the middle classes. For all their professed political awareness and so-called education, they don’t believe that the devil lies in the details. They are too lazy to look beyond the rhetorical bullshit dished out in what passes as media in this country – both print and electronic. They will rightly cut into the farcical arguments of Manish Tewaris and Abhishek Manu Singhvis on 9 pm telly but can’t see (or choose not to see) when a Ravi Shanker Prasad or Chandan Mitra defends the indefensible.

    Another issue with us (this country’s middle class) is the absence of engagement with the larger community – something which finds a resonance in the spectacularly successful American Indians as well. The poverty exists next door, cheek-by-jowl with my air-conditioned sedan but it has nothing to do with me but everything to do with govt., state, sarkar, that imaginary Bhup Singh sitting in Delhi. So, we will curse everything from Nehruvian socialism to populist handouts. Midldle class will cringe at paying higher taxes but doesn’t realize that their spending (aka consumerist hedonism) is not really trickling down but fattening the few fat cats of this country’s oligarchy (Whatever the unleashing of entrepreneurial energy may mean – wealth has simply not trickled down) . A natural extension is refusal to accept that the state does have a redistributive responsibility.

    While I digress the point is Modi is more aware of this middle class hypocrisy than many of its own members. That is one reason why his rhetoric is so sparse on details. An example – he talks about indigenising defence production to cut down on imports and stop corruption from arms deals but is manifestly silent on how this will happen with a bumbling DRDO and a near non-existent defence private sector unwilling to sink millions in R&D into uncharted territory. “Less Government, More Governance” is music to much of middle class because it doesn’t have time for such details and is happy flogging HAL for not able to produce a single Tejas after 3 decades.

    3) Finally a bit on Gujarat. While I agree that leadership matters, what you brush off as a silly generalization of “Gujaratis would have done well regardless”, actually has a lot of truth in it. For someone who has spent more than 2 decades in Gujarat and amongst Gujaratis, I can assure you that Gujaratis – from the expat community of Kenya who initially went there as railroad workers to the kirana-wallahs of Bombay to those of my dad’s colleagues to made lakhs from the stock market in the eighties – are extremely entrepreneurial and that has got nothing to do with Modi and BJP.

    Nevertheless, Modi is showcasing Gujarat and people are lapping it up. But more than anyone else, Modi knows that rest of India is not Gujarat. What has worked in Gujarat won’t work in rest of the country. That is also the reason why his “hum paanch humare panchis” is being toned down to “Devalaya se pehle shauchalaya”. While his shift to the centre is a no-brainer, I am more interested to see how RSS casts its shadow considering Modi’s economic policy rhetoric is exactly the opposite of Nagpur’s swadeshi balderdash and looking at the role RSS played in Modi’s ascension. Same goes for the core ideology of the Sangh. As recently as Feb 2013, Rajnath Singh said that mandir continues to be a core issue. While this was for BJP’s traditional support base, you still end up with two contradictory rhetorics being played out due to exigencies of pragmatism. So, it may end in how Gujarat’s last Assembly election outcome was phrased by a friend – “Modi won but BJP lost.”
    Personally, I am all eyes and ears for what comes out of the khaki shorts of Nagpur over the next 6-8 months – and in the event Modi makes it – during the time he remains at the helm.

    Best,
    Rajarshi

    • Hi Rajshri,
      I am sorry for butting in, but i wanted to counter a few points of your points and couldnt help myself

      1. Congress model of elections is probably over simplified. But its definitely not entirely untrue. Especially in the present context.

      2. About indigenising defence production. Modi and Gujarat govt have been talking about this since the last 3 years now. http://www.business-standard.com/article/economy-policy/gujarat-moots-sez-for-defence-offsets-110042100061_1.html

      Pretty sure that once the election is done, a lot of deals are going to be signed in Gujarat, The current anti Modi mood at the center is keeping corporates away.

      3. Gujjus and success. I think most Indians who left India early have done well for themselves abroad.Be it Sikhs, Tamils or Bongs all across the world. Gujjus like the hugely successful Marwaris left in larger numbers because there was no water in Gujarat and hence agriculture and no way to earn money except for trade or by leaving for abroad. Having a larger coastline helped.

      4. Modi is the poster boy of RSS supporters – the crones in Nagpur don’t count. In Gujarat, every good RSS guy I know works for the government in some capacity. The power/money hungry ones have disappeared. Corruption has decreased at many places because of this too. What has also worked for Modi is that he knew everyone in Gujarat really well – even the peons. This will be tough to replicate at the national level.

      But putting Harshvardhan ahead of Vijay Goel is a good start.

  32. Pingback: Deconstructing Modi Part 3 | Random Thoughts of a Demented Mind

Have An Opinion? Type Away

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s