Modi phenomenon to the fore


Modi phenomenon to the fore

As his aides argue, Modi hasn’t come to office to fail on his poll promises – even if he takes longer to cause any-thing discernible to emerge.

A year-end audit may be a journalistic ritual but nothing would, perhaps, demonstrate more accurately what occupied us through the year than responses to Narendra Modi not making it to the global cover of Time magazine.

The exercise may seem to be perfunctory or annual ritual for many but for those of Modi’s fans (no dearth of them) who voted online to name him the Person of the Year, it was a deep disappointment.

Of course, for those who still cannot accept the fact that Modi, who rose from being a politically “unacceptable entity” to someone who beat all odds to win a huge mandate, Time’s editors did the right thing by deciding to give the global cover to Ebola workers.

They argued the honour was always given to a person or a group who had a long-lasting impact on the world. “Modi was yet to notch any achievement on that front. At the moment, Modi is more a promise,” they reasoned.

Yet, another group had a different take. As Ruchir Sharma, head of emerging markets at Morgan Stanley Investment Management wrote in his blog, “it is hard to escape the conclusion that when any trend gets hot enough to reach the cover of a leading global magazine, it is probably about ready to cool off. In this regard, it is rather a relief for India that Modi did not make it to the global cover of Time.”

That is the Modi phenomenon is yet to be over, let alone being on the wane though some political analysts could not help concluding so after the assembly results in Jharkhand and Jammu and Kashmir.

That the analysts could not appreciate the BJP win is a different matter. They are entitled to wonder why a newspaper ran a headline after the results that said, “BJP emerges king in one state, and kingmaker in another.” Isn’t the tsunami of the summer of 2004 not even a wave now?

But the optimism of the class that still believes in Modi, perhaps, encapsulates the views of the many as curtains fall on 2014. Whether one viewed the hour glass as half empty or full, Modi’s challenge remained serious, particularly the task of a major economic revival.

Modi underwent a course in reality check as 2014 unfolded for him. Even if the Prime Minister’s Office was working overtime to “fix” the system, motivating the bureaucracy and novice ministers to “act,” his own Parivar and BJP men and women were caught in their own self-defeating ways.

So much so, that one could not escape concluding that reforms might be the buzz word but they cannot get pass Parliament --if the Sangh Parivar (both the core and the fringe) wont share Modi’s priorities. Also, his political rivals are not the kind to let go opportunities that they think will take the sheen off his government.

Can his self-imposed “silence” serve him or BJP to end the outcry of the thinking and debating class when questions are asked of him? Modi’s take that he does not approve of such vituperative exercises and his government cannot be blamed for everything without TV anchors and his opponents analyse issues with more “intellectual honesty and impartiality” actually did not win new friends.

As his aides argue, Modi hasn’t come to office to fail on his poll promises – even if he takes a longer time for causing anything discernible to emerge on the horizon for large sections of the society.

As he told one group, he won’t hanker after “one big headline-making achievement” but push for improvement in every sector, which may not always need changing laws, but usher in visible benefits to people.

No matter how much the liberal class would want from him and the opposition tried in Parliament’s winter session to extract from him, Modi is firm that he won’t get into “majoritarianism versus minority” debate.

As the year showed, he does not believe in reassuring any section with any kind of “tokenism” that he thinks may win favourable editorials but won’t much matter on the ground.

Plainly put, Modi realises that, in the months to come, he has to walk the talk. For not to do so, he would only be foolish. Even as he attempts to walk the talk, several booby traps wait for him. He has to win every election that the BJP contests even if the Congress still is unable to put up a fight and he has to contend only with regional players.

Cong in the dumps

That brings us to Rahul Gandhi. 2014 was about him too. Stories about the Congress losing seven of the eight Jharkhand seats where the Congress vice president campaigned, may seem cruel.

But it will be difficult not to notice the sense of dismay among his party leaders and workers. Gandhi’s advice to party general secretary to “talk to the grassroots” still seems elementary lessons in politics.

Amid the talk of the Congress trying to figure out as to whether the conclusions of the A K Antony panel’s findings on the Lok Sabha poll debacle had anything to do with the perception, among other things, that it was “anti-Hindu majority,” there is an inescapable conclusion that Rahul Gandhi may not be looking for an answer and that he may not be the answer.

Year 2014 is also a pointer what is ahead for regional players like Mamata Banerjee or Naveen Patnaik who found the ramifications of the Saradha chit fund scam coming home to roost, trapping their close aides one after another.

Whether in Bihar or Uttar Pradesh where the polls are due in the next one to two years, the revival of the Janata Parivar is not sure shot for a revived mandate for Mulayam Singh Yadav or Nitish Kumar. True, if they are divided, they will fall.

But their unity is no guarantee  either. 2014 was also about Jayalalitha and M Karunanidhi who can only look up to courts to free their parties’ future from their huge follies. Their seconds-in-command are no political warriors.

Narendra Modi or Rahul Gandhi? Who will win the battle royale of the Lok Sabha Elections 2019

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