Let’s see what the genius does from hereon

Let’s see what the genius does from hereon

Here’s the Thing

S Raghotham

Did you know that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is “an internationally acclaimed visionary” and “versatile genius who thinks globally and acts locally?”

Well, think about the genius and what he has wrought singlehandedly so far. Who else but a genius could have conducted demonetisation and ground a thriving economy to a halt, destroyed the livelihoods of millions of people and yet painted himself as the saviour of them all and won a re-election?

Which other genius could have overridden objections by the Election Commission, the RBI, law ministry officials and changed the laws of the country to rake in thousands of crores in political donations without having to ever tell the Indian public who were all giving his party all that money and why?

Which other genius could have chipped away at the Constitution and our democracy’s most basic and essential attribute – secularism – and thus plunged India into years, perhaps decades, of religious tensions and fissiparous tendencies?

Which other genius (and his party of geniuses) could think that they could easily manipulate the US Presidential elections because there are four million ‘bhakts’ sitting in the US waiting for a command and that that would be enough to determine the outcome?

Actually, it’s nobody’s mistake that they believe in this genius. Goebbelsian propaganda works. In 2013-14, with all those wonderful slogans like “Minimum government, maximum governance” and “government has no business to be in business”, etc., people thought India had its own Ronald Reagan or Margaret Thatcher, or perhaps Deng Xiaoping, in this genius.

It was only after demonetisation that one realised that the genius was more Mao perhaps. Mao had this tendency – because he was the unquestioned, unquestionable dear leader – to swing that equally humongous nation, China, from one extreme to another at will. One day, it was the Long March; another day, it was the Great Leap Forward; and yet another day, it was the Cultural Revolution. With each such swing, Mao would cause death and misery to tens of millions of people, and yet consolidate his own power over the people.

With Chairman Modi, mind control is, of course, much more sophisticated, the genius having stood on the shoulders of giants in this respect. One day, it’s Swachh Bharat; another day, it’s demonetisation; a third day, it’s CAA-NRC.

With that last stroke of genius, however, he had swung himself in another direction. It seemed he was finally on the path of the one his army of geniuses much admire – the Fuhrer. The speeches (“Hate me, burn my effigy if you want, but don’t hate India”), the methods, and now even the laws being passed (check out the Nuremberg Laws on German citizenship) all looked like a Blitzkreig towards Fuhrer-dom. Except, that he will fall way short of the ambition – the Nehruvian DNA of Indian democracy is expressing itself in resistance. So, at best, the genius may turn out to be an Indira Gandhi. That is, if he manages to stop in his tracks right now and reverse them, as Indira wisely did in 1977. Else, at worst, having set India up on a path of communal frenzy for years to come but yet unable to match the scale of the Fuhrer’s actions, our genius might end up closer to Slobodan Milosevic. The Delhi riots are a marker. What our genius does hereafter, we will see.

Of course, there is the ‘versatile’ bit still to be spoken for. And have no doubt that he can change colours quickly (now, now, I’m not talking about the whitening effect of rubbing one’s face with one’s own sweat but about being politically agile in changing course). Our genius still has time to redeem himself, and perhaps even has luck on his side. He can perform an economic miracle yet and win everybody over; he can do an India-Pakistan peace deal and win the Nobel and win everybody over; he can become a true climate messiah and win global praise and gratitude; he can give up the Hindu Rashtra nightmare and embrace the Vajpayee-era South Asian Union and thus become the bigger person. Being Prime Minister opens up all those paths for one to redeem himself/herself. Question is, will he?

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