By Yogesh Sharma
Amidst series of controversies ranging from his role in 2002 riots to fake encounters and his crony capitalism, Narendra Modi has completed 12 years in the office of Gujarat Chief Minister. With this he has become the first Chief Minister having 12 years at a stretch in the office of Chief Minister of Gujarat.
These 12 years have shown his rise from an inexperienced Chief Minister from rubbles of earthquake shaken Gujarat to the Prime Minister candidate of the Bharatiya Janta Party sending shockwaves in Indian politics. This is enough to tell that there is something to be called Modi phenomenon.
He entered Chief Minister Office through emergency door, the year earthquake hit Gujarat. Keshubhai Patel was ousted 12 years ago to make install Narendra Modi in the CM office. If we talk in terms of Narendra Modi’s experience, he had none even as a minister. At that time he was a novice in the art of governance.
And in a very short period Gujarat hit headlines world over for its worst ever communal riots. Whether Modi had any role in these riots or not is still being debated among intellectuals and argued in the courts of law. But it is an established fact that the incident provoked strong reactions from different sections globally, something which had enough power to throw Modi government out and sealed his political future.
But he has not only survived it, he has emerged stronger riding tides of opposition. And in the process, Indian politics has seen a novice turning into a power to be reckoned and recognized by his friends and foes within his own BJP and other parties. Whether one likes his ways or not, he has redefined the rules of games of politics and shown that one can have his own way.
Even his arch critics have to recognize his sense of marketing. Whether he built a developed Gujarat or not, is a matter of heated debates at different platforms ranging from paan shop corner gossips to world level economic forums. But hardly anyone can deny his mastery of marketing. He has introduced concepts of branding to politics and politicians in a very distinct and aggressive way. Modi has become a brand and Gujarat model his product!
Gandhians and Nehruvians may vehemently protest against my analogy. Modi phenomenon is like Gandhi and Nehru becoming brand and non-violence and Nehruvian development model becoming their product respectively. Like non-violence and Nehruvian development model Modi’s Gujarat model may attract all kind of criticism. It is now well established that there is something like Modi model of development even if many describe it is an excellent example of crony capitalism.
I do not think that any other politician today has so many books written about him. While biographies of others are in bookshops even after a week or so, Modi is making himself strikingly visible through the book shelves of leading book shops. The way Modi wave is lashing different platforms of social media, it makes one thing very clear that he knows well what is going to sell. And he is quick to grab that opportunity, much before others are able to see the opportunity.
A lot can be written from the archives of Gujarat government about his plans, schemes and programmes. These are just visible parts of the phenomenon Modi. Media releases of state information department and his infantry of social media will roll out reams of pages of his achievements and enter billions of characters in tweet and face book accounts, all wrapped in adjectives like for the first time.
Summits to bring investment to Gujarat, taking up cause of Gujarat shouting slogans of injustice with religious monotony and all round development of Gujarat are few oft repeated themes of this.
I find Modi as a changing and growing phenomenon which seem to be taking shapes as per his agenda. Until recently no one knew of Modi, a tea vendor in trains. But like popular theme of yesteryear films, he is playing underdog to be hero of poor and backwards. It’s like a scene from Raj Kapoor film. He is making people see him selling tea in his teens while dreaming of being PM of India.
His being OBC was not an issue beyond his introduction in official records. But now, he is being projected as a member of backward of backward communities. It is not known how true is this description but it is true that he is being projected this way in Bihar and some other Hindi speaking states which have sizable members of Teli community to which he belongs. A maha backward is on a journey to 7RCR, residence and principal work place of the Prime Minister of India.
Interestingly, 7RCR is about 960 kms from the Swarnim Sankul, the office of Narendra Modi in Gandhinagar, it is just one km from Gujarat Bhavan in posh South Delhi! Whatsoever may be the physical distances to 7 RCR, in his mind space he is well settled in 7 RCR delivering speeches in different parts of the country from the stages having backdrop of Lal Qila
No doubt, his government has scheme for construction of latrines like many others. But none ever described in terms of toilets and temples he did last week. Sometime back Union Minister Jairam Ramesh had to face strong protests when he said that India should have more toilets than temples. But now Narendra Modi is using temple toilet comparison to project himself as nationalist leader above religion. Some believe it as a Neuro Linguistic Programming exercise to convey both messages, Modi a Hindu nationalist leader, by creating image of a leader talking about India and reinforcing the image of Hindu leader mentioning the word temple.
He was seen Hinduvadi as Gujarat Chief Minister. He needed this image to rule Gujarat on his way to Delhi. Now on the top of his agenda is 7RCR. And so he wants people to see him marching towards his dream destination of RCR with his dream team having lots of skull caps and burquas attracting everyone’s attention.
How will you describe this? Dozen colours in dozen years! Or is Modi reinventing himself for his agenda, 7RCR. Going by Modi phenomenon, one thing is dead certain. You will have one of these two views because either you love him or hate him but you cannot ignore him.
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