The first axiom in analysing any action of Narendra Modi is that he can never do anything right. Once we get that out of the way, the rest is easy. Here are some additional theorems that are on the menu to buttress one’s case.
- Modi does not take anyone’s advice: This means “People Like Us” (PLUs) who ruled the roost for the last 30 years have not been able to worm our way into his inner circle;
- Modi has no knowledge of history: He has not read Romila Thapar and Ramachandra Guha’s books.
- Modi does not understand economics: Amartya Sen and Jean Dreze do not like Modi’s favourite economists Jagdish Bhagwati and Arvind Panagariya;
- Modi indulges in “Jumla”: He could not come up with smart slogans like “Garibi Hatao” which remains an illusion even after 40 years;
- Modi favours a few big industrialists: Robert Vadra is not on the list;
- Modi has a fake college degree: He was not a Cambridge dropout;
- Modi has never sold tea: Mani Shankar Aiyar’s favourite drink is vodka;
- Modi is inaccessible to media: He has not given any ‘exclusive’ interview in over nine years to Rajdeep Sardesai about his mother-in-law;
- Modi is against cow slaughter: He does not travel ‘cattle class’ on planes anymore;
- Modi did not take part in the freedom movement: His surname is not Gandhi or Nehru;
- Modi lied about his marital status: He does not have a Latina girlfriend;
- Modi’s call for ‘Make in India’ is a sham: Because he has not talked of setting up “aloo ka factory” in Rae Bareli and Amethi.
The intriguing bit is that if Modi’s critics were really so intelligent they should have by now figured out that none of these arguments cut ice with Modi’s admirers. They tried every arrow in the quiver before the 2014 election but did not manage to check Modi’s relentless progress.
Yet each time Modi’s detractors fail, they come back with even greater vengeance but with the same old time-worn criticisms, as if hoping against hope that they would succeed this time – only to find Modi has managed to outsmart them once again.
It is amazing that such a bunch of erudite and accomplished men fail to recognise that here is a leader who has changed the paradigm of Indian politics. Their own formulae and templates are now horribly out of date.
Without their realising this man has been quietly changing the rules of the game – whether through Jan Dhan Yojna, Direct Benefit Transfer for social welfare or now increased digitisation of monetary transactions. Much as they might scoff at his Mann Ki Baat or NaMo App, he has managed to go over the mainstream media to establish a direct connect with his constituents.
Sure he can make mistakes, falter or fall flat on his face. But, that is a challenge and risk he is willing to take and therein lies the real meaning of his 56-inch chest claim. To beat him, the Opposition will have to reinvent its strategy. More of the same will not do.
The only two persons who seem to have understood this are Arvind Kejriwal and Mamata Banerjee, who are attempting their own brand of disruptive politics. Rahul Gandhi was ideally placed to bring about such discontinuous change in the grand old Congress party, but in his shoot-and-scoot style more often than not he ends up shooting himself in the foot.
If Priyanka Gandhi is brought in as a reincarnation of Indira Gandhi, that itself will be a retrograde step far from making a quantum leap forward, which the party desperately needs to survive. Seasoned campaigners like Nitish Kumar are, perhaps, beginning to realise this and also the fact that their own sell by date is fast approaching. Therefore, they are seen to be making tentative overtures towards BJP once again.
Meanwhile, although there may be many valid economic and humanitarian objections against demonetisation, by its single point agenda to make it fail, the Opposition is missing the woods for the trees. A huge move like this cannot be seen in a one-dimensional and linear fashion. There are various layers and elements to it which have to be viewed holistically against a grander objective.
There are two ways of looking at the daily administrative changes being announced by the Government. First, as is being said, it is an evidence of poor planning and preparedness. Another view can be the Government is totally on the ball making nimble course corrections on a need to act basis.
Now some mediapersons have discovered that Narendra Modi dropped his first hints about moving towards a “cashless economy” way back in May this year but no one paid attention. The Prime Minister has repeatedly warned demonetisation is only the first step in the war against black money. There is a lot more to come.
Taking a blinkered view would leave the opposition exposed to the next salvo from Narendra Modi, which might come sooner than later.
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