Book review: How Modi won it

Khare’s account of 2014 elections makes for an interesting reading despite his subjective rendering – or, perhaps, because of it

ajay

Ajay Singh | April 11, 2015


#How Modi won it   #harish khare   #How Modi won it book review   #harish khare book review  


Book: How Modi Won It: Notes from the 2014 elections
By: Harish Khare
Price: Rs 599
Pages: 256

Veteran journalist Harish Khare is endowed with a wonderful gift of combining sharp sarcasm with profound erudition in his writing. He is equally at ease with scholarly prose on contemporary political events and the writing of a reporter. That is why his book ‘How Modi Won It: Notes from the 2014 election’ is a treat. It gives the impression of a casual conversation, packaged in lucid and fast prose, interspersed with insightful observation.

Yet, Khare does not claim to be presenting an objective account of the events that preceded the victory of Narendra Modi. His account is subjective right from the word go. On the back cover of the book, he quotes a poem by noted Hindi laureate Ashok Vajpeyi titled “Aatatayi ki Pratiksha” (waiting for the tormentor). And unambiguously the tormentor in Khare’s narrative is none other than the man who is the prime minister of the country today.

There is little doubt that in this 242-page book, Modi comes across as the biggest tormentor of Khare. His sinister shadow lurks on most pages of the book. Given Khare’s vast experience as a journalist and his stint as resident editor of the Times of India, Ahmedabad edition, much of what he says has a context. In the beginning of his book, he quotes Gopalkrishna Gandhi to point out “three haqiqaten (three layers of realities)” of India: the people (Awaam e-Hind), the politics (Siyaasat-e-Hind) and the Indian state (Hukumat-e-Hind), which are like “the three lions” (sic) of our national emblem.

There exists a creative tension in the coexistence of these three realities. Khare recounts India’s political history to point out that the people’s mandate has often been a message of course correction for politics and the Indian state. For instance, he explains that the NDA regime led by Atal Bihari Vajpayee lost because of the then PM’s inability to restore pluralist and democratic vibrancy to the state after the 2002 riots in Gujarat. Obviously, in Khare’s view, Vajpayee would have had a fair chance of winning the 2004 election had he sacked Modi.

On the other hand, Khare’s book points out that the sober and erudite Manmohan Singh was not much different from the moderate and amiable Vajpayee who steered the course of the Indian state for six years. Manmohan Singh’s decade-long rule had come to symbolise a status quo with which the younger generation became increasingly impatient. Though the book deals with a spate of corruption scandals that cropped up during Singh’s regime, Khare lets Manmohan Singh go with a light rap on the knuckle. Perhaps, his own role as adviser to the prime minister that coincided with the turbulent phase has also contributed to his subjective account of Indian politics. In his narrative, Khare appears unreasonably indulgent towards his former boss, though he makes critical comments on the performance of Rahul Gandhi as a “kind of opponent” to Modi.

Interestingly, he also sees a cosmic conspiracy behind Modi’s victory. At times his narrative betrays a sense of frustration, for example, when he points out that the society was misled to believe in Modi by a compact of corporate houses, social media, TV channels and a younger generation of society which has developed a flash mob tendency. A similar logic was invented by a section of Gujarati intelligentsia to explain the continuous victories of Modi in Gujarat after the 2002 riots. At the end of the book, Khare sums up Modi’s victory as the result of a “Hindu uprising”. By all accounts, the book could have a better title, “Atatayi ka Aana” (the arrival of the tormentor). Khare is not known for mincing his words when he acts partisan and deals with his adversarial subjects. Though he seems immensely tormented by Modi’s victory, he must have opted for an innocent title for his book to avoid running down the institution of the prime minister. And that is the beauty of the subjective history he has written in haste.

ajay@governancenow.com

Comments

 

Other News

Rise of Nirmala Sitharaman, plight of Baiga women and more from the week gone by

Today, Nirmala Sitharaman, India’s first woman full-time defence minister, may appear a picture of poise and confidence. But 11 years ago, she wasn’t even sure if she should join the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which has allowed her political career – and, of course, her abilities &ndas

Modi’s gift to Varanasi: Projects worth Rs 1,000 crore

On his first visit to Varanasi after the Uttar Pradesh polls, PM Modi announced and laid foundation stones of various projects on Friday and Saturday. Addressing a public meeting in Varanasi on Saturday, PM Modi took took a jibe at the opposition saying that the BJP’s programmes are no

Indian Aviation Academy unveiled

Union minister for civil aviation, P Ashok Gajapathi Raju unveiled a new campus of the Indian Aviation Academy (IAA) spread over 5.33 acres. Civil aviation, secretary, R N Choubey said India is poised to attain its coveted place on global aviation arena as one among top three largest aviatio

BHEL surpasses 12th plan capacity addition target

Attributing enhanced focus on project execution as the reason behind Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited’s (BHEL) growth, the enterprise’s CMD Atul Sobti said BHEL achieved a capacity addition of 45,274 MW during the 12th five year plan period (2012-17) and surpassed the target of 41,661 MW by 9 p

No right to plan their families

Bhadiya from Bhanpur Kheda village does not know her age. She has five children – the eldest one is 12-year-old while the youngest is an infant. Considering she got married in her teens – like most women in her village – Bhadiya must be in her 30s. After giving birth to five children she

SAIL to leverage domestic growth potential

Steel authority of India (SAIL) chairman PK Singh expressed confidence on improving the performance of the Maharatna PSU in the current fiscal because of a host of initiatives in almost every area of operations. During 45th annual general meeting of the company, Singh said the world steel as



Video

Falahari Maharaj arrested on rape charges

Current Issue

Opinion

Facebook    Twitter    Google Plus    Linkedin    Subscribe Newsletter

Twitter