A new Modi emerges: Combines Atal rhetoric with ideologue's aggro

BJP's man of the moment is unabashed and unambiguous in launching the fiercest political attack on the family without naming names.

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Ajay Singh | March 3, 2013


Gujarat Chief minister Narendra Modi
Gujarat Chief minister Narendra Modi

In the early days of television, Ramayana dictated the Sunday morning schedules of people. Today, in the age of private news channel, Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi seems to have similar effect on newshounds and people at large. His long exposition on the future of politics and governance at the BJP national council in Delhi this morning was marked, remarkably, not just for the style of delivery but also for its content. It was seen and heard with attention rarely reserved for a politician. 

To say that Modi was at his rhetoric best is an understatement. His oratory in Hindi was a deadly combination of Vajpayee's felicity with words and the aggressive delivery characteristic of an ideologue. Unlike Vajpayee, he talked specifics, identified the enemy (“one family”) and set a definite political goal for the BJP.  At the same time, he made sure that he came across as a leader who is not arrogant and ready to cohere with cadres, leaders and ideologically disparate groups for the larger political cause.

In terms of political messages, Modi's speech was outstanding on many scores. Discarding the usual diffidence in taking on the Nehru-Gandhi family, Modi clearly identified them as the source of all ills that plague politics and governance in the country. He was unabashed and unambiguous in launching the fiercest political attack on the family without naming names.

Describing the Congress as "commission party" ready to give doles to relatives of the Congress leaders including a "son in law", a subtle mention of Robert Vadra, he emphasised the point that he was not family man. Not satisfied that these points would have the desired impact, twisted the knife by comparing the status of prime minister Manmohan Singh as a "night watchman" to keep the place warm for the Nehru-Gandhi family on the morrow.  "Nobody imagined that the night would be so long and so dark" he said in an apparent demonstration of an aggression which is rarely found in practitioners of traditional politics.

L K Advani, Rajnath Singh, Sushma Swaraj must have squirmed in their seats when he pointed out that Pranab Mukherjee would have been a better choice for the PM instead of Manmohan Singh. “Pranab da at least knows the ground realities", justifying his statement. Curiously, the BJP opposed Mukherjee's election as president of India, but Modi's demagogy knows how to skip inconvenient truths.

Modi seemed to have learnt hard lessons from Indian political history. Unlike his mentor Advani who targeted the prime minister dubbing him as "the weak in India’s history", Modi launched his full-blooded attack on the Nehru-Gandhi family and described its dominance as inimical not only to the interests of the country but also to  the Congress. His strategy seemed consistent with the past when the non-Congress parties did well against the Congress when they clearly identified the enemy from the family. In 1977 during the JP movement and in 1989 when VP Singh raised the banner of revolt over Bofors, the non-Congress parties targeted Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi directly. For Modi, the real target is the family, not its scapegoat. 

What is particularly significant in Modi's speech is the manner in which he endeared himself to the 3000-strong core group of the BJP council that manages the party cadre. His proposition that irrespective of the individual the BJP as a party deserves to lead the country is in sync with the RSS's line that the organisation is more important than the individual. Obviously, he intended to neutralise his highly individualistic image through this. 

At the same time, he also struck a rapport with the party's front-ranking leadership, too. This was the precise reason why Modi was full of praise for BJP-ruled states and even mentioned Bihar for their creditable achievements in good governance. He was cautious enough not to burn bridges with potential allies while clearly identifying his objectives and enemies. In politics like in war, a definite objective helps to formulate a coherent and effective strategy. As far the leadership is concerned, there is little doubt that after three-day BJP council in Delhi, Modi has emerged the foremost among equals in the BJP.

 

 

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