Modi Blues

Does anyone doubt that Narendra Modi will win the Gujarat Assembly elections?

I would like to quote from Swapan Dasgupta’s column in the TOI. Let me respond to some of his points.

To the average Indian, Narendra Modi inspires tremendous curiosity. It is not every day that a chief minister is called a ‘‘mass murderer’’ or described as a ‘‘merchant of death’’ in stilted Hindi. Is Modi the monster he is made out to be? Or does he represent a new phenomenon?

Yes, monsterism.

When it comes to Modi, it is hazardous to swim against the tide of liberal consensus. Yet, there is a big divergence between how Modi is perceived in Gujarat and how he is painted by the intellectual and editorial classes. In Gujarat, Modi is not just a politician; he is a combination of folk hero and superstar. Many of his election rallies are akin to rock concerts, marked by spectacular exhibitions of mass frenzy.

That is true of all demagogues. The intellectual elite (and I don’t mean the academic-types who write papers) does have the courage of go against the established norms. People have not seen the frenzy during Bal Thackeray’s rallies, and his party ruled several times at the heart of the commercial capital.

Narendra Modi is the creation of an India that is fed up with sloth, inefficiency and the missed opportunities of the past 50 years. This is an India that found its voice after socialism was junked in 1991 and has steadily grown in confidence with every percentage rise in the growth rate. Gujarat is one of the principal citadels of this explosion of suppressed energy.

Oh yes? Then why does he need to bring in all the elements of Hindutva in his speeches? If he is so confident about progress, then why resort to such low tactics? If Gujarat is in the financial forefront it is despite Modi and not because of him. It always had the best entrepreneurs and traders. Modi in fact tried to botch it all up by trying to mesh religiosity with money, but then money is religion for many and the difference between the two is rather slim. “Show me the money” and “Show me your faith” work in tandem.

And then the writer comes up with this really lame sexist comment:

In addition, Modi invites aesthetic disdain. When beautiful people like Mallika Sarabhai and Aditi Mangaldas sneer at the Modi dispensation, they do so with all the condescension that Old Money reserves for the nouveau.

Hello? How many of our politicians are attractive? Do these two ladies command a fan following in political terms? Are they just good-looking? Old money is classy, but all of India respects those who make it. Dhirubhai Ambani is a prime example. Hate him as much as we wish, but he was a pioneer, and he did not need Modi for that.

If, as the writer states, Modi is the voice of the future, it is not because India is reaching the global market – please tell us what this global market is first? Call centres? Guys joining multi-nationals? People getting admitted to Ivy League colleges because their papas have made a killing in the stock market?

Modi is the future, according to some misguided folks, because he and his ilk have messed up the political scenario and made it into something horrible and vile. This man ought to be behind bars in any civilised society. But he rules. Hail Indian democracy….this is our idea of free expression.

One day we will pay the price for it.


  1. FV:

    Can anyone tell me the difference between Modi and Hitler? He was also adored & feted by his followers and his rallies were also like rock concerts. He also blamed his predecessors for all the ills and made fun of them for their weakness (unmanliness or effeminateness).
    I think Ashish Nandy had rightly identified him as a classical example of a fascist. I agree, Modi should be behind bars. Period.
    Btw, do you think a right-wing ideologue like Swapan Das Gupta needs to be commented upon? He is like Goebbels to Modi's Hitler.

  2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  3. PS:

    I don't even need to call Modi Hitler...he is just a vile face of Indian contemporary politics and, alas, thinking.

    Agreed that SD is hardly the person to deserve comment, but here we have an 'intellectual' who holds such views. It is an interesting polarity to how the 'pseudo-secularists' are derided. Now Swapan represents the very groups that are increasingly becoming a part of this caravan...to rationalise religious extremism. Incidentally, I used to say the same about Syed Shahabuddin.

  4. FV:
    Incidentally, I used to say the same about Syed Shahabuddin.

    Why did you put that line there? For what -- because you are Farzana Versey?

    Would someone like me (with a Hindu name), who criticises Imam Bukhari, need to denounce Togadia in the same breath?

  5. PS:

    You did get me here...I remember that when I used to write my Express column I had been critical about Satya Sai Baba but also wrote against Imam Bukhari, partly because I genuinely believed in it but also to 'balance it'. (Did not work; got into trouble...so what's new?)

    So, yes, Syed Shabuddin has been mentioned as an add-on, but I also believe it to be true. Had I been named Falguni Pathak I might have gone ahead and critiqued a Mosie leader and not felt the need to pick on 'my own'.

    But, I have been critiquing several others without the add-ons, so my neck is still on the chopping block. Btw, my 'Hawking religion' piece has got quite a feedback, and one has called me a Jewish agent!

  6. FV:

    It doesn't give me any satisfaction of having "got you there". It isn't a game to score points.

    I am saddened that all of us (including me and you) have to "balance it out" at all times. I also do it in my writings for the sake of producing a "balanced picture" in my own field. Trust me, this particular instance has taught me one lesson - to display greater intellectual integrity in my own work.

  7. PS:

    I did not mean scoring points...I thought it came out transparently.

    I do not balance it out at all times, which is why I am invariably in trouble. I have written open letters to Thackeray, Vajpayee, Advani in national mainstream newspapers and not balanced it out. Also, when I mentioned SS, I meant it...I have never compromised on my integrity. And shall not.

    I used SS in the comment, not in the blogpost...and none of my current articles indulge in any sort of cop-out. But, if it lends itself to a comparison, I will use it.

    We all learn what we want to...

  8. FV:

    I didn't allege that you were compromising on your intellectual integrity. Never...

    You don't need to defend your position. I am not questioning your commitment or honesty at all.

    If you read it carefully, my comment was more introspective in nature. It was more about myself...

    Let us all never stop learning...

  9. {"This man ought to be behind bars in any civilised society. But he rules. Hail Indian democracy….this is our idea of free expression.

    One day we will pay the price for it."}

    ...and that is precisely what's wrong with the deformed aberration of Indian democracy. Whether it's Rajiv talking about "elephants," or "India shining" BJP cheerleaders of Modi's "victory," what is grossly lacking in Indian politics is the concept of accountability. The only reason India is shining as a "democracy" is the relatively inept style of government next door in the neighborhood.


  10. Salim:

    In these matters, India shining is not because of the 'ineptness' of the govt next door' but because of the gloss we add over the gross.

  11. Modi is successful leader in Gujarat. Lot of people requires his service for nation including me. In this stage(India) people requires leaders not political leaders.

    narendra modi news


Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.