The Modi Phenomenon

Just a few months ago, most of the political pundits were predicting that a “revitalised” Congress Party under an aggressive Rahul Gandhi would give the BJP under Narendra Modi a run for its money. At the very best, they projected, after its phenomenal win in 2014, all the BJP would be able to do was win possibly 200 of the 543 seats in the Lower House, and depend on its allies in the NDA coalition for the remaining 72 seats to form a new government.
When the results came in, the BJP on its own had garnered a stunning majority of 303 seats, and 350 with its allies. The answer to the question as to how the BJP was able to pull off this stunning feat has much relevance for our own elections, which are going to be held sooner rather than later, after the CCJ’s decision on the NCM. While there are numerous factors in the answer, it all boiled down to one: the candidate Narendra Modi.
This was already clear in the 2014 victory, and all that transpired since have only accentuated the Modi factor. For all intents and purposes, the 2019 Indian election was a Presidential election. The BJP’s victory is therefore a victory for Modi, and explains that party’s overcoming the “anti-incumbent” constant in Indian politics; the comparative stuttering growth rate that did nothing for the unemployment rate, especially for youths and the anti-BJP caste; regional alliances; and, most of all, the bias of the Western-oriented elite, which have defined them as “backward”.
In a country defined by its corrupt institutions and politicians, the Opposition across India could not dent Modi’s incorruptible image. And that for the simple reason that it was not just an image, but reality. Rahul Gandhi turned around Modi’s label of himself as a simple “watchman” of India – a play on his humble beginnings as a “tea vendor” – and accused him of being involved in a fighter aircraft deal as a “Watchman thief”. But even Gandhi’s own party members and allies refused to go down that road; they knew it would be rejected by ordinary voters, and rebound against them.
Modi has fused two traditions of India: that of the ruler and that of the ascetic, both of whom are supposed to place the interests of the people ahead of themselves. The self-sacrificing ascetic we all know about, but the ideal of the self-sacrificing king is exemplified in the widely misunderstood story of King Ram sending his beloved wife Sita into exile. It was to uphold values in his people that he sacrificed the companionship of his beloved.
In an action that might not be understood outside of an Indian milieu, Modi left an arranged marriage as a youth, and has never remarried. He joined the “National Volunteer Organisation” (RSS) as a child of eight, and became one of some 4000 fulltime “volunteers” of the RSS who were devoted to serving India in various capacities. He was seconded to politics only in 1985, by which time his commitment to working for India to reach “the pinnacle of its glory” had become second nature.
Narendra Modi does not have any personal property and wealth to speak of, and no children to pass on any to. In India, even though they might raise strong emotions, very few Indians from across the multitudinous divides would question the moral probity of RSS volunteers.
Contrary to the scuttlebutt that the RSS and BJP are “anti-lower caste”, the lower caste Modi propelled the BJP to victory in Uttar Pradesh (from where most Indians in Guyana originated) over an alliance of two parties of the lowest castes. In destroying the traditional caste politics, Modi has explicitly advocated that there are now only two castes in India — the poor, and those who will enable them to overcome their poverty. In this masterstroke, he transcended the antagonistic Marxist and capitalist divisions of the “haves” versus the “have nots”, and enlisted the former to help the latter in a uniquely Indian position; not as a favour, but as their duty.
After the elections, Modi expanded the BJP’s motto from “Sabka Sath, Sabka Vikas” (all together; development for all) with “Sabka Vishwas” (everyone’s – all minorities – trust). This is our mantra. “I will leave no stone unturned, and I will work for all citizens of India”.
We wish Guyanese politicians would follow suit.