A statue of Vallabhbhai Patel is in the pipeline. This is going to be in Gujarat. Gujarat is the home state of BJP’s alternative election symbol: Narendra Modi, alongside its lotus. Ironically the statue will be of a Congress leader, who once invited the RSS to join his party. The statue if erected is going to be one of the largest statues in the world. Mr. Modi and his party seem to have found a true epitome of ‘Maha Purush’ in their Hindutva coterie. But we would say it is just a part of the image building exercise that Mr. Modi has fallen in love with. The statue is going to be his alter ego. Christophe Jaffrelot, who has been doing extensive research on Indian politics particularly on communalism, Hindu Nationalism and society in India points out succinctly that the leaders of the Sangh Parivar, including those of the RSS, may not be comfortable with the personality cult that Modi has introduced. He owns a television channel, NaMo. His image is everywhere, even in 3D projection neatly handled by an American firm APCO Worlwide. This firm had also worked for the Nigerian dictator Sani Abacha, and president of Afghanistan, Nursultan Nazarbayev. Mr. Modi and his saffron brigade is a quick learner. They have learned from their ouster from power in the 2004 Lok Sabha election that their hardliner’s image of Hindutva has to be softened. A better strategy, they thought best, is to project someone with development and growth face. LK Advani is almost a spent force, as Jaffrelot puts it.
Congress’s MP incumbent, Shashi Tharoor, who is also a writer, wrote a book in 1977 “India From Midnight to the Millennium and Beyond”. In the book, Tharoor wrote that he sometimes wondered that India’s political history might be different, had Indira Gandhi’s Parsi husband taken a different surname instead of ‘Gandhi’. Tharoor updated the book in 2007. The Sonia Gandhi-led Congress offered him a Lok Sabha ticket in the 2009 general election. They further gave him a ministerial berth at the External Affairs Ministry. Tharoor was critical of the dynastic politics that is inherent in the Congress party. His proposition regarding the surname shall remain relevant in India’s political history. The entire universe of Congress orbits around the Gandhi dynasty. The 2004 election result gave a fair chance for Sonia Gandhi to become the PM of India. She denied and gave way to Manmohan Singh. The sycophancy of the leaders and the workers over her denial of the PM seat was more than evident. Some of them threatened to shoot themselves. Many of them broke down in tears. A meeting of the MPs who have won was convened along with Sonia, which was televised live across the TV channels. And that was also the first time when Dr Meinya won the inner Lok Sabha seat from Manipur. At the said meeting, Dr Meinya read out a written statement. Before reading out he said that he have come from a very far place call Manipur, therefore he should be given room to speak. He is now comfortably two terms old in the Parliament, confident enough to decide when to speak and when not to. Congress after AAP routed them from the Delhi Assembly has felt the heat of public anger. With some of their ministers having charged with corruption, and the growing discontent over price rise; they once again, in their true tradition, take refuge under the shade of Gandhi dynasty. Therefore the image of Rahul Gandhi is being blown up. Will it be Modi or Gandhi? Or will it be a third alternative with a coalition? Whether the two numbers from the state can make a difference or not in the parliamentary arithmetic is left to be seen. But vote wisely. Someone is watching you. Let’s not get blinded by the ‘images’. Delhi is still far.