Modi in the Driver’s Seat

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All eyes will be on the Rashtrapati Bhavan with Narendra Modi swearing-in as the 15th Prime Minister of India. Modi is the man of the moment. In the rank and file of the Bharatiya Janata Party, perhaps there is no other party man other than Modi who has a canny sense of seizing the moment. Alongside, he also has a deep sense of chiseling extraordinary moment out of the ordinary. Modi uses metaphors even better than the then Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who never misses to sprinkle a few lines of poetry in his speeches. During his visit to Varanasi, post-election result, Modi offered symbolic prayer at the riverside of Ganga – a river that is deeply entrenched in the religious psyche of the Hindus. A mammoth team of media trailed Modi wherever he moved; his visit to his mother to seek blessings, his thanks giving visit to the voters of Varanasi and his show of veneration of the place. Modi knelt down on the steps of the Parliament House on the day of the Parliamentary Board meeting to show his respect for the institution, just before entering inside the House. Modi well knew that all his actions were televised across the country, and that it was beamed directly to the millions of viewers at real time. He calls the Parliament as the ‘temple’ of democracy and BJP his mother; he choked and all his party men choked too. One could imagine the reaction of the hoi polio, not only of the voters of the Hindi heartland, but also the voters of emotive-India, who can shed tears with the television serials every day. The country has never been witness to such display of emotion, both outside and inside the Parliament by political leaders, adroitly scripted by Modi through his metaphors of words and actions. Though the party will deny, BJP is a political organ of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, which has a concrete base of building cadres right from the grass root level. In fact, the Communist and the BJP are the two major political parties in India that are cadre based. Modi left home early in his life to join the RSS. One may not adhere with the kind of ideology that the BJP or the RSS asserts. But here is one man like Modi, who out of his belief of a certain principle has stood by his commitment for a good part of his life. In short, Modi has lived by what he believes to be true and made them his ideal. This was elucidated by Modi himself during his speech in the Parliamentary Board meeting. Modi said whatever he has done for his party is nothing extra ordinary. He said he has simply performed the role of a soldier. His electoral campaign was taken out following the command of his party leader Rajnath Singh. His acceptance of the Prime Ministerial seat is also an act of accepting the responsibility that BJP high command has bestowed on him. Before that Modi had climbed through the ranks of cadre, to the level that he was assigned the task of mobilising the Kar Sewaks during the LK Advani led Rath Yatra.This was how Modi was tamperedthrough many of the Hindutvamovements. And this was from these grounds that hehas learned to connect with the people.Some commentators having observed Modi and the BJP’s rousing victory in the Lok Sabha election have gone on to claim that the party has soften its Hindutva stand. However, it must be registered that the political and ideological undertaking of establishing a Hindu Rashtra remains the same. Tactics is what they have changed by handing the charge to a committed man, who could steer his way through different political terrains. The BJP has chosen a man of craftsmanship in Modi who can be projected, and who in turn can inflate the party’s image. How and where do Modi steers the country through is left to be seen.

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