Modi Juggernaut !

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is again in the ascendant. The landslide victory in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhund has just proved this beyond any shade of doubt. It is almost like there is a second Modi wave in the country. And that too when the leader has been in power for three years, and the anti-incumbency factor was expected to be working against him. But, on the contrary, the incumbency seems to have worked in his favour.  And ironically, in the immediate aftermath of the demonetization which severely disrupted the life of each and every Indian and set the economy reeling. Though people were expected to ;punish him for the disruption, they have done the opposite, giving him an unprecedented victory in India’s battleground state.  In the five states that went to election, BJP is set to form the government in at least three, if not the four states. . And PM Modi  is back as the unbeatable political brand. All the rival political stalwarts have been reduced to pygmies.  .

It has been an unstoppable journey for Modi from his anointment as BJP’s election campaign chief in 2013 to his election  as Prime Minister of India.  And now the BJP’s triumph in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhund  has demonstrated that the three years of being in power and its attendant banality has done little to dim his charisma.

What makes Prime Minister Narendra Modi tick? What makes him grow from strength to political strength with such effortless ease? The answer to the question is complex, yet seems very self-evident. In his two years in India’s national political arena, Modi has inventively expanded his political appeal to be all things to all the people –right from the rabidly rightwing through the centre to the left.

His cunning blend of ideology and development has covered all under its copious umbrella. His politics has effortlessly flitted between hardcore Hindutva which plays politics over Kabristan and Kasab and the Gujarat model of development which promises “sab ka saath, sab ka vikaas”. And at its shallowest, this politics can stoop to the level of killing a Muslim at his home for the suspicion of storing beef in his refrigerator.

But this hardly takes away from Modi’s intrinsic role as a leader.  In works for over a decade as an engaging media story, variously for his role in 2001 Gujarat riots, his strident nationalism and his  development of Gujarat,  Modi  incarnated an all-encompassing persona  that spoke to the prejudices, grievances and the aspirations of  the majority community. He has projected power and strength – ironically a part of this image burnished by his failure to protect Muslims in 2001 riots.

What now? The BJP’s absolute control over India signals the emergence of a “new India,” as Modi himself said in his victory speech. We already know the idea of this new India and with UP victory, BJP has got all it takes institute this idea into the reigning new ideology of the country. We in Kashmir and the liberal voices in India look at the development as a worrying sign. But there is a possibility that the situation can change for the better. Now freed of the compulsions of the electoral politics for the next two and a half years,  the PM could concentrate on resolving the country’s biggest challenges facing the country – two of these the ongoing turmoil in Kashmir and the relations with Pakistan. Here is hoping that Modi engages with both and uses his historic mandate to turn them around.

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