My friends, who know my views on him, must be surprised at the above statement. Some of them, who have stood shoulder to shoulder with me intrepidly on numerous Face Book battles, liking each other’s comments and supporting each other while unbelievably fanatic near psychopaths spewed their venom online, may feel let down.
Here is the reason why I fervently hope and want Modi to succeed. (Not that what I say or believe matter a damn in the larger scheme of things, but I like to write about my feelings and this is an attempt at sharply defining what I feel)
India, and 1.2 billion people deserve a break.
We deserve a break from corruption, a divided and hence paralyzed government, a powerless prime minister and a totally incompetent, removed from reality and arrogant mother-son combination, which seems to be the only rallying point for a once great party.
But have I changed colours and started loving the man? No. Never. Not even if the country turns around hundred and eighty degrees under his stewardship.
What has shocked me in the last one year and amazed me in the last two months is the way a vast majority of middle class Indians have completely blocked their minds out from Modi’s history. He did not earn his wings as a messiah of development. He earned it as a hard line Hindu fanatic who was part of the core group which engineered rath yaatras and destruction of mosques. He was also (to give him the benefit of doubt) the chief minister who let mobs run riot while the minorities in his state were butchered.
He established the foundation of his popularity first as a hard line Hindu, an extreme right winger. Once that was established only he moved on to the next phase- that of establishing himself as a development wiz.
There is no doubt that he is a superb administrator, extremely hardworking, personally corruption free, highly efficient and very astute (even without having to compare with the bungling idiots on the other side). As important is the fact that he is an amazing orator who can eat the entire opposition for breakfast. To top it all, he has the smartness, no, brilliance to create a powerful brand.
So I have been torn inside- should I admire this man who has so many admirable qualities and blank out his past in my mind as so many of my friends have done? Should I also think that what he did was for the larger good and forgive the glaring blots? For there is no doubt again that he will be a far more effective Prime Minister and that there is a very high probability that he will pull the country out of the mess that we are in.
But if I do that, if I join the milling hysterical crowd that is singing paeans to him and glorifying him and deifying him, what example would I be setting for my children? That it is OK to perpetrate horrible and shameful deeds to some people as long as you achieve some good for most other people in the end? That means always justify the end? That someone with such a huge questionable past who stood for everything that is against the plural nature of our constitution can become the Prime Minister of India? That we should all remember that ‘Jo Jeeta, Wohi Sikandar’?
As I watch friend after friend and relative after relative succumb to the frenzy, I feel sad and shocked. Sad that there are so many who are willing to forget those unfortunates who lost their lives and their families to the hard line nature of Hindutva which Modi represents, just because they feel that their own future is now brighter. (And I don’t doubt an iota that it is brighter). I feel so sad that the media which had staunchly tried for many years to point out the dangers of Modi has suddenly done a volte-face in the last three months and hope that this had nothing to do with the alleged Rs.5000 crore communication budget of Brand Modi. How many times have I fervently wished that Modi was not a Hardline Hindu fanatic or at least that the pogrom of 2002 had never happened so that I can also join the crowd.
I am shocked at statements such as ‘See, how inclusive and balanced, his speech is? He is no hardliner.’ Or ‘He has not once mentioned Hindutva or Ayodhya. He is so balanced’. Can’t people see that he is a brilliant strategist and a consummate actor? He knows that there is no need to do the hard line act anymore- those hard line voters were won over when he / his ilk did Ayodhya and later the riots. He knows that now he should just focus on getting the apathetic, middle liners.
At the same time, I am also hopeful that this regime will, once and for all, stop- through legal means- the hardliners of some minority communities that dish out fatwas and believe they are a law unto themselves. The hardliners who used to get away scot-free because of vote bank politics. I hope the regime can bring about one Indian law, applicable to all. I am incredibly hopeful by the shauchalaya over devalaya decision that he has intrepidly taken, backing development over hard line policies.
My humble request to all at this juncture is only this. Even while we all pray that Modi succeeds for our own good, let us not forget the path that he tread was dangerous and scary. It is even more worrying because he is efficient, effective, charismatic and astute and can sway the masses. Let us, as a people promise to ourselves that we will not let him return to his roots if the vagaries of global economy makes his development agenda less effective than it deserves to be- even while hoping that he has genuinely learned and grown; let us promise ourselves to rise up and fearlessly quell rabid behaviour if it rears its ugly head again; because the easiest thing to do if the development agenda does not work would be to polarise the nation again to stay on in power.
Narendra Modi is here to stay; maybe for the next 15 years as a Prime Minister of this country. I hope fervently that he succeeds in his development agenda.