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TINA factor? Why so many Indians still think: Modi’s stewardship is indispensable

By NS Venkataraman* 

For the last 19 years, Narendra Modi, first as the chief minister of Gujarat, and later as the Prime Minister of India, has been receiving bouquets and brickbats from a cross section of countrymen. Modi’s ardent admirers see everything positive in his personal and public life. But his sworn critics have found several negatives in him and have not hesitated to be very critical in order to tarnish his image.
When Modi was the chief minister of Gujarat, he was described as a “merchant of death” by an opposition party leader, ostensibly referring to the 2002 Gujarat riots. As Prime Minister, he has been viciously criticised as a “thief”, a “liar” and now a “coward”.
Yet, the fact is, Modi has been winning election after election. He has so far remained unchallenged. The view has gone strong that he would win the next parliamentary election, too, again with a thumping majority. It is high time his ardent admirers and bitter critics dispassionately examine what he is actually worth.
One of Modi’s trump cards has been his ability to publicly project himself as a disciplined person in his personal life having a clean, non-corruptible image, one who is a determined achiever and a hard task master. His admirers think his predecessors did not any of this.
It is a fact that he has built this image against the backdrop of his strong effort to project himself as a staunch Hindu. He shows in qualms in participating in traditional Hindu rituals alone, which his admirers suggest is his courage of conviction.
Indeed, Modi shows little concern for his critics, when they call him anti-secular or a Hindu extremist. They are particularly perturbed about his refusal to participate in any Islamic or Christian rituals, which, according to them, goes against India’s secular ethos.
Modi comes from a very poor family and has seen poverty in his younger days. This has helped him project himself as a person who understands the needs of the underdog. His popular schemes are seen as his effort to end poverty. These include construction millions of toilets, distribution of free LPG connections to the poor, subsidised housing schemes, enabling poor to open zero bank accounts, the health insurance scheme for the poor, and so on.
In order to project his governance as corruption free, in July 2016, he amended a 1988 law, which was passed in Parliament. It was called Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Amendment Act, 2016. This was followed by demonetization, in what seemed to be a desperate attempt to check black money in circulation.
Knowing well that any move to promote private sector and privatization of public enterprises would be viewed as anti-poor, he has suggested that business and industry should remain the domain of the private sector, while the state should concentrate on governance. He believes that private sector need not be a suspect, and that it is as much loyal to the country’s cause as others.
Modi calls private entrepreneurs as wealth creators. He believes that their development would inevitably help overall economic development of all strata of society, even lift poverty. Modi’s Atmanirbhar scheme and Make in India campaign appear to be part of this overall policy framework – of promoting wealth creators.
While Modi has continued with several of the major schemes of the past government such as Aadhaar and MGNREGA, he is facing challenges from several fronts. Farmers from several are up in arms against the farm laws. The Covid-19 crisis has uprooted several of the country’s development plans. Meanwhile, the collusion between Pakistan and China is posing a great threat to India’s security. All this and more have come under heavy criticism from opposition leaders and activists.
Modi’s detractors recently went so far as to criticise him for applauding an outgoing leader of opposition in the Rajya Sabha with tears in his eyes, with some even stating that Hitler and Mussolini shed tears on certain occasions as a political tactic.
It is a fact that Modi has not eradicated corruption from India, nor has he been able to eliminate poverty to any appreciable extent. The performance of the government machinery, especially at the ground level, has not improved to any desirable extent. The streets in the country are still not adequately clean in spite of his Clean India campaign.
Alleviating poverty in India is not a quick fix job. It requires steady and forward looking policy measures. Large sections of countrymen still believe that as of today there is no alternative (TINA) to Modi and his stewardship, and that that there is no other political leader in India today who measures up to his standards.
No doubt, no leader is indispensable. A person would project himself as indispensable only when no alternative emerges on the horizon.
---
Trustee, Nandini Voice for The Deprived, Chennai

Comments

Jag Jivan said…
The author is right. In fact tears were rolling down the eyes of Hitler and Mussolini were very genuine. They were expression of feelings for their constituencies. They were surely not meant for lakhs killed during World war. Indeed, Modi is also following suit by caring for his constituency. Lovely Mr Venkataraman
Anonymous said…
The TINA factor is valid. The Congress is a laughing stock and Rahul Gandhi emotes the "Pappu" image .

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