Never in the history of India after independence, there has ever been a man so polarizing in his political appeal as Narendra Modi is. You’ll hate him or love him – you simply can’t ignore him; you can’t walk in the middle or sit on the fence unless you’re a morbid believer in the gospel that politics is the last refuge of a scoundrel. For this man in Indian politics, the zone of neutrality that lies between the two opinions has thinned out. His very name evokes passion – passion of all colours – adoration, eulogies, veneration, idolization, abhorrence, anathema and malevolence. He’s a name whose mere reference makes adrenaline gushing, fists clenching and jaws hardening – with boundless admiration and with fathomless hatred –depending on which side of the rope you’ve grounded yourself.
Modi’s admirers find a dozen reasons to root for him: They find him strong, decisive, articulate, meticulous and spot-on who is a no-nonsensical performer, a tough taskmaster and an inveterate crusader to his cherished causes. His assailants find twice the bigger reasons to lacerate him.
Though, the ferocious Modi wave blowing across the tropical Indian subcontinent appears to be an undeniable fact, an equally undeniable fact is that of an anti-Modi current – blowing on subterranean level, sustaining itself throughout the past decade and expressing itself through the various ideological positioning. The ultimate aim of this cryptic current is one – to nail the hot man of Indian politics on the cross of secularism and to darken his aura with the soot and dust of communal riots. In the nutshell, this subtle current wants to turn the man an eternal hate-figure of Indian politics and to sustain this image till he fades out of relevance.
The question arises why few prominent members of Indian intelligentsia hate Narendra Modi to the hilt? What makes them vilify the man? Of course, these people are not as naive as not to understand the intricacies of the judicial process or are as incredulous as to express their complete lack of faith in Indian justice delivery system. How the members of this intelligentsia, who have been witness to dozens of grievous communal riots happening during their life time that ended in deplorable and preventable loss of life and property and that smacked of governments’ indifference or, at times, complicity, lose its patience with a man, who is under constant gaze of judicial system? Maybe he’s probably the only man in the history of post-independence communal riots, who has been subjected to such a constant, undeterred and focused scrutiny of judiciary and media. Still, why they’re not ready to put up with a man who has worked his way up on the sheer strength of Indian democracy, which vows to empowers even the last man of society sitting on the lowest rungs of social hierarchy?
Modi is the real son of democracy and his rise personifies the strength of our political system. Coming from an extreme humble background and rising through the ranks, he’s achieved a fairytale success which is nothing short of a miracle; this miracle could happen on the sheer strength of our democratic values that provide opportunities even to the person from the lowest strata of society to rise to the highest level in political hierarchy. Maybe, Modi is only the second person in the history of post-independence India after Lal Bahadur Shastri, to have risen from the ranks of extreme humbleness to the highest level in political leadership. He’s a true democrat; all through his way, he got people’s mandate and won resounding victories in successive elections. Thus, undeniably he’s the son of a true democratic tradition. He’s not a dictator, nor a swindler of power; then why a section of the Indian intelligentsia, civil society and media abhor him?
The answer lies in this very power of democracy. The answer lies in the challenge that a section of the intelligentsia faces through the rise and ascendance of a common man in the system. If democracy empowers someone, it cuts privileges of many others – if it adorns some with crown, it cuts many others to size. Exactly this seems to be happening with the ascendance of Narendra Modi to central corridors of power. As he comes within a touching distance of the PMO in the South Block, many feel threatened; they see in it the defeat of an idea – the idea of elitism.
In the upper echelons of society there exists a close-knit group of few powerful individuals who dominate different sub-systems of the society – the politics, the media, the civil society and the cultural institutions; this happens to be a zealously guarded group whose membership is defined by its own subculture and new recruitment to this group is restricted by its own prissy values. This group may be called ‘elite’. In an ideal condition, positions in different sub-systems of society are filled up from this pool of elites that constitutes the upper stratum of society. However, at times, some individual from outside this circle of elites come to challenge the domination of this privileged group of people. This leads to conflict. In those times of crisis, the members of the elite group unite against such individual and use all the firepower in their arsenal to finish the challenger once for all. The members of this elite in politics, media, civil society and cultural institutions declare a war against the person in their own way and use their respective powers to hound him out. They use all their might to make the attack multi-pronged and decisive under the garb of some catchy ideologies like communalism. This is just what has happened by arrival of Narendra Modi on national political arena.
Modi, by throwing a huge challenge to the throne of New Delhi, has disturbed this group of elites, who feel threatened and, at the same time, belittled by his persona. The elite class, which takes pride in its Oxford-Harvard credentials, rich genealogy and impeccable mannerism, is disturbed by a lower class usurper of power whose only credit to success is his hard work and merit. The members of elite hate him because he doesn’t look suave like them, doesn’t talk in English like them or doesn’t behave immaculately like them. Thus, they believe he’s a swindler and use polemics as a weapon to smash him down. The political elite calls him dictator, the elistist media paints him communal, the civil society dubs him intolerant and the cultural institutions brand him fascist. Thus, all of them have opened wars from their respective fronts to debilitate the man beyond redemption. They’re using polemics as strategy and hate as a tactics. They believe in the power of lie and falsities and use it as a massive tool to fight their unconventional war. It’s a boxing with gloves off – a little hit below the belt would do the trick. Afterall, this is a battle of survival; this is a battle against the challenge of a modest man to the might of the elitist class – the values of the latter is at stake.
Thus, no surprises, the elites of India would keep hating him deeper and harder keeping the bogey of communalism and intolerance alive.