From a chaiwallah, serving tea as a boy at a railway station in Gujarat, to a thrice-victorious chief minister now firmly anointed as the Bharatiya Janata Party’s PM candidate, Narendra Modi’s rise has been more than meteoric. He has been catapulted from an untried novice of a chief minister to the official PM nominee in just over a decade, a feat unimaginable unless one has a dynasty to fall back on. Modi, now a national obsession, both a Faustian experiment on the part of the nation as well as the telos to which the aggressively self-corporatising India has been propelling itself for years now, is perhaps the best bet that can fire up the dying embers of the BJP and its Hindutva ideology. Modi’s has been a Midas’ touch, and certainly, he is the one who managed to extract impassioned loyalty not only from the rank and file of the saffron camp’s cadre base, but also from the corporate top brass in the country. Truly, his journey from an RSS pracharak to a chief minister in just 13 years, and since then his anointment as the PM candidate for the BJP, and consequently, the National Democratic Alliance, is beyond commendable, even though it is punctuated by the ugly conjunctions of the Godhra 2002 pogrom. In his not that long political innings, Modi has attracted blind devotion and blind hatred, to the extent that his biographers have either resorted to undiluted hagiography or to scathing, unsparing criticism that has often eclipsed the good points of the leader’s achievements, especially in his hometurf, Gujarat. Clearly, Modi is not a mixed bag, and certainly, he’s not grey zone of political one-upmanship, as is the case with the Congress party, and even its allies in the UPA. Narendra Modi’s arena is a political wrestling ring which doesn’t allow an indecisive limbo to linger for long. His polarisation, therefore, doesn’t stop at religious affiliation, political loyalties or even an economic outlook – he’s also the absolute other, who’s risen from the ranks, only to heavily dismantle the edifices he has used to broker his climb.
Case in point is Modi’s fall out with LK Advani, his one-time mentor, whose acrimonious and loud lament over the Gurajat CM’s official anointment might appear as in sour taste to many, but those who believe in the idea of the Sangh Parivar, and its biggest ideologue in the Iron Man Advani, would perchance sympathise with the older leader. Even though Advani continues to believe that Modi’s coronation would be detrimental to the BJP’s interests in the forthcoming Assembly elections and would pave the way for a massive exodus of Muslim votes, that could have been caught in the net by a milder candidate like the Madhya Pradesh CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan, or a Sushma Swaraj, who could have accumulated women’s votes in large swells, or a Raman Singh, the Chhattisgarh CM, whose development model has been no less talked about than the Modi model itself – the ground reality remains that the veteran leader’s camp has been so completely outmaneuvered by the Rajnath Singh-Narendra Modi brigade that nothing remains to be said and done on the importance of the decisions thus taken. Evidently, Modi has won this battle of wits, and now he’s gearing up to politically and psychologically sweep the nation. Nevertheless, it is a welcome development since BJP has managed to put up a united front behind Modi, and has emerged from a party ridden with confusion, bitter factionalism and raging instability to come out as a formidable alternative to the corruption-infested, leaderless UPA. As the nation puts the Atal-Advani era of BJP politics firmly behind, as the sun sets on an earlier version of political Hindutva, it remains to be seen if tethering Mandir to Moditva can yield the electoral benefits that the BJP is so hoping for.