Modi's compelling narrative
So dominant, so focused, and so compelling has been the India narrative that Narendra Modi has succeeded in generating, in the last three years, that it is continuously and ceaselessly occupying centre stage in all our debates and discussions. The Indian dream, the Indian growth story, the Indian civilisational dimensions, the global Indian narrative, the changing and altering dynamics of Indian society, the restructuring of a number of societal equations are the narratives that have dominated and continue to dominate the mind and media space in the last three years.
This obsession with India is something that a vocal and intellectually influential section is uncomfortable with. Used to the trappings of power all these years and decades, India for them was a dispensable commodity, at best a notion that one need not be overly worried about. Whether you like him or not, whether you appreciate his energy, his focus and his determination and ram-like energy, one has to concede to Narendra Modi, that in the last three years, he has succeeded in centring all our debates on his vision for India and on his ways and approaches in bringing that vision to fruition.
These three years have been particularly traumatic for the India baiters, while Modi's action invests in the consolidation and validation of Indian nationhood, they also unsettle those whose business in the last seven odd decades has been to dilute Indianness, it is they who feel threatened and ill at ease with this near-ceaseless reference to India. It is these and their larger networks and wider cabals who keep kicking up dust storms to create an image of India reflecting their inner selves – an India, that according to them is crumbling and disintegrating.
Terrorists and separatists and present day extortionists who go by the name of naxals or Maoists and their urban sympathisers and voices are the other lot who have repeatedly faced the wall in the last three years. The image of Modi waving from inside the Chenani-Nashri tunnel, for example, was enough to set the alarm bells ringing, lest they lose out to the new narrative that Modi is weaving across the Valley, lest they become irrelevant, lest radicalism faces defeat before Modi's development story, they let loose hired stone-pelters and terrorists in pockets across the state and bid their sympathisers in the national capital and in television studios across the country to kick up a dust storm again. It is these actions, these images of supposed disintegration that they conjure and which keeps their mills running, their talking shop warm and their machinery well-oiled; after all in the denigration of India always lies their greatest reward.
In the last three years that Modi took over the reins of the chariot of the Indian state, these elements, with support from certain mainstream intellectual and political groups or conglomerates have continued their tirade and their efforts to either falsify or retard our collective march. The groups supporting them or furthering their agendas are either doing it out of conviction or out of their acute hatred for the persona of Narendra Modi. The communist parties fall in the first category, their faith in India, their belief in the need for an Indian grand narrative is at best dubious, at worst non-existent.
The Congress under Rahul Gandhi falls in the second category, their support of separatism, their speaking up for subversive elements and disruptionists, their efforts to light or fan conflagrations on various occasions, rises essentially from their leaders' acute hatred for Narendra Modi – a leader who has actually dared to break and cut through the cordon sanitaire that the 'first' family of Indian politics had carefully and craftily thrown across the political spectrum.
While the Left is increasingly faced with confusion and an inability to restructure or restate itself and is turning itself into an appendage of the Congress's first family, thanks to a certain over-zealous leader who has contracted the 'bourgeois' disease of political comfort, the Congress is on the wane under the spell of an intermittent leader, whose spasmodic energies are only visible when abusing Modi. The effort of trying to create and alternate counter-narrative to Modi's narrative, is completely absent, the demands that the creation of such a narrative usually makes on the mind and the collective intellect is too exacting to be seriously heeded to by them.
In the middle or at the end are the regional and micro-dynastic parties, many of whose leaders and workers have accepted Modi as their leader in the deep recesses of their hearts. In private and in close circles, they do not hesitate to articulate, that for them Modi is the leader, the one who, at this point of time, is capable of charting out a new direction and of imparting a new momentum to the Indian story. Many of these parties are now leaderless or with leaders who are confused or are fading, unable to create a new narrative. Their common apprehension of Modi is not shared by their rank and file; it is not adhesive enough to keep them from going astray. Modi's India narrative is compelling, it attracts them, they see the vast multitude responding to it and read their own irrelevance if they resist or denigrate it.
In three years, among the many things that he has upturned or altered, Modi certainly continues to alter the dimensions and structures of Indian politics and thinking.
(Dr. Anirban Ganguly is Director, Dr. Syama Prasad Mookerjee Research Foundation, New Delhi. The views expressed are strictly personal.)