by Promod Puri
The Modi phenomenon is an elusive puzzle.
The ambiguous puzzle needs a diagnostic study by political scientists across the globe, notably in India, by introducing Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ideology in their academic and analytical culture.
The scholarly project seeks to examine his aberrant and atypical governance that does not fit precisely in the established political systems of socialism, capitalism, democracy, communism, fascism, etc.
Or has he authored a new political arrangement titled democracy under a dictatorship?
The chameleon does wear varied political outfits that blend with the time, place, and situation and then puts them away as he does with the change of dresses every few hours.
The personality emerging from his persona and the phenomenology creates a portrait of reverence, adoration, and support from the nation’s middle class belonging to the majority Hindu faith. They firmly believe he is right and continues to be right. For them, he is a sincere man, valiantly trying to salvage the country for the “good days” ahead.
The steadfast recognition allows him to sit confidently and narcissistically on his achieved failures.
Modi has mastered the art of demagoguery backed by emotions and tears. Through the tactic channels of extreme nationalism and “56-inch” patriotism, he wants to create a New India destined to be a monolithic nation of Hindutva.
Moreover, his New India venture, to which most of his followers subscribe, would bring back old India. That “golden sparrow” age goes beyond the British raj and the Mughal empire in the realm of “Hindu Rashtra.”
However, in his political game plan, more crucial than the outcome of these dream projects, Modi maneuvers his calculated strategies with ingenuity that the power he got does not slip away. The brainchild is working well so far.
Is Modi a socialist, Leftist, Rightist, capitalist, autocrat, or fascist? Under which political post he works to manage the defaced “largest democracy in the world?” In fact, since becoming the prime minister in 2014, his enigmatic image does not reveal a commitment to any of the political ideologies.
More or less, with his carefully groomed white flowing beard, he has developed a cult figure for his worshippers, aka Bhagats; for them, Modi, the messiah, epitomizes a trusted saviour for the nation from years of misrule and corrupt regimes of the Congress Party.
Modi’s elusive temperament carries a deluding or misleading personality.
He goes to Mahatma Gandhi’s memorial shrine offering his respect to the “Father of the Nation.” Then, with equal or more dramatic semblance, he proceeds to garland the statue of Gandhi’s killer Nathuram Godse.
Modi expresses no disdain for a free press. But, since coming to power, he has not held a single press conference to confront him directly.
Under his governing tenets, India’s proud democratic institutions, for example, the media, judiciary, Election Commission, Film Censure Board, universities, bureaucratic functionaries like the statistic department and the Reserve Bank, etc., still stand intact. But all show a remarkable difference in their external looks and internal functionings.
Modi does not want to uproot India’s democratic traditions. But he wants to replant them in his visioned “temple of democracy” that would be a brand new multi-million-rupee complex for both houses of the Indian parliament. The new facility offers him more hiding spaces during extended periods of parliamentary session breaks.
In studying Modi’s persona and personality traits, political scientists can’t miss his favoured gesture of bear hugging. It is his signature diplomatic skill, a new political tool in handling foreign leaders, that political scholars can also delve into while untangling the elusive Modi puzzle.