Widely held as a divisive figure, BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi has been using certain unifying themes since his election to the CM post in Gujarat.
A large section of politicians – in India or overseas – calls Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi a ‘divisive’ figure. And that probably will be the reason that a huge chunk will never vote for him in elections. Even a larger section holds RSS in contempt. These are the dis-advantages that BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Modi is battling with.
The Godhara pogrom has tainted his life forever. In his recent article, The Hindu’s N Ram declared him unfit for becoming the prime minister of the country precisely because of his controversial figure. The whole gamut of his abilities was praised but dwarfed by Ram against his inability to stop the carnage which took place in 2002.
That maybe the reason that Modi has been using certain uniting factors in his speeches across his rallies and other public addresses to gain the consensus.
Modi’s ‘One India’ slogan has already converted into a project. His speeches start with ‘Vande Mataram’, “Bharat Mata ki Jai’ and ends with them. Projecting himself as a nationalist is the biggest unifying factor which will deliver him votes too.
Modi uses Swami Vivekananda, Mahatma Gandhi and Sardar Vallabhai Patel freely in public domain.
Swami Vivekananda is a respected figure and what’s more he is closely associated with Hinduism. He is a youth icon and Modi cuts into this faction through him.
Mahatma Gandhi, who also happens to be a Gujarati like Sardar Patel, is an obvious choice. And nobody can stop him from honouring the Mahatma, not even Congress.
Sardar Patel is a universally admired personality and he’s a Congressman to boot. Nobody is rubbishing Patel, but only rubbishing Modi using Patel’s name. That is downright silly because the history of the world is littered with greats and anyone is free to take inspiration from any of them. What’s more that he erects Patel’s statue and calls it the “Statue of Unity”.
This subtle use of neutral icons has greatly helped Modi gain widespread acceptance.
When Modi was re-elected in 2002, he decided to focus on development. If you look at his speeches in the last odd decade then you’ll find very little of religion and most of it on development.
Modi uses social media in style which is a humongous medium that no-one can control. Netizens seem united behind Modi. This was shown in great contrast in an online poll conducted by a TV news channel where lakhs of people participated. 61% said they would vote for the BJP and just 5% Congress.
Modi uses his ‘clean administration’ image to woo voters. Just yesterday in his Bemetra (Chhatisgarh) rally, he said that people were fed up of Congress government because of the relay of scams they carried out. Everybody wants to fight corruption and present a united stand against it. There have been no major scams coming from Gujarat post-2001 and that’s something that millions of people all over India appreciate.
The economy in the state is booming. And what could be more of a proof that UK prime minister David Cameron, who was so up against Modi like others, is ready to meet him due to the business prospects he finds between his country and the state. Modi’s governance and administrative acumen in Gujarat is something that many Indians want replicated at the national level.
Many people used to see the BJP as a high-caste party from the Hindi heartland. Modi is not only of a lower caste, but uses language effectively wherever he goes. You can get his Twitter feed in various regional languages.
In Orissa he spoke in Oriya and in Hyderabad, he began the speech with Telugu. In Trichy which saw a crowd of 3 lakh (unheard of for a BJP leader) the Tamil translation followed after every para. Of course his Hindi rallies are also a huge hit as seen by the Patna one which may have touched one million.
A lot of Modi critics bemoan his lack of English speaking skills but what they don’t realize is that regional languages are much bigger unifiers across India than English can ever hope to be.