It all boils down to Narendra Modi –
the man, the Prime Minister, the Chaiwala. From Rahul Gandhi to Chandrababu
Naidu to Arvind Kejriwal and Farooq Abdullah, everybody is making the mistake
of publicly shaming Modi, forgetting that the man soaks in the humiliation and
feeds on disgrace to work wonders to build his stock in the public eye.
Attacking Modi with pejoratives has time and again boomeranged.
Modi is no Atal Bihari Vajpayee, whose
portrait was unveiled in Parliament on Tuesday. Vajpayee was adept at carrying
everybody along with him. But the times, they have a changed, and it’s a
fiercely competitive world that we live in. Could Atalji have survived today’s
political environment? He had the power of poetry to blunt criticism and
building consensus was in his blood and tongue.
Modi is a completely different cup of
tea. Every chaiwala barb thrown at him brews to his advantage. Mani Shankar
Aiyar made the mistake. Not once but twice. The first time, it saw Modi become
Prime Minister. The second time, it helped Modi snatch victory in Gujarat from
the jaws of defeat. Aiyar’s ‘neech aadmi’ barb cost the Congress dear.
Now, it’s an epidemic. Opposition
leaders are as if lured by voodoo, doing exactly what Aiyar did – calling Modi
names; casting aspersions on his failed marriage and his Chaiwala origins.
Sure-shot formula to give Modi victim-hood. Shashi Tharoor spilled chai on Modi
and Tharoor might have to campaign harder this time around for that slip of the
tongue between the cup and the lip.
The politics behind the phenomenon is
not difficult to fathom. The mass of voters are the aam aadmi. Common folk who
throng railway stations and village chaupals, roadside tea-shops. These are
people looking for a hero from their midst and when a Chaiwala becomes Prime
Minister, then it’s a heady concoction. They feel kinship with the man and
insults piled on him become personal.
Monday, Chandrababu Naidu’s Telugu
Desam Party took a potshot at Modi’s Chaiwala origins. And it was in rank bad
taste: Asking why the reins of the nation was given to a Chaiwala who deserved
only the dregs of tea left behind by somebody in the cup. And Naidu, then had
the gall to blame Modi for “hitting below the belt”.
Not to be outdone, Delhi Chief
Minister Arvind Kejriwal charged Modi with behaving like he was “Prime Minister
of Pakistan”. A JD (S) leader asked Modi to first “take care of his family and
resolve his differences with his estranged wife, the wife Modi deserted.”
Andhra Bhavan, known for its excellent lunch fare, became venue for serving
tasteless Modi chai.
Is the Opposition repeating the 2014
mistake? For some strange reason, Modi brings out the worst in opposition
leaders. And Chandrababu Naidu, a relative newcomer to Modi-bashing, is walking
into a trap. For most part of NDA rule under Modi, TDP was part of NDA. But
Naidu wanted special category status for Andhra Pradesh and Modi was willing to
give AP status equivalent to special category.
CBN is more than miffed. He says he
became CM before Modi was even considered for the post in Gujarat. CBN also
sees himself miles ahead of Modi in matters economy and development. Monday, he
challenged Modi to compare Hyderabad with Ahmedabad and see the difference.
Chandrababu Naidu and Kejriwal and
Farooq Abdullah, all of them are falling into Modi’s trap. Modi, contrary to
Naidu’s allegation, never makes it personal. The farthest Modi has gone
personal is to call the Gandhi family, “Naamdar.” He knows every time Rahul
Gandhi calls him “Chowkidar Chor Hai”, his base closes ranks behind him and a
lot many who are not his base empathize with him.
Naidu and company are willynilly
walking into the trap set by a wily political opponent. Mani Shankar Aiyar
single-handedly raised Modi’s stock in 2014. Now, as Modi gets caught in
“Rafale lies” with expose after expose, Modi is getting under the skin of
opposition leaders and subtly goading them to call him names and worse, knowing
that voters do not take kindly to personal attacks on someone who refuses to
Every time he’s called Chaiwala or
worse, Modi scores with the aam aadmi. Opinion polls predict both Naidu and
Kejriwal will lose big time in GE 2019. AAP will get only one of Delhi’s seven
LS seats and TDP is predicted to draw blank in Andhra Pradesh. Ergo both should
temper their language and not get drawn into Modi’s web. That is best done with
keeping traps shut. Only Mayawati seems to have read Modi’s lips right. (IPA Service)