By Sushil Kutty
Prime Minister Narendra Modi turned 72 on September 17 and the country celebrated how fast an African Cheetah can run in the Indian wild? Not faster than its destiny, right? Talking of which, Modi is not ‘Destiny’s Child’, he is just another man-sized Gujarati with the ability to turn into child’s play anything that he set out to accomplish. Modi’s list of accomplishments will fill a book though there are among us, Modi’s contemporaries, who will doubt whether all of those accomplishments will fit the book.
On Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s 72nd birthday eight African Cheetahs have been flown in from the wild in Namibia to their new wild home in India at the Kuno National Park in Madhya Pradesh, but not a la the Citizens Amendment Act! These big cats were by far safer in Namibia than they possibly can in an Indian wildlife reserve. That said, don’t be surprised if Modi’s birthday henceforth comes to be celebrated as ‘National Cheetah Day’
On Narendra Modi’s 72nd birthday, there would also be millions who would wish Modi runs faster than the Cheetah, runs straight out of their lives! Among them political rivals who have had enough of Modi and his brand of politics to last a couple of terms and then be threatened with a third. No Indian opposition leader has the patience of Russian President Vladimir Putin, who refrained from wishing Modi ‘Happy Birthday’ at the SCO Summit because it’s not the Russian custom to jump the gun!
Narendra Modi prides himself as a global icon. And one of his lasting contributions to conducting international relations is the “Hug” which is now ritual in whichever part of the globe Modi happens to touch down. The “Modi Hug”, however, has no domestic edition. Modi never hugs the strange bedfellows he holds at arm’s length in any of the states and Union Territories of ‘Hamara Desh Mahaan’.
That, however, didn’t stop political adversaries from greeting Modi on his birthday. Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, who is on his ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’, in a friendly gesture greeted Modi, and so did AAP convener and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal. Closer to home, Modi’s own party men were lobbying him with birthday greetings. Modi at 72 continues to be leader of all he surveys in the BJP.
It’s said that one of Modi’s most winning trait is his ability to connect with people. The Prime Minister is a showman with the gift to showboat. Narendra Modi will wade into a crowd if he felt the urge to and zero in on the one person he was aiming for. His ability to sway the electorate with a stump speech is now an acknowledged feat. Tested numerous times at the hustings, winning elections comes natural to Narendra Modi.
Part of his winning formula are the slogans coined around him. From ‘Abki Baar Modi Sarkar’ to ‘Achche Din’ to ‘Make in India’ and ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’. Some of these slogans have turned around to bite him where it hurts most while others are like leeches bleeding his hard won reputation all over the place.
One of the more enduring slogans is “Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas”, which, according to his detractors, doesn’t actually tell the Modi story fully. Prime Minister Narendra Modi rightly or wrongly has been branded ‘Divider-in-Chief’, courtesy the ‘Time’ magazine, and the label has stuck to hound him. The Western media loves to hate Modi and that is also par for the course.
On his birthday Narendra Modi should sit down with a cup of homemade ‘chai’, and with his favourite peacock by his side, ask himself why with the slogan ‘Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas’ buoyed by ‘Sabka Prayas’, he is still seen as a no-holds barred authoritarian figure with a divisive agenda. Maybe, it’s the RSS pracharak in his resume. His politics is regarded as not inclusive. He cannot be inclusive unless he wants to commit political hara-kiri.
That being said, Modi has redeeming qualities. Without doubt he is a patriot, and a nationalist. But then, so were each one of the successive prime ministers India had. Maybe Modi flaunts it. Also, Modi is an excellent organiser, very organised in his ways and manner of functioning. He plans his life in events but when he does the same for India is when he often plunges India into chaos. Demonetization was an example of the Muhammad bin Tughlak in Modi. The ‘Cheetah Action Plan’ hopefully will not be.
A Modi plus point is that the Indian passport has found glory under his watch. The NRI is happy at the diaspora events Modi takes by storm. And, we’re UK-beaters! We have the third richest man on the planet. But we also have the most number of the world’s extremely poor. We burned and buried tens of thousands of the Covid-19 dead, but we also vaccinated a billion-plus. The only thing is that while the Namibian import can be radio-collared, the same cannot be said about our all-powerful Birthday Boy! (IPA Service)