By Sushil Kutty
Prime Minister Narendra Modi turned 74 on Sunday, September 17. Who cares is what one set of people say. The other set’s cloying sycophancy was on full display. That said, successful people have charisma. What about Prime Minister Narendra Modi? Hundreds of millions hang on to his every word when he addresses rallies. They vote for his party, too, in winning numbers. Does that explain Narendra Modi’s charisma?
India’s first Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru was possessed of oodles of charm. Prime Minister Narendra Modi often invites comparison. The odds were always stacked against Modi. It was ridiculous to compare a self-styled chaiwala with a sophisticate? Then, calumny laid low Nehru’s charm and the Narendra Modi cult was all-pervading.
Today, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is 74 and on pedestals everywhere. At 50, the then Gujarat Chief Minister was a swarthy version of the currently relatively fair model. Also, there was the time when Modi was avoided. No country had a visa to spare for the Gujarat Chief Minister. Today, Modi gets red carpet welcomes everywhere on the Atlas. Modi’s global stock has risen several fold compared to his domestic standing.
Also, multiple countries have honoured Modi with their highest civilian awards. Come to think of it, the Modi story is fascinating. At age 17, boy Modi left home to travel the country. And for a spell he lived life in the lap of the Himalayas. He also did a stint in the RSS, perhaps not the best decision by far but it shaped his career.
The boy born in poverty quietly going places. Also, wherever Modi went, there was turmoil. Gujarat 2002 for instance. It caught him unawares. Also, natural calamities stalked Modi. Earthquakes and flashfloods. On Monday, September 18, the Prime Minister put Parliament’s special session into motion in the Old Parliament House. On September 19, the special session will move to the New Parliament House in a historic shift.
And one year from now, Modi aims to be Prime Minister for a third time. Half of 140 billion Indians dread the impending certainty. The other half believe Prime Minister Narendra Modi is the harbinger of further change. The point is, Modi isn’t looking forward to a retired life. There is no “Farewell to Arms”. On the contrary, Modi is working 18 hours 24/7 to ensure he is around for mounting a fourth straight term.
From the looks of it, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has just now begun his tenure. There is no guarantee he’ll call it a day and join the Margdarshak Mandal. In any case, the sprightly Modi does not fit with Murlli Manohar Joshi and LK Advani, who is in his late 90s. Narendra Modi has been in continuous 24 years in power, 14 years ruling Gujarat and a decade making decisions for India that is Bharat. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s global approval rating has never dipped below the high 70s.
And the ‘Namo-struck’ Modi bhakt gets his high from celebrating Modi’s masterstrokes. For the tough as nails perennial Modi voter, another Modi term is a fait accompli. The BJP celebrated PM Modi’s birthday on Sunday with the ‘Namo Vikas Utsav’ in Tripura. In Gujarat, the celebrations will continue till Gandhi Jayanti, October 2. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s birthday also saw Modi dedicating ‘Yasho Bhoomi’, a Convention Center in Delhi’s Dwarka which also has a ballroom, to the nation.
That should tell a Namo story on its own. From pictures emerging from G20, there is a video in which Prime Minister Narendra Modi is shown how to hold a long-stemmed champagne glass without spoiling the contents by US President Joe Biden. At 74, Modi knows how to hold a wine glass was the highlight of the G20 Summit.
The INDIA alliance fighting to defeat Prime Minister Narendra Modi and end his 10 year run faces a tough general elections in 2024. But that does not mean Narendra Modi will have an easy third time saddled as he is with double anti-incumbency and dislike that runs deep. Modi is not the clear favourite this time. The Prime Minister cannot just up and have his cake and eat it, too.
Most of all, there is opposition unity. And Modi’s charisma has lost its cutting edge. At 74 Modi is at a crossroads. At least that is what the Opposition is wishing and praying for. Maybe at age 75, he will be voted to spend the rest of his life as an honourable member of the BJP’s ‘Margdarshak Mandal’, Modi’s go-getter image notwithstanding. At 74. Modi has an authoritarian streak and he is also stubborn. Listening to reason comes hard to this Prime Minister. Worst, he clams up when he should be using his consider vocabulary to softening the blows to people hit by manmade calamities and manmade atrocities. (IPA Service)