Herald View: Can India's talkative Prime Minister make a little more sense at his rallies, please?
His advisors can make him look more ‘prime ministerial’, less partisan and speak like a statesman instead of delivering one rant after the other at election rallies, promoting more fear than hope
Who can possibly stop the Prime Minister from campaigning? The answer clearly is nobody and nothing. There is no law that bars him from campaigning in poll-bound states and address political rallies. He is well within his rights to do so and he cannot be faulted because in India, as elsewhere in the democratic world, there is one election or the other taking place all the time. There is, therefore, no dearth of opportunity for the Prime Minister to impress people with his oratory and with the depth of his vision.
So, why would anyone object to the Prime Minister devoting most or all his time to campaigning? Prime Ministers before him did not spare as much time campaigning surely cannot be a good enough reason to criticize him for doing so? So what if he is mocked as being a Pracharmantri, Publicity Minister, rather than a Pradhanmantri? If previous Prime Ministers did not have his oratorial skill and charisma, Narendra Modi cannot in all fairness be blamed. Who again can blame him for missing sessions of the Parliament in favour of campaigning? Who knows better than him that his presence in Parliament is no longer required to get legislative work done? There can therefore be no quarrel with his belief that he needs to impress people more than Parliament. Doesn’t he have a direct connect with the people who adore him and wait for the better part of the day to hear his uplifting and inspiring speeches? And if he is accused of squandering his days in campaigning, he is clearly making up for the lost hours at night. He after all works tirelessly through the night because he doesn’t require much sleep. And who can deny the possibility that he is utilising his travel time to take important administrative decisions and do his ‘official’ work? There is clearly no good reason for him to stop being on ‘poll mode’ all the time.
But there was a reason why Prime Ministers before him spent more time in their offices, discussing policy and weighing options before taking decisions. It is entirely possible that they had a less brilliant mind than the current Prime Minister and instead of two minutes taken by the incumbent, took hours to grasp the complexities of the economy and administration. They might have been ‘less decisive’ than Mr. Modi. It is also possible that they lacked the energy, stamina and the motivation that drive the present Prime Minister. But there was another reason that might have persuaded them to allow others to be on the ground and campaign. Prime Ministerial visits, planned for days, invariably divert the attention, time and energy of the local administration to making arrangements for him. To put it bluntly, Prime Ministerial visits cost money, time and frayed nerves and destabilise the administration for days. But none of these reservations would matter if the present Prime Minister had something substantial to say during the campaign. If only his speeches uplifted the soul of the people, gave them hope and informed them of how their foreseeable future would become brighter, it would all be worth the trouble and the money. But his speeches are often vicious rants, marked by dog whistles, innuendos and factual inaccuracies. What is more, he refuses to even address public concerns like unemployment and inflation.
While it is pointless to even mention ‘level playing field’, his advisors could at least help him conduct himself better, more like a Prime Minister, and speak a little more sense?
(The article was first published in National Herald on Sunday)