Makeover of Narendra Modi from a ‘doer’ to a ‘preacher’, from ‘Vikas Purush’ to illusions of divinity

He’s getting closer to looking like a holy man and that’s how his adoring public will soon see him. He talks to birds and animals. He admonishes us while stroking his long white and well-groomed beard<b></b>

Makeover of Narendra Modi from a ‘doer’ to a ‘preacher’, from ‘Vikas Purush’ to illusions of divinity

Ranjona Banerji

Immediately after the Narendra Modi government came to power at the Centre in 2014, the public murders of Muslims and then Dalits began. The excuse given by the mob and accepted by the Indian state was usually “cow protection”. The actual reason was the subjugation of Indian Muslims and of Dalits as well, part of the main agenda of the BJP’s parent organisation, the RSS and the larger Hindutva-sphere which exists across India.

That is why Modi was presented as the great doer. The naïve thought he was a doer of development. But the inner core, the sectarian heartland of India knew that was hogwash. Modi is the ultimate Hindutva hero, the man who oversaw a pogrom of Muslims within a few months of his first term as Chief Minister of Gujarat.

The illusion however was carefully crafted and allowed to spread free: notions of development and progress, economic greatness, science and education, of everyone growing together. The publicity machines, whether from within the BJP’s own propaganda machinery or through the larger public commentariat, both bought and in voluntary thrall, pushed these ideas further. Every voice raised against Modi policy was twisted to make the protestor “anti-national”.

Even a major disaster like the demonetisation of almost 90 per cent of Indian currency, did not stop the pom-pom waving pundits. And like Mohammed Akhlak’s name, we have forgotten the consequent suffering of millions of Indians. The cynic’s idea that demonetisation was only to cripple Opposition funding for the UP elections may well be true. The BJP won UP in a landslide. A well-known Hindutva priest strongman with several criminal cases on his record, known for harassment of minorities, was chosen as chief minister. So even as we were distracted by one Modi move, the actual purpose was being cemented.

The more we forget as we race to keep up with the latest events, the more we embolden the Modi government and the BJP to further destroy our democracy and most importantly, our fragile secularism. LK Advani set that ball rolling and before Modi was anointed as King-Emperor, he learnt at Advani’s feet. We have now dispensed with “pseudo-secularism” as the problem. Secularism itself has been done away with.

Amit Shah, as both BJP president and Union Home Minister, has been a constant worker for the Hindutva cause. The reference to all Bangladeshis in India as termites to be wiped out was one more notice to us but we’ve forgotten that as well. Election after election, BJP campaigns have been on the Hindutva platform, or to be completely clear, the Hindu supremacist platform. And so, between Modi, Shah and its pliable commentariat, we see a bigger victory for the BJP at the Centre in 2019. We have failed as a nation on every growth index. But we have triumphed in the spread of hatred.

The foundation set, it has been built upon relentlessly from the first term onwards. The Triple Talaq Bill, with its criminalisation of the Muslim man while pretending to be pro-Muslim and pro-women. The abrogation of Article 370 and subjugation of Jammu and Kashmir. The citizenship acts and population registers to further delegitimise Muslims. The diabolical "love jihad" laws which attack love and choice. The judicial go-ahead to build a Ram Temple at the very site of the criminal destruction of the Babri Masjid. The major successful starting point of the Hindutva movement as envisaged by Advani now comes full circle. And now the destruction of Delhi to reconfigure it as a monument to the Modi Reich.

If you were an innocent sort, you might assume that the terrible pandemic unleashed on the planet by the coronavirus COVID-19 would have forced the Modi government into some form of governance. Of course, you are wrong. We do not know how many the virus has actually killed. We know that we have been distracted by gestures and lies. And even here, the attempt was to push the belief that ancient Indian “wisdom” was more effective than modern science. No matter how dangerous such advice was in view of the pandemic.

You may laugh that Modi appears to have reimaged himself and speculate why. He is getting closer and closer to looking like a holy man and that is how his adoring public will soon see him. He talks to birds and animals. He admonishes us. He strokes his long white beard, the number one sign of spiritual greatness the world over. Modi the Divine in the New Hindu Bharat.

Don’t pretend you were not warned.

Welcome to 2021.

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