On the defensive, PM Modi shifts gears and with 2024 far away, hopes to get out of the hole he has dug

Can Modi, in the remaining time period he has, get out of the hole that he has dug himself into? That’s the Rs 5 trillion question

(Photo by Sanjeev Verma/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)
(Photo by Sanjeev Verma/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)

Sushil Kutty

The second coronavirus wave has overwhelmed India with lakhs of Covid-19 cases per day. There’s no breathing space left with the scarcity of life-saving oxygen. Some people are saying there’s conspiracy afoot to malign the Modi Government. The reality is people are waking up to “what could have been, and what should have been.” And “international journalist” Rana Ayyub, with boots and roots firmly in the anti-Modi hemisphere, who never fails to motivate “Modi-bhakts” to commit virtual homicide, has with a piece in Time magazine taken Modi to task with the headline: “This is Hell. Prime Minister Modi’s Failure to Lead Is Deepening India’s COVID-19 Crisis.’

“National journalists”, originally silent spectators, are also gathering courage. “And so, at a time when only science and data should have driven all decisions, we allowed ourselves to be driven by politics and religion and short-term economic concerns...and when challenged, validated our actions by pointing to dubious science or data that showed India was doing better than other countries,” wrote the editor of a nationally circulated daily.

He rounded off with “The results of this are all around. As a famous band once sang, ‘If you plant ice, you’re gonna harvest wind.’ This (Covid-19 second wave) is a whirlwind.” Maybe he had read an excerpt from ‘India’s Power Elite: Class, Caste and a Cultural Revolution’ by Sanjay Baru, media advisor to Manmohan Singh when Singh was Prime Minister. “Narendra Modi used India’s media elite for his own advantage,” says Baru, hardly being original!

Mind you Sanjay Baru is no less “media elite.” Baru knows it, too, the clout that comes with being "media elite." His book is that of an insider taking us through the maze of press, power and politics. He breaks the essentials down to basics. “Do media’s close links with politicians give it clout or deprive it of credibility?” he asks, and then answers with: “It would appear that almost every media group takes a trade-off between the two – sacrificing some credibility for either money or power.”

Baru in his role as media advisor to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh must have been keenly aware of this “trade-off.” He did not cotton to certain journalists, especially to the one who, he says, is “idiosyncratic” and “unabashedly partisan and pro-Modi,” who is otherwise “a thorough professional and personally amiable fellow.” The “amiable fellow” is easily identifiable.

This fellow’s viewers, writes Sanjay Baru, are mainly “urban middle-class Hindus” who “enthusiastically support Modi (and) lap up all the histrionics on display.” Baru perhaps hasn’t been watching the Republic. He forgets that to attack somebody you got to know that somebody and what that somebody’s up to?

Legions of the anti-Modi have therefore been watching the “headiness of power” on display in the Republic. Considerable numbers shifted gears. Social Media reveals the “BJP IT Cell” is losing to the collective anti-Modi. The severity of the ‘second wave’ has sealed Modi’s and the BJP’s fate. If general elections were to be held today, the BJP would be out of power and Modi wouldn’t have a place to duck into.

Certain media have in fact sensed this and have thrown inhibitions to the wind, whirlwind! The minorities on Social Media are egging them on with posts, ‘likes’ and comments. Cowed media are breaking shackles. Voicing condemnation. The question is, are the anti-Modi smelling victory? Nope. No. Prime Minister Narendra Modi appears to be warned. And he, too, is changing gears, making the right sounds, and the right moves. He's stopped dictating to the states. He’s offering them all they want to get out of the Covid-19 crisis. If the BJP wins West Bengal and Assam, Narendra Modi would recover to the point from where he could build all over again.

The second wave of Covid-19 and the complete and total failure of the Narendra Modi Government to anticipate it coupled with Modi and Shah’s utter disregard for Covid-appropriate behaviour at election rallies appeared to have unseated Modi in the heads and minds of millions and millions of voters countrywide. The fact of the matter, however, is things peaked too early. To the crores and crores of the anti-Modi people, 2024 is too far away. Can Modi, in the remaining time period he has, get out of the hole that he has dug himself into? That's the Rs 5 trillion question.

(IPA Service.

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