The Lok Sabha elections of 2014 wasn’t a general cacophony of political parties and their candidates rushing towards stages and rallies to make yet another set of false promises and greedily seek votes. This time the largest democracy of the world was witnessing the genesis and raises of a leader whose speeches and personality took the nation by a storm. Narendra Modi was an incumbent Chief Minister of the state of Gujarat, his massive popularity as a “Vikas Purush” and political entrepreneur brought a wave of unprecedented reaction from Indian voters. The incremental use of social media and quirky advertising techniques surpassed all erstwhile outdated methodologies of election campaigning. The result was a cult like image of Narendra Modi who was soon sworn in as the Prime Minister of India having received a tremendous and historic mandate.
Modi chants and flags were daggered to the ground and people of all age were excited about their new leader who speaks like a statesman, dresses elegantly, sleeps of 4 hours, charms everyone around him, and is full of a plethora of development ideas for his beloved nation. Initially things appeared like a mere propaganda, but Narendra Modi indeed turned out to be different and surprisingly a favorite politician, hitherto an oxymoron. He showed his visionary and adept temperament by inviting heads of all SAARC member countries in his swearing-in ceremony, thereby blowing the bugle of a revamped India.
— Times of India (@timesofindia) November 16, 2017
As soon as he took office Narendra Modi took some radical decisions and innovative steps. He introduced a new portal MyGov.in to accentuate e-governance and greater contact with people. It saw an overwhelming response from citizens across the country. He initiated a practice of addressing the nation every fortnight through his “Mann ki Baat”. Certain transformation policy decisions were made by scrapping of so-called archaic institution Planning Commission and inauguration of NITI Aayog, a think-tank that invites participation of all states’ representatives in order to boost cooperative and competitive federalism.
New schemes were launched whose although ideas were well-established and urgent never got prioritizes. These were Jan Dhan Yojana to promote universal financial inclusion, Make in India to establish Indian subcontinent as a manufacturing hub, Skill India Mission to provide employable skills to millions of youth forming the demographic dividend, and Digital India to accelerate the technological expansion and digital connectivity from the border to the hinterland. Narendra Modi shocked the nation when he took the courage to highlight certain exceptionally ignored issues of the country from the ramparts of Red Fort. He initiated the program of Swachh Bharat Abhiyan aiming to make India an open defecation free nation by 2022, the year when we celebrate 150th anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi. Prominent celebrities, media persons, politicians and civil society were roped in to bring this mission to success on a scale and level never seen before.
Indian Diaspora is considered to be the prosperous, remarkable, powerful, and widespread across the world. Narendra Modi gave a twist to India’s Foreign Policy which was progressive and exemplary engagement of the Indian Diaspora. He implored their participation in the growth story of India. His popularity soared sky-high and in every foreign visit, he was received with warm welcome. The jubilance and excitement Indian Diaspora showed for their new Prime Minister was shocking and unbelievable to world leaders, as it was unparalleled by any standards. Events at Madison Square Garden of the United States, and United Kingdom, Canada, Dubai, etc., are examples of his mass recognition and adulation. What people saw in him was a leader who can pull the nation out of lethargy and corruption, infusing a new wave of performance, unrelenting growth, and transformational development.
The level of integrity Narendra Modi retains hasn’t been perceptible in recent politics. He took stringent steps to curb black money through legislation, coercion, and arm-twisting. A shock therapy was gifted to the nation in form of demonetization exercise where 86% of legal tender notes were rendered useless. This kind of exercise was completely unprecedented and caused major disruption to Indian economy and small-scale industries. GDP growth slowed down and opposition created a tremendous uproar over this move. Adding to the woes was introduction of GST that quadrupled the problems of an already slowing economy.
Ever since his ascension to the highest political post of India, he was criticized for bigotry as his party BJP is closely associated with Hindu right-wing fundamentalist group, RSS. Communal incidents of violence increased several times, cow vigilantism saw an abominable rise, freedom of press became questionable and attacks on journalists rose causing a wave of intolerance debate, mob-violence scandalously targeted minorities, and imposition of Aadhar on every particular aspect of public life brought to the forefront danger of mass surveillance and threat to privacy. In all of these cases, Narendra Modi either remained silent or never gave satisfactory or decisive response. A politically astute Prime Minister is also criticized for never appearing for interviews to answer questions from the free media.
Nevertheless, it was utterly shocking to see that Narendra Modi’s popularity never plunged. The opposition was baffled, left-wing intellectuals bewildered, and conservative India overjoyed. His religious affinity and scientific ignorance is being constantly pardoned. The public loves their strong leader and is apparently ready to give him another chance. With no robust alternative leadership or agenda, Narendra Modi will continue to grow stronger and powerful. His charisma has already won BJP elections in multiple states. A majority of the nation is unabashedly and irrevocably impressed with their Prime Minister, who is yet to bring a substantial transformation.
Article by Mausam.