Narendra Modi 2.0
March 8, 2012 3:28 PM   Subscribe

The Emperor Uncrowned: An in-depth look at the controversial man who may be India's next Prime Minister (previously). Also related.
posted by peacheater (5 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I read your post and immediately wondered, "Rahul Gandhi? Or Modi?" and both choices made me sad. Probably the best thing about the drubbing the Congress received this week is that Rahul Gandhi's career may hopefully be over before it started.

What a pathetic choice we're facing. Where are the statesmen?
posted by vanar sena at 4:52 PM on March 8, 2012

Sobering read. Another of my pet political maxims [*] :) , but how a politician deals with internal party squabbles is often a good insight into his or her political instinct; to that end, this was about the first time I've actually found someone chilling and scary. Just when you thought Modi couldn't be scarier, he just managed to become even more scarier.

Wouldn't write off Indian politics that fast, though. I mean, when PV Narasimha Rao became the PM in 1991, he was on the verge of retirement, having wanted to spend time writing his (frankly, rambling) magnum opus, the meatier second-part of which, we sadly will never see. Similar tales abound for Manmohan Singh and IK Gujral at the very least. Likewise, the BJP's own re-election campaign in 2004 is another case in point; while they, and their regional partners such as the Telugu Desam, were cocky enough to call for elections a full six months ahead of schedule, and a time when the Hindu right seemed to be on the ascendant, they were horribly beaten at the hustings.

Modi is smart; he's secure in his gaddi in Gujarat where his word is law. He may have ambitions beyond Gujarat, but Gujarat isn't India, India isn't Gujarat. The conditions that have led to Modi's ascendancy simply don't exist elsewhere; Gujarat was always considered to be better governed, and the state machinery more responsive than other states. For instance, even in the pre-Ayodhya days of paper ballots etc, Gujarat was one of the first states to start reporting results, a fact that all these Prannoy Roy types would never fail to comment on.

The real meat, for me, is not what he'd do at the national level, but what "lessons" other state politicians might take from him at a local level. We're already seeing evidence to that effect; until they got defeated by the AIADMK, the DMK have had this integrated telco-TV-cable-movie jaggernaut which basically extracted a certain amount of forced loyalty from cinema makers etc. During the Telangana bandh in last year August, movies, colleges and authors (Visalandhra Mahasabha has a huge running list) had to publicly support the Telangana cause before they were disrupted. So the CII kowtowing to Modi isn't a one-off thing; it's getting replicated across the country in various small and big ways.

That is, Modi may or may not be successful nationally, but Modism is spreading quite fast.

As for the mythical statesmen towering over the public sphere, I think they're about to get evolved out of the system faster than you think. I'm on a flaky net connection here so I offer no citations, but I remember reading somewhere that the current Lok Sabha is one of the richest (if not the richest) in modern India, in terms of the average personal net-worth's of individual MP's before they hit the Parliament. The reason, apparently, is because tickets for most of the inconsequential safe seats have been going to the highest bidder.

[*] - My other pet maxim is: always be careful of politicians who are single (Modi would count). They are usually more trouble, and less predictable, than married ones. :)
posted by the cydonian at 12:51 AM on March 9, 2012

"What a pathetic choice we're facing. Where are the statesmen?"
posted by vanar sena

This applies to so many countries right now. Well Said.
posted by marienbad at 1:09 AM on March 9, 2012

This is why I [heart] metafilter. Thank you for posting this article which no main stream media in the western world will bother with; more the pity as India now ranks 3rd in the world listing of GDP/PPP. It is a fascinating glimpse into Indian politics. This widens my understanding of current world affairs and also makes me want to hide under the sofa so to speak. If Modi realizes his ambitions there will only be sectarian trouble to follow. The rest of the world´s leaders will turn a blind eye to his fundamental fanaticism and say nothing about the outrages and killings.
Indeed, where are the statesmen in this ever more venal world. But I guess people have been saying that for a long time as first one has to step to the edge of the abyss before a statesman appears if you are lucky to pull one back.
I posted about the riots and lack of western media interest previously.
posted by adamvasco at 3:21 AM on March 9, 2012

That is, Modi may or may not be successful nationally, but Modism is spreading quite fast.

My sentiments exactly. Modiball, just like Moneyball, but way, way bloodier.
posted by vidur at 3:49 PM on March 11, 2012

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