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Abnormalise & Eventify: Modi’s BJP Shuns The Normal || Midweek Matters 31

12-10-2021published_dt 2021-10-12T10:11:54.192Z12-10-2021 15:41:54 IST
2021-10-12T10:11:54.192Z12-10-2021 2021-10-12T10:11:54.192Z - - 18-10-2021

Hello and 

Welcome to Midweek Matters.

Three days ago, PTI revealed to us our Prime Minister's three secrets to fix his sleep cycle and fight off jet lag. A delhi based national English daily ran a story on it quoting sources that the news agency spoke to. After a three day, 65 hour hectic visit to the United States and 20 back to back meetings, the tireless PM was seen inspecting the works of Central Vista in just a few hours after landing in India. He even worked during his flight, his own Twitter posts told us. On the 17th of this month, the PM's 71st birthday was marked in a grand manner, and we are now almost two weeks into the three week Seva aur Samarpan Abhiyaan to celebrate our Prime Minister's twenty years in the service of the nation. Today I want to reflect on the attempts by the ruling party, the government and the PM himself to shun the ordinary and normal, embrace the extraordinary and the abnormal, their collective need for eventification of everything done by the PM and his government, and what this collective need both reveals and hides about him, the party he dominates, and the government he leads. 

On his return from the US trip, the Prime Minister was received at the airport by the BJP's national President and a few state level party functionaries. Artists attired in different state costumes performed for the karyakartas who assembled to welcome the PM. Uncharacteristically, the PM stood on a platform outside the airport and allowed himself to be treated to an 11 minute eulogising oration by the party president Shri Nadda. The crowd was noticeably unresponsive. BJP press release said the party President thanked the PM "for his magnificent address to the UN General Assembly where he guided the world…" For Shri Nadda it was "the address of a true statesman in its true sense." He said our PM "made the world aware about the issues of global concern." Most importantly, Shri Nadda said that the PM's address to the UN General Assembly has "established India's ideological supremacy at a very important global platform." Return of 157 artefacts by the United States was described by the BJP as "India's lost glory is being restored under Modi government." What is otherwise a normal and routine visit to the UN and an address to its General Assembly has to be Abnormalised. That about 83 other heads of state/government have also addressed the General Assembly is best ignored.

The union government and the BJP have gone on an overdrive to mark the PM's 71st birthday. They have joined forces to give Shri Narendra Modi a special gift. The Covid-19 vaccinations hit a record number on that day. 2.5 crore people were given jabs on one day. BJP Ministers, leaders, functionaries, supporters hailed that as a demonstration of India's prowess. That the numbers were far far below the daily average a couple of days before the special day and a couple of days after it didn’t matter. All that mattered was eventifying that particular day. To abnormalise it. But please note that they all wanted the country to imagine that the we have entered a phase of scaled up vaccination drive. Didn’t matter even if it were for a single day. The Prime Minister himself got into the act of abnormalising it. He described it as "a feat not even the most powerful nations have been able to achieve." He too wanted us to ignore that days before and after that day the number of jabs were at their lowest. What should matter is the abnormal. That it was not a consistent trend mattered little. Union Health Minister described the record in a tweet as 'India's gift to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.' Do take a look at the vaccination surge on that day and the fall of the number before and after. This is how government’s own COWIN portal has shown it in a graphic representation. 

New BJP is now in the midst of a three week long Seva aur Samarpan Abhiyan to mark Shri Modi's 20 years in public life. The party is arranging to send some 5 crore post cards from people to the Prime Minister to thank him for all the good things he had done.

 

14 crore bags with his picture on them will be distributed to thank him for his decision to give ration. Video recordings of people who received vaccines and rations will be encouraged to record videos thanking the PM and share the recordings widely. People will be mobilised to bid for the mementos Modi has received that will be auctioned. Seminars on Modi's life and work will be held throughout the country. Prominent personalities will be invited to speak in them. Noted writes will contribute columns to newspapers and magazines in all the Indian languages on Sri Modi's life and achievements. As he turned 71, party karyakartas will clean up 71 rivers across the country. Blood donations camps, health check ups, food distribution for old people were also scheduled during what was termed ‘Seva Saptah'. These are some of the activities that eventify the birthday celebrations of the PM. Newspapers reported that one of the general secretaries as having said in the meeting that decided the programme: the bags with PM's picture should reach every home and particularly to women. So that they will see him as the 'Messiah of the Poor.' The leader of the four member team that’s appointed to oversee this activity said: "Our focus will be to showcase the way Modi ji has worked to uplift the deprived sections of society. We will focus on his values of service and sacrifice.” The objective is clear. Abnormalise Modi and eventify his birthday. 

Narendra Modi's Public life is also projected as exceptional. The initiatives he took, according to Shri Nadda, "were considered impossible and none of his predecessors dared to do." In Shri Nadda's reckoning, because of Modi, "all political parties have been forced to change track and work for the development of the country and welfare of the people." We probably are to imagine that they were doing otherwise before Shri Modi arrived on the scene. Nadda ji went even further. He said, "Modi ji has led the life of a saint…. His only goal and aim is to make India a Vishwaguru." The union education minister who quit during the last reshuffle described Modi as a Guru. We have the extraordinary combination of a saint, a Guru, a statesman, and a Messiah in Shri Modi. A senior BJP leader says Modi is the first Prime Minister who also has been a Chief Minister. The leader's enthusiasm to abnormalise Modi made him forget about other PMs who were Chief Ministers. 

Not only Modi the CM and PM. Even Bal Narendra was abnormalised. 17 real life stories of Narendra Modi as a child came out as far back as 2014 as a comic book. Those incidents tell us about his courage, compassion, empathy, bravery, adventure, heroism. The epilogue of the book says, “These 17 real life stories give you a glimpse of the formative years of Narendra Modi — a leader the entire nation is looking up to with great hope.” He is no ordinary since his childhood. The stories were passed for publication by Modi's office when he was Gujarat CM. The publisher of the Bal Narendra comic book according to Indian Express said, “… the authenticity seal has come from the office of the chief minister.”

The largest cricket stadium in the country is named after our PM. That’s a first for an Indian leader, a facility being named after a leader in their lifetime. Sri Modi can tell children how to study, and write exams. He wrote a book on it. He advises adults on how to lead stress free lives. Modi practices yoga, inspires others to practice it through an app. He loves wild life. His daily routine is extraordinary, he handles tough issues first thing in the morning. He works 18 hours a day. He spends festivals with jawans on the front. He’s tireless. Modi knows the secrets to beat jet lag. He can handle 20 back to back meetings in 65 hours. They’re no ordinary meetings. Bilateral meetings with US President, Vice President, Japanese PM, a multilateral meeting with Quad leaders, business tycoons, as well as important internal meetings.

 

To top it all, Modi also delivers an address to the UN General Assembly to guide the world, make it aware of its important problems, and establish the ideological supremacy of India. 

Modi's international role too is abnormalised. He is supposed to be on first name terms with leaders of important powers -  Barack, Donald, Emmanuel, Ben. Xi Jinping was his friend and came to India twice to meet him. He hugs them too. He did his bit when he was a young man in Gujarat for the liberation of Bangladesh.

The BJP's portal has a section on Modi Merchandise. The offerings include NaMo branded mugs, Covid masks, Wrist bands, pens, notebooks, badges, stickers, magnets, caps, t-shirts. And even face masks to make you look like Modi. It’s not just the party. The government also is geared to this create the cult. The PM's picture greets us at every petrol pump. Citizens find him on their vaccination certificates too. Union Government's portals, advertisements by ministries and departments, and BJP run state governments feature his pictures, and are on an overdrive in the race to foster the personality cult. There are even specially created apps! 

Calculated fostering of a personality cult is not unfamiliar to history. Many leaders did that. Latin America has seen Juan Peron and Getulio Vargas. Europe has seen Franco, Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin. Africa has seen Nkrumah, Mugabe. Asia has seen Sukarno, Mao. I have mentioned only a few examples from a long list. But two features are common to all of them. They were all dictatorial, authoritarian, or totalitarian. And none of them has enjoyed respect in their after life, that is, in their life after power. History has not spared them, whatever the headlines of the day and sycophants around them said during their years in office. At home, a much less aggressive but ill disguised attempt by Indira Gandhi earned her an indelible blot on her otherwise illustrious career. Such enterprise by a leader, their party and government is inappropriate for a country like India, the Mother of All Democracies. Without a larger than life projection, abnormalising personality, and eventifying policy initiatives, leaders have indeed achieved spectacular results in governance and confidently led their nations for many terms in office. Angela Merkel of Germany is a living example. Self confident leaders and their parties do not show themselves as extraordinary, abnormal. They don’t  game performance indices, spin narratives, and eventify routine governance. Only those who pitifully feel inadequate, lack self confidence and have failures to hide, do that.

 

That’s all for this week, will be back again next week

On Wednesday, lunch time, at 1:00 o’clock.

Stay safe and do take good care of yourselves,

And all your loved ones. 

Until then, Bye.

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