‘Modi positioned himself as middle-class icon’

Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi has carefully positioned himself as a middle-class icon in a country where large sections of the population are concerned about the rising graph of corruption in social and political institutions, argued sociologists and political science experts at a three-day international seminar, jointly organised by the Centre for Culture and Development (CCD), Vadodara, and the Indian Council for Social Science Research, New Delhi, in Vadodara on Wednesday.

"The Modi phenomenon is a deep expression of the politics of middle class. Currently, on one hand Modi is projecting himself cleverly through the well-orchestrated propaganda. On the other hand, the middle class sections find their ideal in him," said social activist Ram Puniyani, who presented a paper titled, Middle Class, Changing Profile and Hindutva Politics.

Puniyani's paper speaks of the RSS finally finding a face in Modi. "I have always maintained that Hindutva Politics is Indian Fascism and Fascism always requires a charismatic leader. Modi has created his charisma and is also very clever. The RSS needed such a leader to come forward as BJP has never been able to break the barrier of the 25 per cent vote and that is not enough to come to power. They have to create a mass illusion of development to capture power," Puniyani said.

Talking about the middle class, he said, "The middle class aspires to go up, but it is also faced with a threat of going down. It is the most anxious class. It looks for a status quo. That serves the purpose of Fascist politics."

However, according to experts, although the middle class of Gujarat has voted Modi to power on three occasions, the path may not be that easy for the BJP across the country. Dr Jayesh Shah of the Centre for Culture and Development, Vadodara, said, "The perception of Modi as a leader is very different in the minds of the middle class in Gujarat and in the rest of the country. Our study on the middle class in politics has shown that the middle class in Gujarat believe in the positive results of Modi's governance in the state, unlike people in the other states."

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