A Modi-fied politics

Modi is now the preeminent face of the BJP. Some fear that what the BJP might gain by internal coherence under his leadership, it loses in its ability to attract partners. I suspect this is also a shifting game. The BJP has other accomplished chief ministers. Modi is not so much a three dimensional character as an idea. He represents a longing for centralisation in an age of dispersion, decisiveness in a milieu of indecision, growth amidst a fear of stagnation and government in the face of raucous democracy. He is not adorned with elevated liberal values, or a deep concern for democratic diversity. But he may still prove a rallying point against a decaying plutocracy.

But Modi's path to a greater national role is still fraught. No chief minister has been able to make an easy transition to national politics. No one can hope to govern India if they are incapable of a statesman-like synthesising capacity. No one can govern India for long if they make minorities feel insecure. And popular acclaim notwithstanding, it has to be said that Modi has not yet given evidence that he can make the transition to a genuine statesman. What gestures will it take to send a credible signal in that direction? Will his reinvention run up against the wall of his own personality? Or perhaps, more than these questions, his acceptability will turn on a different judgement. Do you trust the logic of Indian democracy to, in the end, soften the most congenital of prejudices? Or do you fear that democracy will give them free rein? But those worried about Modi need to set their own house in order.

The writer, president of the Centre for Policy Research, is contributing editor, 'The Indian Express'


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