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Nothing has changed for a weakened Narendra Modi

Nothing has changed for a weakened Narendra Modi
Nothing has changed for a weakened Narendra Modi

 


Is a weakened Narendra Modi a different Narendra Modi? There are so far no tangible signs of alteration in Modi's personality or policies, except for that nervous laugh that has now replaced the haughty face. He chants NDA-NDA and claims that his government has always been a coalition arrangement even though it enjoyed digital security, which is a rhetorical deception born of tactical coercion. His 10-year reign was all about Modi, both in terms of theme and music. It was he who ensured that the government did not emerge from Modi’s cocoon. Modi was the engine, Modi was the fuel. Modi was the structure, Modi was the spirit.

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Modi surprisingly said after becoming Prime Minister for the third time: what has changed? Nothing! It was the NDA government earlier; it's the NDA government now. It was a confirmation that a weakened Modi is not a different Modi. It still relies on a policy of deception and lies. He stubbornly refuses to accept the reality on the ground, as he always does, and to read the verdict correctly. He refuses to admit that his social contract with the people of India has expired. He refuses to believe that the people have sent him an unambiguous message of disapproval of his authoritarian ways and his hubris. Instead, he is desperately trying to present the verdict as exceptional because people chose him to govern the country for a third term. Listen carefully, you will always hear Modi-Modi in the reluctant and weak chant of NDA-NDA.>

Don't you hear that? Then analyze the facts. The cabinet formation bears the typical Modi stamp. Is Nirmala Sitharaman, back as Finance Minister, announcing a change? Does Amit Shah at the Home Ministry reflect a change in direction? Does the same old line-up of S. Jaishankar, Piyush Goyal, Ashwini Vaishnav and Dharmendra Pradhan symbolize a metamorphosis? Modi needs accessories to make the system work, but nuts and bolts don't change the engine. He is not even willing to part with the post of Lok Sabha Speaker, clearly demonstrating his rigidity in ruling Parliament the same way he has done for the last 10 years. The new arithmetic dynamics in the Lok Sabha will indeed herald a change, but this should not create a false presumption that Modi will change his style of functioning. Will it now allow debates on crucial issues? Won't Rahul Gandhis brutal examination of the Modi-Adani nexus be removed now? Will the government agree to a joint parliamentary committee (JPC) on Adani affairs and electoral bonds? The absence of a raw majority will inevitably manifest itself in day-to-day operations, but will Modi adopt a democratic approach to accommodate the opposition? Perish the thought.

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Modi was an insecure person, even when safely nestled in his 1,000-foot walled citadel. He continually tried to consolidate his position through propaganda and simple lies. He crushed dissent, ignored uncomfortable incidents, and left no stone unturned, even for his own party leader, in knowing what to say about opponents. His arsenal had neither conscience nor compassion. Now that he is at his most vulnerable and his insecurities have deepened, how can he be accepted to allow democratic space for critics and rivals? He did not appear for the examination in the Rafale file and chose a mysterious silence on the Pegasus scandal even though he had more than 300 seats. Will it allow scrutiny of electoral ties when it is weak and so seriously exposed? Will he free the Enforcement Directorate and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) at this critical juncture? Will central agencies end their political machinations aimed at empowering the ruling group? Will appointments to the Electoral Commission and the judiciary be fairer? Will the media have greater freedom to investigate and report? The answer to all these questions is: NO.

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Modi designed his policies in a particular way, not because he had unbridled powers. He did so because of his mental orientation and ideology. In times of weakness, the only option for these leaders is to use their skills optimally. Modi, at this late stage of his political career, is not seeking redemption or personal or political reconciliation. He only wants to perpetuate power and expand his control. He only lost his strength, he did not reinvent himself. He is weaker, not wiser. He was at his most vicious during the campaign, wallowing in indignity and meaningless speeches. He broke parties, attracted MPs and MPs when he didn't need them. Why would he abandon his tools when he needs to consolidate his position to survive? There is no shortage of political observers and ordinary people who are convinced that Modi alone will reach the figure of 272 within a few months. Give him an inch and he'll have the gift of running a mile.>

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There is some evidence to support the argument that Modi has not changed. For starters, he never acknowledged that the mandate called for deep introspection, because people seemed unhappy in many states. It claimed 400 seats and secured 240 despite measures to paralyze opposition parties and brazen exploitation of the Ram temple for votes. His very first act after the result was a display of political trickery; he got himself elected leader of the NDA without facing the parliamentary Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). He then went to Italy for the G7 meeting of which India is not a member. He resumed his characteristic public spectacle with Ganga aarti in Varanasi and Yoga in Kashmir instead of seriously tackling issues like paper leaks and train accidents that shocked the nation. It was like an extension of the taali-thali show amidst the death and destruction caused by the Covid pandemic. He will invariably invent a false narrative of success to suppress the true narrative of failure. Having created an anti-intellectual atmosphere in the country, most powerfully manifested through social media trolls and crippling the autonomy of institutions, Modi said at the Nalanda University reception that he wanted to make of India the world center of knowledge. Awareness? After the mangalsutra-bhains joke? After destroying universities by appointing unworthy vice-chancellors and strangling the tradition of free debate and dissent? Do we still need proof to convince ourselves that the country will be run in exactly the same way as it has been for the last ten years?>

Those who imagined that the Modi brand will change because it is weakened need to understand what this brand is. Modi was christened Hindu Hriday Samrat in 2002 itself, even though he had no pretensions of development or governance. He hadn't even installed a hand pump at that point. This tag he earned through communal passion among Hindutva fanatics. This was the heart of his political appeal. Then the business lobby, which benefited from his policies, added new real and imagined ingredients to build an attractive brand. After 13 years as chief minister and 10 years as prime minister, this mark was calling for a replenishment in this election that came from the Ram temple, not from economic achievements. What remains of the brand today, which sold 240 tickets, is due to this core of community passion. Will Modi abandon this in this hour of crisis? Will he change brands because sales have collapsed? Corporate history, like political history, tells us that brands are not dismantled. New products are launched in the hope that brand loyalty will help. No one knows better than Modi what has sustained Modi’s brand loyalty.

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Sources

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2/ https://m.thewire.in/article/politics/its-business-as-usual-nothing-has-changed-for-a-weakened-modi

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