The man, Narendra Modi, as portrayed by his detractors, is the most polarizing figure in Indian politics. Believe it or not, Indians at this juncture could be classified as Modi admirers and Modi detractors. Modi admirers, popularly known as ‘Bhakts’, who stay hyperactive in the cyberspace, idolize him and are obsessed with him. They can’t tolerate any criticism directed against Modi and attack those who criticize their idol just like how a pack of wolves attack their pray. Modi’s detractors, on the other hand, blame their bête noire for each and every unfortunate incident and hold him squarely responsible for all the maladies that afflict our society.
One of the most common criticisms against Modi is he being an ultra-Hindu nationalist. His association with the RSS, the Hindu nationalist organization, which promotes competitive communalism among Hindus as a bulwark against the expansionist Abrahamic faiths, is well known. His RSS background, coupled with 2002 Gujarat mayhem, gives his detractors an opportunity to compare him to Hitler, a fascist who carried out the holocaust and even caused the World War II, though the comparison is far-fetched and ridiculous.
Interestingly, post-demonetization, his detractors changed their tune and started comparing him to Mao, one of the fatherly figures of Communism, who caused immense suffering in the process of establishing his hegemony in China. This comparison, just like the first one, appears to be far from the truth. It is difficult to comprehend how a man who is branded as a far-right leader, transformed himself into a left-winger. What makes this comparison justifiable?
The likely reason could be Modi’s new found love for the poor and the downtrodden. He, while he was at the helm of affairs in Gujarat, was considered to be the most business friendly Chief Minister. He succeeded in wooing corporates from all across the world in a big way and is also considered to be close to many corporate bigwigs. Even his party, the BJP, is considered to be a party of the rich and the middle class Hindus, to whom many of its electoral successes are attributed. However, in many states the secular parties are able to upset the BJP’s apple cart by cleverly playing caste and minority cards. It appears that Modi is devising a plan to appeal to a wider section of the electorate to combat the secular parties and other regional formations in the forthcoming general elections.
Modi’s efforts to curb black money and to promote a cashless society caused a lot of pain to the rich. Poor, though were subjected to the equal amount of suffering, appear to have stood solidly behind him in the expectation that the measure would ultimately benefit them. Some of the statements he made soon after the demonetization announcement triggered a speculation that he slowly started ditching his rich and middle-class electorate and started embracing the poor and the downtrodden.
The moot point is, will Modi, in his effort to retain power in 2019 general elections, trigger a kind of class war between the haves and the have-nots to project himself pro-poor? His speeches certainly have some revolutionary undertones. However, only time will tell whether he will go to the extent of triggering a class war to transform himself into a messiah of the poor.