By K Raveendran
Like it happens with all despots, Modi has been undone by his own self. He is himself his biggest enemy. If he needed any more, then there has been Amit Shah. The two once made the famed poll victory machine, but thanks to the arrogance of success, today they have bee reduced to the ultimate losing proposition. Perhaps Modi’s biggest mistake is that he conjured up Rahul Gandhi as his enemy, in his own place, and put him on a pedestal that he did not deserve. And while using his unwieldy weapon against his imaginary foe, he hurt
himself as the attacks consistently missed the target. Like the fisherman in the fable, he let the genie out of the bottle, only to be devoured by the mysterious creature.
The worst part is that Modi got beaten in his own game. Rahul’s claim of the ‘chowkidar turning chor’ stuck in people minds as a rustic truth, which was once Modi’s trade mark. It does not matter what the Supreme Court may have said while dismissing the Rafale petitions, but Rahul had people really believe that Modi took Rs 30,000 crore of their money and put it in Anil Ambani’s pocket. The chowkidar charge will continue to ring true for them and there is nothing much Modi can do about it because everything else goes against him.
And when it came to the ‘naamdar’ versus ‘kaamdar’ narrative, he lost it completely. The kaamdar claim turned out to be just as hollow as many of his other slogans and his self-proclaimed work addiction lasting 20-hours a day or the 56-inch chest were of no avail to people, as their conditions deteriorated under his rule while his cronies fattened themselves. It was no surprise when the Global Wealth Report 2018 by Swiss investment bank Credit Suisse reported that the richest 1 percent Indians owned 52 percent of the country’s total wealth. In 2014, when Modi came to power, it was just the reverse. The rich 1 percent then owned only 49 percent of wealth, while the majority share was still with the poor. So it is quite obvious who Modi was expending all his hard work on.
But he had no qualms about what he was doing. He publicly claimed credit for being a ‘friend of capitalists’ and defended his action saying that while he met them openly, the others were lining up to meet them behind the doors. But little did he realise that his arrogance was not lost on the people, who despite all their backwardness and failings, have become mature enough to understand the chaff from the grain. Anyone taking them for granted does so only at his or her own peril. Modi lacked the sophistication to understand the growing maturity of the Indian voters.
There is a golden rule that when a leader loses the feel of people’s pulse, he forfeits the right to rule. This happened to Indira Gandhi, who once had complete mastery over the emotions of the people like the back of her hand before she lost it. This is what has happened to Modi as well. He came to power in 2014, telling people what exactly they wanted to hear from him: he will end corruption, bring back black money stashed abroad and improve the lives of common man. As he reached the half-way mark, he could not do any of these and worst of all he failed to read the disappointment in them. He was lost in his own make-believe world, created through fanciful ideas that had no bearing on real life and this led to a complete disconnect with people and their situation.
In 2014 when he was riding a wave of massive popularity, he was considered as the best thing that could have happened to India in the turn of the century. He wanted 60 months to undo the damage done by the 60-years of rule by the dynasty and people gave it to him on a platter. People saw a new hope in him and they
were ready to forget the luggage of misdeeds from the past that the carried on his shoulders. But it soon turned out that he was being flattered to deceive.
Modi lacked the vision required for a man who had such an enormous mission at hand. All his programmes touched only the periphery of people’s lives and all the core issues of development were left untouched. There was a barrage of programmes, known more for their fancy names rather than content, and were soon forgotten as new ones made their entry. Lack of consistency became a hallmark of Modi’s approach. And demonetisation, the ultimate symbol of his arrogance, was the one that broke the proverbial camel’s back. In his quest to etch his name in history as a bold leader who could not care less about the consequences of his actions, he embarked on the most ill-conceived experiment of independent India, ruining the lives of the people in one stroke along with the health of the economy, which was cruising along merrily until then. Modi’s biggest failure was his inability to fathom the pain that his thoughtless action was set to cause.
Elections are a sure shot way to read the mind of the people. But that is not an option for a ruling party, because there is nothing called a second chance; and it may be too late to do anything. But unfortunately, this is the plight that BJP finds itself in. The body language of Modi and Amit Shah post-election suggests a shell-shocked state of mind, as if there were blissfully unaware of the groundswell of discontent that was building up against the failures of their government. The sheer inability to sense the public mood should be enough not
to allow them anywhere near the corridors of power for a second time. And for all one knows, the Indian voters may already have taken the decision.