Breaking down Modi: efficient administrator or undemocratic leader?

The Modi phenomenon is an amalgam of conflicting perceptions, both positive and negative.

There are always two ways to look at him. He is an efficient administrator and a competent manager, yet he is too undemocratic in decision-making; he has maintained the naturally progressive state’s growth momentum — it is comparable to the best in the country, if not the best — but the growth has been inequitable; he has brought industries to the state but there’s been no matching growth in employment; Gujarat is vibrant under Modi but it ranks pretty low in the Human Development Index; and he is a visionary with firm faith in the idea of progress but he does not measure up when it comes to the concept of social inclusion.

The way one perceives him depends a lot on where one puts the moral emphasis. But if elections are a referendum on either of the two, Modi is a clear winner. He is going to win the elections hands down — that’s the general impression in the state. However, his victory this time won’t be as massive as different pre-poll surveys would have us believe. The trend of a declining number of seats — in 2002 it was 127 and the number came down to 117 in 2007 — despite rising vote share could continue.

The Modi factor is overwhelming in Gujarat and easily overshadows all other issues that are normally relevant during elections. The voting would simply be either for him or against him. The meticulous construction of this personality cult has been a unique exercise ever since Modi came to power a decade ago. The mother organisation RSS abhors it as does his own party, the BJP. However, the chief minister has been relentless.

“He is a fantastic organiser. He micro manages everything and is brilliant at marketing himself,’’ says senior political analyst RK Mishra. “The Modi phenomenon is a beautifully manufactured myth. He is a genius at planning things for the furtherance of his own interests… Now, the BJP is dead in the state. He is the party and he is the government…,’’ he adds while narrating the career path of the one-time RSS organiser with humble origins.Certainly, Modi the person towers over Modi the BJP leader at present. He is much bigger a presence than the RSS and its well-networked affiliates in Gujarat too. For a party which makes no bones about its hatred of the Congress for its dependence on the Gandhi family, the Gujarat chief minister stands as an interesting contradiction within. As he grows bigger and expands his footprint on the national scene, the party as well as the Sangh Parivar will need to find a proper answer to him. But that is another subject.

“There’s no doubt that he is a popular leader. He has great following in the urban areas and people know him inside Gujarat. His achievements in urban areas have been spectacular and overall he is a success as a chief minister. However, the Modi phenomenon is a product of brilliant marketing of his personality,” says Ajay Umat,  senior political observer and journalist.

“Every leader in power tries to manufacture a positive image for himself. However, Modi goes several notches ahead. No other leader has done better in branding himself. The phenomenon is a product of good marketing, image building and brand positioning. He is an exceptional event manager when it comes to promoting himself. Possibly no other leader in the world or in the country, forget Gujarat, has been so focused on self-image. If I were to award marks to him for the exercise, I would give him a hundred out of hundred without hesitation,’’ he adds.

The building of the personality cult comes at a price to the state. Mishra points to the burden on the state exchequer — to the tune of crores of rupees — from every event involving Modi, which by demand must be grand and larger-than-life. He says Apco Worldwide has been brought in to promote the global investor summit at the state’s cost. But it has been busy promoting Brand Modi across the globe by default or design. However, the chief minister’s obsession with spreading the good word about himself around the world is no secret. It merits no elaboration.

The root question is how does one separate the Modi hype from the substance. Right now they are inextricably interwoven. And any effort at free assessment comes back to perceptions again, on what you chose to buy. As a leader he is an achiever and he has a solid body of work to boast about. Whatever his style — dictatorial or undemocratic or non-inclusive — he has delivered for Gujarat, though the distribution of the gains from progress could be highly lopsided. But many areas in the state cry neglect too. The overpowering personality cult tends to bury this concern.


Post a Comment

indian bollywood gossip © 2012 | Designed by Canvas Art, in collaboration with Business Listings , Radio stations and Corporate Office Headquarters