Book Excerpt | Modi's Impact Runs Deeper Than Material Achievements

"Those in power who have kept a distance from the hearts and the minds of the common man can't understand why Modi has surpassed all political expectations. Or what the Modi Phenomena is," journalist Pradeep Bhandari writes in his book. Excerpts:

Book Excerpt | Modi's Impact Runs Deeper Than Material Achievements

(The following is an excerpt from 'Modi 3.0: Bigger, Higher, Stronger' by journalist and psephologist Pradeep Bhandari. Published with the permission of Om Books International. Subheadings added by NDTV for ease of reading)

Narendra Modi is more than a leader. He is a phenomenon. Look at Mamata Banerjee, for example, her appeal is limited to the Bengali-speaking population in Bengal and she has not been able to evolve her party's graph beyond the state's borders. Or M.K. Stalin, who simply cannot attract votes out of Tamil Nadu.

Narendra Modi's language of development and progress resonates with even those who do not speak the languages that he speaks. Tamil is not his first language, Telugu is not his first language. Neither Bengali is his first language, nor is Odia. Despite this, his political graph is increasing, which tells you that this leader is connected to the hearts of the people. And when a leader connects to the hearts and the minds of the masses, the results show in the polls. Prime Minister Modi once said, 'I am a worshipper and the people are my god.'

The Modi Phenomena

Those in power who have kept a distance from the hearts and the minds of the common man cannot understand why Narendra Modi has surpassed all political expectations. Or what the Modi Phenomena is.

One of the biggest mistakes that the Opposition makes is to truly believe their own preconceived perceptions about the brand of politics. They consider that Prime Minister Modi pursues the communal and majoritarian. His second-term win should have driven home the message that he is no fluke.

In essence, what is working for him is just not an ideological or a welfare factor. It is just not an aspirational factor. It is a composite of all of the above and more - everything that Bharat is about. It represents the civilisational glory, virasat (legacy); it entails hunger for development, which every youth of this country wants.

Prime Minister Modi has been successfully establishing the base to sustain this hunger. When he was the chief minister of Gujarat for two decades, he spectacularly bulked up its economy with his policies. Although his governance model of Gujarat was ridiculed by many, this was what aspirational India hungered for. Hence he keeps returning to the Centre, and the country grows and prospers. Today we are the fifth-largest economy in the world (Forbes India, 7 February) and are well on the way to take the third spot by 2027 (Hindustan Times, 22 March 2024).

Opinion Of The People

But Prime Minister Modi's impact runs deeper than material achievements. India has a rapidly growing economy and has set its sights on a grand ambition: to transform from a developing nation into a fully developed one. As India moves towards a higher economic stature, its global stature too has risen. In a short span of a decade, the prime minister has raised the global profile of India. His firm handling of security issues and implementation of the 'India First' policy - placing national interest above conventional geopolitics - has no doubt propelled India as one of the leading global powers. The citizens, including the man on the street, are aware of these developments and feel immensely proud of the prime minister's way of handling both global and national issues.

Allow me to quote from an article on BBC that reflected the mood of the voters in Kolkata on 29 May 2019: 'Modi is keeping the nation secure and keeping India's head high.'

The opinion on the streets has pretty much remained the same.

Therefore, the Opposition is simply unable to bring him down politically despite their best efforts. In their enthusiasm to defeat the BJP, Opposition leaders are making it very easy for Prime Minister Modi to convert the next election into a referendum on him. Their personal attacks on someone who has been voted as the most popular leader in the country in several surveys over the years have cost them dearly in the past. And will do so in 2024. Rahul Gandhi's slur of 'chowkidar chor hai' cost the Congress dearly in the 2019 general elections. Rahul used this slogan to launch an attack on the Modi government on the Rafale deal. Prime Minister Modi turned around the slogan to his advantage. He would often call himself a 'chowkidar' and underline that he was working tirelessly to safeguard their interests. And thus reduced the Congress to 52 seats in the 2019 general elections.

Opposition Faltering

Well, not learning from history has dire consequences. Recently, Lalu Prasad Yadav hit back at the prime minister's charge of dynasty politics against many Opposition parties, including the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), by mocking that Narendra Modi has 'no family'. Bad move! Responding to the RJD patron's taunt, Prime Minister Modi said in a speech at a rally in Telangana recently that the people of the country 'consider me their own ... love me like a member of their family ... And that is why I say 140 crore people of this country are my family. The youth ... crores of daughters, mothers and sisters ... all the poor people in the country, they are my family. The millions of children and elderly in the country are Modi's family. Those who have no one belong to Modi and Modi belongs to them. My Bharat, my family (The Indian Express, 5 March 2024).'

Soon after, top leaders of the government started adding, 'Modi ka parivar' (Modi's family) to their social media handles in solidarity with the prime minister. The widespread adaptation of the slogan by BJP leaders on social media had its desired impact and amplified the counteroffensive. Well, as someone famous once said: 'Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.'

Now the BJP prime ministerial candidate for the 2024 Lok Sabha is getting reassurances from across India that they are his family. People at the rally in Telangana chanted, 'We are your family.' The timing of the slogan could not have been more perfect. By emphasising a familial connection with the people, the BJP aims to strengthen its appeal and create a positive perception of Narendra Modi as a leader who belongs to everyone.

(Disclaimer: The author and publisher of the book are solely responsible for the contents of the book or any excerpt derived therefrom. NDTV shall not be responsible or liable for any claims arising from the contents of the book including any claims of defamation, infringement of intellectual property rights or any other right of any third party or of law)