Modi certainly has his problems, but India has no other option

2015 saw similarities in the life experience of Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Narendra Modi, two of the biggest achievers that India has produced in the recent years. While the former lost his World Cup crown and a couple of series, both home and abroad like in Bangladesh, the latter was left searching for a single election victory this year, contradictory to what had been happening since the Gujarat Assembly polls in 2012.

But while Dhoni is still a sport and his failure makes occasional strong impact, the BJP’s twin defeats in Delhi and Bihar within a gap of nine months have put Prime Minister Modi’s captaincy, which is more real than a game, under a considerable threat, even within his own party. And with the next set of elections due in states where the saffron party is not traditionally a strong player, Modi is likely to face more backlashes—from the Opposition, media, social groups and individuals and even his own party in which the old guards are ready to pounce upon him to take that revenge they have been waiting for.

But writing off Modi is not the option

But is this strong disapproval of Modi’s leadership really a positive for India? The man has completed just over 17 months in office with another 43 remaining. Will it be wise to stop trusting him and certify the Opponent’s favourite game of disrupting Parliament as a mark of success against what is being termed as a ‘personality cult’?

Modi certainly erred in Bihar but at the Centre, there is no other alternative

Modi and his party had certainly committed some grave errors in Bihar. The prime minister needed to show some restraint during the campaigning but like his party’s president, he also tried to polarise the electorate and uttered terms that weren’t required.

As the PM, he had no business addressing so many campaigns in a state election and raise issues like ‘beef eating’. But, having said that, the entire hope of the BJP today stands on one man and that is Modi. The party faces a dilemma: On one hand, it runs into danger by overusing its Modi weapon by asking him to attend even the most insignificant of rallies and on the other, it lacks a similar leadership with an appeal to reach out to the masses, be it at the national or local level. Personality cult is certainly not a good thing for the party, as the Congress knows it better, but given the serious paucity of leadership, what else can the party do?

Modi is the best thing that could have happened to a depressed BJP

The BJP, till the recent past, had a serious question over its succession once the towering duo of Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Lal Krishna Advani went past their prime. While the former prime minister walked into the sunset, an ageing Advani continued to aspire for the top job and led the party in the 2009 Lok Sabha election to a disaster. His gap with the RSS also widened alarmingly and the BJP then had stood as a ship wrecked in a mid-sea storm.

The BJP’s next set of leaders were state chief ministers like Modi (Gujarat), Shivraj Singh Chouhan (MP), Raman Singh (Chhattisgarh) and Manohar Parrikar (Goa) besides other leaders like Sushma Swaraj, Arun Jaitley, Rajnath Singh and others. But after the Vajpayee-Advani duo, nobody really had the appeal to galvanise the depressed unit and another election loss would have spelt disaster for the BJP as a party. It was then when Modi rose to the occasion, even if with the help of a loyal mechanism but nevertheless, that rise was required in Indian politics to see a stable government taking charge at the Centre.

If India had another corrupt coalition at the Centre today, things would have been disastrous

Had there been a brittle coalition at the Centre featuring some of the most fickle-minded regional leaders that the country has today, India would have seen more time being wasted on talks of survival of the government and corruption.

After the tiring five years of a disastrous UPA II, that could have taken India to a point of no return. But in the last 18 months, that hasn’t been the case. Success isn’t achieved overnight in any field of life but the problem with these parts of the world is that we want things to go in our favour in no time.

Every incident can’t be linked with Modi govt

Yes, Modi of course needs to better his government’s functioning. He alone can not do wonders for the country and requires a team of efficient taskmasters. But at the same time, he deserves more time. It is not apt to link every nuisance happening in any part of the country today to the Modi government as it is giving the concerned state governments a free escape from their duty of looking after the issue of law and order and social harmony.

‘Secular’ parties have done India much disservice

Instances of attack on minorities are not happening in India for the first time either but it is being projected today that Modi has made India a hell for minorities.

The so-called secular parties, too, have played the minority politics in ways they have found it convenient without actually helping their lot. It is not without a reason that we see minority-centric parties are emerging in India as representatives of their interests and battling it out at the polls. Both the strengthening of the RSS and the minority parties at the two extremes have been facilitated by the unhealthy politics that the ‘secular’ parties have played over the years.

Thus before targeting an individual and writing him off just on the basis of one election, India needs to find out what can be a worthy alternative to its prevailing politics. One state election defeat doesn’t knock Modi out and neither does disrupting Parliament because the BJP is weak in the Upper House serve any purpose.

If the right-wing looks a threat, the other schools of political ideology need to work on agendas that can counter the ‘beef politics’. India doesn’t have a scarcity of issues after all.

But the so-called Left and Centrist forces in the country have become so weak that they lack the will and passion to take on the ruler of the day. The Lalu Prasads and Nitish Kumars can never emerge as nationally accepted leaders no matter how much seats they win in Bihar. The most they can do is to gather allies and form a vulnerable coalition which can collapse in no time over the question of distribution of power.

Therefore, to counter the Modi factor, there must be a phenomenon that appeals to the entire country. Just retuning awards or chanting “Hai hai Modi” is no answer to the personality cult.


Shankha Sen

Shankha Sen is a Bangalore-based journalist. He can be contacted at