New Delhi, 11 JUNE-2014,Piyasree Dasgupta(FP): In the course of his bombastic poll campaign, Narendra Modi had accumulated more than a fair share of adjectives. To every bunch of people wringing their hands and crying ‘megalomaniac’, there was another dewy eyed group calling him the ‘perfect mass leader’.
From a fiery speaker to the joke-repeater, from a pro-development leader to a Gujarat model marketeer, Modi, in the run-up to Prime Minister-ship had been several personas in popular appropriation. There was a marked change in his stance closer to the polls, and his transformation into a statesman from a hyperbole-loving challenger had his fiercest critics stunned. His first speech as the leader of the house in Lok Sabha, however, showed that Narendra Modi’s transformation from an opposition leader to the head of the government has come a full circle. Unlike, say a Mamata Banerjee, who never really got over CPM-bashing long after she had won the elections, Modi’s transformation has been swift and immediate. It’s almost as if he had the PM charade all figured out in his head.
Though we are sure Mamata Banerjee is not taking notes at all, here are a few things she might want to learn from Modi.
1. The ‘Raat Gayi, Baat Gayi’ diplomacy
To twist a popular saying around, Modi’s Congress policy seems to have been ‘be sweet to your friends, sweeter to your enemies’. Ever since he has assumed power, Narendra Modi seems to have completely let go off all the anger that he seemed to have nurtured against the Sonia Gandhi-led government. At least, for now, there’s no visible evidence of any grudge against them anymore. For someone who had never let go off one opportunity to crack a ‘shehzada’ joke or two in the past, Modi has been surprisingly mellow about the previous government.
2. My state is not my only trophy
While you have to credit someone like Mamata Banerjee for her intense devotion to the betterment of her state and the cause of the grassroots, exaggerating aspects of the same doesn’t bode well when she occupies a position as significant as the chief minister’s.
3. Sound like a leader, not a rebel
While Modi has played the role of the rebel for very long and very successfully, Modi, the leader of the government has been a revelation. While he has mostly refrained from talking much about developmental policies during is poll campaigning, he is now talks about plans and not mere ideas. For example, in this address, he pointed out how education is a way to battle poverty and his government will take definitive steps to implement the same. He pointed out the flaws in traditional education and emphasised the need to acquire skills along with degrees. On agriculture, Modi said the government must focus on better technology that includes agro-based industries and better soil testing facilities. “What is in the lab is not on the land. We need to shift what’s in the lab to the land.” Modi also said people were now becoming organic conscious and the small state of Sikkim would soon be an ‘organic’ state. Finally, he dwelt on the issue of women’s safety and said that his government will not tolerate atrocities against women. “We have to stop politicising rape, it doesn’t suit us. We are toying with the dignity of women,” Modi said.
He, in fact, urged politicians to stop psychological analyses of rape. If a Mohan Bhagwat was listening in, he must have choked on his tea a bit. Contrast this to Banerjee’s gimmicks which overshadow all the good work she does. From painting the town blue to announcing tax subsidies to people who paint there houses white and blue, Banerjee’s drama overshadows her government’s achievements. Only, time will tell whether Modi can back up his words. But for now, he is making all the right noises. The rest of the leaders in India should listen and learn. [ With inputs from Aaron Pereira]