“The one who did not speak a word, his silence was deafening and the other who spoke much and it was deafening,” photographer Raghu Rai says of Manmohan Singh and Narendra Modi as he compares their personalities by using a series of photographs in his new book. “The Tale of Two, An Outgoing and An Incoming, Prime Minister”, a self-published work (AuthorsUpFront), brings together images of contrast of Singh and Modi in public and their positions in their parties.
According to Rai, since a prime minister is the supreme leader of a nation, there is “no room for us to look for the detractors who might have been the cause of his failure”.
He says in Singh’s case, his “failure to give us the kind of government we wanted might have been because of the high command’s final decision or the scams caused, but the sole responsibility falls upon the prime minister of the day”.
Rai says similarly when Narendra Modi takes over, “his performance as prime minister will have to be judged by his actions and decisions in performing his ‘rajdharma.”
The veteran photograph themed his book on two sessions of Congress and BJP held in the capital in January.
“It was after 25 long years, I found the courage to photograph once again the sessions of two leading political parties during election season, the Congress and the BJP,” he says of the initiative.
“Though it was the month of January, the weather outside was pleasant but during those four hours I spent inside, there was a strange kind of stuffiness in the arenas… A strange kind of sycophancy and personality cult is entrenched in both the parties; as if the other members are lesser beings who seem entirely accepting of their lowly status,” he writes.
On January 17, Rai spent four hours at the All India Congress Committee (AICC) session held at Talkatora stadium in the capital and photographed the mood with a special focus on the then Prime Minister Singh. The photographs used in the book were taken between 9.30 AM and 1.30 PM on that day. Next day when Rai went through the pictures on his computer, he says he was “pained by what I saw”.
“Earlier on I have photographed and experienced in various political sessions of leading parties, relationships, manipulations, sycophancy and power play. But the prime minister of the day used to be the focus of attention and interest and everyone in the party looked up to him for an interaction or even a smile,” he continued…