The change of guard at the Centre will represent more than just a political gearshift; it will ring in a wide range of differences in style and substance. UPA-II was a bit like a dim sum platter, with bite sized morsels, never quite substantial enough for a satisfying meal. Now we get the dhoklas, eaten for breakfast, main course, side dish or snack. Apart from the chewables, here’s where the differences will be most visible:
The wave: We’ve witnessed the Modi wave. It swept away the opposition, including the ones with the brooms, and then there’s the visual impact as Modi waves to us from various platforms, including hanging out from a SUV, flashing the trademark victory sign in a macho fashion. In contrast, Manmohan Singh’s wave was always kept waist high, a symbol of his diffidence, or “windscreen wipers” as a BJP leader once described it. The Modi version wins hands down.
Drama: There wasn’t much of it during Manmohan Singh’s reign, mostly shadow puppetry or akin to watching scenes from a silent film. In contrast, Modi is all about dramatics, from carefully choreographed appearances at his mother’s side, to emotional moments during televised speeches, 3D holograms, the oratorical flourishes and the grand entrances as when he bowed his head at the entrance to Parliament. Expect more drama in the days ahead, starting at his swearing-in ceremony tomorrow. Across the road, at the Congress headquarters, it is more a case of being sworn at.
Sartorial style: The difference between the PM heading for the gate and the PM-designate is quite striking. One, in keeping with his personality, stuck to uniform white kurta pyjama, which, along with the blue turban, became a uniform. Modi favours designer wear, in a range of colours, including his trademark half-sleeved kurtas and matching waistcoats.
On occasion, he dons stylish western clothes, complete with a snappy fedora and a scarf — very 80s Bollywood. Completing the look are those Movado watches and Bvlgari eyewear. He’s trendiest PM yet with tailors across the country already churning out the Modi kurta, mostly in his favourite shade — saffron.
Chest size: One wore size ‘M’, not for Manmohan but for ‘medium’. The other wears XXL, which is a tight fit considering it’s made for chest size 44-46 while Modi claims his is 56 inches, a fact disputed by his tailors some say. However, when it’s an Alpha-male who has just led his side to a stunning victory, an expandable chest is preferred to a deflated ego.
Amit Shah: There’s also an alter ego. Manmohan had Sonia, or the other way around, and Modi has Amit Shah, with whom there are bound to be many encounters, none of them fake now that he represents Delhi’s new power elite.
Gujarat Bhawan: The new power centre in the capital. Delhi’s movers and shakers are eagerly stocking up on dhokla and khakra in anticipation of a Gujarati invasion, becoming instant fans of Irfan and Yusuf Pathan, making friends with all the Patels and abandoning the bhangra in favour of dandiya raas. Out with the butter chicken; vegetarianism is in. Even vacations will now be in Somnath rather than Sainte-Chapelle.
Communication: With Manmohan, there was no communication; anonymity was his preferred default setting. Modi is a media multi-tasker in comparison, from his tweets to Facebook and his blog, keeping the country abreast with his thoughts and movements. The transition from pregnant silence to digital storm will be quite a change.
What the Dickens! The greatest contrast of all, courtesy titles by Charles Dickens, from Bleak House to Great Expectations.