Reverse Swing: Modi is not Trump, Trump is not Modi

One is a political freak, the other a self-made leader with a vision for his country. The comparisons are amusing, but utterly facile.

Written by Tunku Varadarajan | Published:February 14, 2016 12:56 am
narendra modi, governors, JP rajkhowa, PMO Prime Minister Narendra Modi

Narendra Modi, we’re being told in a glib new outbreak of ‘pundit-itis’, is just like Donald Trump, the flashy, proto-fascist American huckster who’s mouthing his way to the presidential nomination of the Republican Party.

Trump is only the latest ‘strongman’ with whom Modi has drawn comparison. Remember when he was likened—shortly after the BJP’s victory in 2014—to Vladimir Putin? More exotic minds reached for Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Turkish pasha-president, as their choice of analogy. Others, striving hard for originality, invoked Ariel Sharon. A few even saw in him some shades of Shinzo Abe. (Let’s ignore, here, those many hyperbolists who continue to compare Modi to Hitler.)

Those making the Trump-to-Modi parallel don’t intend to pay Modi a compliment, of course. None of the other comparisons, mostly made by the Indian Left, were meant as commendations either. In likening Modi to Trump, writers set out to diminish Modi. The columnist Dilip Bobb, for example, seeks to do just that in the latest issue of Outlook magazine.

Malign motives aside, it is misguided to compare two men who are one-of-a-kind. Trump is a political freak: He has darted onto America’s public stage like a rabid wolf, setting off a panic amid America’s bhadralok. He says things that are not said in polite company—hell, he says things that are often said only sparingly in impolite company. That stuff about Mexicans being rapists — uttered by Trump at a packed public rally, and captured on film for the ages — is the sort of toxic garbage that plumbs depths even lower than those reached by, say, a Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti (whose ‘Ramzada /haramzada’ line at least showed some linguistic flair, its poison notwithstanding).

I’m not going to go for a point-by-point refutation of Mr Bobb’s piece, which is riddled with the kind of analogical superficiality that would allow us — if we were so inclined — to say that India is just like the United States because both countries were once ruled by Britain and both, today, have nuclear weapons.

Set aside the absurdity of comparing the gaudy American heir to billions with an Indian man who sold tea as an impoverished teenager (even allowing for an element of myth-making and hagiography). Modi is a man who emerged as an ascetic apparatchik from a disciplined organisation, and grew into a leader with an adamant vision for India. He heads a party that has revolutionised Indian politics and consigned the Indian National Congress to the scrapheap. In fact, Indian politics to date should be seen as a thing of two phases: A.M. and B.M., After Modi and Before Modi.

Trump has no political organisation. He is a lone, unlovely meteor streaking across the American sky. His love for America is showy and obsessional, and it comes at the expense of the world beyond America’s borders. He has railed against China, Europe, Mexico, the Islamic world, and even against Japan, a treaty ally of the United States. (Remarkably, he has had kind words for India.)

Modi, by contrast — and for all his Hindutva — has been the most internationalist Indian PM since Nehru. He has fought hard to find India a seat at the Top Table, pushing the country into closer, stronger relations with those from whom it can draw comfort and security. True, he professes, like Trump, to wish to make his country great again. But to say that he’s an Indian Trump is to attempt a fraud. I can think of no man more unlike The Donald than Narendra Damodardas Modi.

 

The writer is the Virginia Hobbs Carpenter Fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution. Twitter: @tunkuv

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  1. V
    vr
    Feb 14, 2016 at 5:56 am
    All those pro RSS and abvp are nationalists as per bhakt, if u r really patriotic, go to Indian army. Don't keep on creating unrest in the country
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    1. U
      US NRI
      Feb 14, 2016 at 8:29 am
      Look at the bright side... modi has been compared with several leaders. He should be compared with Obama - representative of minority yet a powerful picture of democracy. Modi represents a worker cl and OBC category...representing common man of India.
      Reply
      1. K
        K SHESHU
        Feb 14, 2016 at 12:35 pm
        Trump represents zionist nationalism while Modi repreents fascist manu nationalis with pseudo-,pattriotismm...
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        1. K
          K SHESHU
          Feb 14, 2016 at 12:31 pm
          Trump spills poison all over. Modi is diametrically opposite. He spills 'sweet ' talk. Both drive nationalism. While Trump fails, Modi succeeds...
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          1. A
            Archpagan
            Feb 14, 2016 at 2:31 pm
            He will destroy all anti-nationals like you.
            Reply
            1. B
              Bijan Mohanty
              Feb 15, 2016 at 7:24 am
              I agree with you that Modi works hard, but in preparing public speeches and not working for the country.
              Reply
              1. B
                Bijan Mohanty
                Feb 14, 2016 at 7:02 pm
                Remark in the article that Modi is a visionary makes me giggle.His vision is limited to good, tall and empty talks and no or little action and a stormy publicity of misinformation and propaa.
                Reply
                1. S
                  Sanjay
                  Jun 7, 2016 at 4:18 am
                  Dilip Bobb is belongs to that blighted, disgraceful tribe of bloggers that litters the wasteland of Indian journalism. Nobody reads them. Had Tunku not brought attention to this, I doubt if anybody would have known. Other examples of these shameless, self loathing sepoys who are constantly bringing comparison to the US, that one can think of, are Karan Thapar, Sagarika Ghosh etc.
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                  1. J
                    Janakiraman Sundararajan
                    Feb 14, 2016 at 4:22 pm
                    A single persons utterance is creating havoc in another countries real estate market. We live in Greater Toronto Area in Toronto, Canada. This is in Ontario province adjacent to city of Buffalo, state of New York, USA. The city of Mississauga in GTA has the. Maximum Muslim potion in Canada with more than a million in this area in a Canada's potion of 33 million. Trumps utterance that he is going to restrict Muslims in USA suddenly scared the s@xt of these people and many are rushing to buy real estate in GTA from east coast states of USA . They are trying to keep this as insurance so that they can move to Canada within their people. This has skyrocketed the real estate prices in these areas and prices has gone by 30 to 40 % in the last 6 months. This is called the Trump real estate effect.
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                    1. T
                      Timbektoo
                      Feb 13, 2016 at 11:31 pm
                      Very nicely written article. It is time such counter articles need to be written putting things in proper perspective and do not allow articles like Mr. Bobb' s biased article with no substance in it left unchallenged just because of his dislike to Modi.
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                      1. G
                        Gunjan Mohanka
                        Jun 7, 2016 at 1:10 pm
                        Bingo essment of the PM. To compare Modi to Trump sounds like fiction from a Modi-loathing journo. What's more, nobody buys these negative analogies anymore so it wouldn't be far-fetched such journos are out of touch with reality.
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                        1. K
                          Kirpal
                          Feb 14, 2016 at 5:42 am
                          Patriotism (Nationalism) is the last refuge of a scoundrel. Indira hi also took the refuge in such slogans and ruined this nation. In fact none of these isms such as Hinduism, Sikhism, Islamism etc are good for humanity except the Humanism which is rarely displa by these power hungry politicians.
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                          1. H
                            H.Balakrishnan
                            Feb 15, 2016 at 4:39 am
                            My. M, My !!! I rubbed my eyes in disbelief on reading this Article !! How the Left - lib Mafia change their colours !! Keep Going !!
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                              Pitambar Sharma
                              Feb 14, 2016 at 5:29 pm
                              There is much garbage put out by the Indian left "intellectuals" and consumed by the Indian left media without being challenged by one of their own English media brethren (although the Indian Marxist media will not consider him one of their own). This is an exception. Thank you, Tunku Varadrajan.
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                              1. P
                                Pitambar Sharma
                                Feb 14, 2016 at 5:31 pm
                                This is the kind of garbage the leftist Marxist Indians put out. No facts, no thinking, just pure hatred.
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                                1. J
                                  jak
                                  Feb 14, 2016 at 12:29 am
                                  Its really interesting to see Modi bhakts like Mr. Vardarajan are opposed to American proto fascists like Trump and presumably Cruz who want to convert the US into a christian nation but see nothing wrong with a proto fascist like Modi who is busy trying to spread his anti muslim hindutva virus to the rest of india and convert it into a hindu countrt because the bhakts are deluded into thinking that Modi is some kind of divine avataar, a desh bhakt who is will make India great, - its a perfect example of self deception and delusion just like trumps supporters. I'm reminded of the saying those who dont learn from history ....
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                                    jbhan
                                    Feb 14, 2016 at 6:11 pm
                                    Kudos, Mr. Vardharahan! A brilliant rebuttal....
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                                      Vensuslaus Jesudason
                                      Feb 14, 2016 at 11:26 am
                                      Such a comparison is extraneous at this stage. Modi is already the PM of India for about two years, whereas Trump has yet to become the President of the U.S.A. He has to win his party’s nomination first and then emerge victorious in the November general election. Comparison between Modi and Trump may be possible though in about 2-3 years from now, provided Trump indeed becomes the president of the U.S.A.
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                                      1. K
                                        kranti
                                        Feb 14, 2016 at 10:22 am
                                        Both Trump and Modi have fascist,hate thinkings,both have big mouth which spits venom of hates.
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                                        1. D
                                          David
                                          May 12, 2016 at 7:13 pm
                                          If you think Tunku is from the Left, you have no idea who he is. He is a liberal, though. He calls himself one. He also calls himself as a Hindu against Hindutva. Tunku's brother Siddharth, on the other hand, is a d-in-the-wool leftist.
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                                            Baba
                                            Feb 14, 2016 at 8:12 am
                                            DY NAMO, INDIA NEEDS U FOR THE NEXT 15 YRS. AT THE LEAST..... KEEP ROCKING.....
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