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Smoke and mirrors

Brand Modi strains too hard. The effort is showing

Written by The Indian Express | Published: April 2, 2012 3:07:12 am

Brand Modi strains too hard. The effort is showing

When people think of Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi hereafter,they will imagine him staring gravely out of a Time magazine cover. Or that is what Modi hopes. The magazine’s image has multiplied in billboards across Gujarat and in copies of the BJP mouthpiece,Manogat. An assiduously nurtured personality cult has always been part of the BJP leader’s strategy. But Manogat’s bowdlerised version of the Time article,which claims to be faithful to the original,only reveals the strongman’s continuing insecurity.

Consider this: where Time says,“Narendra Modi means business,” it wonders whether “he can lead India”. Manogat’s version banishes all such doubts: “Yes,Narendra Modi will definitely be successful in reaching the national level and India’s image and distinguishing characteristics will certainly change,” it says.

There is reason,perhaps,for Modi trying so hard. The last decade’s prosperity in Gujarat has not removed the 2002 taint and even as he strives for respectability beyond the state,the leader must battle opponents and friends alike. Within the country,he’s the only leader not allowed a political foray into another state — Nitish Kumar staunchly refused to let Modi campaign for the last assembly elections in Bihar. Even within the BJP,most senior leaders look askance at him. But what obviously rankles most is that the West remains wary of him,with the US continuing to deny him a visa. No wonder,then,that Moditva so desperately grasps at straws blowing in from foreign shores.

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