Lies, Damn Lies and NaMo : Why I do not support Modi and why you shouldn't either

M Akhil July 8, 2013

Image credit: World Economic Forum

M Akhil says he will never support Narendra Modi for the post of Prime Minister of India because he is just an enormous bubble, which his supporters claim to be full of righteousness, but is actually inflated with divisive communal politics, anti-people neoliberal policies, false development claims and a deeply patriarchal worship of the dominant male.


Listen to the flourish. The stage is set, the side-kicks are in place and the sycophants are scampering tirelessly to welcome their emperor. Narendra Modi has started his journey to the high seat of Indraprastha.

Curiously enough, his current ride is being celebrated as a victory lap by his ardent supporters. A bit too quick, don't you think? Especially for a man who was only a few years ago, in terrible danger of being convicted for one of the most gruesome state-sponsored genocides in the history of independent India. Of course, he hasn't been convicted yet, but many of his ministers and close aides have been. Babu Bajrangi's confessions on record must be more than enough proof for Modi's culpability. 1 Alas! Facts get twisted in the most unimaginable ways as they threaten to blow away an edifice carefully built by a dominant plutocracy with immense help from the 'State-Temple-Corporate Complex'. 2 Here, I shall attempt to bust the Modi bubble which is being ridiculously pumped up by the holy nexus, even as you are reading this. After all, the BJP is possibly the party with the highest following among Indian netizens and the online publicity team of the current supremo is meticulous. An alternative view will be stark, but hopefully it will serve as food for thought for those among us getting nauseated by the dominant narrative.

While Gujarat is not ranked among the top five states even in economic indicators, its performance in most social and human development indicators is simply abysmal. Yet, Modi aficionados claim Gujarat to be a free-market capitalist haven even for the poor and the oppressed, much different from the rest of India.

In a recent article, Mr. Avay Shukla, 3 a former IAS officer from Himachal Pradesh, has argued why he shall support Modi in 2014. Leaving aside all queries of personal affiliation, it is worthwile to look at his arguments seriously. The author starts off with worries about the current state of the nation at near-apocalyptic proportions. The economic slowdown, the falling rupee, the Naxalite (Maoist) threat and the appeasement of minorities by the state are among his top concerns. The people of India cannot possibly agree more with the reality of these problems. But, he goes on to say ”it is time for a change”. Of course, he is within his rights to borrow Obama's famous slogan for change in the United States, even if it is for Modi. But let's think, what change is he hoping for? It's not the case that the BJP is a party of young turks, about to revolutionize governance, once they get power. The NDA government at the Centre from 1999 to 2004 could be unfamiliar to relatively recent political observers, but it is well-remembered by others. That too as a painful experience at best. Nothing exemplifies the failure of that regime as neatly as the failed 'India Shining!' campaign. At a time when the common people were tormented by pretty much the same catastrophe as it faces now, the NDA decided to project India as an 'emerging global force'. The backfiring of that shameless campaign is well-documented in the media as well as in popular imagination. The Left parties offered outside support to UPA I, led by Congress (a major political opponent of the Left in all the three major states under its influence) just to put an end to the crippling NDA rule at the national level. This is because under NDA, India witnessed the worst anti-people, neoliberal policies till date. For instance, it was the NDA which first moved towards 100% FDI in retail sector in 2002, 4 its anti-labour policies invited critcism even from the then BMS general secretary Mr.Hasmukhbhai Dave, 5 it kick-started 6 the policy of disinvestment of major PSUs which is still being blindly followed by the UPA and so on. These are in addition to the various embarrassing scandals such as the erstwhile BJP president Bangaru Lakshman's acceptance of a Rs.100,000 (US$1,700) bribe for supply of fake weapons and the Kargil coffin scam. If this is the change that you wish us to embrace, Mr. Shukla, then – no, thank you. You have argued that the “crucial add-on” that you speak of, Narendra Modi, makes all the difference. Sorry to disappoint you sir, but he is analogous to a cancerous growth on an already frail body, which I shall explain.

Narendra Modi is not the kind of organic nationalist that at least some among the secular sections of the society found in A.B.Vajpayee, the first and only PM from the NDA so far. Modi started his career as a pracharak of the RSS and as recent events prove, still enjoys the full support and blessings of the Sangh. His image as a hardcore follower of Hindutva (sometimes even Hindu fundamentalism 7) falls in sharp contrast with many ordinary members of the BJP itself, let alone the rest of the country. Also, his brand of nationalism is the fake kind, in the sense that he has been fairly outspoken in his support for global capital and has relied on the U.S.' comments on him whenever it was favourable. 8 These are crucial factors in understanding the hollowness of the argument that Modi is going to be the winning factor for NDA in the 2014 general election. It might be true that Modi has not yet been convicted for the 2002 pogrom in Gujarat, but he remains a deeply polarising figure in Indian politics. Proof of this came instantly when JD(U), a long-standing NDA partner which even had its president as the convener of the Alliance, left the coalition after explicitly pointing out the divisive character of Narendra Modi. If anything, Mr.Modi is only going to pull the NDA away from power and down with him. So, unless you are an orthodox Hindutva purist, there is hardly any reason for you to support him, which is the case for an overwhelming majority in India.

Another argument an ordinary middle-class Indian finds being thrown at her all the time is the claim that Modi is the most 'development-oriented' politician in India. Indeed, the author cites statistics from an article 9 which came in the Hindustan Times as proof of this. But merely a cursory look at this article itself will reveal the shamelessness of this claim. The article is a data-analysis of Gujarat's socio-economic and human development indicators which clearly show that the image of 'development-oriented NaMo' is nothing but a bubble. The contradiction between the claims of Modi-supporters and actual data has been unveiled quite authoritatively in the past. 10

Status of Gujarat as per selected development indicators
Number Indicator Gujarat India Rank among States/UTs
1 % GSDP Growth rate at constant prices, average 2004-05 to 2011-12 10.08 8.28 8
2 % BPL 2009-10 (2004-05) 23.00 (31.06) 29.80 (37.2) 18
3 Sex ratio (Females per 1000 Males [2011]) 918 940 20
4 % Households living in houses with concrete roofs 43.9 29.1 9
5 Literacy rate 79.31 74.04 15
6 Avg person days per household getting job under MGNREGS 2011-12 34 34 7
7 Infant mortality rate 2010 44 47 18
8 Maternal mortality ratio 2007-2009 148 212 5

[Sources : 1, 2, 3 - Planning Commission; 4 - Census 2011; 5 - Census 2011 and Planning Commission; 6 - Annual Administrative Report MoRD, 7 - Planning Commission; 8 - Census 2011]

While Gujarat is not ranked among the top five states even in economic indicators, its performance in most social and human development indicators is simply abysmal. Yet, Modi aficionados claim Gujarat to be a free-market capitalist haven even for the poor and the oppressed, much different from the rest of India. Mark Twain must be quite outraged at these damn lies.

The patriarchal overtones of the personal appreciation of Modi are unmistakable. The author cites the fact that Mr.Modi has no family as an important credential in his possible candidature (even though Jashodaben Chimanlal Modi, a woman hailing from Modi's native village has claimed to be married to him since she was 18; but she was apparently ignored later by the rising politician 11). Having no immediate family might erase some doubts about nepotism. Barring that, what does the author mean by mentioning it? It is here that we really sense the deeply male-centered and patriarchal sentiments behind the hero-worship of Narendra Modi. His apparent machismo and daring have been praised endlessly by his devotees. By this what they actually do is to elevate Modi to the status of a modern-day Sri Rama, while ignoring the obvious lack of redeeming qualities of Rama that one may find in the story of Ramayana. Blatant testosterone-fuelled hooliganism at its best!

At least 17 scams about the Gujarat government have been brought under public scrutiny in 2011 and the Krishna-Godavari gas deal scam of 2002 could be even bigger than the 2G scam.

Avay Shukla, in his article, goes on for several paragraphs about the 'virtues' of Narendra Modi. He says, “Modi has had the courage to raise these questions and is therefore being reviled by those political parties whose apple carts he is threatening to upset”. No one doubts that Mr.Modi has courage. The question is whether he has too much courage. To successfully lead a coalition one needs a little more than courage - the ability to arrive at a consensus. Even if Modi tries to transform himself into a unifying figure in the next year, this will only cause an erosion in his fundamentalist vote bank. Therefore, in all probability Modi will either remain as a Hindutva trumpeteer or harden his extremist credentials. The article also praises Modi's integrity with a claim, “I am not aware of a single major scam unearthed during his term.” Well, that is quite unfortunate. At least 17 scams about the Gujarat government have been brought under public scrutiny in 201112 and the Krishna-Godavari gas deal scam of 2002 could be even bigger than the 2G scam. 13 The author also says, “we are looking for someone who can restore our identities as INDIANS and not merely as Brahmins or Scheduled castes or Muslims or Backward castes”. But if the person you found for that is Narendra Modi, best of luck!

To be fair, Shukla does criticize the BJP- “That leaves only the BJP, with its historical baggage of the RSS, Hindutva, Ramjanmbhoomi (by the way, this baggage also includes five years of exemplary governance under Vajpayee from 1999 to 2004) -perhaps enough baggage to dissuade me from voting for the party.” But he goes on to say, “Except that this time the BJP has an add-on: Narender Modi.” I believe it must be clear now that far from being a saving factor, Narendra Modi exacerbates the possibility of supporting the NDA led by BJP. I agree with his comment, “In any case, who in the country would lead the Congress- a reluctant dynast, or an ageing economist who has discovered his true skills lie in politics, or a backroom puppeteer? Or, God forbid, all three? (Seriously, this is a possibility- after all not one of these three want to shoulder sole accountability, and they may reason that if a dual power centre can ensure two terms, a triple may be good for even more!) No, to my mind the Congress is not an option”[sentence in parentheses also by Mr.Shukla]. But it is too early to say that there is no third option, as he claims. Alliances are still being forged.

Mr. Shukla's article, however, conveniently fails to mention the recent adventure that Mr. Modi embarked upon in Uttarakhand. One must welcome any positive action in the face of such a calamity. But must we also welcome political profiteering that makes use of people affected by the disaster? Modi's PR firm, APCO Worldwide 14 staged a media stunt 15 making him the hero in the rescue of over 15,000 Gujaratis from disaster-affected areas. This quickly earned him the title 'Rambo Modi' among his critics as well as supporters. Unfortunately for him, neither the number nor the mesmerizing manner in which he supposedly saved the distraught pilgrims (claims of Modi-sponsored choppers air-dropping rescue personnel were abundant in the immediate aftermath of the disaster) turned out to be accurate. How myths fill up the blanks in a popular hero's story even when he is alive!

To sum up, I will never support Narendra Modi for the post of Prime Minister of India because he is just an enormous bubble, which his supporters claim to be full of righteousness, but is actually inflated with divisive communal politics, anti-people neoliberal policies, false development claims and a deeply patriarchal worship of the dominant male. Considering how it is impossible for the common people of a country as diverse as India to imagine such a person as their Prime Minister, it follows quite easily that most of us would not end up supporting him despite the highly professional publicity team serving Modi's interests. Let us remain hopeful for a NaMo-free political environment after 2014 at the national level.


M Akhil is an Integrated Master of Arts (Economics) student at the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, IIT Madras.

Author's note: I would like to thank Pratheesh Prakash for his help and solid encouragement throughout the making of this article. Also thanks to Binny Alexander for some crucial links and comments regarding the erroneous interpretation of statistics used in support of Narendra Modi. Shared effort is strength!

BJP, capitalism, Fascism, gujarat, NaMO, neoliberalism, India, Neo-liberalism, Note, Secularism Share this Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported

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I think it's scary, even here

I think it's scary, even here in the comments ,the blind support that Modi enjoys.
"It is only Narendra Modi who can save our country from the big sharks."
"The author lives in an alternate universe!".
Expressing an opinion that goes against prevalent propaganda brings such outrage.
I hope this isn't a turning point in our history, we have for over 60 years managed to protect our democracy and secularism. I hope for our own sake and for the sake of those who will succeed us, we can hold on these ideals that have made our country great.

Another contribution of NDA

Another contribution of NDA at the centre is the saffronisation of history, and spreading red carpet for pseudo science.

I started reading this

I started reading this article with great enthusiasm hoping to find some real problems with Modi. I thought I will get some valuable insights into why he should not be our future PM and so on. But having read the article, I realize that the author has nothing specific to say. What is the meaning of the first two paragraphs for an article titled like this..? Most of the time, author quotes some pro Modi comments from some other source and then go on to say that all of that is wrong....
and what are those statistics mean..? The indicators quoted are not much of relevance to conclusively say anything about Gujarat (in favor or against).. I hope the author actually understands what the parameters on the left most column mean.. anyway what does the statistics show..? Gujarat is in India or something like that?... I think people who read this will get more convinced that Mr. Modi is much better than other politicians .......

The statistics shown was

The statistics shown was quoted by Avay Shukla, Ex. IAS, in his article written in support of Feku. But the problem with the statistics is that it proves that Gujarat's performance is mediocre. Instead of looking at the left most column, you should look at the right most column (may I ask you out of curiosity, why on earth are you looking at the left most column, which is the serial number?). The right most column lists out Gujarat's rank among States/UTs. What did you got from that? Gujarat is a mediocre state, run by a bluff master. In short, make Gujarat a model of development, then there wont be any need of any of these publicity stunts. In the first para of your reply, you are saying "I realize that the author has nothing specific to say". Alas, you feel that the article is not specific about Modi, Gujarat, NDA? My earnest request to you is to re-read the article and get a grasp of it. If you still have objections, please come up with a comprehensive reply (para-by-para reply).

The stats show that all the

The stats show that all the claims of development that Modi has made are false and that he has lied to your face. A reasonable person would not want to support someone who has continuously lied i.e. that you should not support Modi, which is what the article is all about. It couldn't have been said any more clearly!!

May be whatever you have

May be whatever you have written are all facts and not modified, but you tell what is the option. You name any figure in this country and even more threatening figures can be produced for him, except Arvind Kejriwal. I agree Modi is not an ideal whom i should support, else he would have strongly said that bring me in power, i will pass Lokpal. he has not said even a single word regarding RTI for political parties, he has not said anything regarding the Mandir issue though it must have been at his core but despite all this, i see no other option. None of the state govt leaders are in position to form govt. Even if you make them win the best they will do is make hefty negotiations, take exemplified packages for their states, with not even 10% applied to to the goodness of common man and will support the party who will make the best bid. And you know the worst part of our politics, it is the party line culture which makes even the leaders like Ajay Maken and Jayram Ramesh to spit out nonsense just to support their parties corrupt policies. Finally if you are a fan of Rahul Gandhi then please don't even waste time to answer this reply. and believe me voting for congress this time is giving your country a PM who is waste (Rahul Gandhi). If congress has any guts, then either announce Rahul Gandhi as its PM candidate or make a commitment before the country that he will not be the PM.

I agree with this article. I

I agree with this article. I find the modi supporters empty,inexperienced, people who are just blind folded, following the bag-piper, making emotional stunts with not much understanding or even the capability to understand facts.because they are far cut-off from reality,drowned in the reality of narcissism and the comforts that money gives to them.

Beautiful writeup. Just now

Beautiful writeup. Just now posted it on www.kafila.org.

Mr. Akhil, Why are you

Mr. Akhil,

Why are you ashamed of the Hindutva (i.e. Vedanta) idealogy? What then about India are you proud of?? The only reason I can think of is that you have not made any effort to read about it and are completely ignorant; just going by fundamentalist perception created by a biased media. If you spend a little time reading about that philosophy and idealogy, and then thinking about it for yourself, I am sure you will feel embarrassed by your own article that you have written.

Do you really understand the

Do you really understand the concept of secularism? Please note it is not same as the definition that is thrust down our throats by the school textbooks that have continued from the British era.

Expected a critical analysis

Expected a critical analysis of the man, his motivations and his failures/successes. Instead got a rehash of the same stale, recycled tripe that is otherwise peddled by self proclaimed 'liberal',talentless hacks.

A few quick points you should consider before inflicting us with one of your articles in the future Mr Akhil.

Why stop at 'Gujarat Genocide', call it the Gujarat Holocaust, Armageddon even. If you are outraged - justifiably - at what happened in Gujarat '02, your head must have exploded when you must have learnt of Delhi 1984, Bhagalpur etc. No ? Of course not... one needs a brain to write these silly articles...or maybe not.

All politics is ultimately relative. He has blood on his hands - so does the Congress. He's an conceited ? Well I'm typing while passing the Shri Rajiv Gandhi Setu (otherwise known as the bandra worli sealink), Takes undue credit? $onia and Rahul were furiously waving flags to UK relief supplies...
Wrong to assume Modi is some messiah who will save us from this cesspool that the Congress ans Nehru-Gandhi clan has got us into - but there is reason for hope. And that small chance of hope is infinitely more compelling than the half-truths that you so eagerly peddle.
Good luck with your career at McDonalds Mr Akhil.

Please let me know why the

Please let me know why the stats is flourished as well as the congress ruled states (in fact Delhi)is literally rotting by now which iss never been investigated/compared? Approved, there are quite flaws in his purpose but do you dont want him never to be declared ar Prime minister candidate? with this country in a deliberately puppeteered, only Modi has command and capacity to fulfil which ever he thinks in his mind.

Omission

You would do better reading this link - ' http://centreright.in/2013/06/storm-in-toi-cup-tells-us-more-about-media... ' - before making an elaborate insinuation on others, supposedly for the omissions made, that you find very convenient. The fact that you are not aware of this article (else the following paragraph shall inevitably become 'very very' convenient) makes me skeptical about your own article, though, I lack the expertise to point out reasonable doubts about the social markers, that you have mentioned.

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"Mr. Shukla’s article, however, conveniently fails to mention the recent adventure that Mr. Modi embarked upon in Uttarakhand. One must welcome any positive action in the face of such a calamity. But must we also welcome political profiteering that makes use of people affected by the disaster? Modi’s PR firm, APCO Worldwide 14 staged a media stunt 15 making him the hero in the rescue of over 15,000 Gujaratis from disaster-affected areas. This quickly earned him the title ‘Rambo Modi’ among his critics as well as supporters. Unfortunately for him, neither the number nor the mesmerizing manner in which he supposedly saved the distraught pilgrims (claims of Modi-sponsored choppers air-dropping rescue personnel were abundant in the immediate aftermath of the disaster) turned out to be accurate. How myths fill up the blanks in a popular hero’s story even when he is alive!"
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its not what true r not

its not what true r not true.....its the belief that a savior has indeed come

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