The solidarity which was shown to Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi in New York on Sunday to protest against the treatment that was meted out to him by the organisers of Wharton India Economic Forum (WIEF) by means of disinviting him is significant. The campaign against and for Modi who is the man of the moment in Indian politics culminated in the USA in the wake of the Wharton drama.
The debate over Modi is a classic leftist-rightist intellectual one which has spilled over into the public domain and the march in New York shows that the left intellectualism has little appeal to the commoners when it comes to questioning the credentials of a democratically elected leader.
The hate campaign against Modi is not a new one. Ever since the 2002 riots, the left-liberals, communists, Islamists and centrist forces have unleashed the defamation mission against the BJP leader. But why is Modi a common target for all these forces, particularly the left?
Left's dislike for Modi: Why?
The reasons are here. The leftist minds have a typical hatred for the rightist Hindu forces whom they think to be fascist, preachers of social inequality and hierarchy, open market, nationalist fervours and religious leanings and hence inferior people not fit to govern. The right-wing forces have similar objections against the leftists.
This mutual disliking is not entirely baseless for both these schools of thought are located at the extremes of the spectrum of political thought. We all know that Hitler and Stalin identified each other as enemies for their respective positions were poles apart but yet in the eyes of neutral observers, Fascism and Stalinism had offered little for human welfare killed millions. The current-day leftists also tend to attach a 'Hitler' tag to Modi and demonise him, which is completely misleading.
The second reason for bashing Modi is his class orientation. Since the leader has arisen from the lower stratum and threatened the authority of the so-called elites without actually practising caste politics, it has been a challenge for the so-called secular leftists and centrist forces who prefer the status quo to accept his dominance.
The latter, who have basically grown with the blessings of the western imperialist thought, have not helped the cause of the rise of the lower classes in India and Modi's rise as an able administrator puts them in an uncomfortable position.
The problem is that the Left has achieved so much little in the real, hard world iin terms of governance and administration that all their efforts to demonise Modi have fallen flat because they don't have an creditable alternative to offer. By cementing his popular legitimacy time and again, Modi has ensured that he has a universal approval which some ivory-tower academic with abstract world views can not negate.
The leftist critics of Modi have tried to corner him on the question of communalism by stressing the human rights violation issue but they have missed the point that Modi has transformed his style of politics in all these years and can not be called a communal leader by any means today.
Modi has not ensured development through communal appeasement like some other so-called secular parties do and has never divided the country on communal or religious lines to achieve success, electorally or otherwise. He even has overlooked traditional rightist forces like the RSS and VHP in his own state while scripting his popular victories. The left critics have been completely bamboozled by this force called 'Moditva'.
Development is another reason why the left and centrist critics have criticised Modi. The fact is that Modi never promises election freebies to take his people forward and his development model is completely based on dynamism based on opportunities, entrepreneurship and investment and it has earned accolades from not only India but even abroad.
Modi's personality cult has made the leftists a worried lot for in their thesis, individualism should always remain second-best to the society. It is not a surprise that leftist conservatism has seen little success in administration for it has never prioritised individual's welfare, something what centrist and secular forces practising caste-politics have also failed to do. Modi has been a champion in this regard and hence has become a common target.
Modi's nationalist stance has also established his credibility way above the others. The leftists have dubious track records in terms of national orientation while the centrists have always suffered from confusion and indecision in charting out strong stands on foreign policy issues. Modi, on the other hand, has always spoken his firm stand on questions of national security.
Only time can tell whether his ideas on improving the national security scenario is practical or not, but there is no denying the fact that the dry academic concepts of the leftist critics are more alien for the common man to identify himself with. Thesis doesn't run a country, leadership does.
All those who have played an instrumental role in cancelling Modi's participation at the Wharton event have ridiculed themselves by not allowing an elected representative an entry. What did the Ania Loombas and Toorjo Ghoshs achieved by raising this protest against Modi? Nothing but a tag called 'Intellectual Al-Qaeda'.
Instead of taking all the advantage of a liberal social set-up to work in an illiberal manner, why don't these enlightened minds take up genuine issues that affect the poor? Amartya Sen recently said that he was disappointed to see that the leftist politics has lost its direction today. Why do so many people still respond to nature's call in the open? Has the left raised this issue adequately?
Modi has also left the ideological opposition behind in terms of building public relations with help of technology and social media. He has succeeded in attracting the diaspora closer through his clinical approach as an administrator and pro-development mantra. He has perfectly cultivated the sense of belongingness of Indians living abroad by connecting with them. All communal, casteist, ideological conservatism which have traditionally ruled Indian politics been rendered obsolete.
Narendra Modi has done his homework. His opposition hasn't. The result: a huge show of solidarity for the man even in a foreign territory. The Wharton drama allowed him that extra space. Leftists have themselves to blame for this defeat.