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regular-article-logo Sunday, 16 June 2024

Sign of the times: Editorial on PM Modi’s self­-designed ascent to godliness

The wily weaving of religion with politics for a country where faith is an inextricable part of everyday life is the BJP’s USP. Modi’s claim is the logical culmination of the BJP’s dominant theme

The Editorial Board Published 26.05.24, 08:20 AM
PM Modi

PM Modi File picture

It has happened at last. If the devout had been expecting an incarnation, the child of the deity has come. Only the revelation came at an uncompromisingly expedient moment — two moments, rather. In an interview during election time, the prime minister announced that he was not born of his mother, but sent directly to this earth — this country? — by god to carry out his will. This was the only explanation for his unfailing energy. In another interview, he expatiated on the theme, indicating that his achievements were the result of daivya shakti or ishwariya shakti. Whatever the prime minister does is god’s work, the fulfilment of god’s purpose. While the prime minister’s mother lived, he had thought that his birth was “perhaps” a biological one. But now, presumably with his mother safely in the afterlife, realisation has dawned. His birth was not exactly an immaculate conception, neither did he spring, like Minerva, the warrior goddess of old, fully armed from her father’s head. He has been sent directly by god.

Deriding Narendra Modi for this dramatic uncovering, as the West Bengal chief minister has done, or calling him out for delusion and arrogance, as has been the Opposition’s reaction, ignores the ethereal wisdom of Mr Modi’s timing. Claiming descent from god is the closest the prime minister can go to the epic hero — a new sibling? — who lies behind much of his and his party’s power. After all, the temple in Ayodhya is supposed to be the icing on the Bharatiya Janata Party’s cake. To say that Mr Modi’s self­-designed ascent to godliness is a desperate bid to stave off electoral de­feat is petty carping in the face of a magnificent fiction. The electoral moment is crucial though: the new myth may gain more voters on the one hand and glorify all of Mr Modi’s deeds as god’s work on the other. So unemployment, misogyny and violence against women, the erosion of democratic institutions, the distortion of law, the silencing of dissent, the suppression of minority communities and underprivileged castes, the spread of hatred, suspicion, fear and division — all become part of god’s purpose.

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Mr Modi’s descent from god makes human election irrelevant and democracy meaningless. Only States under kings and queens had rulers anointed by god; they were the representatives of the deity on earth. If dictator is a dirty word or the presidential form of government unacceptable, god’s rule through the deity’s incarnation on earth cannot be rejected except through sinful heresy. The wily weaving of religion with politics for a country where faith is an inextricable part of everyday life is the BJP’s USP. Mr Modi’s claim is the logical culmination of the BJP’s dominant theme. It is no surprise that a BJP spokesperson should see the deity, Jagannath, as
Mr Modi’s devotee. That was, appositely, during the campaign in Puri.
Will all voters turn out to be his devotees then?

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