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The Craft of Twisting Words

Narendra Modi’s craft to mesmerise people by playing on expressions used by others remains unparalleled.

In his thanksgiving speech following the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) victory in the 2019 general election, Prime Minister Narendra Modi remarked that this election was unique. It is, he said, for the first time in the history of elections that “secularism, soaring prices and corruption” were not even mentioned. He was indeed spot on. The issues of soaring prices and corruption will need to be examined by professional economists and transparent investigative agencies. However, it was with a sense of earnestness and deep pride that he mentioned secularism, leaving some of us completely confused. It is a matter of shame that the Congress and various other parties that have always sworn by secularism had not mentioned it in their hundreds of speeches while campaigning; in any case, it did not constitute the centre stage as it used to. That Modi should notice this and mention this with a sense of pride is shocking. And, there has been no substantive discourse around this issue after his speech. It seems that Modi’s “brilliance” at artistry, rhetoric, twisting words and expressions, and spectacles has indeed cast a spell.

The Kedarnath spectacle, just before the last phase of polling, must have changed the hearts of many as the polling for 59 constituencies was still to start. Modi even thanked the Election Commission for letting him go there; that was a part of the spectacle. He goes there not as Prime Minister but as an ordinary pilgrim dressed in local attire. There are no security persons in the frame, even Amit Shah is not to be seen. What you see is a sanyasi in a saffron robe, and you are instantly reminded of Dev Anand in Guide (1965). Modi walks uphill alone, with a stick in his hand, and the next shot is that of him sitting in the famous cave (or now made famous) “meditating”—a masterstroke of a spectacle at a time when people are going to sleep still wondering whom to vote for.

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Updated On : 16th Sep, 2019

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