By Sushil Kutty
The results of yet another ‘Mood of the Nation’ survey is out and the summary is, if elections were held today, the Bharatiya Janata Party will rule again. That is standard gravy for those on the BJP gravy-train. Doesn’t matter that the hostage media no matter what the truth will jump to do the BJP’s bidding, and predict to keep Prime Minister Narendra Modi happy. So, the day after Modi told BJP leaders to fan out and become friends with Muslims, also to not speak “ill” of films, the so-called ‘Godi Media’ were falling over praising the Prime Minister’s Muslim outreach, and Pathaan’s blockbuster opening.
The question is who is the hypocrite, the Prime Minister or the mainstream media? Contrast Modi’s diktat to the likes of Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, and Madhya Pradesh Home Minister Narrotam Mishra on Bollywood films, with his response to the BBC documentary ‘India: The Modi Question’.
It is okay for Modi if the Shahrukh Khan film ‘Pathaan’ demonizes the Indian Army and humanizes the notorious Pakistani spy agency ISI. In the movie, Pathaan, played by SRK, collaborates with an ISI agent, played by Deepika Padukone, to save India from the machinations of a rogue RAW agent, an ex-Indian Army officer Param Vir Chakra, played by John Abraham, who wants to drop a ‘smallpox bomb’ on Delhi.
Question is, how did the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) allow such a negative portrayal of the Indian Army to go unchallenged? And to think, the entire pre-release brouhaha was over the ‘Besharam Rang’ of Deepika’s bikini!
The Indian Army can be besmirched, its honour guillotined at the altar of Bollywood success, and BJP’s outreach to Pasmanda Muslims, but when a Congress leader asks for proof of the 2016 surgical strike, the Congress is branded anti-Indian Army!
The electronic media does not see the double standards of the Modi government, and that of the Bharatiya Janata Party, the party steeped in hypocrisy, its nationalistic bombast to get both gullible and fundamentalist Hindus to vote for the BJP with the promise to resurrect Hindu temples from the nether world, and enact UCC and NRC, and the CAA.
A different genre of promises will be held forth to the Pasmanda, and then forgotten at the altar of expediency. BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra, who would say anything to help improve the Prime Minister’s image, tweeted the accomplishments of the Modi government and demanded that Modi be given another term, not acknowledging that the Hindu hordes who voted Modi in 2014 did it for purely Hindu objectives. If Modi jettisons Hindu demands for Pasmanda appeasement, it won’t help the BJP.
Modi is in for a surprise in 2024. The ‘Mood of the Nation’ survey of the Modi-friendly media house that carried out the “Mood of the Nation” survey, jumped the gun. Chances are Modi would face a Hindutva backlash if he gets too over the top with his Pasmanda outreach. The Pasmanda themselves wouldn’t reciprocate with the same Modi zeal and fervour. And the pollster conducted the polling before the ‘Modi The Question’ documentary pole-axed ‘Modi-the-Vishwaguru’.
With the impressions of Gujarat 2002 resurrected in the India of 2023, the poll calculations need to be looked afresh. And the ramifications of ‘India: The Modi Question’ is only beginning to unfold. More questions would be asked and the answers could be unsettling. The ‘mood of the nation’ says the BJP will win 284 seats if elections were held today. The Congress camp will bag 191 seats.
What has excited the BJP is the “revelation” that Prime Minister Narendra Modi with a 72 percent rating remains the No.1 popular leader. And Rahul Gandhi lags by a distance despite the Bharat Jodo Yatra. As many as 37 percent respondents said Bharat Jodo Yatra would not help Rahul against Modi. Who are these naysayers?
The survey says the Modi government’s biggest achievement is the “handling of the Covid-19 pandemic”, followed by the abrogation of Article 370. There’s a lesson there for Modi: If he wants to win 400+ seats in 2024, he cannot look less Hindutva than he was in 2014, and in 2019. The Frankenstein the BJP created, and Modi nurtured, will bite where it hurts most.
Modi is risking his acceptability with a large chunk of his diehard supporters. The secular-streak they see in him is eroding support. Modi appears be blind to the risk he is taking. The hardcore are shifting to monk Yogi Adityanath who has no illusions of becoming ‘Vishwaguru’.
The belief is gaining ground that Prime Minister Narendra Modi will do anything for universal acceptance. He wants to be remembered as a statesman in the mould of Jawaharlal Nehru. And for that he is not trusted by a large section of those who voted him in 2014, and in 2019.
The “Mood of the Nation” survey didn’t ask the right questions because unseen happenings overtook everyone involved. The documentary ‘The Modi Question’ hasn’t left the Pasmanda Muslims untouched. All brands of Muslims everywhere have been jolted back to 2002. If Prime Minister Narendra Modi continues to live in his ‘Vishwaguru’ castle, he will find himself castled in this game of chess in which he thinks he is grandmaster. (IPA Service)