Does Modi really have an image problem?

Yes, and no. Since CM Narendra Modi was deflated when confronted in 2007 with the stark truth of being a mass murderer,  there have been occasions of his being conscious of what he is and deserves the rarest of the rare punishment. That has always haunted him. But his upbringing in the culture of RSS has helped him to surmount all and wear a different mukhota. Behind that his eyes have often been self consciously surveying if he is at long last been found out.

The right-wing extremist organisation RSS believes that offence is the best defence and repeating a lie endlessly makes it a truth. When he fought the 2007 election he not only justified the extrajudicial killing of Sohrabuddin and others but dared Mrs Sonia Gandhi to punish him. Hang him, he specified. He turned the title maut ka saudagar (merchant of death) on its head. His audience was so mesmerised that they asked him to go on. Ashish Nandy noted his daring. Around 1990 Modi had dazed Ashish Nandi who noted that he was book fascist. “I still remember the cool, measured tone in which he elaborated a theory of cosmic conspiracy against India that painted every Muslim as a suspected traitor and a potential terrorist. I came out of the interview shaken and told [Achyut Yagnik] that, for the first time, I had met a textbook case of a fascist and a prospective killer, perhaps even a future mass murderer.” [1] The future mass murderer that he turned out to be ten years later in 2002 is a remarkable prognostication. 

That malady has reappeared in the aftermath of demonetisation of November 8, 2016 and specifically after MOdi’s realisation that it was his tragic mistake. His statements in Kobe, Japan, in Goa on his return, and Hoshiarpur in Punjab fall into the same pattern. There is a yearning for death, or more precisely, being hanged or burnt at stake. That gives him away. This is accompanied by going offensive against the perceived enemy that he sees lurking in every corner. 

In Japan on Saturday November 12, 2016, he said: “Some people think that after December 30, this all will end. I want to declare this once again that after the end of this scheme, there is no guarantee that something else will not be introduced to get rid of such people. ..You tell me, whether money that has been stolen should be exposed or not?… I believe this very clearly that, if anything unaccounted comes up, I will check its records going back to Independence… We will deploy as many people as required for this. Honest people will not face any problem. No one will be spared. Those who know me, they are intelligent as well. They think it is better to offer it in the Ganga than in banks. … People stood in line for four hours, six hours but accepted the decision in national interest the way people of Japan tackled the aftermath of the 2011 disaster… I salute each and every Indian. Many families had weddings, their mothers were ailing… they faced inconvenience, but they accepted the decision.”[2]

  In making such references to marriage he may have forgotten that the pogrom that he let loose on the Muslims had hundreds of Muslim girls whose parents had saved their life’s earning to marry off their daughters. Their wedding dresses, trousseau and dowry were all looted, houses burnt and girls raped and killed. He has conveniently forgotten all that because of the rut from which he could never come back, the rut of ideology of hate that wants Muslims exterminated.  Going to the extent of wiping out the minority is what Nandy noted as fascism: “Almost nothing reveals the decline and degeneration of Gujarati middle class culture more than its present Chief Minister, Narendra Modi…the chief patron of rioting gangs.”

In his gorgeous dress and scintillating appearances Modi is trying to hide his past. As CM, and now as PM, he was and is full of “the vulgarities of his utterances (that) have been a slur on civilised public life.” In the BJP conclave in Kozikhode he wanted Muslims to be cleaned and accepted. Is it a slip of tongue? Did he mean ethnic cleansing like what Slobodan Milosevic did in Bosnia?

 In the aftermath of demonetisation the traits that Nandy saw in 1991 have reappeared with a greater accentuation than at any other time. “Modi, it gives me no pleasure to tell the readers, met virtually all the criteria that psychiatrists, psycho-analysts and psychologists had set up after years of empirical work on the authoritarian personality. He had the same mix of puritanical rigidity, narrowing of emotional life, massive use of the ego defence of projection, denial and fear of his own passions combined with fantasies of violence - all set within the matrix of clear paranoid and obsessive personality traits.” With these traits still in place what will India do with such a huge population of Muslim minority vis-à-vis the image of Modi, the mass murderer? Nandy: “I wonder what we should do with 120 million bitter Muslims, a sizeable section of them close to desperation. Will it be another case of Palestine now onwards, at least in Gujarat? Prima facie, Modi has done his job. The Sangh Parivar’s two-nation theory is genuine stuff and has already initiated the process of a second partition of India, this time of the mind. We, our children and grandchildren - above all, the Gujaratis - will have to learn to live with a state of civil war. The Gujarati middle class will have to pay heavily - culturally, socially and economically - for its collusion with the recent pogrom.”

Muslims who would like to sail on an even keel also are worst hit by the demonetisation. The utterances of Modi since his return from Japan indicate a Macbeth in turmoil. His unstable mind has the horrendous emotion of early death by hanging or burning. In Goa, he said : “I am not here to just occupy a chair, I left my home, I left my family to do something for the country.” Also, “I know what kind of forces and what kind of people who will be against me now. I am looting what they had accumulated over 70 years.” He added that he apprehended a threat to his life due to his strong stance against corruption. “They will not leave me alive. They will destroy me. Let them do what they want. The nation should just help me for 50 days,..I am doing this for the poor, toiling and honest people who are working hard to survive. So that they can get their own home, their children get good education and their parents get care,” he said.

“This is not the end. This is not a full stop, I am openly saying. There are other projects in my mind to stop dishonesty and corruption in the country. These projects are coming,”

Modi is telling different things to different audience. To the hard-core Hindutva audience he makes a bid for long-held views of the extremists towards Muslims. In the conclave in Kerala he considered Muslims unclean and hence cleansing is a must. It is not taking soap and washing. No, it is not. It is reconversion, ghar wapsi, that the audience would like. Ahsan Jafri had opposed him in election on February 23, 2002 because he was an RSS pracharak. In the last phone call that Jafri made to him to save the people that had sought shelter in his house he called him by a vulgar expletive and exclaimed that he was still alive and put down the phone. To the election rally audience he fielded a rhetorical question, what should he do to people like Shohrabuddin?  

On November 14 he declared in Ghazipur:

“Those against me are strong people. But, I am not scared of them. I will not leave the path of truth and integrity

“- Have you seen people throwing their notes in the Ganga? You sinners, your sins will not be washed even by the Ganga.

- The enemy is flooding India with counterfeit notes. We need to put an end to this.

-Fake money from across the border is funding Naxalites and terrorists.

- I salute this land (Ghazipur) which gave birth to Vir Abdul Hamid, who taught Pakistan a lesson in 1965 war.

- Our enemy is printing counterfeit notes across the border.

- Today, on Panditji’s birthday I pledge to reopen those files, which his party and family PMs never did. It’s my tribute.

- In 1962, the Ghazipur MP told Pandit Nehru about the dire state of the poor in Purvanchal, then Pandit ji formed a committee.

- After Pandit Nehru passed away, many PMs came and went but that committee report is still lost in files.

- During Emergency, Indira Gandhi shut down papers; Congress stopped the 25 paisa coin, now they are protesting the note ban.

- What did the Congress do for 19 months during the Emergency? They made this nation a prison and arrested so many people.

- Demonitisation is my gift to Nehru.[3]


What stands out from this compendium of utterances is the disturbed and hence rambling mind of the Prime Minister. He is the same Modi who never spoke of the genocide of Muslims in 2002 and remained  strictly silent, and never expressed remorse. Suddenly, he is seized with fear. He has even pointed to the people who would now not spare him from his doom. His signature is clear in the deeds he committed and became the author of it for having never said what he did orally. In this he is like President George Bush in the UN when he wrote “I [sic] want to go to toilet” and his national security advisor Condoleezza Rice understood that he was tottering. 

In the meantime the Birnam woods are marching to the castle of the Macbeth that Modi has become. Mamta Banerjee, Arvind Kejriwal and Mayawati have virtually given three days lease to roll back demonetisation or…

Out, out, brief candle!

Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player

That struts and frets his hour upon the stage

And then is heard no more: it is a tale

Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,

Signifying nothing



[1] Ashish Nandy, Obituary of a culture,



This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 16-31 December 2016 on page no. 7

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