On October 23, as dusk dawned in the holy city of Ayodhya, it was a solemn moment. Illuminated as it was by the light of 1.57 million earthen lamps set up at Ram Ki Paidi on the banks of the Saryu River, it reflected in its symbolism a beautiful and exciting new era of Hindu Garv. By participating in the Deepotsav, preceded by a series of similar events, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has shown that governing the greatest democracy can be done by mixing religious fervor with development, which also means inclusiveness.
Every leader who wears his religion on his sleeve does not have to mean that he is non-secular, because along with supplying pucca houses to the marginalized and rebuilding houses of worship, it drives home a holistic and multifaceted development model.
No country ever became a world power by degrading its cultural heritage. By reviving places of worship, be it the Ram Mandir, the Kashi Vishwanath Dham or the opening of the Mahakaal in Ujjain, the nation must conform to its original cultural identity to restore these sacred shrine sanatoriums. Places of worship provided refuge and religious assistance to those who, centuries ago, braved the challenges of civilization against invaders. Therefore, our cultural renaissance is a feature of our identity that needs to be restored and resurrected.
The BJP’s electoral plank for the upcoming state and also for the Lok Sabha elections strategically led by the Modi-Shah duo is becoming increasingly clear. It’s a heady mix of four different industries that will converge by election year 2024. The four separate verticals that will see convergence are a reconciliation of the completion of Ayodhya mandir by early 2024, the target of achieving saturation of nearly 80 percent of the delivery in social security schemes and the completion of infrastructure projects in the pipeline. Add to that the fact that if India were to maintain an annual economic growth rate of nearly 7 percent GDP, a combination of the above factors predicts an almost certain third term for Modi from now on.
Hypothetically, judging by the nation’s current mood, if elections were to be held this year, judging by the prime minister’s rising popularity, nationally and globally, it would appear that a victorious Modi all the way will lead him to a third term. If China’s Xi Jinping manages to secure a third term, Modi will be on par with his Asian counterpart as he paves the way for cementing his place as the country’s most powerful post-independence ruler.
In terms of results, judging by macro and microeconomic indicators, India’s economic performance stands out despite a world on the move. India has moderately high inflation compared to the rising inflation rates in the UK and US. We have maintained a steady growth of 6.8 percent compared to a slowdown in China. And despite India’s imported inflation due to frequent increases in oil prices, and despite Fed-led monetary tightening that has slowed foreign investment and hardened interest rates in the country, the IMF has hailed India as the brightest place and an island. of economic stability.
If there are some clear signature stamps defining Modi 2.0, it is the successful near decolonization of the Indian education system and ethos; the diminishing power of dynastic rule in state and central politics; laying the groundwork for systemic reforms and social development during his very first term in office, making India future ready to move into uncharted economic territory, and a greater focus on women’s empowerment, which is an important recognition of the growing participation of women as voters. The Prime Minister’s welfare, empowerment schemes, universal health coverage and pace of financial inclusion have become a blueprint for many countries to replicate.
As for the fusion of religion with politics, India is not and never will be a theocratic state. So while there is a division between the temporal and the cardinal, between religion and governance, Modi the man and his ideological leanings reflect the confluence of sentiments of the majority community, which makes up 80 percent of the 134 crore population. Assuming the full 80 percent may not be pro-BJP, they are essentially still Hindus who cannot be left untouched by resounding religious sentiment.
Modi’s two consecutive innings strongly embody an alternative idea of India, one steeped in hardcore nationalism and an unabashed pursuit of Hindu identity, combined with the liberation of an efficient wealth-oriented state. A combination of these factors has led Moditva to initiate a groundbreaking shift in influencing “the wiser voter” as he experiences development and last-mile upliftment, along with pride in his Hindu identity.
Moditva + Hindutva+ accurate targeting of social security schemes is now a force multiplier and an irresistibly powerful and winning formula for the BJP to expand its dominance, aided by digital tools to form new caste alliances to expand its social base, mainly to reach out to newer voters. The footprint of the “newer voters” is made up of OBCs, castes and rural women, who are the “labharthees,” or the beneficiaries of the government’s welfare schemes. Adding to the newer voter syndrome is the already strong base and base of the Hindi heart states, which make up the BJP’s political dominance, accounting for 60 percent of the 303 seat majority in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
The resplendent portrayal of Deepotsav in Ayodhya or the completion of the Ujjain corridor are a reflection of Hindu-garv and a renaissance of our socio-religious and cultural heritage, long suppressed in the psyche of Hindus, which has emerged since the age from Modes.
Rarely does the head of state sing shlokas as effortlessly as preaching on how Indians should emulate Ram Bhagwan’s ideals, or preaching such as ‘Mother and Motherland are even superior to heaven’, as also enumerating the stream of development projects that are in the range offered in their livelihood will encourage religious tourism circuits and thereby elevate the life of every section of society.
Crystal-gazing in 2024 may not be, and never will be, easy in such a pluralistic, complex, diverse and vibrant democracy like India. But as of now, early signs predict an encore from Modi altogether. I felt this amid the collective enthusiasm in the chants of “Modi, Modi, Modi” in Ujjain that reverberated during a heavily populated religious event, as if it were an election rally. The applause of that day was a fine line separating religious fervor from politics, as the two flowed seamlessly into each other.
Ultimately, religious and nationalist fervor coupled with development, sustainable economic growth, the support of a systematic and strong RSS framework that has aided social mobilization, and Brand Modi’s ever-growing charisma are the main distinguishing factors that have made BJP a giving the lead 17 months before the elections start compared to a potential opposition bloc that is nowhere in sight yet.
The author is the ex-Chairman of the NCFI, Niti Aayog. Opinions expressed are personal.
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