Elections and politics are parents of government.
Only a politician who understands the craft of the first by controlling the forces of the second can helm the third.
Narendra Modi is undoubtedly India’s most deft exponent of this algorithm, which made him the Prime Minister for the second time and the country’s most popular leader ever.
The enigmatic Mr Modi is adept at conundrums, for he knows that a leader has to reinvent himself constantly to stay original.
Gone is the vitriolic campaigner and in its place is a new Modi. Calmer, more collected, restrained in shows of affection on the world stage and punitive towards offenders everywhere.
The Opposition cannot understand him. The Liberal cannot read him. His own party finds him an enigma.
Power often brings out the worst in people, but it seems to have brought out the best in Modi. The BJP hit a deep low when Akash Vijayvargiya, BJP MLA and son of a powerful leader assaulted a public official with a cricket bat.
The father tried to downplay the incidents saying that his son is a rookie legislator and blamed the official, too. The Prime Minister was furious.
He fumed that there is no place for “ such people” in his party and the offender should be expelled without exception.
He said, ‘whoever it may be, whoever’s son he may be, such arrogance, misbehaviour cannot be tolerated’. India’s secular classes and parties were stymied.
They had predicted that the aftermath of the election which “the BJP won and India lost” would end in Modi and the BJP leading the country down a dark path where democracy is mugged by thugs and thuggish agencies; Muslims are lynched; critics are shot or jailed and anyone who does not chant “Jai Shri Ram” is not a Hindu. Surprise!
A more serious act of violence occurred in Jharkhand two weeks ago. Tabrez Ansari was lynched to death after being forced to chant “Jai Shri Ram” and “Jai Hanuman”.
Parliament was in chaos. Modi’s response was combative. “The lynching in Jharkhand has pained me. It has saddened others too. But, some here in the Rajya Sabha are calling Jharkhand a hub of lynching.
Why are they insulting a whole state?” he asked. The BJP and its extreme Hindutva satellites have been gutted at home and abroad for lynchings.
Read Modi’s two responses together, and it is clear that he has created a fresh paradigm for his party and the country—no more tolerance for political grandstanding or breaking the law, irrespective of party loyalty.
The final transition from BJP’s Modi to Modi’s BJP is complete.
The reason is Modi himself. The BJP owes its mammoth majority to him and him alone. He is not subject to checks and balances to keep everyone happy.
Which has made him aware of the greater responsibility of seeking statesmanship. Unfettered and unambiguously sure of himself, he has laid down the law. Swachh Bharat is Swachh Modi and nobody is allowed to muddy the pool, Donald Trump or Akash Vijayavargiya.