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A collective error of judgement?

Updated: Jul 17, 2014, 09:55 AM IST

It’s been over two months since Narendra Modi was sworn in as the Prime Minister of India. Though it is too short a period to pass any judgement about his performance, the time span is enough to draw some conclusions that can be indicative of the times to come. Narendra Modi has been very impressive so far. He has managed to turn his critics in his favour; a great achievement for any politician! And, I am one such critic who until recently was not in favour of Modi because of the 2002 taint. I have written some articles critiquing Modi, so I owe it to him and my readers to share my change of opinion.

Narendra Modi, the very name brings multiple thoughts to the mind, many of which are contradictory to each other. He is a man from a humble background; a man with a successful record as a Chief Minister in terms of development; a man with the taint of a riot that refuses to go away; a man considered an authoritarian; a man loved by the industry; a man looked at with scepticism by many Muslims; and a man who has risen to the top with sheer dedication and hard work. These conclusions about him have been discussed ad nauseam. However, lately I have been haunted by one thought – given Modi’s exemplary performance so far, I wonder how so many people could go wrong in their judgement? How come so many people in India and across the world could not see a good PM in him?

Modi, the PM, has not only become more media friendly, but also more humble and emotionally expressive. His act of bowing down at the entry gate of Parliament on his first day, his display of emotions at his swearing-in ceremony, and his modern and professional style of functioning are all a breath of fresh air. Was Narendra Modi always like this, or is he consciously trying to change himself for the better? Is it possible that millions of people could have made an error of judgement when they declared him unfit for the prime minister’s role?

There can be several reasons that can be attributed to this collective judgement against Modi. The biggest of all being the media. Majority of the folks depend only on the media for their news and views. So am I trying to put the blame on the media? Both, yes and no. ‘Yes’ because such dedicated attention has not been given to many other riots. ‘No’ because Narendra Modi and his team did nothing much to give their side of the story and only added fuel to the fire by displaying a haughty attitude. The other plausible reason for the negative sentiment can be the nature of the beast itself. Politicians are public figures and they are subject to close scrutiny and constant criticism, and Narendra Modi was no exception. Third reason could be the hype created by Modi’s detractors, especially the opposition who were, of course, within their rights to do so. It is important to add here that nobody knows what the truth is. Whether Modi was guilty of perpetrating the Gujarat riots or not, is still debatable. The point being discussed here is how majority of the people have buried the past and have decided to move on. They have reposed their faith in the same man whom many once feared. What an amazing turn of events!

Narendra Modi has fought against all odds to reach where he has reached today. It is no small feat. Now it is up to him how he can make the most of this opportunity. Voters are very fickle minded and unforgiving. If he does not keep his promises, they will not bat an eyelid before moving on to the next one. Arvind Kejriwal is a befitting example of this. The same people who voted him to power in Delhi, cannot forgive him for giving up his job mid-way. No matter how hard Kejriwal is trying now to explain his side of the story, people are just not listening. Narendra Modi like every other politician faces the same risk. He has successfully rebuilt his image so far and his performance too has been satisfactory. Hope he too does not get complacent with time and starts taking his power for granted like many of his predecessors. He should remember that collective judgement can fail sometimes but not every time. His critics like me would be more than happy to admit that we judged him wrong. After all, to err is human and in this case we can only benefit if we are proved wrong.

Having a second chance makes you want to work even harder, and this is Modi’s second chance. Hope he doesn’t make it his last one.

(Shobhika Puri is a freelance writer)