“Mere Pyaare Deshavaasiyon! Main yahaan pradhaan mantree ke taur par nahin aaya hoon balki ek pradhaan sevak ban kar aaya hoon” (My beloved countrymen! I have come here not as a Prime Minister but as a Prime Servant) roared, from the Red Fort, the newly elected PM of the biggest democracy of the world. With a historic win in General Election, the person who had a very successful tenure as Chief Minister for almost a decade and a half, and the one who was going to represent one of the youngest populated countries on the International Forum, Modi had everything to brag upon. But such a modest start on Independence Day speech left me stunned.
Almost 3 years of his tenure, the popularity doesn’t seem to have any dent instead it has kept on rising pan India. This is very much evident by looking at the performance of BJP in State Assembly Elections (Delhi and Bihar being exceptions). This brings up the question that what makes Modi such a charismatic leader?
The first thing that came to my mind was probably his economic policy speaks a lot about his work. A growing GDP above 7% and keeping inflation below 5% is never an easy task for any prime minister. So does this make him so popular? If yes, then this is not the first time that GDP grew at 7% in India. In 2008, when the world was facing one of the biggest economic crisis, India grew over 7% and this was definitely a commendable job by our former PM and one of greatest economists of India, Dr Manmohan Singh. Though Congress won the subsequent election next year, the margin was not that big and Manmohan Singh never enjoyed such a popularity across India. So economic policies and GDP growth is not a considerable reason to be associated with popularity.
Another thing that could be related to the popularity was his clean track record as a CM. But is he the only one? Of course not. There are several leaders that enjoy the long and clean track record equally, if not in a superior manner, to Mr Modi. So if that was the dominating factor then Odisha’s Navin Patnaik, Madhya Pradesh’s Shivraj Singh Chouhan or Bihar’s Nitish Kumar should have enjoyed a similar type of popularity across India. But that’s not the case, these leaders’ popularity has been restricted mostly to their state or the areas near it. So this also assured that a clean track record is also not enough to create a mass appeal across 29 states and 7 union territories.
Another reason could be his simplicity in living. Though it is debatable if he is living with simplicity or not, assuming it a yes, then again he is not the only CM to be known for his simplicity. There are many CMs who are way ahead of him in this context. Be it Mamata Banerjee from West Bengal or Manohar Parrikar from Goa or Arvind Kejriwal (as he claims) from Delhi, they are way ahead of Modi in terms of the simplicity they have in their day to day life. So this again is not an answer to my question.
If it’s not his economic policies or track record or even the simplicity that contributes significantly to his popularity, then what is it that appeals the common man the most? After a lot of thoughts, what I have related to his popularity is that his actions have a positive psychological affect on the masses.
Referring the first statement (of the blog), though we all call government officers as “Public Servants”, they are the ones who dominate us the most. They beg votes from us once in 5 years, then it’s our turn to beg everything from them during their tenure. And in the midst of all this, unarguably the most powerful personality of India calling himself a servant of 1.25 billion population is nothing but a straight psychological appeal to the country that they have elected a person who is going to work on their instructions. (Not literally)
Apart from that, one of the most important mission of Modi Government that is “Swachh Bharat Abhiyan” (Clean India Mission) is one of the best examples of his psychological appeal to the mass. Cleanliness is not a new problem in India and it is not that our ex-PMs have ignored it, but none of the Prime Ministers took it to the level as Modi did. Talking about sanitation from the Red fort itself is an appreciable job. But after that he took the mission like a storm by engaging celebrities from different areas and gathering them together on road for sweeping and also marketing this entire programme on leading TV programs (The Kapil Sharma Show, Tarak Mehta Ka Ooltah Chasma) is nothing but a well strategized approach that directly affects the way people think. With the thought of shame on oneself for being responsible for polluting the area to feeling proud to be part of PM’s one of the most ambitious mission, the results of this missions were quite evident. Adapting to change is the most difficult job but Modi was successful in doing it because of his connect with the psychology of people.
Connecting with people’s psychology and changing mindset towards things is not just visible in these big projects or missions. But it has also had a clear reflection on some of his small decisions too. These small decisions may not affect all people but they do have a deep imprint on those who are affected by it. One of such decisions includes introducing the word “Divyaang” (Specially Abled) instead of using “viklaang” (Disabled). This may not be seen as any historic decision but this small change in the use of a word changed the way these people were viewed.
Along with all this, 2 historic decisions of Modi Government also have a solid linkage associated with the psychology of common man. Yes, I am talking about Surgical Strikes and Demonetization. Talking about Surgical Strikes, this move has created a great impression in the minds of people. Probably everyone in the country would have the opinion that government should respond to Pakistan in the language they understand. It’s not just about defending but India should also have an attack mode. And when the government does something in that line, it broadens our chest and satisfies our ego. This action also created a great connect of PM with the people because it gives the impression to people that the country finally has a PM with courage. Again a clear linkage with the mindset of people. Apart from surgical strikes, another historic decision was taken on November 8, 2016 that shocked the world and also had a psychological impact on citizens. “What do Politicians do to reduce corruption and black money?” is one of the most discussed topics among people. So when a decision like demonetization is taken, everyone feels satisfied that at least there are steps been taken for this issue.
Common People are not much financially literate that they will be pleased with the statistics or numbers that support the growth of the country. This doesn’t mean that these numbers are not important, but they are not enough to create a mass appeal. So this is my personal opinion derived from the above-mentioned observations that “a true leader is someone who can appeal the mindset of people by involving them and making them believe in his work” And this is the quality that Modi has mastered with, which makes him India’s most popular leader today.