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Why Do Some People Hate Narendra Modi?

20/09/2022 at 9:03 AM

Sutanu Guru, Executive Director, C Voter Research Foundation

There are three categories of people who detest Modi. Their reasons differ, but it reflects a deep churn in Indian society?

Prime Minister Narendra Modi turned 72 on September 17. One of the “events” to celebrate the occasion was the release of eight cheetahs imported from Namibia into a forest in Madhya Pradesh. While his fans did the usual clapping and cheering, there was a fusillade of barbs and taunts by his critics. One barb that almost went viral on Twitter is the claim that the prime minister was clicking photos of the cheetahs without taking off the lens cap of the camera. Members of Parliament like retired bureaucrat Jawahar Sircar shared this barb; only to delete his tweet later when some pointed out he was wrong. Most haven’t deleted their tweets and a large number of Indians think the clicking of Cheetah photos with the lens cap in place is further proof that Narendra Modi is nothing more than an “event organiser”.

Forget the lens cap, the cheetahs and the birthday. The thing that fascinates the author is the sheer passion and ferocity with which many critic dislike and detest Modi. As mentioned once or twice in this column, perhaps the only other politician who ignited such polarisation was the late Indira Gandhi. But it looks like the hatred directed at Modi is more elemental and visceral. The natural question to be asked is: why do some people hate Narendra Modi? The answers would be obvious when one examines the three categories of people who hate him fiercely and relentlessly.

The first category is a set of people who are genuinely convinced that Narendra Modi is a majoritarian who is determined to deprive minorities, particularly Muslims, of their fair share of power, rewards and dignity in Indian democracy. They accuse him of using authoritarian tools of the state to executive this malevolent vision. Many insist that Modi is no better than Hitler who presided over the genocide of six million Jews. Three or four epithets hurled at Modi by this set of people are: majoritarian, authoritarian, fascist and anti-Muslim. While many froths in their mouths, the seemingly reasonable critics point out towards one data set to insist they are right: not a single of the 303 Lok Sabha MPs of the BJP elected in 2019 was a Muslim. It was virtually the same story in 2014 and it is virtually the same story in most state assemblies.

The second category of people is his political opponents. They accuse him of employing “evil” tactics and strategies to virtually eliminate the opposition from Indian democracy. Some point out how agencies like the CBI and the ED have been unleashed “selectively” on political opponents to harass and intimidate them. The other aspect of this charge is: when politicians from rival parties join the BJP, the agencies stop harassing them. His political opponents also point out how state governments and mandates have been stolen in Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Goa, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra since he became the prime minister. They also accuse him of “stealing” others ideas and programs and taking credit for them. Take the Cheetah release festivities on his birthday. Congress leader Jairam Ramesh lost no time in tweeting that the “import” of cheetahs was a process initiated by the previous UPA government more than a decade ago when Ramesh was the Environment minister. The zero balance bank accounts, the free housing scheme for the poor and the free toilets for the poor are touted as programs that were launched during the UPA era and that Modi needlessly takes credit for them.

The third category of people who detest Modi are “liberals”. Bureaucrats, activists, journalists, lawyers and academicians belong to this category. Most of them come from a relatively “English-speaking elite” background. But many do not. This diverse set of people detests Modi because they think he is destroying the Nehruvian “Idea of India” that was marked by secularism and pluralism. This category of people is a major reason why elite foreign media institutions, western universities and think tanks now they are convinced that Modi is hell bent on subverting and ultimately destroying democracy in the country. For this category of people, every act or policy of Modi is an assault on democracy, free speech and fundamental rights. They bemoan the loss of a kinder and gentler India where majoritarian Hindutva fanatics were not running riot on streets of India and where mutual love between Hindus and Muslims was the norm.

There is no space here for a debate on how right or wrong the three categories of Modi critics are. But there is definitely one thing in common between them: also three have suffered actual erosion of power and influence over policy-making ever since Modi became prime minister. The other more fundamental change the author would like to highlight is: India is changing bewilderingly fast and the “unwashed masses” are assaulting the fortresses of those who wielded power and influence for almost 70 years after independence.

About the Author:

After his master’s degree in economics, Sutanu Guru has been a journalist for more than 30 years in media outlets like Times of India, Economic Times, Business Today, Business World, Business India & others. Currently, he focuses more on research and writing.


This is the personal opinion of the author. The views expressed in this write-up have nothing to do with those of prameyanews.com.

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