PRIME MINISTER MODI, BEREFT OF FAMILY POLITICS

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Amidst the motley and voluble conglomeration of political family enthusiasts, Modi stands out as being starkly different. Because of this, denigration is spewed towards him by those in whom family worship is ingrained

In a dynasty obsessed political culture and climate, where great energy and strategic capital is put to use so that dynasties and families can be protected, perpetuated and installed, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s example sticks out. To a people resigned to a political environ where, for the last seven decades, perpetuation of family members is the norm and de rigueur, Modi’s detachment and non-involvement with his immediate and extended family is striking.

In a polity which has seen some of the most debilitating national phases of ravaging corruption just because some family members needed to be resource stacked, or because some immediate family

members needed to be accommodated and provided for, Modi’s distance from his family and his reiteration of being concerned with the welfare of 125 crore Indians — is inspiring and refreshing.

It challenges a degenerative dynasty driven narrative, especially strengthened and oxygenated in the last decade, which saw a series of scams and mega corruption scandals, driven and directed by one single political family. What Uttar Pradesh is witnessing today and what Tamil Nadu has seen for a while now — the feud within the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam parivar — and a number of other mini political families each scrambling for turf, pelf and power, each providing for the other or sparring with some other, are an expression of this degenerative narrative. In some parties, the disease of dynastism has adversely affected their working and thinking, the Congress today is an apt example of such an affliction.

So acute is this dynastic disease within the party that its apex leadership refuses to see or is unable to grasp that the party’s erstwhile intellectual capital, political finesses and dexterity is rapidly eroding with the party being turned into a political rump under a self-styled leader whose only obsession is with theatrics. So entrenched is this sense of “family” within the party that the Congress dare not undertake a free assessment of its existential dilemma.

The BJP, on the other hand, under party president Amit Shah and Modi, and contrary to false stereotypes, is the only party which remains free of the dynastic debilitation and grows by recognising grassroots talent and potential.

Three decades of communist rule in West Bengal, all in the name of the proletariat, was not free of nepotism and family sagas, nor is Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee’s rule today free of the dynasty and family virus. Banerjee’s unabashed projection of her nephew, her patronage of her brothers and immediate family members smacks of dynastism. For most of these family matriarchs and patriarchs, the concern for the common and marginalised citizen is a veneer, a cleverly articulated foliage, which camouflages the primal and compelling urges of heredity.

For these types — some of who have been theatrically vocal since November 8,  2016 — the ideas and concepts of nation, welfare, citizens’ wellbeing, inclusion and prosperity,  are all claptraps to be employed at convenience for their own perpetuation and for that of their bloodline. No earthy connect or fellow feeling really binds them to the soil and to the people.

Amidst this motley and voluble conglomeration of political family enthusiasts, Prime Minister Modi stands out by being starkly different and because he stands out on this count, intolerance or denigration is seen spewed towards him by those in whom family worship is deeply ingrained.

In their approach to him, Modi’s family too is unique and has broken the norm and gone against the habit. As a recent story revealed and as has been known for years now to those who have worked closely with him or have seen him, members of Modi’s immediate and extended family have lived and continue to live in quiet dignity, leading simple lives, silently facing challenges, pursuing dreams and fulfilling promises.

So stoic and staunch is this sense and training, that even his mother went up to a bank to exchange old notes without fuss, without entourage. Members of his family have never ever been heard reminding people of who they are, what their connections are and to whose clan and legacy they belong to. A habit that had become commonplace and near institutionalised in India’s political culture. It is such an approach, such an esprit filial which reinforces the collective faith in the founding ideals of our democratic polity.

When Modi talks about being solely concerned with the welfare of 125 crore Indians, when he talks of his undivided attention for India’s well-being and resurgence, when he expresses this concern and attention through a gruelling multi-tasking, he seems to be doing it from a deeper connect.

In his early peripatetic years, he criss-crossed India, mingling with the people, absorbing their hopes, internalising their aspirations, identifying with their dreams and expectations and often reflecting on their future. And in each stop, in each interaction he added a new dimension to his learning and to his discovery of India.

To listen to him speak of those years is a journey in itself. As one learns of those years, one distinctly locates the origin of his identification with 125 crore Indians — it is a narrative and vision that was largely shaped during those wanderings — when family ties receded and the nation began to dominate.

Tyaga — sacrifice in the Indian tradition — parampara — has always captured the collective imagination and instilled confidence. In his approach to his family, Modi has always displayed that spirit of sacrifice. Allusions to Tyaga, may be seen as quaint and outmoded in the political atmosphere of present day India, derided by the majority of the elite and opinion makers, but it is real when it comes to Narendra Modi.

The ancient Indian adage spoke of giving up one’s kula — family, lineage for the sake and for the welfare of the village and of the collectivity; it spoke of giving up one’s small self for the welfare of the larger self, while many in the political world shrink from such an exhortation, Modi embraces it by merging with the larger self. It is that which separates him from the rest and it is that which endears him to the teeming millions of this perennial land…

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