Tale of two PMs

Friday, 25 April 2014 - 7:05am IST | Place: Mumbai | Agency: DNA

We can all agree that this election season, the party with the most sweeping campaign has been the BJP. Glum looking Modi hoardings across every major city, slogans on the front pages of national dailies, Youtube pre-roll advertising, Modi run video games and t-shirts – you name it they did it. The only thing that the BJP didn't do was make Narendra Modi appear on an episode of Comedy Nights with Kapil, though I presume the Rajat Sharma interview comes close. Regardless, it's the kind of extensive marketing campaign that would make the International Olympic Association, FIFA World Cup committee and Yashraj Studios hang their heads in shame. Whether you like the party or not, from a sheer marketing point of view it has been like the Spartans in the film 300 – relentless and epic.

My personal favourite in this has been a graphic novel, and I use the word loosely, titled Bal Narendra. If you haven't read it yet, it is an extremely thin collection of stories from Narendra Modi's childhood meant to inspire young people, but mostly push his brand and persona to younger audiences. It hits the right notes about him always being a hard worker, being sensitive towards his friends, being patriotic towards the nation, always helping his family and rising above his circumstances in order to become a better citizen. Excellent social values except laced with trying to build a larger than life persona of a man who might soon become Prime Minister. I am sure there is a supporter somewhere predicting the death of Marvel and DC Comics now that this comic has appeared.

The release of this graphic novel is in sharp contrast to this month's other major political book – Sanjay Baru's Accidental Prime Minister. I couldn't help but feel like these two works form the perfect crossroads in each individual's career. Manmohan Singh, who despite all his achievements and work for India has been reduced to a punchline and Narendra Modi, whose rise has been so dramatic, semi-fictionalised accounts of his childhood are being written just to make the personality cult puzzle fit perfectly.

For all the hatred against Manmohan Singh, I still wish he comes out on the last day of office and lets out what he's really feeling. I hope he ends the speech with atleast thirty f-bombs, calls out all the sycophants in the Congress, tells Rahul to become a photographer while he still can, drops the mic and walks away just to show everyone that he has self-esteem left. Unlike what everyone has projected, Sanjay Baru's book is actually very supportive of Manmohan and has compelled me contemplate his legacy once again.

As far as Narendra Modi goes, I'm quite convinced he will become our next prime minister. All I'm hoping for is that the gigantic media and public relations juggernaught stops and better comic books are written about his teenage. Maybe they can call it Chicken Soup for the Gujju Soul.




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