The Modi Fest cometh.
The BJP has announced it will have a nationwide Modi Fest to mark its three year anniversary at the Centre.
And how amusing that the name of this festival just happens to coincide with the sitting prime minister's. The BJP of course is not referring to Narendra Modi. Its MODI Fest is all about the Making of Developed India.
Somewhere out there is a bureaucrat whose job it is to come up with handy acronyms for the Prime Minister's pet projects. No Indian leader is so adept at spoon-feeding the populace such dollops of alphabet soup with the authority of a physician.
Modi-ji has given us SCAM (Samajwadi, Congress, Akhilesh, Mayawati), JAM (Jan Aadhar Mobile), ROAD (Responsibility, Ownership, Accountability, Discipline), 4Ps (People Private Public Partnership).
Now a grateful nation/BJP gives him MODI Fest – Making of Developed India.
The Gandhi/Nehrus were blatant about their branding. They or rather their sycophants stuck their names on any program/bridge/award/dental institute that was handy. One study says there are 5 airports, 28 tournaments, 15 sanctuaries and 39 hospitals named after that family.
Modi is much smarter. In the faux humility that comes naturally to Indians, he is both strongman and humble servant of the people. Thus he will not countenance giant statues of himself like the 40 foot golden statue of the ruler of Turkmenistan that rotated to always face the sun. Or the photoshopped billboards that show the late Jayalalithaa receiving the adulation of world leaders she had never met. That kind of over the top ostentation is like a Rs 4.31 crore monogrammed suit, tailourmade for bad PR.
And why build statues and monogram suits when you can set your sights much higher? Journalists and headline writers already talk, tongue somewhat in cheek about a MODI-fied India. The MODI Fest makes that a reality coupling the Prime Minister's name with the very idea of a developed India, a superpower India achieving its potential. It's a master stroke of branding, making the PM practically synonymous with the country's development. India develops with MODI acronym on its lips like a mantra.
If the gesture came not from the PMO but from some whiz kid in the BJP, it's a much smarter exercise in sycophancy than the Khadi commission substituting Mahatma Gandhi in its calendar with an image of Narendra Modi in a Gandhi-pose. Or whoever at the Press Information Bureau once doctored a contemplative Modi gazing out at Chennai floods with startlingly accurate Modivision denied to normal mortals.
The BJP has figured out that its biggest selling point is Narendra Modi. His personal popularity is unmatched. UP proved that even the poorly thought out demonetization could become an asset in the hands of Narendra Modi. He could sell it as his personal Brahmastra against corruption, stake his personal reputation on its honourable intent.
With the victory in UP, Narendra Modi and Amit Shah cannot be questioned anymore within the party. The ultimate genuflection of the BJP at the feet of its Narendra Messiah is proven by the Modi Fest. The BJP, a party that prided itself on being an organization where the party was above the individual, has now admitted that it exists to serve Modi rather than the other way around. Modi Fest is really its embrace of Modi Puja.
"Modi Fest will be organized in 120-odd cities," a BJP leader tells the Hindustan Times. "The event will highlight how he changed India and brought it out from a state of despair."
Narendra Modi should be pleased. For the man who gives us an acronym a day, this is the ultimate accolade.
This is just a grander version of that story of the Bal Narendra comic where he rescues a drowning boy and swims in crocodile infested waters and saves trapped birds. This is about Narendra Modi rescuing a drowning India, this is about Modi saving a trapped Mother India, this is about Modi swimming in corruption infested waters.
The BJP has a hang-up about its inability to lay claim to the heroes of India's fight for Independence. That insecurity has resulted in the party trying to claim for itself every leader who was ever at odds with Nehru from Vallabhbhai Patel to Subhas Bose. But now some 70 years after Independence, there's no real reason to hanker for faded Independence glory. Finally the BJP has in Narendra Modi an icon for the future - a branding bonanza.
The BJP has a hang-up about its inability to lay claim to the heroes of India's fight for Independence. That insecurity has resulted in the party trying to claim for itself every leader who was ever at odds with Nehru from Vallabhbhai Patel to Subhas Bose.
Meanwhile Rahul Gandhi asks petulantly on Twitter what there is to celebrate. "3 years of broken promises, non performance & betrayal of a mandate," he tweets. What no one has told poor Rahul that one of the biggest things the Modi Fest will celebrate is that Narendra Modi has had Rahul Gandhi as his primary opponent and as long as the Congress holds onto its non-performing leader, the BJP will celebrate Modi Fest with greater gusto.
Narendra Modi should be pleased. For the man who gives us an acronym a day, this is the ultimate accolade. He himself has now become an acronym. This is better than becoming a hologram. And this is way better than a monogrammed suit.