Recent talk by Narendra Modi at SriRam College in Delhi was well received and created lot of buzz across India, particularly among youth and middle class, the speech was carried by over a dozen popular news channels to wider audience. The central theme of the speech was optimism and great hope for India’s bright future. Many leaders give speeches, create false hopes, run elections campaigns promising so many things, but very few can articulate an original vision and even fewer could convince masses on that vision. Narendra Modi is one such rare leader, the fact that his vision has a running model in Gujarat makes it even more credible and attractive.
Modi talk is interesting, he goes to a premier elite commerce college in the heart of Delhi and primarily talks about agriculture, animal husbandry, salt and zero defect manufacturing, not about any economic ideologies, investments or intricacies of financial markets. While the entire media focus on Modi is about investments in Vibrant Gujarat, the man himself doesn’t explicitly highlight them in his public interactions; rather he chooses to focus more on his achievements in agriculture, water infrastructure, education, urban infrastructure. He knows governance and economy is less about corporate investments but more about empowering people and creating opportunities for livelihood. When was the last time a popular leader talked about rural issues addressing an elite youth? Even His party being principle opposition for the last 8 years never felt important to highlight these issues in Delhi. Though not an Oxford/Cambridge economist, his earthy genius and experience on the ground knows what is important and strikes chord with the people of this country.
English Media in this country tried hard to limit the discourse around Modi to investments. The image of Modi as a corporate poster boy suits their agenda to demolish him. Modi recognized this game plan early, the congress malicious campaign in Gujarat painting him as pro-corporate alerted him. In the Gujarat election campaign he exhaustively focused on issues of agriculture, woman, rural and urban infrastructure development.
The battle for 2014 not yet started officially, but it seems Modi has identified his message and agenda, a message of hope to aspiring urban India and a promise of economic rejuvenation in rural hinterland. The challenge for Modi comes more from rural masses, they are keen watchers of politics with strong sense of identity, and politics directly impacts their daily life. In a sense it’s both easy and difficult to convince them depending on the credibility of message and messenger. The easiest way to convince them is to reach out to them physically. This is not new for Modi, he has done it in Gujarat, the challenge is to replicate at a national level. The talk about rural issues in colleges or media can only take him to their minds not hearts.
Winning rural hearts is critical for Modi. He needs to reach out to them. Traditionally, Bjp was never able to win this constituency. There is not much time left for the decisive war and the task before is enormous. Only Modi in Bjp has a chance to achieve it. The sooner the Bjp decides on leadership issue more the time available for rural reach out. A separate rural manifesto on the back of Modi’s agrarian achievements in Gujarat can set the agenda for rural campaign. The treacherous media will make all out efforts to paint him as pro-rich and anti-rural, only physical reach out like in Gujarat can defeat the poison media will unleash.
The battle for the future of this country can’t be won just fighting in social media and internet. It has to be fought in every nook and corner of this country. So far the efforts have yielded positive results among urban middle classes and educated. Legions of Modi fans are successful in creating interest in their leader across the country, but they cannot afford complacency in this final step to take him to rural hinterland. That’s where the evil in Delhi will focus its might and charms.