The manner in which the Modi phenomenon has played out in recent months has confounded and intrigued observers. The fact that the saffron brotherhood is prepared to subsume its identity in projecting a larger-than-life visage of Modi is the focal point of Rajdeep Sardesai’s book on the 2014 General Election. In a conversation with Pradyot Lal, Sardesai comes out strongly against uncritically accepting the fundamental shift in the polity: Tehelka
Edited Excerpts from the interview :
You have been quite objective in your assessment of Modi — especially his failure to rein in the likes of Praveen Togadia during the bloody days of 2002. Do you think that the same intolerant streaks remain part of the Modi persona even now?
As I see it, leaders evolve over time. Modi realised that he had to make a decisive break from 2002 if he had to make a transition in 2014. To that extent, Modi has evolved from what he was in 2002. He knew that he could not realise his great dream without making a conscious shift. He is by far the Supreme Leader (of the saffron brigade) and the entire Sangh Parivar has willingly subsumed its identity for his projection. He is no Vajpayee who could run a coalition with dexterity; he believes in a completely centralised model and will rather have faceless but earnest bureaucrats take his orders and work through them. Now, he wants to project himself as more than just a Hindutva icon.