Man of the moment

The new Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, has showed an uncanny ability to connect with the people and peak at the right time. He has made the right noises and the 2014 election victory belongs to him and not his party, Tathagata Bhattacharya, Group Editorial Director, WCR Media Pvt. Ltd, says

It was never in doubt that Narendra Modi would become the new Prime Minister of India. But what has been astounding has been the magnitude and significance of Modi’s win. It has surprised punters and pollsters alike. It has even surprised the most ardent supporters of the ruling BJP party.

Since 1984, when the Rajiv Gandhiled Congress won a mammoth 414 seats in a 533-seat Parliament, no party has ever ruled India on its own. So just when political experts had taken for granted the inevitability of coalition politics, Narendra Modi has single-handedly led the BJP to an emphatic victory. The party has won 282 seats, enough to establish single majority in a 543-member House.

First and foremost, this has been a mandate for Modi and not of the BJP, an analysis of all the statistics and exit poll data shows. India had last witnessed a personality-driven election victory 30 years ago. In a parliamentary democracy, people usually choose a political party or a coalition of parties. But Modi has brought back memories of those days when elections were fought on the names of Nehru, Mrs Gandhi and Rajiv.Narendra-Modi_page41

Modi was quick to gauge the mood of the country. The Congress-led United Progressive Alliance had been reeling under serial exposes of instances of financial irregularities for the last three years. It saw the beginning of a sizeable anti-corruption movement which led to the formation of a new political party.

People, specially the 100 million youngsters who voted for the first time, needed hope and confidence which a silent Prime Minister, a recluse Sonia Gandhi or a clueless Rahul Gandhi could not offer. The Congress party’s continuing sycophancy with the Gandhi family and its inability to deal with corrupt elements within the party and the alliance it headed provided the perfect launch pad for Modi. “This government is arriving on the basis of young India. It has a mandate because of them. Narendra Modi is putting a system into place where he is involving everyone who has to drive and build the country. It’s early to say but it seems he will meet people’s expectations and there would be good times ahead for the Indian economy,” says Ranju Kumar Mohan, Director & Business Head of JK Ansell Ltd, who has not missed the youth factor.

Modi became the voice of that elusive hope. He put together an able campaign team who relayed to the rest of the country the tales of Gujarat’s success story. Modi himself campaigned tirelessly, often addressing as many as five public meetings in a day. He became the face of development, promise and hope. His promise of ‘minimum government, maximum governance’ echoed with the people.

In the 2009 elections, India Inc. had thrown their weight behind the UPA based on its 2004-2009 experience where the government brought in reforms but also managed to limit the effects of the 2008 global meltdown on the Indian economy. However, UPA-II tenure saw an economist Prime Minister and his finance minister, both staunch believers in neoliberal policies and reforms, go into their cocoons as the season of graft – 2G Spectrum sale, CWG Games expenditure, coal block misallocation, murky chopper deal – began to create ripples in the country.

All policy reforms were put on the backburner and resorting to populist policies began in right ernest. India Inc. was not ready of this long period of policy paralysis and growth slowed down; IIPs repeatedly fell in successive quarters. In this climate of gloom, India Inc. decided to pin its hope on BJP’s poster boy and threw in its weight behind him.

“The Prime Minister had a well-defined and definite agenda even before he contested the election. With his current team he will deliver on all fronts. It’s just a matter of time. The future looks good,” says Kumar Pillay, Vice-President & Head of Marketing at Ultra Tech Cement Ltd.

Honestly, people did not have an alternative. Arvind Kejriwal could have joined him in the fray had he not resigned as the Delhi chief minister after 49 days. Modi’s reputation as an efficient administrator who is business and growth-friendly resonated with the people. A good leader reads the mood of the nation. Modi has done that perfectly. Now, it’s his turn to deliver.

“We should see reforms in taxation, policies and the way we work. Modi’s election success has also taught marketing lessons to industry that how one individual can connect so well to large and diverse sections of the society. Hopefully in the Modi era, the Indian economy will witness outstanding growth and India will emerge as a strong brand,” says Saumitra Prasad, Chief Marketing Officer, Kokuyo Camlin Ltd. That’s how high the expectations are.