I think I have finally understood Narendra Modi. And its so so simple really! He possibly suffers from what could be loosely described as an inferiority complex. Let me demonstrate this with the help of three very clear examples:
First, and what Modi is most well known for, is his paranoia with Muslims. Now Muslims account for less than 14% of this country. Hindus in contrast account for more than 80%. And yet, the leader of the Hindus, the Hindu Hriday Samrat as he is called, has such inferiority complex that he feels compelled to attack the poor minorities. Just think about this. Anyone else in a position of 80% strength would have been smug. He would have been guilty of merely ignoring the minorities. But not Modi. He has to attack them to reassure himself that he is indeed 80% strong.
Modi has converted this complex into a political plank. Most of his followers admire him because they possibly also suffer from a similar complex. I was stunned recently when a friend admitted over Facebook that if Hindus have to remain in a majority, they have to vote for BJP. I was stunned, but it struck me that for a whole bunch of Modi-backers, this is perhaps the only reason to back him. Certainly, many in Gujarat think that way.
Second, look at which country Modi attacks the most. He doesn’t attack America, a country that continues to deny him a visa. He doesn’t attack the Brits who ruled us for two hundred years. He doesn’t even attack China for he knows that they are well capable of reaching him right inside his dugout in Gujarat. Who does Modi attack? Pakistan. In fact, Modi loves to attack Pakistan. At first, I used to think that attacking Pakistan is just an extension of attacking Muslims, but now I am convinced that its about size. Pakistan is just about the right size for him to feel comfortable to attack. Modi feels safe in attacking Pakistan. The Pakistanis probably cannot cause much harm to him. They cannot fight back. They are weak. For all of their bluster, they have not been able to impress the world about their claims on J&K.
The population of Pakistan is some 18 crores. That’s about the same as the Muslim population of India. This is tiny in comparison to India’s 100 crores Hindus. This is just the size difference that gives Modi the confidence that he wont be pummeled. He feels he can get away by attacking. So he roars against Pakistan. Many, if not most, of his speeches are about Pakistan bashing, a rhetoric that he presents as Indian nationalism. Excuse me Mr. Modi, but for many of us, we are not really that worried about Pakistan. Irritated by its nefarious activities yes, but not really worried. Nor are we about China or any other neighbor for that matter. It is in fact China and Pakistan who huddle together because they are worried that India will punch them in their noses if it ties up with Israel, Japan and the US. But for Modi, this is merely a detail, an inconvenient detail, that like so many others, he likes to ignore!
Third, in the political space, Modi attacks a PM who everyone knows is a gentleman of the highest order. The PM is an economist, one of India’s most erudite leaders, and one whom the entire world looks up to. The PM however is weak in oratory. He cannot shout the way Modi does. He cannot punch his fists in the air like Modi does. No way is the PM going to get into a shrill fight with anyone. This is precisely why Narendra Modi attacks the PM. He knows the PM cannot give it back. But where the PM can give back – in economics, in FDI policies, in foreign affairs, in strategy – Modi runs away from a discussion. This is why Modi never offers any solutions to any of the problems he blames the Congress for, because that would expose him and make him feel weak. He realizes his educational disadvantage when compared to the PM. This is also why Modi never gives interviews to savvy journalists. He walked out of a Karan Thapar interview because he couldn’t intellectually bully Thapar. But give him a lame duck anchor (and there are a few!) and he may just take the bait. This is also the reason why Modi has never accepted the challenge of a public debate with Digvijaya Singh.
This is why there are others in the BJP who may eventually make it to the PM, if the party comes anywhere close to forming a government. For whatever one may say about them, Sushma Swaraj, Arun Jaitley and LK Advani maintain a certain decorum and decency that national politics and the PM’s office demands.
The real truth is that people with inferiority complex typically tend to be bullies. Bullies make a lot of noise. So does Modi. Bullies exaggerate figures to show how muscular they are (when they really are not). Modi does the same. Bullies try to sully the reputation of others better placed than them, with the hopes of catching attention. Modi does that when he attacks the PM. It’s a cinch really!