On Thursday, dust never settled at a public park in Gurgaon – a suburb of India’s capital, New Delhi, which is dotted by offices of multi-national corporations and call centres.
Interminable columns of people donning saffron and green caps continued to rush inside the park in a powerful show of solidarity with the man who is clearly riding the wave of popularity, at least in many places, this parliamentary elections: Narendra Modi.
“Did UPA fulfil its promises it made five years ago,” Modi asked the crowd. “No,” pat came the answer in unison from the crowd. “Are they not corrupt?” he asked again. “Yes, Yes,” the crowd replied.
And then followed “Modi”, “Modi”… “Modi” chants.
Modi’s rise is not a coincidence.
The ten-year-long report card of current government led by the Congress party is rigged with a number of big scams: 2G spectrum scam (2008), Commonwealth games scam (2010), cash-for-vote scam (2011), coal scam (2012), chopper scam (2012), Tatra truck scam (2012), and Adarsh Society scam (2012) to name a few.
And slowdown in economic growth and back-breaking inflation dented whatever was left to salvage.
Amid the “gloom” and “hopelessness”, India was looking for a leader. And many people, if not all, seem to have found it in Modi.
“I love him. And love has no logic,” one excited supporter, Naresh Kumar, 27, tells me.
“He (Modi) will make us compete with China and other world powers. His policies are great. See what development he has brought to Gujarat,” says Kumar, who came all the way from Noh district of Haryana, a relatively prosperous state west of India’s capital.
Changing the destiny
Outside the venue, a group of men wearing traditional headgear, sporting white and peppered beards stop me.
“We are Muslims. And we will vote for Modi,” they tell me. Muslims voted for Congress and other parties for a very long time. And nothing changed.”
From a distance, Modi exhorted the crowd to shun the parties that failed to protect women and allowed large-scale corruption. He criticised the ruling Congress party for protecting Robert Vadra – son-in-law of Congress party chief Sonia Gandhi – who Modi said “sold farmers’ lands and made millions”.
Modi also talked about “changing the destiny” of Indian youth by providing them jobs.
“You have given them (Congress) 60 years. Just give me 60 months to change the course of India,” he vowed.
But the BJP leader has come under attack from the newly formed Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and the Congress his role in 2002 Gujarat religious violence that left more than 1,000 dead, mostly Muslims.
Contrary to ground realities
On the same day as Modi addressed the rally in Gurgaon, AAP’s Yogendra Yadav blamed media and corporates’ “nexus” for projecting Modi as India’s future prime minister which he said was “contrary to ground realities”.
Modi has been criticised for doing nothing to stop the deadly violence, but he was cleared by a local court of any wrongdoing last year.
Three years after the riots, the US revoked Modi’s visa under domestic law that bars entry by any foreign official seen as responsible for “severe violations of religious freedom”. Some western nations followed suit.
With the rise of Modi brightening his prospects as future prime minister of 1.2 billion people – the boycott too seems to be ending.
Recently the former US ambassador to India, Nancy J Powell met Modi and discussed range of issues concerning US-India relationship.
His supporters in the rally too want to forget his past that plagues their leader.
For them, it hardly matters what their leader did more than a decade ago or what was he stating from the carefully-arranged stage in Gurgaon.
They just love Modi and hate rest of other players, as Naresh Kumar says, “Love has no logic.”