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Saturday, April 13, 2024

Narendra Modi’s family: Holding Mirror to all South Asian politicians?

Modi is India’s Prime Minister, its ‘pardhan mantri’ and supposedly the most powerful man in India. A politician feared by richest of the ‘babus’ and a chief executive whom global governments and corporations try to woe. Before becoming prime minister he was four times the Chief Minister of Gujerat, but all this has not changed the fate of his family. His brothers, his cousins all live ordinary lives, often in abject poverty. After the recent demonetization his mother – was seen standing in line along with hundreds of others to get cash from the bank. An unheard video blogger, Vikram Bajaj, tells us all this in a powerful You Tube video, ironically called, “Zara Sochye”

Bajaj himself is an interesting character, certainly a die hard fan or supporter of Modi or perhaps part of his propaganda team, for some of his earlier videos on You Tube identified him as “Team Gujrat”. Not long ago, Vikram had been advertising himself on internet as a ‘voice over artist’ for $300/hour.


But irrespective of his career track record, what Vikram Bajaj narrates about his hero, Narendra Damodardas Modi, is definitely powerful and it makes you pause, reflect and estimate who Modi, the ideologue is and how his politics is bigger than the corporal desires and petty ambitions of all around him in South Asia.

Many in India and Pakistan know, and often refer contemptuously, that Modi started his political career with RSS as a tea maker. Some may also know that Narendra Damodardas Modi, current Indian Prime minister, was born to a family of grocers in a town Vadnagar, Gujarat in 1950. Almost everyone knows that he was CM of the state of Gujrat three or four times and was blamed, not without reason, for the revengeful pogroms of Muslim minority. Series of tragic events, mostly staged by Hindu fanatic mobs to avenge the attack on a train at Godhra, events in which up to two thousand men, women and children – mostly Muslims – perished. Modi’s vision of India is thus not inclusive of all; he derives his identity and politics from the narrow confines of Hindutva movement.

But Vikram Bajaj, the unknown blogger, Modi’s self-declared proud votary, tells us another side of Narendra Modi. He tells us that Modi, the man ascending the most powerful positions in India, continuously for the past two decades, has kept all his loved ones: his brothers, his mother and his family at a distance from his politics. Something which Modi also trumpeted during his election campaign when he declared that he had “no-one to be corrupt for”.

Bajaj, the video blogger tells us that Soma Modi, Indian PM’s elder brother, once stated that for Narendra Modi, “I’m just one person out of 1.15 Billion people of India”. Modi’s younger brother Pankaj Modi has an ordinary job in Gujarat government. Amrit Modi, another elder brother, has retired as a fitter in a private company.  His younger brother, Prahlad Modi, runs a small fair price shop while Modi’s sister Vasantiben Hasmukhlal Modi is a house-wife of an ordinary man. This does not end here; same is the case with Modi’s first cousins i.e. Ashuk, he lives in a small house and sells kites and firecrackers to make his living. Elder cousin Bharat Bhai works as an attendant at a petrol pump to run economic wheel for his family. And then we hear that, after recent demonetization, when crowds fought each other outside banks and ATMs for cash, Modi’s 95-year-old mother waited in the line to receive her money.

Does Modi not love even his mother? Bajaj shows us video clips from a tv program in which Narendra Modi, the powerful prime minister, breaks down while remembering the abject poverty in which his mother struggled to raise him and his siblings. Modi has sacrificed his personal love and feelings for the Indian nation: Bajaj tells us. He then contrasts him with the other political families in India: Mulayam Singh Yadav, Nehrus and Gandhis, Lalu Prasad and Abdullahs in Kashmir to remind his viewers how politics in India has created huge corrupt family empires loaded with dirty cash.



But Modi’s personal life and politics also holds a mirror to all political families and office holders in Pakistan. PM Nawaz Sharif’s family, before being brought by Gen. Zia into politics, was merely an upper middle class entity in early 1980’s. House of Ittefaq was never counted in the top hundred businesses of Pakistan but today PM Nawaz’s family is considered among the richest of the families. Same holds true for Asif Ali Zardari, the ruling clan in Sindh and for others like the Asfandyar Wali, Achakzai family, Maulana Fazal ur Rehman and so on. Public, institutions, courts and laws in India and Pakistan are powerless to ask these ruling families: What have you done to deserve all this wealth? And -as blatantly visible in ongoing Panama case in Pakistani Supreme court- where is the money trail?

Vikram Bajaj, is definitely a Modi fan, and die hard supporter as his other videos against Congress leaders and Arvind Kejriwal show. But on Modi’s financial integrity he has a point.




Modi, the RSS tea-maker, the narrow minded Hindutva product, butcher of Gujrat, may be the leader whose less than inclusive view of India frightens the Muslims, Dalits, Christians, Sikhs and other minorities but that Modi definitely possess an identity and an ideology that distinguishes him from the crowd of small petty minded greedy politicians of India and Pakistan. In his own way, and unlike the petty characters in Indian and Pakistani politics, he definitely stands for India and makes his voters proud.