Tuesday, 17 March 2015

The Modi Effect

The Modi Effect
The Modi Effect: Inside Narendra Modi's Campaign To Transform India is an authorised account of Indian Prime Minister Modi's 2014 election campaign. Modi won a rare overall majority in the world's largest democracy; as David Cameron told him, he "got more votes than any other politician anywhere in the universe".

Author Lance Price was granted "several hours of interviews" with the PM: "Modi had agreed to give me unprecedented access to help me analyse the campaign that had brought him to power. No other writer, Indian or foreign, was to be allowed the same privilege." (Price begins by describing their first meeting: "as a gift I gave him a copy of my second book on British prime ministers and their relationship to the media [Where Power Lies]. He told me he didn't really read books any more, which was a little disheartening".)

Modi's election campaign was highly presidential, emphasising the personality of Modi himself: "The name Bharatiya Janata Party translates simply as the Indian People's Party. Its motto is 'country first, party second, self last'. Yet... you could have been forgiven for thinking it was now, 'Modi first, Modi second, Modi last'. It was an unashamedly, some might say shamelessly, presidential campaign". Famously, he appeared at hundreds of rallies simultaneously by means of holographic projection. During a state visit to the US after his victory, he appeared, like a rock star, at Madison Square Garden in New York.

Price is clearly impressed by Modi's oratory and charisma, though as a former spin doctor he retains a healthy skepticism: "in my conversations with Narendra Modi I did my best to listen politely to what he had to say, and to bite my tongue when the temptation arose to respond with 'oh, come off it', as it sometimes did... I didn't feel able to take everything he told me at face value".

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