Combating the Corporate Idolisation of Modi

Dipankar Bhattacharya

The Vibrant Gujarat Global Investor Summit held recently in Ahmedabad produced some strange sights and sounds. Pictures of a smiling and kite-flying Narendra Modi greeted newspaper readers across the country. And then there was this corporate chorus contemplating ‘Narendrabhai’ as the future leader of the country. Anil Ambani said the progress registered by Gujarat under Modi’s stewardship had made him “a proud Indian and a proud Gujarati”. Sunil Mittal of Bharati Group joined the Ambani scion to lavish praise on Modi’s “capacity to dream with open eyes” and his “drive for achieving results”. “If he has done so much for Gujarat, imagine what he would do for India?”, they exclaimed. British MP Barry Gardiner went one step ahead to proclaim: “Gujarat can lead the world.”
The corporate discourse of ‘good governance’ has thus finally zeroed in on its most ideal ‘Indian idol’. The reasoning of the corporate honchos is pretty straightforward. They see themselves as the country and the nation and hence it seems obvious to them that what they consider best for them must also be best for the country. Ratan Tata, who had called Modi the ‘good M’ (he might well have called him his ‘God M’) after announcing the relocation of his Nano plant in Gujarat, has been quite explicit with his argument. “In the Nano case, we had our land and approval in just two days, whereas normally any state would have taken 90 to 180 days,” exclaimed Tata. A state that bends all its rules and crushes every dissent to ensure the biggest booty for the corporate sector is the ideal state for the Tatas and Ambanis, and no wonder, the Modi model of fascistic governance is emerging as the number one corporate choice.
It will be wrong to see this corporate projection of Modi as an icon of ‘development’ and ‘governance’ as the preference of a few individual capitalists. Sections of the corporate media have also joined this chorus with newspapers conducting SMS polls to secure some ‘popular support’ for the Modi-as-our-leader campaign. In the wake of the terror strike on Mumbai, TV channels have been busy promoting a particular brand of ‘civil society’ opinion: “we want CEOs, not CMs.” With the CEOs themselves now prescribing Modi as the leader, the circle becomes complete! Surprisingly, a CPI(M) MP from Kerala, Mr. Abdullakutty, too has reportedly fallen for Modi’s ‘crusade for development’, saying while he was opposed to Modi’s communal policies, he supported the latter’s contribution to development! 
A spokesperson of the Congress has however been quick to liken the Indian corporate clamour for Modi to the German corporate preference for Hitler in the 1930s. Many other similarities have also been detected by historians – notably, the ideological oneness between the RSS brand of ‘cultural nationalism’ and ‘Hindutva’ and the Nazi school of racist supremacy, and the contextual similarity between the economic crisis in the era of the Great Depression and the crisis currently building up in India in a period of globalised economic meltdown.
It is however one thing to comprehend and reject fascism as a chapter of past history, resisting fascism in real life and real time is a completely different proposition. And if India has been experiencing a fascistic build-up for the last two decades, the complicity of the Congress has been a major contributing factor. Ruling class politics in India is driven by a competitive pursuit of blatantly pro-imperialist pro-corporate economic policies, US-oriented foreign policy, communalism, jingoism, draconian laws and repressive rule. Modi has his roots in the RSS, it is the BJP which made him the Chief Minister of Gujarat, but it is the competitive collaboration between the Congress and the BJP which has allowed him to get away with the 2002 Gujarat genocide and has now given way to this dangerous discourse that seeks not only to legitimise but also idolise Modi as the latest icon of statecraft in India. Anti-imperialist anti-fascist forces can combat this discourse only by effectively intensifying the battle for the reversal of the ruling policies and by mounting a vigorous counter-offensive against the ideological climate manufactured and marketed by the ruling classes.