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Narendra Modi: The man who would purify India


Perhaps the most important part of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s speech on New Year’s Eve was not the niggardly sops announced, not the lack of a report card on demonetisation, although that was significant, but rather his framing of demonetisation as a campaign to purify India. “Our nation has been witness to a historic rite of purification,” was what he said. He said it was an unparalleled fight against “internal evils”, a fight in which the poor did not hesitate to make sacrifices for the greater good of the nation. Demonetisation, it now turns out, was not so much economic policy as a sacred duty, but a holy war of good against evil.

This is not the first time Modi has talked about purifying the nation. In an interview to India Today a few days earlier, he said he wanted to see an India “swachh (cleansed) from all forms of filth”. He has also said demonetisation was a ‘yagna’—worship or sacrifice—to purge the Indian economy and society. Nor is this lurid imagery of purification and redemption confined to demonetisation. Last September, at the BJP national council meeting, which also marked the centenary celebrations of the party’s ideologue Deen Dayal Upadhyaya, The Telegraph quoted Modi as saying, “Pandit Upadhyaya said do not reward Muslims, do not shun them, but purify them.”

We can take these utterances in two ways—one, they are little more than a political ploy projecting Modi as a warrior-saint, out to battle the rakshasas in the opposition; and two, as a peep into what Modi really thinks, his world-view, his ideology. Let’s assume it is the latter. Full Story

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