When I did an exact “Rahul Gandhi” phrase search on Google on my computer, I got 7 million results. For the more popular Sachin Tendulkar, it was 14 million. Sonia Gandhi also stood at 6 million.
What about the clear leader? It’s Narendra Modi with 25 million results!
(Note: The exact numbers vary wildly from day to day, region to region and computer to computer.)
There is no doubt about it. Modern India simply loves Modi. They love to love him. They love to hate him. Both Modi baiters and Modi backers love discussing and debating Modi passionately.
Everybody has his or he own reason for doing so.
TV news channels: For them he spells TRPs! TRPs!! TRPs!!! Where would the news channels be without Modi, who defines their very identity? The excitement that certain reporters exhibited during Godhra was downright sick. It was as if they were covering a sports match and not a riot.
That enthusiasm was quickly transferred to a “Sack Modi” campaign and when that failed, it became pure vehemence. Channels have probably played millions of anti-Modi bytes apart from conducting thousands of specials and heated debates.
Now Modi's PM ambitions are top of the pops. All his speeches are covered live and analysed threadbare.
The Congress: In 1969, the Ahmedabad riots claimed an estimated 650 people amidst straining of ties between Indira Gandhi and Morarji Desai. There were many major riots in Congress regimes after that.
In February 1980, the JP government was dismissed in UP. In June, VP Singh of the Congress took over. Within months we had the Moradabad riots which claimed an estimated 1500+ lives. Sounds a bit like Godhra and Modi? Well, that didn’t stop VP from becoming PM anyway.
Then there were the 1984 anti-Sikh riots. In 1991-92, we had the Mumbai riots which claimed 1000+ lives amidst a power struggle between Sharad Pawar and Sudhakarrao Naik. Where there was a communal riot, there was invariably a Congress government.
All that changed in 2002 when Godhra eclipsed everything that had taken place in India and the Congress happily uses it as a secular shield and hide their communal riots. The mainstream media, seculars, NGOs and intellectuals happily oblige in this shady shield.
Social Media: All social networking users constantly search for topics to put on their status messages. Modi fits the bill no matter what he does let it be a setback or an achievement. Every article in the foreign media is magnified, every speech is discussed and rivals keep sparring verbally all the time.
The Modi Industry: How many writers predominantly and consistently attack Modi all the time? How many NGOs have received massive funding post-Godhra? How many “seculars” and “liberals” have become famous being called to all manner of TV debates and public meetings post-2002?
No wonder someone rightly called it the “Modi industry”.
The Right: When India got Independence, it was a totally Left-leaning nation. We have turned Right only in the last couple of decades. But before 2002, the Right didn’t have a mascot or a symbol to associate themselves with and now they have wholly embraced Modi.
Gujarat: Of course, this is the core of his popularity, support and power. The people of Gujarat love him and have voted him three times successively already.
Modi baiters may not have been convinced by Gujarat’s development and they quote counter-figures with great frequency. But the only people who matter are the Gujaratis and they have endorsed Modi’s development mantra heavily.
It’s like the undisputed King of Gujarat is now trying to stake his claim to take over the rest of India.
BJP workers: There may be many wannabe PMs in the BJP top brass whose dreams have been trashed when Modi was announced as the PM candidate. If not the leaders, Modi is a superhit with the workers of the BJP. They have forcefully pushed him as a PM candidate and will now go all out to push him further in 2014.
Audiences: A rally in Gujarat. A talk at a Delhi college. An interaction at a high-end media conclave. Even a rival Independence Day speech. What’s the common factor when Modi speaks? He gets rapt attention wherever he goes no matter what the crowd. Bhopal. Hyderabad. Trichy. Big crowds follow him everywhere. The Patna rally probably broke the all-time record.
He knows how to engage the audiences with his anecdotes and comes across as a charismatic figure that everyone wants to listen to. He’s even present in things like the Google+ Hangout.
Once Nitish Kumar learnt it the hard way: At a JD(U) rally, people from the crowd started shouting “Pradhan Mantri kaisa ho? Narendra Modi jaisa ho!” No wonder Nitish split from the BJP soon after on ego grounds!
Corporate India: When 2002 happened, the Gujarat industry was amongst the first entities to rally around him. That soon spread to the rest of India and today he is a darling of the corporates with even grand old men like Ratan Tata in awe of him.
NRIs: Many NRIs have a romantic version of India and tend to ignore all its ills like poverty. For them Modi is a perfect symbol of the new India and one that talks of development most of the time. While most politicians still talk of caste, religion and political sops, Modi’s strong development agenda has many admirers.
More from the author
Manmohan, the butcher of India's national security
12 Modi lies the media told you...
10 reasons why Manmohan is the worst PM ever...
Maximize LS seats, everything else be damned
Seven reasons why AAP may return in Delhi
Six ways Modi bypassed the 'media' to go 'mainstream'
The author is a Bangalore-based journalist and blogger. He blogshere.