THE CHALLENGE

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 18 Nov 2017 11:25:18

NOTWITHSTANDING what his political adversaries might have felt about the so-called decline in the popularity of Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi in the past three-plus years, United States-based thinktank Pew has found out after a survey that Mr. Modi’s popular acceptance has remained unaffected across the country. To many who remain mired only in social media posts on various platforms, this may come as a shock because they love to live in a make-believe world in which the Prime Minister is losing his popularity count very rapidly. The Pew survey’s findings have given a very effective reposte` to all those residents of a paradise of their own making.

To the common people in the street, there were never any doubts about Mr. Modi’s popularity. Much before he became Prime Minister -- or even a prime ministerial candidate of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) -- Mr. Narendra Modi had already begun riding a high tide of popular acceptance. Having been battered heavily by people in leadership positions in the earlier decade, the common people saw in Mr. Modi a symbolism of their aspirations. And as he became Prime Minister and started leading the country in a comprehensive manner, Mr. Modi broke all regional and linguistic and even political barriers, thanks to the genuineness of his effort to usher into the country an overall development.

The picture that emerged out of the past three-plus years of relentless work is that of a truly nationally-acceptable leadership as a person and as a model. Mr. Modi has emerged as the only one leader with national acceptance, following in the footprints of personages of eminence of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, Mr. Lal Bahadur Shastri, Mrs. Indira Gandhi, Mr. Rajiv Gandhi and Mr. Atal Behari Vajpyaee. Going by the current condition, Mr. Modi seems to have surpassed popularity counts of most of these earlier leaders.

This, however, brings another reality to fore -- that the challenges Mr. Narendra Modi faces also are of a tough variety. If corruption is one malaise that needs to be weeded out like cancer, slackness of governance owing to an uninterested bureaucracy is yet another challenge that must be handled with much vigour. And if obscene poverty is one challenge that dares the Government, enthusiastic participation in economic activity by all segments of the society is yet another area that needs to be handled. If threats from external powers is one aspect of national security, then internal security issues, too, are crying for serious attention. If decline in manufacturing activity is one area that needs to be tackled effectively, decline in agriculture as a sector of the national economy is yet another challenge staring the national leadership in the face. There are challenges in education, science and technology, culture and democratic values as well. In a country as vast as ours, these challenges are testing the real worth of the leadership.

Mr. Modi’s heightened acceptability in masses across the country is a measure of faith the people have placed in him to tackle all the national challenges. They know that if there is any one person who can handle this mantle of leadership well, it is Mr. Narendra Modi, which the Pew survey has shown. The findings indicate that propaganda through social media and other subservient media have had no effect on the reality of popular sentiment about the Prime Minister. There is every reason for the common people to feel happy that they are being led by a man whose personality is in a similar category of the great people who led our nation previously, and that he is even one up on most of them in terms of popularity.