Why PM Modi’s still so popular even as India fails to fight coronavirus
NEW DELHI: India is battling one of the world’s highest coronavirus caseloads, its worst-ever economic slump, shuttered factories, farmer protests and the deadliest border fighting with China in decades.
Yet Prime Minister Narendra Modi appears to remain as popular as ever. Opinion polls in Bihar, where from October 28 to November 7 he faces his first major electoral test since the pandemic, show his coalition comfortably retaining control of the state go nment. A poll in August said 78% rated his performance as “good to outstanding” compared with 71% last year.
One of those supporters is Sanjay Kumar, 22, a carpenter who was beaten by police in April for violating India’s strict lockdown while cycling from the capital New Delhi to his village in Bihar -- a journey of more than 1,000 kilometers (620 miles) -- after he lost his job. He’s still unable to find regular work.
“Some people are not getting all the benefits because of co ption in the middle and that is not his fault,” Kumar said, noting that Modi can’t control the spread of the virus if people don’t wear masks. “No one can question his good intentions,” he said. “He is sincerely trying his best to give poor people food and work.”
Many other Modi backers also blame others for India’s woes, and there is no shortage of targets: Federal bureaucrats, state go nments, village leaders, opposition parties and even their fellow citizens. The prime minister has helped endear himself to India’s poor by meeting their daily needs with programs to supply cooking gas, toilets and housing, all while taking measures to bolster the status of the Hindu majority over religious minorities.
In the absence of significant national opposition, voters have been willing to give Modi a very long leash, according to Milan Vaishnav, director and senior fellow at the South Asia Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
As prime minister, Modi has been focused on making India both attractive to global investors and unabashedly Hindu. His Bharatiya Janata Party returned to power in May last year with a thumping majority following a campaign that highlighted his success in providing necessities to the poor, combined with a Hindu nationalist agenda that played up his strongman persona -- particularly against arch-rival Pakistan.
Modi has positioned himself along with other populist leaders across the globe who feed off anxieties that minority groups will one day supplant the majority even though Hindus make up 80% of India’s population, according to Sudha Pai, New Delhi-based political scientist, author and former pro-vice chancellor of the Centre for Political Studies at Jawaharlal Nehru University. He’s also been adept at leaving the details of policies to ministers and bureaucrats who take the blame if something fails, she said.
新德里政治学家、作家、尼赫鲁大学政治研究中心前副校长Sudha Pai表示，尽管印度教徒占印度人口的80%，但人们担心少数族裔终有一天会取代多数民族，莫迪和全球其他民粹主义领导人一样在利用这种焦虑。Sudha Pai还说，莫迪还擅长把政策细节留给部长和官僚处理，如果事情失败了，后者会承担责任。
“Now we have a populist re gie that has created a leader that can’t do wrong,” Pai said. “He has this way of speaking like a godman.”
Modi has shown he can turn upheaval into political gains. In 2016, his move to abruptly withdraw 86% of circulating currency with four hours notice led to prolonged cash shortages and an economic slowdown that caused hardship across India. Still, his party won a key state in a landslide just months later as his party told voters it helped rein in co ption and tax evasion -- even though it ultimately failed to achieve its goal.
Part of his success is an ability to control the narrative. Modi hasn’t held a single press conference as prime minister during his six years in power, instead reaching out to the masses directly through a weekly radio program as well as posts on Facebook, Twitter and Youtube. His party’s social media army has effectively deflected blame for problems, including to opposition parties.
“Modi’s ability to reach his message directly to individuals is unsurpassable,” said Neelanjan Sircar, assistant professor at Ashoka University and senior visiting fellow at Center for Policy Research. “I am increasingly convinced of the connection between creating of a powerful charismatic leader and a media-controlled narrative. How do you build trust in somebody? You keep telling stories that build his credibility.”
As India’s Covid-19 outbreak became one of the fastest growing in the world, Modi shared a carefully choreographed video in August featuring him feeding peacocks in his official New Delhi residence during his morning exercise re gie. That kind of imagery has helped cement an image of Modi as “a monk-like ascetic who can be trusted with one’s life,” said Nilanjan Mukhopadhyay, a political analyst who has written a biography on Modi.
Sahebrao Patil, a 60-year-old driver in Maharashtra who suffered a loss of income after the lockdown, is among those who say Modi can do no wrong.
“I believe with all my heart that Modi cannot lie,” he said. “We don’t even ask who’s the candidate. We just vote for Modi.”
译文来源：三泰虎 http://www.santaihu.com/p/51117.html 译者：Jessica.Wu
Can you please tell me which country won the battle of Corona...
Look at the title of this opinion piece. Can you explain how you concluded that India failed to fight coronavirus.
Modi is popular because he is a good human and unlike other politicians, he cares about his country more than he cares about his family or himself. The same cannot be said for people like Mamata, Rahul, Thakreys, Pawars etc. They are are traitors and have no sence of nationalism in nthem. Also those opposing Modi have shown clear indianction that they consider the destruction on Indian as their main target and also siding with Pakistan and China is their traits.
Whole world has failed to contain covid -19. India has fared much better than whole world. Why are you blaming Modi, Do you think Rahul would have contained the corona ?
Also in Asia, India has performed worst in controlling Covid and economy. Death per million is highest in India, so is the cases. No of deaths and infection are highest too. Why do we compare with the worst like US and Brazil? Why not Asia?
This is the most malicious piece of article I have ever read.
Nobody in India cares for Bloomberg's opinion except for a select few(mostly elitists), and that is a good thing!
Modi is still popular just because of his strong IT Cell and brainless bhakts!
Modi is by far the best PM india has ever had or ever will have. He has fixed issues pending since independence. He has strive hard to get people of this country start loving and believing in the country again and that includes everyone inclusive of all religion. He needs to stay till atleast 2029 to finally get India closer to a developed nation
These so called elite people will keep on speculating the reasons of Modi's popularity and he'll continue becoming more popular. Because he knows how to touch heart and minds of people.
Modi Govt Failed ?? check your facts. India death rate lowest in the world. when complared with US India is 4.5 times bigger in population and our infection rate is very low.
Strong on ideology, simple personal life style, clarity on communication, hard work, co ption free at the top, ruthless and fearless implementation of ideas against all odds, these qualities of Modi and his Government are reasons for his continued popularity
Selfless service to the nation and its people.
He is Hindu leader and India is Hindustan !!.... Jai Hind
What can we expect from a left-leaning media house and how can you conclude that India losses the coronavirus battle?
But why blame PM for the failure of coronavirus..