India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Photo: Reuters/Edgar Su

Indians have a passion for screen-based entertainment. Therefore, Indian political parties during the current Lok Sabha (lower house of parliament) elections were intensely engaged in producing content they would appreciate. As expected, the Bharti Janta Party (BJP) leadership seems to have taken a lead role with Prime Minister Narendra Modi being the main actor.

Modi’s interview with News Nation, a TV channel funded by the BJP, attracted viewers from across the political spectrum.

During his entire tenure, Modi has avoided press conferences/direct hard questions, and his media appearances have mostly been scripted.

In his epic interview with News Nation, Modi attempted to impress Indian voters by revealing the secret of the “green signal for the Balakot airstrike despite bad weather.” His claims, from “cloudy” war strategies to digital cameras and emails long before they reached India, were miles away from common sense and sobriety.

Interestingly, the BJP is run by and nominates a class of leaders who are so illiterate and insensitive by nature that they have little regard for ethics, international law, and science and technology. Communist Party of India leader Sitaram Yechury called Modi’s interview “shameful” and an “insult” to India’s national security institutions. Modi has a grandiose vision of himself. But the truth is that he’s weaker than he looks.

If you assess Modi’s performance in the previous term, he should logically be heading for failure. Ordinary Indian voters are not like the journalists, economists, college professors, industrialists, party spokesmen, political activists, or NGO types we see on TV.

India’s average voters are peasants in villages and workers in towns with pale faces worn by anxiety. They are mostly young people unable to find jobs. Over 900 million people are eligible to vote in India and the majority of them fit the above profile.

Do these voters get excited about the fact that Modi’s new missiles are capable of hitting a satellite? Do they care about the latest Rafael aircraft deal or marvel at Modi’s colorful Maharaja turbans? No way.

Modi has not delivered on the promise of progress and prosperity for all. But how come the Indian stock market is booming? Well, stock markets bet on the future. But voters react to current realities.

Modi has ideologically Balkanized India by exploiting fear and hatred for his political gain. BJP rule has proved to be a curse for all minorities – Sikhs, Muslims and Christians. The BJP-sponsored Hindutva is a hateful ideology that promotes cow vigilantism. Then there is the National Register of Citizens (NRC) scandal – the segregation of “genuine and fake citizens” in Assam. Modi wants to convert a diverse country into a Hindu nation.

Modi has failed both rural and urban India. In rural India, Modi has hurt farmers in three ways. First, his demonetization drive reduced the average farmer’s income by 40%. Second, Modi deprived every farmer of Rs 10,000-20,000 ($140-$280) he earned from selling unproductive dairy cows to the beef industry. Third, tens of thousands of unproductive dairy cows that have been released as a result have started eating crops. So Modi has literally turned farmers into chowkidars (watchmen). They have to stay awake at night to keep stray cows from grazing on their fields.

Urban India, which is home to 40% of India’s population, has also been throttled by Modi. His demonetization drive crippled India’s so-called unorganized sector, which accounts for 80% of the non-formal economy in the cities. Then Modi hurt this sector by introducing the uniformed GST. The shining new India he promised is nowhere to be seen.

Attempting to exploit war hysteria in his effort to get himself re-elected, Modi remarked that “our nuclear arsenal is not for Diwali.” Modi’s remarks on the Balakot strike have also exposed many features of Indian decision making. A politician of such stature overriding military professionals is detrimental to the national and regional security matrix.

India’s media put a spotlight on manic Modi‘s aggressive posturing and the idiocy of the BJP leadership. But if the Indian public still opts for BJP leadership for another five years – and exit polls indicate that this may very well be the case – then India and the region are in trouble.

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