Helena Lyng Blak
2 weeks ago

Indian Election: PM Modi Claims He Was Not Born, But Rather Sent by God

Prime Minister Narendra Modi makes a divine assertion about his origins.
DELHI,INDIA-DECEMBER 14,2015: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi during an interview with Russian television — Photo by truba71.gmail.com
DELHI,INDIA-DECEMBER 14,2015: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi during an interview with Russian television — Photo by truba71.gmail.com

For the past five weeks, the world’s largest democratic election has been unfolding. 

Since April 19 and until June 1, the 1.4 billion people of India have been casting their votes in phases for the people they would like to represent them in the ‘Lok Sabha,’ which is the lower house of the Indian parliament.

Throughout the election, the current majority party, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), has consistently polled ahead of all challengers. Consequently, Prime Minister Narendra Modi appears poised to win another term and continue his decade-long tenure as leader of one of the planet’s most populous nations.

‘Modi’s Family’

Much of Modi’s success in staying in power can be attributed to his ability to create a cult of personality around himself.

The PM was born into a lower-caste family, but managed to forge a successful political career from a young age, something many Indians feel inspired by and may relate to. He has also introduced various social welfare policies (commonly putting his name in the title of the legislation) aimed at aiding the country’s poorest and thereby strengthening citizens’ conception of Modi as a ‘man of the people’. 

He has been able to cultivate a charismatic persona by emphasizing spirituality and the love he says he holds for the people of India, frequently referring to the population as ‘Modi’s family’. 

Modi has consistently had approval ratings of over 70%, and as of May 8, had an approval rating of 74%

But Narendra Modi is not an uncontroversial figure.

Aggressive Cultural Nationalist Rhetoric

Modi’s tenure has been marked by what AP News describes as “brazen attacks against minorities,” especially religious minorities.

Modi, who since childhood has been heavily involved with the right-wing, Hindu nationalist paramilitary organization Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), has been accused of promoting religiously oppressive legislation, such as 2019’s Citizen Amendment Act, which was the first law in Indian history to use religion as an overt criterion for citizenship.

Soundarya Chidambaram, Assistant Professor of Political Science at Bucknell University, writes that “The BJP’s hegemonic control of Indian politics has been coterminous with aggressive cultural nationalist rhetoric manifesting itself as routinized intimidation and killing of journalists and political critics, vigilante lynching, and general clampdown on dissent.”

She further describes how Modi “epitomizes the populist strongman with his charismatic appeal, centralization of power, and ability to connect with the masses through clever use of media.”

Sent by God? 

Now, it seems, Modi has ascended beyond hegemonic control and into divinity—at least according to him.

Throughout the election, the PM has on multiple occasions mentioned his relationship with ‘Parmatma’, essentially ‘God’. 

He told the NDTV news channel on Sunday that he is convinced God has, “sent me for a purpose,” claiming that God has guided him on his political work, according to The Guardian.

Far more extreme, though, were his statements made in an interview with News 18, where he, according to The News Minute, said,

“Until my mother was alive, I used to think I was born biologically. After her demise, when I look at my experiences, I am convinced that I was sent by God. This strength is not from my body. It has been given to me by God. That's why God also gave me the ability, strength, pure heartedness, and also the inspiration to do this. I'm nothing but an instrument that God has sent.”

India’s final phase of elections will be held on June 1. Results will be announced on June 4.

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