Narendra Modi meets his supporters | File photo: narendramodi/Facebook
Narendra Modi meets his supporters | File photo: narendramodi/Facebook
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Liberals get understandably upset with liberal-bashing. They rightly point out that all Left-liberals can’t be painted with the same brush.

You can’t say liberals are disconnected Khan Market elites because there are liberals in states and small towns too, you know. You can’t say liberals are all pro-Congress because you can find many staunch Congress critics among left-Liberals.

Sometimes, the shoe is on the other foot. Many liberals are guilty of doing the same to Modi voters, painting them all with the same brush. Since Modi’s second Lok Sabha election victory, many liberals can be heard saying that all Modi voters are ‘bigoted’. We’re told that each of the 22 crore-odd people who voted for the BJP believes in hardline Hindutva.

According to this line of thinking, Modi’s election victories have nothing to do with the opposition not having a credible face, or Modi’s welfare schemes, or his oratory and political charisma. It’s just religious majoritarianism. All these 22 crore voters are described as ‘bigoted’.


Also read: Under Modi, a resurgent middle India is coming to smash the Left-liberals’ ivory bunkers


Dear liberals, let’s face it. We cannot elect a new people. The people of India are what they are. Demonising and othering them is not going to take you anywhere. Whether or not it’s Hindutva that makes them vote for Modi, you are going to have to work with the same people, engage with them, talk to them, understand them.

We don’t even start doing so when we ridicule them as the gullible masses in the thrall of an emotional, violent majoritarianism. The sentiment, according to many of our liberals, is so strong that these unwise, ‘uneducated’ masses don’t even know what’s best for their economic interests. The people are so foolish, according to some liberals, that they’d rather sleep hungry and live without jobs but demand Hindu Rashtra first.

If that is the case, why did the BJP lose Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh assembly elections just a few months before the Lok Sabha polls? Why did the voters of these states go from ‘communal’ to ‘secular’ and back to being ‘communal’?

Why did the voters of Delhi give the BJP all seven Lok Sabha seats in 2014 and then give 67 of the 70 assembly seats to the Aam Aadmi Party in 2015? (A section of the Left still sees the AAP as a part of the Sangh conspiracy but never mind.)


Also read: Three things Indian liberals held dear were tested this Lok Sabha election


If Hindutva is the be-all and end-all of the voters’ concern, why did the Congress do well in Karnataka’s civic polls just days after being routed in the Lok Sabha? And why was Hindutva not enough to see the BJP get a clear majority in the Karnataka assembly election?

How come the voters of Bihar chose Modi in 2014 but Nitish Kumar-Lalu Yadav in 2015? Ah, did you say caste arithmetic of Lalu and Nitish? Well then, why did voters in UP just reject the caste arithmetic of Mayawati and Akhilesh and allegedly chose Hindutva instead?

The truth of the matter is that Hindutva is only one element of the BJP’s success and appeal. And that appeal has always been around. The BJP was not propelled into power immediately after the Babri Masjid demolition. Vajpayee lost 2004 just two years after the Gujarat pogrom. Advani ran a national security campaign in 2009, accusing the Congress of Muslim appeasement for the alleged delay in hanging Afzal Guru, and yet lost badly to Manmohan Singh.

Moditva bigger than Hindutva 

It’s not Hindutva but the persona of Narendra Modi that is behind the BJP’s success. It is similar to the way people had developed faith and trust in Indira Gandhi, or the way people in Bengal trusted Jyoti Basu or how Odisha trusts Naveen Patnaik even today. The stark difference between state elections and the general election shows you Narendra Modi’s incredible popularity.

This trust and faith in Modi are not because of Hindutva. For some, it may even be despite Hindutva. Some voters give general assent to Hindutva because of the way it is sold to them. What’s wrong in talking about the interests of Hindus, they argue.

But people also like Modi for his oratory, his strongman image, his way of governing with public approval. Above all, Modi voters like Modi because they abhor the alternative, Rahul Gandhi, though not necessarily the Congress.


Also read: Indian liberals want to support everything Muslim, but that’s not the way to equal rights


Many Left-liberals have easy keywords to explain Modi: fascism, majoritarianism, demagoguery, muscular nationalism, xenophobia, Islamophobia and so on. Any enquiry beyond the limited dictionary is dangerous. It could reveal more about our liberals than about the masses. It could reveal how disconnected our liberals are from the masses, unwilling and unable to engage with them culturally and socially, or through religion or nationalism or any other ideology.

This disconnect is reflected as much among our liberals as it is among the political parties they favour. “It’s a terrible feeling to discover that your country is full of strangers,” wrote one such liberal commentator. He doesn’t realise the joke is on him.

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30 Comments Share Your Views

30 COMMENTS

  1. First thing I don’t understand why you guys used words Left and Liberal together? “Left Liberal” ….how can be left Liberal Leftists and Rightists are two sides of the same coin and I don’t see citizens enjoying in left countries be it China, Russia or North Korea. Left and right both believe in centralisation of power and both believe in authoritative governance.

  2. You say this :

    //But people also like Modi for his oratory, his strongman image, his way of governing with public approval. Above all, Modi voters like Modi because they abhor the alternative, Rahul Gandhi, though not necessarily the Congress.//

    You do not explain why someone should like Modi’s oratory when it has only two components in it viz. criticizing the Opposition , telling lies about the Opposition.

    You do not explain how someone can like Modi’s strongman image when it is a patently fake image , a facade. What strong actions has Modi taken and what have been their outcomes that we can say he lives up to his strongman image ?

    As for his governing with public approval , what does it say ? Nothing. In which case has Modi gone with public approval ? Did demonetization meet with public approval ?

    When the thousands of TN farmers went to Delhi , did he even deign to meet them ?

    You do not explain why voters should abhor Rahul Gandhi , when there is so much to abhor in Modi , and almost nothing to abhor in Rahul Gandhi.

    All in all , just another piece of idolatry.

    • Shame on you, the above article clearly potrys you you are so bling in Rahul bhakti that you are not able to see it or conveniently want to ignore it. Appeasement of minorities, conveniently moved it left ideology which is of divide and hate. Dynasty before merit, scam-CWG scam, coal scam and more scam which gave bad reputation to India are the some of the few bad things done by CONGRESS and Rahul Gandhi.as you are blind , you will not see it. Also you will not dont want to see the welfare schemes which have reached to millions of people in India-based
      Ujjwala Scheme -free gas cylinder to poor
      House to all-pradhamantri awas yogna
      Toliet to millions for people
      All these swelfare schemes have been given with out seeing anybody’s cast of religion.
      But you are blind to see it.
      Shivam talked about this illness of people like yours in this article. Get well soon

      • So Modi is great because he gives away freebies like it is his own money.

        Let me see, is this not the same Modi who bitterly criticised the Congress to for the very same things, including MNREGA?

        If anyone points this out, BJP supporters immediately take out their brahmasastra: you are a liberal!

        Modi supporters: please do some basic training in logic. No one is saying that the Congress was perfect when they ruled. There was plenty to criticise. And it was done. Just like now.

        This criticism is the basis of democracy.

    • “All in all , just another piece of idolatry.”

      What is wrong with Image worship, Mr. Rao? Are you a convert?

      This clearly show you are anti-Hindu. So you opposition to Modi is based on your anti-Hindu ideology.

  3. Shivam sahib,
    Happy to see a gradual shift towards acceptance of the vote by the ‘illiberals’ and ‘illiterates’. But still you should have changed the story line from ‘you cannot elect new people’ to ‘you cannot be new people’ ! Rather than looking in others, be the same yourself please.

  4. The educated elite will survive with skills and social equity, regardless of political affiliation and what they say in public. The majority of the Modi base comes from farmers, dalits, minorities and those hopeful his re-election would be positive. Will he be able to fulfill the promises made (beyond protecting borders and reducing corruption) to all citizens? Tall order. I hope he can fulfill them, if not, the BJP will be in opposition for a long time (just like the Congress). All other opinions matter less now.

  5. It says a lot about our Liberal elite that they actually would rather have the corrupt / dynasts as their preferred leaders like Rahul, Lalu, Maya and Mamata! Does not say much for their judgment! Not one of them ever said Rahul should step aside and let likes of Captain Amarinder take over! They have sold their souls! How else can prominent “liberal” Lutyens journalists end up “owning” Rs 100 crore home in Delhi?

  6. All the points you have raised have been discussed in the media, and explanations have been offered. Now please explain why in southern states of Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Andhra Modi’s popularity and the the voters faith and trust in him didn’t work? So much so that the BJP couldn’t win a single serat in any of these states! In Andhra it was so bad that the BJP received less votes (0.96%) than even NOTA (1.49%)! Also please explain, why did the voters elected terror blast accused Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur by such a huge margin? The voters have also elected 43% MPs with criminal charges against them, out of which 29% of them have serious criminal charges, such as murder, rape, etc. against them! What do you think are the voters thinking by stuffing the parliament with such characters? Did they even know the candidate they were voting for? Do these voters have any democratic values? What good would such MPs be doing in the parliament? A conservative (not a liberal) Winston Churchill had said that a talk for a few minutes with a voter in the street would provide one with the best argument against democracy! In America, as I am sure you know, the president is elected by an collectorate college, and not by popular vote. Trump had received 3 million popular votes less than Hillary Clinton, and yet he was declared winner by the collegium in 2016. And before him, in 2000 George W. Bush had scored about 500,000 votes less than Al Gore, and yet he was declared the winner! So much so that the collegium can declare someone, who hasn’t even contested in the election, a president! The founders of the country didn’t trust the wisdom of the man in the street (the voter) and so they provided the collegium. Yes, as you say, not all the voters are bigoted, but a vast majority of them are ignorant, everywhere in the world! Democracy needs informed citizenry to succeed. I don’t think liberals are such a foolish lot to think that new people could be elected, but they must be lamenting the quality of the voters! I am surprised that not one analyst or critic has so far factored in the quality of the voters in their narratives, and all of them are writing as if there was no election in the southern states of Tamil Nadu, Kerala, and Andhra, or as if these states are not in India!

    • Well argued! It hurts Modi that Kerala rejected the BJP. That’s why he stopped at Guryuvayur on his way to the Maldives.

      The South is not in sync with the North. Its another world.

      To understand Modi’s obsession with security you have to understand Gujarat’s history in the last 1000 years or so.

      India is large and complex, with different areas having different histories.

  7. The author n this print are really communal.. very surprised that so called liberals think themselves inteligents.. I found they r most foolish breeds. India needs to be cleansed from these communal sick sickulars, they r more threat to our nation.

  8. Who demonises Modi’s voters as unwashed masses? Modi enjoys immense support among urban middle/rich class. His support is highest among priviledged Hindu Brahmins. That is totally understandable since he represents the interests of this class. He can ramble on about Leuten’s Delhi gang, but this elite transferred their aligence to Modi a long time ago. The resistance is coming from the “unwashed masses” – farmers and dalits and the unemployed, and a few (not many, not enough) conscientious intellectuals and artists.

  9. Who are these liberals, Mr. Vij? I thought you counted as one. If by liberal you mean those of us who stand for right agaist wrong, for love agaist hate, with the Mahatma instead of with his murderer, yes, we are agaist Modi and his lot. And yes, we are worried because people voted for him in 2014 despite Gujrat and again now despite all the hate he spewed. What is wrong in wondering why our friends, family and fellow citizens vote BJP inspite of everything? weak economy, demonitization, farmer-distress, muslim bashing, dalit unrest, kathua and unnao, undermining democratic institutions, price of petrol and above all the venom that comes out of the mouth of prominent bjp leaders. saying “modi persona” is too easy. and if we dont believe that BJP is best for india, you know what? we can ask “if not Rahul who?” – who else will congress accept as a leader and who else apart from congress has a national presence today?

  10. Ha. Ha. Small mistakes lead to big mistakes. I hope you understand this simple logic. Every school student is taught this.

    This indeed is intolerance ont part. But intolerance to people making elementary error.

      • aur koi kaam nahin hai?
        you seem to not be a bhakt or paid-IT-cell… if you are so jobless, spread the word against hate instead of waiting for other jobless people to point out your ridiculous (and clearly deliberate) mistakes in English for godssake!

  11. A sensible article. Good to see so many shares. But this is just start of a prolonged discourse over many issues. I hope this article will act as a trigger point for such discourse.

  12. If only “how disconnected our liberals are from the masses” is the only fact. The self-styled and false Liberals are nothing but a bunch of corrupt scribes and politicians missing the cushy jobs and lifestyles under the dispensation of the monumntally corrupt relics of the dynasty and hence obliged for ever to be in their debt!

  13. Pray what or who is a LIBERAL? Liberty, together with equality, fraternity and justice is one of the four qualities enshrined in the Preamble to the Constitution of India.
    Does one not have the liberty to disagree with Modi, his party, his policies and the cunning way that he ran his election campaign post Balakot? Surely every Indian has the liberty to feel, think, write and express what they feel.
    Is all of India expected to fit into a straight jacket, not the LEFT LIBERAL NEHRU jacket, but the FAR RIGHT MODI one, just because 1 out of 4 voters in India voted for Modi? This is in exceedingly poor taste.

    • Never, in the post-independence India, in any election, any political party secured more than 50 per cent of votes polled. But Modi-bashers are not willing to accept the peoples’ mandate in the first-past-the-post electoral process. And such people prefer to remain anonymous online.

  14. It is right not to demonize Modi.

    But wait, after Balakot he could convince a lot of the 22 crores people that it was India that won the skirmish despite: 1) Mig aircraft shot down by Pakistan; 2) Pilot captured; 3) Pilot returned; 4) MI6 helicopter shot down by own forces.

    And Modi could convince people that this is an Indian victory?

    And if the majority of the 22 crores people who voted for Modi believe this, then they have serious problems. Sorry, this has nothing to do with liberalism. This is simple logic.

    You can beat the hell out of Pakistan with propaganda, but when the real problems strike (climate change, water scarcity, pollution – three critical sectors where the BJP has done precious little), you cannot escape.

  15. Any incumbent would love to have Shri Rahul Gandhi as his principal challenger. Last heard, gentleman is in London for his summer break. He took two holidays in January after the victories in three northern states, at a time when the general election was a few fortnights away. With a similar gap, elections are due in Maharashtra, Haryana and Jharkhand. States where the Congress has not become a fossil, as in UP, Bihar, Bengal and Tamil Nadu. One does not know how much political influenve and impact the liberals have, although I love them. Politics is hard work. Not good to hit a man when he is down, but RG has largely wasted the last fifteen years. It shows in the lack of preparation to play a responsible role in national life, even as LoP. Nor do I believe that 220 million Indians are bigots.

    • you do believe people are bigot dont cover up … stop this fan politics election done and dusted now deal with it. weather modi or in future someone else come to power. stop rabble rousing liberals left liberal , right, far right blah blah n blah .. everyone is entitled to opinion but stop preaching. it would in best interest to provide constructive criticism instead of venomous agenda of coloring one person as demon and other as saint.

      • Right persona non Grata. Learn the difference between weather and whether. Use online dictionaries.

        When the weather really strikes (as it is doing right now), there will be no BJP and no liberals.

        And here is some constructive criticism: learn to write correctly, whatever language you use.

        • You are so peeved over a few innocuous mistakes that you wish to take cover by pointing out mistakes and advising the use of online dictionaries. As far as intolerance is concerned both left/liberals and right-wing brigade seem to be in the same boat. One should not take note of comments of those who prefer to remain anonymous.

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