The defining difference between Narendra Modi & Rahul Gandhi that nobody has spoken about

Updated: 13 December, 2018 2:39 pm IST
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After the BJP loss in the Hindi heartland, Barkha Dutt asks an intriguing question: Has Rahul Gandhi’s metrosexual appeal beaten Narendra Modi’s machismo to help Congress in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh?

What do you think is the main difference between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Congress President Rahul Gandhi?

Men set apart by a 20-year age difference.

Is it ideology…?



You will hear a lot of analysis on these assembly elections and the BJP defeat…

But here is my take.

This is a generational clash between hardline machismo and metrosexual softness.

Between the strongman with the 56-inch chest…

And a mischievous love-your-enemy hug.

And, of course, the wink that followed.


Think about it

For so long now the Modi government has been driven by an aggressive masculinity.

Perhaps this positioning was crafted in response to Manmohan Singh – who was seen to be too silent. And too paralysed in his last years.

But since then the machismo of the BJP has never been dialled down.

They are the tough guys…

Who will protect the nation…

Crackdown on corruption…

And, yes, even take 86 per cent of India’s cash out of circulation.

Because risk-taking is supposed to be a sign of strength


But sometimes tough men can become bullies.

Intolerant of independent opinion.

Cheerleaders of brute force.

Practitioners of communal taunts.

Protectors of murderous mobs.

And generals of troll armies.


It is in this environment of what Raghuram Rajan called chest-thumping…

That Rahul Gandhi, perhaps, saw a moment to make his own.

Now politics is not a hallmark card.

And, of course, Mr Gandhi’s choices will also be calculated and strategic…

But if you hear his press conference right after his party took wins in the Hindi heartland…

There was humility… and no flaunting of male ego.

Instead, there was a promise to learn from precisely those mistakes of the BJP.

And in, perhaps, the most exemplary subversion of machismo…

Rahul Gandhi has chosen to own the jokes about him, instead of growling back at them.

Yes, even the Pappu ones.

Sometimes in life love and politics,

overdone masculinity can become unattractive.

Ask us women.

And there can also be strength in softness.

See you next week.

Separate fact from fiction, the real from the fake going viral on social media, on HoaXposed .

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11 Comments Share Your Views


  1. That’s all very well. Rahul richly deserves whatever credit he is due for these elections. BUT, the outrageous lies, wild assumptions touted as allegations a la Kejriwal, and the mocking, even at personal levels ( and don’t say Modi did it. It was Rahul who started the very cheap ridiculing cycle), all take away much of that credit, though his devotees will naturally be blind to all that. He reminds one of another leader across the world with a similar approach.

  2. Ms Dutt has already declared Rahul Gandhi as the next PM of India!! Perhaps laying the foundation for aspiration to be a Rajya Sabha member, a la Kumar Ketkar?? I am NO die-hard fan of Modi. In fact I think he is committing the same mistakes that caused Congress decimation in 2014, but I hope that there is NOT even a hint in this article that Rahul Gandhi is a better PM candidate because of some personal traits that he is flaunting now. Ms Dutt, the award winning journalist (of international stature), will perform her role better if she objectively questions not just Modi’s leadership style and BJP’s reluctance to come up with a more ‘benign’ personality for PM 2019, but ALSO the high command structure of the Congress party. Her approach needs to be as impartial as those of any reputed journalist who will analyse, discuss and perhaps trash both Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn for their failings and faults on hard issues, not soft characteristics such as looks and voice. But then the Rajya Sabha aspiration may have to take a back seat.

    • Indeed, yes. And, she conveniently omits Rahul’s complete lack of a programme and vision for the voters, compounded by his cheap jibes and silly acronyms like ” Khao Commission Rao” for KCR ( how childish and senseless!) but is ready to lift him to the skies! These results, in Rajasthan and MP,at least, owe more to anti incumbency than to any legerdemain on Rahul’s part. 25 seats in MP were won by Congress with very small margins. But, the baggage from the NDTV days is still hanging on her back. Can’t expect anything else.

  3. Barkha- do you have to compulsorily write? I can understand your compulsive urge but pl have some mercy on the world too.. Pl treat yourself for verbal diarrhea.

  4. Great summary by Barkha. And to add to it, while earlier Mr PM had everyone’s sympathies by being labelled “chai seller”, The PM undid all that by constantly abusing the Gandhi Parivar. For good or for bad, the three generations were PM and in hindsight in comparison with doses of BJP, they ( Nehru – Gandhi) family did not do too badly either.


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