Friday, February 3, 2023
HomeTalk PointThe meaning of Modi's tears for critics and fans

The meaning of Modi’s tears for critics and fans

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ThePrint asks: 

Modi in tears: Does it weaken or humanise his image?

Everything is a message with a politician. However, actions are always context sensitive. To try and make sense of it on a universal paradigm would not be reasonable. Understanding such situations depends on the narrative that accompanies the actions. And the narrative in most cases exists before the specific gesture or action.

Given that Narendra Modi is such a polarising figure, opposite messages are received by different groups of people. For people who are part of his support group, who want to see a decisive and assertive figure in him, his tears become a sign of his overwhelming commitment. They seem to say that he is so committed that he can’t help but break down after all the work he so tirelessly did.

For this group, it is not about how human he is. It is a testament to the amount of energy and effort that he has invested. Passion and commitment overwhelm him, and thus, Modi cries.

On the other hand, people who don’t care for Modi, will perceive this as yet another stunt. It will be interpreted as an attempt to draw attention. It becomes a part of another theatrical production from the ‘House of Modi’.

To his critics, his tears aren’t sign of weakness, it is instead a narcissism of sorts that aims to incite sympathy from the viewer. If it becomes a part of a narrative where he presents a certain kind of image: casting himself as the tragic hero, who is unjustly vilified for trying to do his best. It further weakens his credibility for some, but isn’t a sign of weakness.

There is a very small section that perhaps decoded Modi’s tears as a sign of him being more human. If it were anyone else, maybe that narrative would find resonance. However, not even Modi’s own supporters want to see him as a cuddly-figure. For his antagonists, there is little he can do that will humanise him.

That axis of strength (in humanising him) and weakness doesn’t exist in Modi’s case, it instead morphs into attention-seeking behaviour versus someone who gets overwhelmed by his emotions.

Santosh Desai is a columnist and author.

As told to Deeksha Bhardwaj

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