In the year when the Bengal elections were approaching, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had gone from sporting a trimmed beard to a flowing pure white beard. His beard has become the talk of the town, some justify and some make fun of it. Modi moved around in election campaigns and political tours, with his flowing beard, resembling a typical ancient sage or, as some thought Rabindranath Tagore.
But his conduct was neither sagacious nor Tagore-like. He had high hopes from West Bengal with his “Didi-O-Didi” remark and also allowed his party to communalise the Assembly election campaign. Surprisingly most of the West Bengal BJP leaders were former Trinamool Congress members, who now rejoined the TMC after BJP’s humiliating defeat. So, the beard could not impress the Bengalis.
Bharatiya Janata Party failed to conquer West Bengal, retained Assam, and could not breach the South. Puducherry is a consolation victory, for it barely counts in the national election. These results will have even toughened BJP supporters who agree that month-long polling, supposed to have been scheduled at the Union government’s behest, had Modi taken his eyes off the rising COVID-19 graph.
Maybe Modi wants to convey that he is very busy due to continuous problems in India. The problems are COVID-19 related, economic crisis, unemployment, Indo-China border tension, above all BJP’s internal issues. Therefore, he has no time for trimming his beard. The assembly election in Bihar has another headache for Modi because in six continuous state assembly elections BJP lost. Our beloved PM always believes in good looks and he cannot simply be normal when elections are coming. He becomes a Himachali when elections are in Himachal, he becomes Punjabi (Sikh) when elections are in Punjab.
Now Bengal elections are over, BJP and Modi both are facing criticism over their love for election. If Modi suddenly trimmed his beard, people would prove that it was for Bengal. If he doesn’t trim his beard, they will make fun, now they are trapped, let’s see in the Uttar Pradesh election what new drama BJP’s PR agency will bring. Maybe they will try to portray him to look like Golvalkar Guruji, who had an equally long beard.
Madhavrao Sadashivrao Golwalkar was the second Sarsanghchalak of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). He has been widely noted to be the most prominent ideologue of Hindutva. Golwalkar is considered one of the most influential and prominent figures among Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. He was not the first person to put forward the concept of a cultural nation called “Hindu Rashtra” which is believed to have evolved into the concept of the “Akhand Bharat” theory, United Nations for Bharatiyas. Right now, Ram Mandir will not fetch votes for Modi in UP, Golvalkar Guruji has an immense following. The longer beard reflects the native style and he may be deciding to impress Sanyasi to sages of his constituency.
Now Modi and BJP are trying to project him as an icon to unite Hindus under a common identity and what’s better than a historical figure who is respected and revered by a large number of Hindus regardless of regional affiliations. Thus, it is a bit of PR or publicity on part of Modi and BJP to make an emotional connection with the voter base of largely devoted Hindus by making them feel like Modi Ji is some modern-day version of this or that personality, whether it’s right or wrong is debatable and depends on point of views, some people (especially ethnic Hindu) feel offended but who cares?
BJP never shied away from the fact that they aspire for Hindu unity under a common umbrella and BJP and RSS were actually instrumental in promoting the likes of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj who is projected as Hindu Hridhay Samrat or emperor of Hindu hearts and a sizable majority of Hindus regardless of the region have expressed their allegiance to this concept. If you recollect during elections in Maharashtra, Modi with that typical beard was compared to Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, it’s the Marathi population that never fell for the bait.
He started his Prime Ministerial campaign in 2014 with the Chaiwala avatar – which was then proven to be false/fake after many years but by then people were already fans of the “Chaiwala to PM” story. For the 2019 elections, he started the Chowkidar trend “Main Bhi Chowkidar”, which too died after the elections were over. He arranged himself to be filmed in a Man vs Wild episode with Bear Grylls to show that he is all about nature. Unfortunately, this campaign was not a big hit. BJP stooges started a comic called Bal Narendra, trying to project him as some kind of child prodigy – never so successful. If I am not wrong, there is also a TV channel called “Namo TV”.
During the demonetisation crisis, he arranged for his 75-plus age mother to be filmed by the media while visiting a bank to exchange currency notes. So, when a person with such a track record starts to grow a beard suddenly, it is more than obvious that a new avatar or a trend is in making. Well, the moral of the story is, stop focusing on his beard, focus on the betterment of India.
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