Practically everybody has been airing his views on our new prime minister’s (PM’s) first 100 days in office. I, on the contrary, think it churlish to expect the prime minister to do things in a mere 100 days. Instead, the question we must ask is: Is he having a good time? And the answer to that is: You bet he is.
Take cabinet formation. I’m sure he enjoyed making some folks nobody had heard of before ministers, while giving the bird to old tried-and-tested stalwarts. It was great fun, seeing the looks of shocked disbelief on their faces. The icing on the cake was when the prime minister played schoolmaster to ministers and babus, pulling them up like truant schoolgirls, not allowing them to recruit their own assistants, asking the juniors to report directly to him — really relishing playing the role of tough guy. That’s apart from the joy of sacking all those governors, of course.
I know it hasn’t been all fun and games. For instance, the prime minister looked rather stiff in Parliament, sitting all alone. But can you blame him for looking glum, when he’s forced to listen to interminable speeches by other, lesser, people?
Talking of speeches, he has been having a wonderful time speechifying. His eyes light up when he makes those dramatic gestures and then he talks all that P2P and B4B stuff and utters those platitudes in that deadpan earnest way and you know immediately that, deep down, he’s having a ball.
And he’s really freaking out on his dresses. From crisp Nehru jackets and churidars to his trademark half-sleeved kurtas to Bvlgari glasses and Movado watches to changing clothes every few hours, our prime minister is having a gala time. That saffron and green turban he wore for his Independence Day speech was to die for. I can’t wait to see his designer tuxedos for the US trip. My only suggestion is: could he dispense with the ideologically dicey Nehru jacket and wear, say, a Patel jacket instead?
But the Japan trip was where he really had a rip-roaring time. Right from telling the bemused priest of a Buddhist temple, “I am Modi and you are Mori” to playing a recorder, he was having a blast. He must have hugely enjoyed the surprise when people saw him drumming, because he knew this was the first time he wasn’t beating his own drum. And he must have chuckled to himself when, replying to a question on climate change, he said impishly, “Climate change? Is this terminology correct? The reality is this that in our family, some people are old... They say this time the weather is colder. And, people’s ability to bear cold becomes less.” I’m certain he chortled quietly, seeing the look of utter bewilderment on people’s faces. He must also have quaked with mirth inwardly when he told his hosts with a straight face, ‘You can milk a cow, but you can’t kill the cow’, because Japan, as the PM knows perfectly well, is the land of the famous Kobe beef. And remember that dig at the secularists when he presented the Gita to the Japanese emperor — oh what a delectable crack.
In short, not only has our prime minister been having a whale of a time, but he has been entertaining us as well. Long may he continue to provide, not just bread, but also circuses.
Manas Chakravarty is Consulting Editor, Mint
The views expressed by the author are personal