In Indira's image: How Narendra Modi is similar to a Gandhi

It is becoming clearer by the day that Modi’s real role model in the 2014 election is former PM Indira Gandhi. Modi’s approach to politics is not too dissimilar to that of Indira's in 1971, writes Rajdeep Sardesai.
UPDATED ON MAR 08, 2014 02:18 AM IST

Narendra Modi today claims to derive inspiration from Sardar Patel and Swami Vivekananda even if his original icon was the long-serving RSS chief Guru Golwalkar. Patel and Vivekananda are natural choices for the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate: with Patel, there is the instant strongman from Gujarat connect, while Vivekananda gives him the image of an ‘inclusive’ Hindu nationalist. The truth is Modi’s real role model in the 2014 election is someone very different: Former prime minister Indira Gandhi.

The choice of Indira may seem highly incongruous at first. Modi has claimed in the past that his decision to enter public life was cemented during the Nav Nirman movement in Gujarat in the early 1970s directed against Indira’s government. He, like many opposition leaders, has referred to the Emergency as the darkest period in India’s democracy. And yet, in his 2014 campaign, he has attacked almost the entire Nehru-Gandhi parivar but stayed away from targeting the lady who in many ways initiated the dynasty cult in Indian politics.

BJP's PM candidate Narendra Modi addresses a rally at Ramabai Ambedkar ground in Lucknow. (HT photo/Dheeraj Dhawan)</strong)
BJP's PM candidate Narendra Modi addresses a rally at Ramabai Ambedkar ground in Lucknow. (HT photo/Dheeraj Dhawan)
Workers erect a billboard bearing the portrait of BJP's PM candidate Narendra Modi in New Delhi. (AFP photo)</strong)
Workers erect a billboard bearing the portrait of BJP's PM candidate Narendra Modi in New Delhi. (AFP photo)
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