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‘UP ka beta’ to wannabe ‘sainik’: How PM Modi tailors his life story to suit election crowds

A collection of several “identities” of the Prime Minister, who is a skilled communicator, during the ongoing elections and those in the past

india Updated: Feb 17, 2017 17:50 IST
Kumar Uttam
Kumar Uttam
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Narendra Modi,BJP,Akhilesh Yadav
Prime Minister Narendra Modi is presented with a Buddha statuette at a rally in Lakhimpur Kheri, Uttar Pradesh. (PTI file photo)

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who calls himself the pradhan sewak (a servant of the people) of the country, knows how to strike a chord.

Pitted against “UP ke ladke (the lads of UP)”, Akhilesh Yadav and Rahul Gandhi, Modi has claimed himself to be UP’s adopted son.

A collection of several “identities” of the Prime Minister, who is a skilled communicator, during the ongoing elections and those in the past:

‘UP ka god liya beta’

During an election rally in Hardoi on February 16, Modi said he was UP’s adopted child. The BJP is worried about the UP ke ladke versus outsider narrative that Akhilesh Yadav and Rahul Gandhi are building. While Lord Krishna was born in UP and made Gujarat his home, he was born in Gujarat and was adopted by UP, the Prime Minister said.

‘Garib maa ka beta’

At the same rally, Modi again talked about his humble beginnings. The son of a poor mother rose to be the prime minister because of the blessings of Uttar Pradesh, he said, seeking support for the BJP, which has been relegated to the margins of the state politics by regional players.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar during the 350th birth anniversary celebrations of Guru Gobind Singh at Gandhi Maidan in Patna . (PTI file photo)

‘Pichde ka beta’

Bihar has a sizable population of other backward classes. Ahead of the 2015 assembly election, the BJP was trying to expand its presence among such groups, often referred to as pichde, or the ones got left behind in India’s growth story.

At a poll rally in Bihar Sharif, Modi called himself “son of a backward”. People, he said, were worried how a person from an extremely backward social group became the prime minister. Despite his numerous rallies, the BJP was wiped out in Bihar.

The ‘chaiwala’

Speaking at an election meeting in Tinsukia district of the tea state of Assam, Modi talked about his childhood when he used to sell tea at his father’s stall in Gujarat.

“When I was a tea seller, I used to serve Assam tea to refresh people,” he said at a rally in March. Next month, the BJP came to power in the Northeastern state for the first time.

In Uttarakhand, which voted for a new assembly on February 15, Modi promised voters that the “tea-seller” would continue to fight against the mighty people who looted their money for 70 years. The hill state has more than 620,000 families living below the poverty line.

The chaiwala was a Congress barb at Modi who turned it to his advantage in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.

Would-have-been ‘sainik’

He too wanted to serve the country and be a soldier, Modi said in Haryana’s Rewari in September 2013. He was addressing his first meeting after being named the prime ministerial candidate of the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance. His audience were ex-servicemen. He wanted to serve the country by joining the army and even tried for an admission in Jamnagar-based Sainik School when he was in Class 4, Modi said.

First Published: Feb 17, 2017 13:16 IST