Abki bari, Atal Bihari (This time, Atal Bihari) was not a campaign pitch, but a rallying cry. It was part of a ditty which laughed at the arbitrary way in which prime ministers were chosen in the mid-1990s. It went:

Bari bari sabki bari, abki bari Atal Bihari. Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) posters from the mid-1990s featured both Atal Bihari Vajpayee and L.K. Advani.

In this election, Abki baar, Modi Sarkar(This time, a Modi government) is on banners everywhere. It glorifies one man. There is reference to no other leader and barely any mention at all even of the party.

In advertising terms, this is the marketing of product (Narendra Modi), not brand (BJP). The party will pay for it, as it will in Gujarat after the tyrant finally exits.

When Rajnath Singh tweeted Abki baar, Bhajapa Sarkar(This time, a BJP government), he considered it was a serious enough transgression for him to change Bhajapa to Modi. This was right, because Modi does not take such violation of his godhead lightly.

The current deification of its candidate has a precedent, and that is Gujarat, where there is only one leader, who incidentally belongs to the BJP. It is not a BJP sarkar but a Modi sarkar which the party is suicidally plumping for.

In Shahid Siddiqui’s superb interview with him for Urdu Nai Duniya (which begs translation in full), Modi says of himself: “Main buniyadi taur par tanzeem ka aadmi hoon(I’m fundamentally an organization man)".

This is untrue. It comes from a man who sulked and refused to attend a national party conclave till a minor figure he is threatened by was disinvited. Modi is no organization man. He sees himself in messianic terms and so, may their tribe increase, do those queuing up to vote for him as a saviour.

He is like all despots insecure. He prefers loyalty to talent. No need to dig deep for evidence to support this. Observe his reliance on the execrable Amit Shah, enthusiastically volunteering for the most sordid assignment for Saheb. And for what reward? For a decade, Shah did all the dirty work for Modi as junior minister, but was not given cabinet rank.

The BJP is justly proud of being democratic and quite unlike the Congress, which is an old-fashioned tyranny. Modi has ended this openness in Delhi as he has in Gujarat. There, the party is subordinate to him and its executives taluka level upwards are Modi’s picked men and women. Dissent is disallowed.

Even the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) grandees were forced to swallow their anger when Modi and Amit Shah stitched up one of their most respected Gujarat workers, Sanjay Joshi, in a tawdry scandal.

In Delhi, the old guard that built the party will have to go. Modi will not work with them even if they accept total subordination. In fact, he has already made all three of them—Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi and Jaswant Singh—squirm. The first made to beg for his seat, the second booted out of Varanasi and the third told to get lost.

The targeting of these three is quite deliberate, totally expected and I have written about this very thing in Mint Lounge several times. Modi will push and prod and irritate them till they are forced to quit the party as some former chief ministers were in Gujarat.

Then he will go after their remaining supporters, denying them tickets and party office, till they leave as well. The party must be loyal to Modi, as it is today in Gujarat.

Advani’s eclipse was destined and it serves Advani right to be humiliated by the party he built. It was Advani who, angling to undermine Vajpayee, blocked the necessary sacking of Modi in 2002.

There is today no internal restraint on Modi, not even from the RSS. Sarsanghchalak Mohan Bhagwat is more influenced by Modi than the other way around.

In 2002, Bhagwat was sarkaryavah or deputy to K.S. Sudarshan, who was already pliant and later dropped for going senile. Despite his protestations, and he recently told RSS workers their job was not to chant NaMo, NaMo, Bhagwat’s link with Modi is special and their intimacy goes back 44 years.

They are the same age (both born in 1950) and for his third year of RSS training, aged 20, Modi lived with the Bhagwats in their home in Nagpur. He was tutored in the Hindutva spirit by Madhukarrao, Mohanrao’s father, an RSS man about whom Modi has written a reverent biography.

The only leaders he likes working with, Arun Jaitley in Delhi and Saurabh Dalal and Amit Shah in Gujarat, are those with no power base. The Gujarat BJP calls such people hajuriya (yes-men).

The only people Modi admits to revering, and I only discovered this after reading all his work, are the dead. They don’t threaten him.

Everyone else must kneel.

Also Read | Aakar’s previous Lounge columns

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