Rahul vs Modi: Wooing the Indian Diaspora
AJIT KUMAR JHA
One is young and charming, the other mature and messianic. One is an idealist, the other a realist. One is a left-liberal, the other a culturally-rooted conservative. One swears by the Idea of India, the other the Bharatiya Civilisation. One is understated, the other emphatic. One appears like the boy next door, the other personifies the man-with-a-mission.
In the realm of Indian and Pravasi politics, two charismatic leaders have emerged, captivating their compatriots within India and the vast Indian diaspora scattered across the globe. Rahul Gandhi and Narendra Modi, with their distinctive styles and ideologies, have attempted to forge connections with Indian expatriates, especially in the US.
June has proved to be a common bond between the two leaders. Riding the momentum of Bharat Jodo Yatra and a victory in Karnataka, Rahul toured the US on a three-city tour in the first week of June, with stops at Stanford and Santa Clara in California, the National Press Club in Washington DC and in New York. Basking in the glory of inaugurating the New Parliament, PM Modi visited the US between June 20 to June 22 on his first historic State visit, which involved addressing a joint meeting of the US Congress.
With his understated charm and affable demeanour, Rahul seeks to establish an emotional bond with the Indian diaspora in the US. Rahul’s appeal lies in his ability to empathize with the struggles of the average Indian immigrant. By acknowledging their challenges, vulnerabilities, and insecurities he creates a sense of solidarity and unity. Rahul’s approach is marked by a nuanced understanding of the diaspora’s yearning for a more inclusive India, free from the clutches of social and economic inequalities. Through his speeches and interactions, Rahul aims to position himself as a bridge that can heal the gap, and connect the dots, between the diaspora’s dreams and the realities of the Indian political landscape.
In stark contrast, Modi’s appeal to the Indian diaspora in the US is built on a foundation of aspiration and a grand vision for India. With his powerful oratorical skills and magnetic persona, Modi has mastered the art of captivating audiences and instilling a sense of pride in being Indian. He portrays himself as the architect of India’s future, promising economic reforms, technological advancements, and strong global standing. His appeal lies in his ability to ignite hope, showcasing India as a land of immense opportunities and prosperity. Modi’s rhetoric resonates with the aspirations of the diaspora, who seek an India that can provide them with a symbol of pride, a cultural identity of belonging, and a semblance of success.
Rahul’s approach emphasizes empathy and inclusivity, aiming to connect with the diaspora on a personal and emotional level. His speeches focus on social justice, economic equality, and the need for a more compassionate India.
Modi adopts a more assertive and visionary stance, emphasizing industrialisation, global recognition, and a muscular India. His oratorical flourishes are marked by the assertion of India’s potential, highlighting the achievements of his nine-year-old NDA government and the transformative reforms they have undertaken. By projecting a strong and resolute image, Modi seeks to inspire the diaspora, harnessing their support to fuel his vision of a modern India, a nation on the journey toward becoming a superpower.
Will Rahul prove to be David challenging the mighty Goliath? Or will it be a hat trick for Modi? The answer dear reader is blowing in the wind, the direction of the hawa that will decide the fate of the Lok Sabha elections of 2024.