Modi’s Rhetoric: 100% Emotion, 0% Logic

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Narendra Modi comes out as an effective speaker enthralling masses, captivating his fans and many buying his argument, however flawed or illogical or absolutely untruthful. Before we divert to whether he is indeed an effective speaker or whether he lies, both being true, the only question is ‘how does he sell his illogic and lies?’

To understand Modi’s monologues, one should go back in time, literally quite far back, to a period just after Gautama Buddha, during Chanakya’s time but to our west, ancient Greece. There is nothing wrong in political rhetoric. After all, what are political speeches without rhetoric? A roster of facts? A list of numbers? A book of reasons? But, political rhetoric also requires facts, numbers and reasons on important subjects of national importance. And that is where Modi fails, miserably.

Exhibit 1: National Security and Foreign Policy

Speaking at Ghaziabad on 8th March, 2019, Modi – speaking on the important topic “Responding to Terrorism” – doesn’t talk about what India wants to do nor does he talk about what he has achieved after taking the electoral stand that “terror and talks cannot go together” but instead going to Pakistan and hugging Nawaz Sharif and enjoying a Lahori thali.

But he compares the previous government’s actions after 26/11 with his own after Pulwama, asking people “should he be like previous government?” He cleverly avoids talking what is achieved, because, as it stands, 3 weeks later, nothing seems to have been achieved.

Questions he asked:

  • Should we act against terrorism?
  • Will you be with (country) in case of further escalation?
  • Do you believe your Army?
  • Do you believe your Air Force?

Even Mehbooba Mufti, with whom the BJP shared power but ditched well before the general elections portraying her as evil, would answer ‘yes’ to all these questions.

Now, how do these questions address the elephant in the room viz. “what has he achieved?” Killing couple of hundred terrorists is not an achievement because the militant who carried out the strike in Pulwama was from India.

He talks of his “parakram” which, I assume, also means “heroism”. The important point is that he positions himself as the ‘hero’ of this heroism. And he addresses one of the most basic needs of people – “security”, without any facts but only with emotion.

He engaged the audience with the now customary Bharat Mata Ki Jai. In about eight minutes, an issue of grave national importance was made a spectacle, a drama, devoid of facts.

(You can argue that nuances of international relations and foreign policy goals cannot be discussed in public. Fair enough. But apparently, the defence minister of India was not in the know before this strike. So, that argument falls flat.)

Exhibit 2: Economy. And jobs.

In a speech last year, telecast by a TV channel, on the question of jobs, his response was absolutely nonsensical.

Are jobs not created in IT sector? Mind you, the context of the speech was the Karnataka election, hence the direct reference to IT sector.

Did unemployment exist only in the last four years? He also quoted Nasscom in the context that they were also accepting jobs creation (or something to this effect).
Watch the video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2D9yBCZ1taM

As you can see, these are not specifics that he ever addresses, always moving about as if on a cloud, grazing over the top but never getting to the heart of the issue, not in a political rally and certainly not in Parliament where he is answerable. If you are interested, Nasscom stopped forecast for this year’s IT growth.

Now contrast this to the pre-2014 candidate Modi on jobs. When asked about jobs situation and especially policies that he had mind, the answer was, as usual without any specific. Till the end, he didn’t specify any of his policies. But went on and on about some weird schemes. And he claims that all diamond polishers from Surat have moved to villages and every villager was working on diamond trading industry.

The most important point to note here is that pre-2014 Modi was all about ‘hope’ because hope is one of the emotions that works equally well like ‘fear’ or ‘anger’ or ‘lust.’ But a resentful Modi wants everyone to sell pakodas. And counts that as a job. Or he wants everyone to become ‘job creator’ and not ‘job seeker’.

When asked about India’s job position he just goes on and on, like a broken record, but with new ‘figures of speech’ against opposition but completely lacking substance.

We all know how demonetisation was sold: a crusade where money stored in mattresses and pillows would flow into the coffers of RBI or float on thr Ganga or Yamuna unusable or unused, and the country would be cleansed of all ills.

More than 2.5 years later, facts prove it is (yes, even at present) a disaster.

These are not just a couple of examples extrapolated to his entire rule. Take any speech where there were facts without lies, where there were logic and reason and where he was questioned (oh never mind, he never hosted a press conference).

Next time when you listen to his speech, wash all emotions off and look for facts, reasons and numbers. I am sure you will come up empty-handed.

Exhibit 3: Chowkidaar stunt

The most important questions in Rafale deals are:

  • Did Modi unilaterally change a deal?
  • Why was HAL replaced by Anil Ambani?
  • What is Anil Ambani’s experience? And track record?
  • Did the committee to finalise the deal disagree or not disagree with the procurement process?

It is in this context that he is called a ‘chor,’ an allegorical thief by Rahul Gandhi. Instead of addressing these queries, after seeing the phrase ‘Chowkidaar chor hai’ gain popularity, he has now made his idiot followers and his intelligent and esteemed cabinet colleagues change their Twitter display name.

Thus far, and even now, the question and the phrase were pointed at Modi. But, by spreading the term Chowkidaar, he is hiding behind the great human persuasive principle. If you change your name to Chowkidaar, by blind act of faith, next time Rahul Gandhi calls ‘Chowkidaar chor hai’ you will, for a minute, think that it is you and definitely react as if it is you.

Again, no logic and only emotional appeal.

All in all, wherever he speaks and whenever he speaks in India, his appeal has been only to emotions and to known prejudices.

What do they say about barking dogs?

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