Outstanding Leadership is why Modi will win tomorrow
The news is all about the polls and what the final numbers will look like. While we wait for the new Govt, here is an attempt to understand Modi and Rahul as leaders. This would give us a fair indication of why Modi is so popular with the average Indian.
I have had no personal interaction with both these individuals except what I read in the newspapers and on TV news. This by no means is the final word but my opinion of these two leaders.
There are many ways to define Leadership. In this article I have chosen 6 key elements of any leader. The first of these is what drives or motivates a person to act and behave the way they do. The second is about the ability to paint a future and inspire individuals to achieve and create that future. The third is about being comfortable with oneself and is about self-esteem and self-confidence. The fourth is being able to organize people, processes etc to achieve the vision – it’s all about execution. The fifth element is the ability to understand the pulse of the nation. The final element that I have chosen in inclusiveness, the ability to carry all sections of society and the opposition to build the nation.
Modi is self-driven by a great desire to take India to a glorious future. It is this character that has allowed him to overcome all obstacles, poverty, lack of god fathers, break family ties etc to rise to his current stature. This is what allows him to act with confidence and a certain forcefulness and aggression. This drive to make India glorious makes him work very long hours day after day. (Some would argue that it’s this obsession/ drive that could lead Modi to become a slave driver and an authoritarian. Can one say that Demo was a result of such a trait? Maybe, Maybe not)
Rahul on the other does not demonstrate motivation. He has been pushed into a leadership role purely on the basis of his pedigree. Rahul has always had complete support, handholding and security of his family and party. He never has had to work hard to achieve anything (not to say that Rahul has achieved much on his own!).
Modi dreams big and has a vision. He sees India leading the world in manufacturing, culture, space and other spheres. His vision spans not just dreams but aspects relating to improving the quality of life of the poor in India. Toilets, cooking gas, electricity, health/medical insurance all reflect this vision. His visions and positivity about the future inspire millions of citizens. It’s also about Modi’s focus on his vision.
Rahul has not articulated his vision. It’s not just having a vision but being passionate about it and communicating it to people in a simple and coherent manner. When Modi talks about his vision (whether one agrees with it or not) one can see his passion and genuineness in the picture he paints of India’s future. Also, because Rahul has no clear vision for India, he gets into discussions “tactical” issues such as some cow lynching in Assam or trying to paint Modi as a thief (when there is not basis). He becomes obsessed with these small challenges when he should be thinking about the big picture.
Comfortable with oneself
Indian leaders for decades and perhaps centuries looked at themselves through western lens. Not Modi. He has set his own standards on how the world should view him and India. Modi is not ashamed of his background. He is most comfortable in a Kurta – Pajama. He endorses Yoga, visits temples, enjoys simple food, is not concerned about his English accent. It is perhaps this setting of own standards that has pushed Pakistan into a corner after decades of spreading terror in India. Modi is very comfortable with who he is!
Rahul continues to follow the Nehruvian tradition (foreign education, proper English etc). In fact, Sam Pitroda his mentor groomed him in this fashion. This outlook after more than 70 years of independence, when Indians are seen across the world contributing to other western economies with a new found confidence, is quite misplaced. Rahul’s visits to various temples are seen as gimmick’s and made fun off. His very awkward walk in Tirupati wearing a dhoti is one such example. He could very well have work his kurta pajama! Rahul is playing a role defined by someone else!
Connectedness with people
Modi realises that it’s not any political party that makes him the leader that he is, it’s the citizens and people of India. His years of work across the country has allowed Modi to truly understand the Indian citizen – both in rural and urban India. It is this understanding that reflects in the policies of Modi (toilets, cooking gas, girl child etc). He continues to capture feedback from the citizens through several ways to ensure he is firmly linked to people’s needs and requirements). His link and popularity with the common citizen are unmatched.
Rahul seems to rely on the “thinkers” in Delhi. His once every five – year photo opportunity with some villager does little to add to his understanding of the citizen. Given, Rahul’s lack of vision and his complete disconnect with the common citizen leads him to focus on his opposition rather than building the life of citizen’s and the nation.
Having a great vision is only a starting point, executing it is perhaps the true test. In this Modi has done a fairly decent job of ensuring that welfare schemes reached the citizen directly. So also, his Pakistan threats. However, Modi also slowed down some of his policies thanks to the “Suit boot ki Sarkar” taunts. He perhaps should have straddled both the welfare schemes and economic policy transformation.
Here, I would say the Rahul is on a bad footing. He has inherited a party that has lived on un-fulfilled promises. For example, garibi hatao has been a favourite slogan of the Congress. Rahul has made this worse by constant misuse of facts (the supreme court apology incident and more recently his interview with a channel where he says he does not have much information on Rafale) and interfering with the supreme court (the infamous press conference). His lack of understanding of details suggests a serious drawback as a leader. He had a great opportunity to democratize his own party but that did not happen too.
The final trait inclusiveness is perhaps one area that Rahul does considerably better compared to Modi. Rahul has been able to manage the old hands like Gehlot, Kamalnath etc and yet unleash the young blood like Scindia and Pilot. Rahul has been able to build consensus amongst his party. The same cannot be said of Modi. If Modi’s popularity amongst citizen’s was not as strong as it is, he would in all probability face stiff resistance within his own party. Modi in a recent international magazine was labelled Divider in chief!
In sum, I would say that Modi is a self-driven individual with high initiative, inquiry, conflict resolution, communication, vision and execution. However, he needs to consider and accept critique and other’s views. He needs to be more tolerant of other views and thoughts. Rahul Gandhi on the other hand should hand over the day to day reins of the party to one of the young Turks work to get everybody to rally around the new leader.