It’s not hard to understand why Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi is leading his Bharatiya Janata Party (the BJP, भारतीय जनता पार्टी) and its allies to a victory that will be the most resounding in Indian history since 1984.
The truth has been there all along, as Narendra Modi became more than just a potential prime minister. Somewhere along the course of the election campaign and the nine phases of voting that began way back on April 7, Modi became a phenomenon.
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Even before he leapt to the national stage, Modi perfected the art of campaigning by hologram, whereby a life-size avatar of Modi could address election rallies in multiple cities simultaneously:
His colorful kurtas — traditional body-length garments for men that Modi often wears with short sleeves — have become a downright fashion statement and have already attracted international attention. Here he is in a great photo from Sonia Paul of The Caravan:
Modi himself has admitted to a bit of cockiness about his fashion:
[Modi] confesses he likes to dress up well, is “god-gifted” in the way of mixing and matching colours and is happy at compliments on his dressing sense…. “Yes, I like to dress up well and stay clean. God has gifted me the sense of mixing and matching colors. So I manage everything on my own. Since I’m god-gifted, I fit well in everything. I have no fashion designer but I’m happy to hear that I dress well.”
Implausibly, as he brags about his 56-inch chest (critics joked it was more like a 56-inch belly), he’s also become something of a sex symbol among a certain segment of India’s population.
But when, as now seems inevitable, he becomes India’s next prime minister, the entire world will turn its attention to one of the oddest — and compelling — characters in international politics today.
So who is the personal Narendra Modi? And what have we learned about him on the campaign trail? Continue reading The phenomenon of Narendra Modi, 56-inch chest and all