The silence of the crowd in Mathura: Has PM Modi lost Candidate Modi's mojo?

In 2014, the crowds roared, they cheered and hooted on cue, and Modi had to frequently tell people to stop trying to push forward.

FP Politics May 26, 2015 13:17:52 IST
The silence of the crowd in Mathura: Has PM Modi lost Candidate Modi's mojo?

It was the Narendra Modi of 2014 who was present in Mathura as he listed his government's achievements and took on the Congress for attempting to rain on his parade. There were jibes about power brokers, damaads, and bure din for those who were attempting to loot the nation, with little left to the imagination on whom he was referring to.

The silence of the crowd in Mathura Has PM Modi lost Candidate Modis mojo

PTI image

In 2014, the crowds roared, they cheered and hooted on cue, and Modi had to frequently tell people to stop trying to push forward. On Monday, they were muted, replying to the frequent questions but there was little of the madness that was seen a year earlier. The mikes also seemed to have been adjusted at points so that at least television audiences would hear responses from the crowds, but perhaps they were turned up enough or weren't at the right places because it wasn't as raucous as in the past . People waved at the camera, they shouted replies and Modi had to once tell people to remain shaant, as he tried to talk about his government's achievements but it just didn't have the magic dust of 2014.

And it was hot. Even the Prime Minister noted that the crowd had been waiting for hours in the Heat in an open ground and it was energy sapping.

A Telegraph report notes the exchange between the Prime Minister and his audience:

Modi had to ask thrice whether his listeners - primarily a rural gathering - had elected his government to effect a change or retain the status quo.

"For change," a few said finally.

When he asked the gathering whether he had redeemed his pledge or not, nobody answered.

Modi, the masterful orator that he is adjusted quickly and the pauses for the answers got shorter. He sped through his speech highlighting the government's achievements from the Jan Dhan Yojana to the insurance scheme for the poor. He spoke about preventing urea theft and irrigation for farmers, but sidestepped the contentious Land Acquisition Bill. The speech was a masterful attack on the Congress while highlighting his own government's achievements.

"Those who are shouting, let them keep shouting," Modi said towards the end of his speech.

No longer the challenger to status quo, Modi now faces the same problem that his opponents once did and will face criticism until his government shows results of the sort he can truly tom-tom. As Firstpost's Sandipan Sharma noted in his piece, the Prime Minister stuck to the past and the present in his speech, preferring to stay clear of making promises that he can't ensure the delivery of.

For the Prime Minister, the accusations of lack of connect should come as little surprise. After coming to power, he can be credited with leading the party to stunning victories in Haryana, Maharashtra, Jammu and Kashmir and Jharkhand but since then his image has taken a beating. There have been the foreign trips that have been mocked, the accusations of favouring the corporate world with the Land Acquisition Bill, accusations of being unable push through reforms quickly enough due to political inflexibility and even that pinstripe suit.

It's not difficult to see why the Prime Minister chose to go to Deen Dayal Dham in Mathura to deliver his speech marking a year of his government. It had the sort of audience that stood behind him stoutly through the campaign trail cheering and shouting as he led the party to an epic victory. But that same audience on Monday seemed to have lost its voice, perhaps waiting for something it could truly cheer lustily for.

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