PM Modi crafts for himself an image, larger than BJP’s

Ahlan Modi

Rama Krishna Sangem

Primer Minister Narendra Modi’s spirited speech at a meeting of Indian expats in Abu Dhabi, UAE, last night, February 13, Tuesday, is a spectacle we are all familiar with. We have seen many such meetings of Indian diaspora where Modi gave high energy speeches – in the US, UK, Australia, among others. Thousands of  Indian origins throng his meetings, wait for what he says and cheer him loudly.

Even earlier too Indian prime ministers – Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi or Rajiv Gandhi drew crowds of Indians whenever they went abroad. Sometimes they addressed small gatherings of them. But, Modi changed the style and substance of such meetings abroad. He takes Indian expats as seriously as Indians within India. He speaks to them like an in-house audience.

Around 50,000 people gathered to listen to him at Ahlan Modi (Hello Modi in Arabic) event. at Zayed Sports City Auditorium, in Abu Dbabi.

He told them how India is changing in the last few years (or one decade?). He reeled out data on how India is marching ahead in all fields. Of course, he used the word of Bharat, instead of India, for our country. Today, Bharat is the second largest mobile phone maker in the world, today, Bharat is number five economy in the world and today and many more distinctions of Bharat now.

Modi, known for his oratorical skills, with long pauses told the packed gathering, that he, in his third term, from 2024, will going to make Bharat the third largest economy in the world. That is a Modi Guarantee! For every sentence of him, Indians cheered loudly and chanted Modi! Modi!. Some of this may have been choreographed by his image builders, but not all of it. There’s a genuine admiration for PM Modi abroad, especially among the Indians and Indian diaspora.

Modi took care of keeping the hosts in good humour. He referred UAE president Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan as “His excellency brother Nahyan”. Not only in UAE, but wherever he goes, it is the same goodwill on display from his side. Recall the US presidents Trump or Biden or UK’s Sunak or Australian PM Albanese.  Modi never crosses political correctness, while addressing such gatherings abroad.


Why Indian expats important to Modi?

Modi has made a practice since 2014, first time he became the PM, to meet and address the Indians living abroad.  He knows Indian expats working and living abroad are not the same of those in 1970s or ’80s. Today’s Indian expats are different – they are young, highly paid and influential, both within and outside the country. This new generation of Indian expats, since late ’90s are dynamic and politically aware.

These expats show more interest in Indian politics and local developments. Particularly, those in the US are more active and nationalistic. They learnt to be nationalistic from the citizens of the US. Around 2.5 crore people in the US have Indian connections. They would love to maintain their links with this country. They invest in India and have plans to settle down in India, of course, sometime in future.

Not only that, they can influence their kith and kin in India. That’s how BJP and its Sangh Parivar affiliates have designed  a strategy in 2014 to project Narendra Modi as an alternative to  then PM Manmohan Singh. At the time, UPA’s supreme leader Sonia Gandhi could not speak in public, while Manmohan Singh mumbles words and Rahul Gandhi used to often disappear from people, He earned a name of reluctant crown prince.

It’s at this time, Modi’s election machinery caught the imagination of Indian expats. Coupled with them are locals who projected Modi as a bold, courageous leader with good speaking skills. Even after becoming PM, Modi never lost touch with these Indian expats. He regularly met them whenever he visited their countries. Every meeting of him abroad has some resounding in India.

Modi knows, organizationally, BJP is weak even in India. Most BJP leaders want just power and pelf. They are not fully different from any other party – at least Congress. That’s the reason why Vajpayee lost power in 2004. Though RSS  and its affiliates are committed and sincere in their political beliefs, mostly they are introverts. They cannot go out and win new friends.

So, Modi wanted to build a broader support base to him, to continue in power at the Centre for multiple terms. This is not possible, if he depended only on BJP or Sangh Parivar cadre. India is a county where several regional parties, built on dynastic lineage. are strong in their pockets. BJP, on it’s own is incapable of defeating them. BJP built NDA coalition, but allies keep coming and going.

Modi knows mere Hindutwa is not enough to keep BJP in power. So, he redefined Hindutwa as a core of nationalistic agenda. Nationalism has a bigger appeal than that of Hindutwa. This nationalism is more evident among Indian expats, as they face one or the other form of discrimination abroad. Or learn how to be nationalists or patriots. For them, Modi is an icon of nationalism.

Modi lives up to this image. He talks of making Bharat a developed country – Viksit Bharat – by 2047. He may be nor may not be there to see this happen. But, he is now selling a dream to Indian expats, and through them to Indian at home. A dream of a developed India with third largest economy in the world. Next only to the US and China. To make this happen, Modi needs a third term  in 2024. Not only expats, but Indians too are hearing him.

On February 14, Modi will inaugurate a Hindu temple in Abu Dhabi, a adding a dose of Hindu sentiment to the nationalism.

Rama Krishna Sangem

Ramakrishna chief editor of excel India online magazine and website

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Rama Krishna Sangem

Excel India national news magazine is a media startup founded and piloted by Rama Krishna Sangem, a Hyderabad based senior journalist with over three decade experience in the field of media, mostly in print journalism. His rich experience in reporting for both Telugu and English newspapers and heading a TV news channel and some online outfits will be of immense use to this venture. Excel India English news magazine seeks to fill the gap of analytical understanding to our readers who today are confronted with myriad media platforms. Our online version not only offers regular updates and commentary on happenings around us, but also gives larger stories not limited by space constraints of a print magazine. Excel India is ably run by a team of senior journalists committed to values and quality standards in the profession. We urge you all to support and guide us in this endeavour. Reach us at