To people in Pakistan, the name Narendra Modi is synonymous with horrific violence against minority Muslims and dangerous Hindu nationalism. Thank God we got out of there in time or we could have been amongst those mercilessly murdered during the Gujarat riots in 2002, they say. In India however, Modi is more than just that… much more. He is the man who knows how to get things done. Against the backdrop of stunted national economic growth largely owing to the poor governance of the incumbent Congress government, his province shines in contrast along with his growing reputation as the man responsible. Excessive scrutiny can go both ways. It can highlight the ugly part of a largely pleasant picture, or put forth the positives otherwise lost in the bigger mess. Effective PR management, pressure tactics, nationalistic rhetoric and other factors have ensured that the latter becomes true in Modi’s case. For many, Modi the mass murderer is now Modi the business-friendly developer. Add some good old communal politics in a majority Hindu India to the mix and you have a man riding a massive popularity wave towards the highest office in the world’s biggest democracy.

The Indian public realises that secularism doesn’t feed mouths. It doesn’t invite foreign investment or build infrastructure, and certainly doesn’t help keep Pakistan in its place. For all that, you need a man like Modi; the destroyer of red tape, the bringer of rain, the roaring lion. But the thing with strongmen is that they hardly ever shy away from strong-arming dissenters. That is, in fact, how they gain such a reputation. Many are willing to overlook Modi’s flaws for the promise of the greater good. After all, the Muslims of Gujarat have benefited from progress just like their fellow Hindu citizens. But, ‘the greater good’ doctrine is an extremely dangerous one. Historically, it has been used to justify the unjustifiable as nations happily take to the path of destruction in hopes of reaching that final destination. They can’t see it, but they can feel it, even smell it, just like they are supposed to, so they keep marching. Dissenters are silenced as they are viewed as nothing more than hurdles in the way. High doses of nationalism don’t satisfy the public’s appetite, but they intensify it, and once all has been consumed, the well-meaning common man wakes up with a terrible hangover amidst chaos he helped create. Ironically, it is none other than Modi’s own pragmatism and intellect which will be relied upon to contain, and if the need arises, to reverse what he has set in motion.