Narendra Modi & Donald Trump: The iron-fisted politics of two polarising world leaders


New Delhi, 45th President of the United States of America, Donald Trump is to call Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday. India and the US are co-dependent on each other in certain fields and it only seems fit that Trump calls up PM Modi to ensure the cordial relationship keeps moving in the right direction. And if the stories of their personal rise to power indicate anything, they will probably gel well. How so? Well, both started as outsiders to a national audience with politically incorrect statements and promises, fighting against corrupt and elite incumbents, mobilising the media and then proceeding to beat it at its own game to finally take over power in two of the most diverse democracies in the world. They created a string of fear, suspicion and doubt among the masses to come to power. But that was all fair. Both tom-tommed the fact that they are cleaning up the mess before them, rooting out the rust that had taken place to make their countries great again; albeit without informing how. Both promised governments by the people and by the people only, albeit again representing themselves as icons of true governance.

Selective secularism

Except with a minor deep-seated problem with populists, only some people are the people. Trump has said it in the past – “the only important thing is the unification of the people because the other people don’t mean anything.” Now, obviously our beloved Prime Minister is a little more politically correct but anyone remembers the “Mandir Wahin Banaenge” byte in BJP’s 2014 election manifesto? There is also this minor issue of every voice of dissent being termed as ‘anti-nationals’.

Robinhoods in denial

Also, both the leaders complain about the elite (that 1% corrupt in India) and the many others in the USA. PM Modi is known to be friendly to industrialists, even featuring on front page ads of private companies. And Trump has simply been a crony capitalist all his life. By doing so, they have created a “Robinhood” stature in the society thus making the oversimplification of important issues such as economy making it a mere slogan for people to chant (demonetisation).

Autocracy in democracy

Both the leaders have also somehow created a system of centralisation in the political parties they represent. Trump rose to power within the party decimating every other person who opposed him, while PM Modi has been more tactical in his approach. Modi remains the face and the only face of the BJP, whereas several leaders of the same stature had existed before.