It’s an epic rerun. The man who is already a metaphor for something superhuman has reduced everything before him to a cipher. Like some mythic hero, he turned every weak link into a Teflon-coated asset. But there’s one unmistakable change in the story. The voters saw only ‘Modi’, the endless promotionals carried only his face, and it’s surely his visage that trumped the facelessness of the Opposition—but looming over the landscape was also another face, another mind. Chandragupta-Chanakya is the preferred reference for bhakts. But perhaps that doesn’t express this new chemistry entirely. On May 17, as PM Narendra Modi joined BJP president Amit Shah for the press conference at the party headquarters, he seemed comfortable taking a backseat. “I am a disciplined soldier; the party president is everything for me,” said Modi.
This raja-mantri duet is clearly a new kind of compound. The latter has, visibly, more executive powers than all the sundry Kautilyas of history, who only ideated, and yet he yields to the first’s primacy. BJP leaders and workers alike are awestruck by the chemistry, so are all the rest. Some call it the ‘Jai-Veeru ki jodi’, from the classic movie Sholay—a rare brotherhood built on trust—others recall the partnership of Sachin and Sehwag. Whatever your preferred metaphor, the Modi-Shah ‘jugalbandi’ is undoubtedly the biggest story of the unprecedented 2019 mandate.