The Prime Minister’s Divine origin theory: Explanations and Purpose

Modi 4

Recently in an interview for a news channel, the Prime Minister claimed that he is not of biological origin but sent by god for a purpose. This is the first time a Prime Minister has claimed to be of superhuman origin. He also claimed that he will be called back after 2047 by God, when India becomes a ‘vikshit  bharat’ commemorating 100 years of freedom.

Taking this logic further, it means he is not a representative of people or a party which has voted him to power but a representative of god. People who have chosen him or his party are mere instruments for bringing him to power. While the people might have chosen, the real authority comes from the god. God having chosen him as a representative, it also means that whatever is done is divinely guided and has a noble purpose behind it. The intended purpose is accordingly beyond the comprehension of the people who should keep away from any questioning and extend unquestionable obedience through faith to this divine representative. They should give away their ability to think and accept whatever is said or done by God’s representative as the ultimate purpose is always noble. However, this noble is never explained. It could be put under the phrases “Ache din”, “Amrit kaal”, “Vikshit Bharat”. Everything has a purpose, and it is God’s guidance which makes the god’s representative to act in a particular way to achieve these noble dreams. Ultimately it is not the people who have given him power but the god. Taking away his authority is only in the hands of the god. 

Political theory explanations

From a political theory perspective, the Prime minister through this seeks to bring in the concept of “Divine right of Kings” where authority is unquestionable and divinely sanctioned, reducing the legitimacy of political opposition and criticism. This also aligns with the theory of “cult of personality” where the leader uses propaganda and mass media to cultivate a heroic image. Such claims help the leader mobilize emotional support for this “charismatic personality”. This emotional and unquestioning loyalty makes it easier to mobilize support for the decisions taken. The claim of a divine right serves in legitimizing acts which are otherwise questioned, but with such claims tap into deep seated religious and cultural beliefs in maintaining power. It also creates a “hegemony” where the leader’s authority is perceived as part of natural, divinely ordained order, marginalizing alternative political ideologies, parties and dissent voices. By claiming that the origins are divine in origin, the Prime Minister bypasses the “social contract” that demands democratic accountability. This helps to establish an environment where authority is seen as infallible and unchallengeable,  thereby reducing opposition and enhancing control over the citizens.

With this the vigilant citizens are sought to be replaced by obedient subjects who need to accept authority. Hence no questioning of scams, inequality, discrimination, social disharmony and unfreedom as the intent is always great. By trying to present himself not as a leader of the people but as a representative of god, he displays himself as an avatar who has come to earth to deal with evil. His statements further elaborate on who this evil is according to him. It could be minorities, activists, public intellectuals, opposition and dissent voices, followers of a certain ideology. To perform the noble task, the divine representative needs to act on this evil.

Psychological theory explanations

The statement can also be understood from various psychological theories. As per one explanation it is a display of narcissistic personality traits, where the leader with an inflated sense of self-importance and a need for admiration might make extraordinary claims about his /her divine origin and purpose. This self-perception can be reinforced by the admiration displayed by the followers (called Bhakts) and the power they wield in terms of attacking opposition through acts such as trolling. Further the concept of charismatic authority describes how leaders inspire devotion and allegiance through perceived extraordinary qualities and missions. By presenting himself as having a unique, divine calling, the Prime Minister can legitimize his authority and actions, transforming political support into a kind of personal loyalty which could be similar to religious or spiritual loyalty.

Cognitive dissonance theory suggests that individuals strive for internal consistency, and leaders facing criticism may develop grandiose rationalizations to justify their behavior. The prime minister is already facing opposition from the ground on issues such as unemployment, poverty, inequality, price rise, corruption etc. Claiming a divine mandate can serve as a powerful justification, making it difficult for followers to question their actions. Based on the social identity theory, positioning as a divine representative creates a strong in-group identity among followers, characterized by loyalty and obedience, which diminishes individual critical thinking. From a psychological manipulation standpoint, invoking divine authority can suppress dissent and consolidate power, as followers are more likely to accept policies and actions believed to be part of a higher purpose. An ideology which is sought to be propagated,  such claims can resonate deeply and mobilize support. Moreover, a messiah complex or authoritarian personality can drive leaders to believe they are chosen to fulfill a divine mission, justifying their demand for unquestioning loyalty and intolerance of dissent.  Broadly, these are aimed at influencing public perception, consolidating power and suppressing opposition.

At a time when the ideological narrative of the Hindutva right has already launched an attack on the basic constitutional framework and wants to put a final end to the constitution after being possibly reelected, such claims only are aimed at mobilizing support from the margins and consolidating power by invoking the theory of divine origin. Hence the statement of the prime minister is to justify his acts of marginalizing communities, making discrimination against minorities of all kinds systemic, enriching few at the cost of neglecting many, taking away rights and crushing freedom justifiable. The divine origin claims serve such a purpose both for consolidating his individual power as well as further pushing the Sangh’s agenda to make a movement towards its goal of Hindu Rashtra by launching a final attack on the constitution.

T Navin is an independent writer

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