As the Lok Sabha polls, the biggest elections on Earth, enter the final phase, a cover story by prominent American magazine is likely to stoke massive controversy in the politically-charged environment in India. TIME magazine has put Prime Minister Narendra Modi on its cover with a seemingly contentious headline. ‘India's Divider In Chief’ says the TIME cover story written by novelist Aatish Taseer. The writeup that stiches together India’s political history of last 70 years question PM Modi’s brand of populism. The cover story talks about how various nations around the globe have elected populist governments.
“The high ideals of the past have come under his reign to seem like nothing but the hollow affectations of an entrenched power elite,” the reads the cover story. PM Modi and the BJP have routinely attacked India’s first Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru for present day issues.
It is this environment of distrust and ‘poisonous religious nationalism’ that is fuelling the saffron surge, the Taseer opines in the TIME story.
Modi of 2014 is vastly different from Modi of 2019. “Then he was a messiah, ushering in a future too bright to behold, one part Hindu renaissance, one part South Korea’s economic program. Now he is merely a politician who has failed to deliver, seeking re-election,” the article reads.
In 2015, Modi had appeared on TIME cover when the magazine had done an exclusive interview with him after he became the Prime Minister. He also featured on the magazine cover in 2012, when he was the Gujarat chief minister.
After the 2015 interview, Peter Hapak, who shot the cover of magazine at that time, said that “I had a very fortunate session with him.” “I had a full hour with him, which is very unusual because most of the time I only have 10 minutes for a portrait session. For portraiture it’s very important to make your subject forget that you’re here, that somebody’s watching him. It was enough time for him to get comfortable.”