New Delhi: It is rare to find leaders in this country who connect so spontaneously and so well with the young as does Narendra Modi. His interaction with students of Poona’s iconic Ferguson College was as successful as it was instructive. He dwelt on politics as politics only fleetingly because he said he was addressing students but he contextualized it to draw attention to the growing hopelessness of the country under more than nine years of Congress rule whilst emphasizing that he would never succumb to such negativity and exhorted his audience not to either. Earlier at Delhi’s Sriram College of Commerce, in February of this year, he proved likewise a hit with the students, causing considerable consternation in the leadership of the opposition Congress party.

Constituting today the bulk of India’s electorate, the young find the general run of political leaders entirely mismatched to their thinking and understanding. The young are by and large idealistic. They cannot be easily segregated along caste, communal and linguistic lines. Unlike those who grow into middle age with all the baggage that it brings, they are not cynical or opportunistic. The young always lead change whether or not they succeed. Recent examples could be the Pussy Riot of Russia, the young of Tahrir Square and Turkey, the students agitating for Telangana state, the girls and boys who braved Delhi’s December cold seeking justice for the gangrape victim they called Damini. You could expect young politicians to feel for the young, or at least relatively young so-called leaders such as Rahul Gandhi, Sachin Pilot, Akhilesh Yadav, Omar Abdullah, and the other assorted dynasts who comport themselves as saviours of the nation in various political parties. But none of them connect with the youth as does Narendra Modi. He has all the time for them whereas politicians far younger are trapped in the backward and venal social and political constructs of the past and lack the inclination or purpose to engage with the young.

With such a huge and readymade constituency for him, why is Narendra Modi wasting time granting interviews to journalists who have no interest in his development vision and are solely programmed by the establishment politics of Delhi to ensnare him in pointless polemics? He said nothing new to the Reuters journalists to merit brouhaha over two days and his “puppy comment” was absolutely harmless and obviously well-intentioned. Indians are prisoners of group think. India does not value individuals or individualism. Secularism, liberalism, etc, are merely mantras. And India’s alleged thinkers will be trapped in these slogans forever. They cannot be creative, they need to clutch at things, it gives them sinecures, and they won’t change unless the establishment metamorphoses. Dinosaurs are what they have become. So what is Modi’s point in engaging these group-thinkers? In Gujarat, he succeeded without their help. So will he nationally if he bypasses them and engages with those who matter, and they are the electorate. Why hasn’t he packed the campaign trail more solidly?

The problem with the Bharatiya Janata Party so far was that it had no national-level leader. Atal Behari Vajpayee had good personal equations with politicians across India but he was best known in the North. Lal Krishna Advani somehow did not make the grade. On the other hand, Modi is known throughout the country, although he enjoys a special traction in the West, North and East. On his travels, this writer has met a large number of people who swear by Modi. These are people who are passionate about India, achievers, and want to give back to society. They have nothing but scorn for the Nehru-Gandhis and the Congress. They want real change and a break from the past.

Like it or not, Modi represents that change. There is much riding on him. Hope. Expectation. A brilliant future. It is obviously unfair to base so much expectation on one man but that is how it has become with Modi. After Anna Hazare, Modi has been able to galvanize the youth. He must know that he hasn’t much time. He has to go beyond the familiar. He has to penetrate to the interiors. His message of change must percolate to the lowest levels. As a non-appeaser, he has proven credentials. He must also emphasize on plurality which is central and critical to the survival and success of the Westphalian nation-state. Modi is hammering away at the false and venal construct of secularism to bring it down. But his message of development and progress must be equally and more strident.

This is a unique chance to bring change to the politics of the country. It may not happen immediately or soon, but the project must begin. Narendra Modi has commenced on the scheme. Now he must chart a whole new course to get ahead with his vision, and he must solely communicate with the people for such purpose. The middlemen of the media, the middlemen of certain oppressed and backward communities, and the power-brokers who haunt Delhi like locusts are best excluded. The people are all who matter and Narendra Modi should know that better than most.