Such was his wizardry that, in the heat and dust of the 2014 general election campaign, Narendra Modi could appear at dozens of rallies at the same time, luring voters with his promise of acche din (good days).The Congress party, struggling to connect with a young electorate, was no match for his tweets and Facebook posts—and occasional selfies. Elsewhere, on television screens and newspaper front pages, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) strongman broadcast his vision with consummate ease.
Modi’s vice-like grip over the narrative scarcely slipped after he was coronated prime minister in May 2014— a spectacle in itself, with many of South Asia’s leaders in attendance. New Delhi’s famously leaky bureaucracy was asked to plug the holes. Ministers were ordered to work more and talk less. And with no high-flying media advisor appointed, the prime minister’s office (PMO) firmly took control of the government’s messaging apparatus.
Fourteen months later, Modi’s much-vaunted communication machine is coming apart.