Speaking Of Asia

Palace or the plaza - Modi's dilemma

India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi remains hugely popular but the outcome of the recent Karnataka state polls suggests that it will be much harder for him come the next general election

Four years ago this Saturday, when Mr Narendra Modi took the oath of office as its first prime minister born in the post-Independence era, the promise was of a cleaner and transparent government that would mark a refreshing and welcome change from the scandal-ridden final years of the Manmohan Singh decade.

Not since the early days of Sukarno's rule in Indonesia had Asia seen such a powerful orator and crowd-puller as Mr Modi turned out to be, climbing to power with a landslide win last seen 30 years earlier. In marked contrast to the taciturn Dr Singh and his gaffe-prone Congress Party colleague Rahul Gandhi, it was thought that Mr Modi's peerless oratory and image of a performance-oriented leader would keep him in place for at least three five-year terms.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 25, 2018, with the headline 'Palace or the plaza - Modi's dilemma'. Print Edition | Subscribe