Well, this story is getting tiring.
It’s about how hard Narendra Modi, India’s new prime minister, works. He mentioned it during his victory speech in Vadodara on the night of May 16: “Even my enemies agree on this about me. Yes, he works very hard,” he said. He has also said in interviews that he takes a break from work only to eat and sleep.
But not until his move to Delhi last month did the newspapers picked up on this strain. Now, there’s no holding back.
There are broadly three categories of stories in this genre. We divide the coverage as follows:
He works so hard
The first (and most populated) category is about Modi’s working style, the number of hours he puts in, the people he trust, his disinterest in leisure, and his spartan residence as a symbol of that work ethic.
Keeping up with Modi
The second is about how his colleagues are finding it hard to keep up. In this, we have learned that Modi calls his ministerial colleagues on their office landlines in the mornings to figure whether they have reported to work yet or not, about how middle-aged ministers are developing “health issues” due to suddenly being pushed.
Go Modi go
The third genre is where other politicians, notably those who have been past allies of the Congress, praise Modi for his hard work. Since they have not had a chance to work with him, they presumably read about some of it in the newspapers.
Incidentally, Modi’s predecessor, Manmohan Singh, was no slacker. He was not into leisure either. He famously once told an adviser that he didn’t understand the point of staying back an additional day in Goa, known for extending many a conference into a beach holiday.
And the newspapers had then written about Manmohan Singh’s 18-hour workdays.
If Modi reads the papers daily, he must by now be tired of reading about his workaholic ways. But he has the benefit of the cautionary tale of his predecessor government, which despite its 18-hour-a-day prime minister at the helm, still didn’t manage to please the voters.