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Why India’s opposition parties don’t have good orators

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Two weeks on, Mahua Moitra’s maiden speech in the Lok Sabha continues to be a topic of discussion. When was the last time a speech by any politician was discussed as much?

Moitra’s speech won plaudits because she expressed sentiments shared by many – that the Modi government is “fascist” – but few dare to say it. There was a greater reason why her speech went viral: she delivered it well, full of passion, emotion, rhetoric and gusto. Like a good political speech, it gave you the feeling of someone waging a battle, fighting the good fight.

However, it has to be pointed out that her speech was in English, not in Hindi or her native language Bangla. Only 10 per cent Indians claim to speak English. English-language oratory may win you the applause of the liberal elites but good Hindi or other regional language oratory can actually win you votes.

You can find many good English orators among opposition parties. In Hindi, however, the BJP seems to have a monopoly of good orators.

Also read: Rahul Gandhi needs to leave mass politics, not party presidentship

It is no coincidence that both the BJP prime ministers, Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Narendra Modi, have been extraordinary orators. It is difficult to quantify how many votes Modi wins just because of his oratory, but there’s little doubt it’s a large part of his appeal to voters. I have met voters who say they “feel good” when they hear Modi speak.

I have seen people leave aside their work and watch Modi’s speeches live. In........

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