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‘Hail Modi’: Meet the Indian PM’s uncanny lookalike

 

“Hail Modi. Hail Modi

Dozens surround one man, chanting pro-Modi slogans.

But the man at the center of attention is Abhinandan Pathak, also known as Nandan Modi — the Indian PM, Narendra Modi’s lookalike.

“I am sure I must have done a lot of good deeds in my previous lives (so) that God has made me look like Mr. Modi. I literally worship him every day and I believe Mr. Modi is an avatar of God,” says Pathak.

As Pathak makes his way into an election rally where Narendra Modi is expected to arrive, more crowds besiege him. His aides struggle to keep them away.

People take selfies, children cheer after him. Some even tug his clothes. The scene becomes so chaotic, police are forced to step in.

“A lot of people love Mr. Modi and when they see me they think I am him and respect me in the same way,” Pathak says. “I’m a poor man but look around me, look how many people are trying to take photos.”

Striking resemblance
Donning an orange turban and saffron stole, and with a white lotus badge, Modi’s party’s emblem, neatly pinned to his traditional Indian waistcoat, he really does look like the Indian premier.

And when he pulls a similar voice and gesticulates, it is hard to believe Abhinandan Pathak is not the real deal.

“He is a fake one. Don’t get fooled,” people whisper to each other.

Pathak traveled the 170km to New Delhi on his bicycle from Saharanpur, a remote town in Northern India, to campaign for Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the Delhi Assembly elections.

A school teacher by profession, Pathak left his career one year ago to fully devote himself to spread Modi’s message of development and Hinduism around India.

“When I used to have dinner at home and Modi used to be giving a speech, my daughters would say, ‘Look dad, you’re on TV giving a speech,’ and even my wife started saying ‘Look, you give such good speeches.’

“Then I realized that God has asked me to provide service to Modi with full belief,” Pathak says.

Passionate devotion
As Modi makes his entry to the rally, Pathak bows down and starts waving. Tears roll down his cheeks.

Pathak has never met Modi in person.

“Even if I don’t ever get to meet him, I’ll be totally fine,” Pathak says. ” Whenever I want to meet him, I just close my eyes and he comes into my imagination. I have pledged myself that I’ll fight for Mr. Modi’s dream all my life even if I am never recognized by him.”

All the physical similarities can be problematic thing. Pathak recalls an incident last year where a group pulled a sword on him.

“There are few people who still blame Mr. Modi for Muslim deaths in Hindu-Muslim riots when he was the Chief Minister of Gujarat, and some of them vent their anger at me instead.”

Appeals for assistance
Pathak has written a letter to the Prime Minister asking for security. Last month he sent yet another letter.

“People grab me all the time, and have torn some five dozen of my outfits in the process. So, I have written a letter to Mr Modi saying — sir, I can’t afford to buy new clothes every day, I request you to send me your old clothes. “

Pathak has not received a response yet.

As Modi finishes his speech and leaves the rally, so does Pathak.

Again the crowds follow him.

“Hail Mother India.”

“Hail Modi.”

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