Jagdish Rai Bhatia: A man highly resembles India’s powerful PM Modi
Updated 13:55, 18-May-2019
Kshitij Nagar
02:11

Is this the face that musters a thousand votes? Jagdish Rai Bhatia, 63, resembles India's most powerful man, Prime Minister Narendra Modi. It's a resemblance he says he never wanted but one that he's now very comfortable with. 

"I never meant for this to happen," Bhatia says. "But it gives me joy, seeing people react to me (in this way)."

Bhatia lives in a small locality in Delhi with his wife and son. "I've always dressed this way, I like a simple kurta and a ‘churidar' pajama," he says, pointing to photographs of him and his wife in their youth. "I had a circle beard most of my life, but decided to grow a full beard in 2013." 

And that "modified" his life. 

Jagdish Rai Bhatia is reading a newspaper at his home, Delhi, India, April 24, 2019. /CGTN Photo

Jagdish Rai Bhatia is reading a newspaper at his home, Delhi, India, April 24, 2019. /CGTN Photo

"I didn't see the resemblance at first, but my family and friends got really excited about it. A few weeks later I was walking down a street, and a group of kids started running after me shouting Modi-ji Modi-ji." It's a sight that Bhatia has learned to be comfortable with. Even regular runs to the grocery store now include repeated stops for selfies and autographs, and sometimes involve lending a friendly ear to those who think he's the real deal. 

"I was at an event organized by a religious organization once," says Bhatia, "and as I was leaving, I was encircled by a group of women who wanted to tell me their problems. It was really awkward for me to convince them that I don't run this country!"

Bhatia's seen his popularity grow in tandem with that of the leader. "It's been very busy since he became PM. I didn't campaign for him in 2014, but the party does call me to make appearances from time to time for rallies for local and provincial elections." Leaders from Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party often call on Bhatia to make appearances at their election rallies to cash in on the popularity of the leader. 

Bhatia is combing his hair at home, Delhi, India, April 24, 2019. /CGTN Photo

Bhatia is combing his hair at home, Delhi, India, April 24, 2019. /CGTN Photo

According to a recent poll done by Delhi-based company CVoter, Modi remains extremely popular. His approval ratings stand at over 50 percent, almost 30 points ahead of his nearest rival, Rahul Gandhi. 

"I've had candidates come and thank me after they've won an election," says Bhatia excitedly, but pushes aside questions of being used for political gains. "I don't take money for making appearances, and if somebody gains out of my efforts then I'm happy to help out."

However, looking like the Prime Minister brings not only admirers but also critics. 

"It's election time, and some people are not happy with him, and they come up to me voice their concerns. I try to take the good with the bad; I have to accept their admiration and also their reproval," he says.

Modi's government has been under fire for widespread unemployment which is pegged to be at a 45-year high according to some sources. 

Bhatia says he is not concerned about privacy but enjoys the respect he's garnered, Delhi, India, April 24, 2019. /CGTN Photo

Bhatia says he is not concerned about privacy but enjoys the respect he's garnered, Delhi, India, April 24, 2019. /CGTN Photo

So what does Bhatia think of the man himself? "I'm not too much interested in politics, but I do think he is very good and honest and has the country's interest at heart. He's not like any other leader that we've had before."

A simple walk with Bhatia to the local market is a testament to his popularity with passersby doing a double take as he walks along. Some recognize him, others look on in awe and snap pictures and some refrain from engaging out of fear of being ushered away by security. 

"At first I was surprised to see no security around him but I just really wanted a selfie with him," says 19-year-old Sagar Dua. 

"I never turn down a selfie," says Bhatia after he's done posing with Sagar and his three friends, adding that he's not concerned about privacy, but enjoys the respect he's garnered since his transformation. "This is like a dream for me; people have so much love and admiration."

Bhatia's ambition though is to portray the man on the silver screen. "I'd love to act in a movie or a series on PM Modi," and also to meet the leader in person. "I just want to meet him and thank him for all the hard work he is doing for our country."