The Day I began to Trust Modi Ji
The year was 2002. India, under the NDA headed by Atal Bihari Vajpayee, had been shaken by the vicious scale of communal bloodletting in BJP ruled Gujarat under Chief Minister Narendra Modi. Now read on.
GODHRA, ATALJI AND MODI
Atal ji was deeply distressed about what had happened in Godhra and thereafter. He decided to visit Godhra personally, and I was among the many people, who were asked to accompany him.
If you recall from the video clippings of that time, I was seated next to Atalji on the dais and on the other side was Narendra bhai. Atalji was clearly in despair, he spoke about ‘rajdharma’ (government’s responsibility), hinting at disappointment with the Modi government’s response to the violence.
Once the public meeting was over, Modiji requested Atalji to meet the riot affected people of both communities, living in relief camps.
When we visited the camps, people showed gratitude to the Modi government for containing the riots within a week. This was the sentiment expressed not only by the Hindus but also the Muslims.
It made a deep impression on me, for if you look at the history of such riots in Gujarat, they generally carry on for months altogether, causing immeasurable loss to life and property.
For instance, 5000 people were killed in the 1967 riots and in places like Vadodara, communal disturbances lasted many months. This was when I began to develop confidence in Modi’s leadership.
But I had known Modiji even earlier. Our first encounter, if you want to call it that, goes back to 1996-97 in Vadodara, where we had gathered for the meeting of the Party’s National Executive.
Someone pointed towards a man sitting behind and told me he was Narendra Modi, the man who had so efficiently organized the National Executive meeting.
We did not speak at that time but when I lost the 1999 election, I was designated party National Secretary.
Narendra Modi had also shifted to Delhi by then and was also a National Secretary. We met frequently thereafter, as the team of office bearers was quite small in those days.
I recall an incident when I was staying in rented accommodation in Mayur Vihar. One night, I got a call from Modiji to meet him immediately. This was around the time when there were many provocations by Pakistan on the border and some of our jawans fell casualty.
Public sentiment against Pakistan was running high and Modiji suggested that we hold a protest march to the Pakistan High Commission. I was skeptical about such a march without the Home Ministry’s permission, but Modiji was resolute.
The whole night was spent in making arrangements and the next day about 15,000 of us marched to the Pakistani mission, where Modiji addressed them. Later the police moved in and arrested us. Some days later, Modiji left for Gujarat to take over as Chief Minister.
STYLE AND SUBSTANCE
Unlike the average Sangh Pracharak, Modiji was always fond of dressing in style. People praise his dress sense today but, personally, I think he had a much better attire earlier.
I recall his visits to Punjab, Haryana, Jammu & Kashmir as a Sangh Pracharak. He would catch the early morning Shatabdi from Delhi dressed like a corporate executive.
He always had a style of his own. He often visited foreign countries, especially America, where he had many friends.
One thing I can say with confidence about Modiji is the importance he gives to relationships. He has always shared lasting bonds with his friends.
Even in politics, he has retained his tried and tested friendships, relying on them for guidance and suggestions. They remain close even today. He always gives a free hand to his team members.
It is a wrong notion that Modiji makes it difficult for his ministers to function. But he has a very dominating persona. Only the non-performers fear him. Those who work hard and perform, have no inhibitions in dealing with him.
Let me put it in these words: “Lihaj aankh ka, Rishton Ka darr nahin hota, Jab Ek Shaks ke haathon mein ghar nahin hota (The house or an organisation will remain in order only when there is one senior in command, who is trustworthy and members follow him).
As long as Atalji held that position in the BJP, everything was fine but when that era got over, there was no one to steer the party. We are thankful that once again we have a driving force in Narendra Modi.
The entire party is behind him. Unlike the Congress, which relies on dynastic rule, our leadership has been derived from the common people. They can never be autocratic, as they understand the ground realities and the problems of the common people.
MODI THE FOODIE
Modiji is a very simple man. Many times when we were together, we used to go to Bengali Market to eat chole bhature. We often went to Pandara Market. He is fond of good food but not as particular as Atal ji or Advaniji. It reminds me of my visit to Ahmedabad when he was Chief Minister.
Modiji showed me his new secretariat which commanded a panoramic view of the entire city. He had even got traditional swings installed in the balcony to enjoy the view.
He appreciates the value of a good lifestyle but without a show of opulence. Modiji is quite a cinema buff and loves to watch movies in theatres. He also writes poems, both in Hindi and Gujarati.
HANDS ON PRIME MINISTER
I grew more close to him after he reposed his trust in me during the recent election campaign. Only the other day, our new party President, Amit Shahji informed me that the Prime Minister wanted me to join them in planning his campaign strategy for the forthcoming state assembly elections.
Modiji’s style of functioning is straightforward. He believes in execution of the plan and not just planning on paper. Ifs or buts do not work for him. If a decision has been made, it has to be implemented in totality.
He made a decision on ‘Make in India’ and he will ensure that it is carried out. Some people have criticized his plans for Japanese style Bullet Trains in India but he will ensure they arrive and run successfully.
He also believes in doing things differently. He would prefer to tread a different path that has never been walked by others. Look at how he invited neighboring heads of state for his oath taking ceremony.
What if they had declined his invitation? But that did not happen and he showed that he took the right decision.
In the general elections, we believed that we would win a maximum of 220 seats, but Modiji always said that we would cross 280. We had planned three campaign meetings for him daily, but he went on to do seven in a day.
It was, as if, Modiji was contesting on all the seats. People believed that only ‘his’ presence in a constituency would change the scenario and that’s what happened.
If you ask me to describe him, I would say, he is a man of commitment, full of self-confidence.