New Delhi, May 30: The journey from being ‘Modi’ to the ‘Moditva phenomenon’ has been of a loner, and that of a man who vanquished adversaries at virtually every stage.
Till February 27, 2002, Narendra Modi was another BJP leader and at best a Chief Minister. But once the Sabarmati Express train was torched killing Ram Bhakts and that resulted in carnage between Hindus and Muslims in his home state – Narendra Damodardas Modi has not looked back.
He turned disadvantage into advantage. Besides dealing with detractors in Congress who wanted to nail him in 2002 riots, Modi also overcame hurdles posed by party colleagues like Sanjay Joshi as well.
At one point even his trusted lieutenant Smriti Irani had questioned his role during the carnage of 2002.
In 2013, his declaration of being made BJP’s ‘prime ministerial candidate’ was opposed by none other than his mentor L K Advani.
In 2002, during the peak of mayhem, Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee asked him in public to discharge ‘Raj Dharma’. "With what face I will go abroad," Vajpayee had said at a Muslim relief camp.
Dealing with all that requires more than the assertiveness, and Modi has shown the single mindedness. And the right synthesis of Hindutva inclined nationalism punctuated with development and him (Modi) being seen as an architect of change transformed him into a big national leader.
A leader India was waiting for. A leader – whom millions see as a ‘messiah’ – who can perhaps solve all their problems.
A leader – who cannot be wrong even for taking away their legitimate currency notes; and a leader who will unleash the true economic potential of the world’s largest democracy.
Many unhesitatingly laud his image of a mystic Indian – a yogic in meditation but yet someone who connects so well via video conferences and Twitter.
He is also a leader who says that the country of about 22 per cent poor people can embrace an imaginative world of ‘Digital India’.
Born on September 17, 1950, Modi first became Gujarat Chief Minister at the age of 51 on October 7, 2001.
He had gone there more as a stop gap arrangement after Bhuj quake. But once the mayhem had settled down and Gujarat was drenched saffron in December 2002 elections, the writing was clear.
On the swearing-in day attended by the then Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee and other BJP stalwarts – there were banners reading ‘Aayo rey aayo, Gujarat ne sher aayo (Here comes Gujarat’s lion).
Modi grew larger than life.
‘The Brand Moditva’ was in the debate and statisticians did not fail to appreciate that BJP’s vote share had gone up to 51 per cent in 2002 – much higher than 44.8 per cent in 1998 and 26.7 in 1990.
It was a neo-Modi -riding on the Hindu consolidation. The BJP recorded a resounding victory even in Panchmahal and Dahod showing that post-Godhra riots had brought in also tribals and OBCs under the influence of Hindutva school of politics and thought.
But, even as success came along; all of it was not like a walk along the bed of roses.
In between in 2005, he was denied Visa by the US. By 2004, the government had changed in Delhi and in 2007 assembly polls Sonia Gandhi called him ‘Maut Ka Saudagar (A merchant of death)’.
An ear on the ground politician that he is – Modi turned the table; and said ‘Soniaben’ has insulted five crore Gujaratis. All this in a state where entrepreneurship and business are virtues! He won 2007 assembly polls.
Modi mixed his cards well. He emerged ‘protector of Gujarati pride’. At times – he played up Hindutva-nationalist card using the phrase ‘Mia Musharraf’ to perfection and made it clear that there will be ‘no appeasement’ of Muslims.
He kept winning elections after elections and only after 2012 – he made a venture ‘outside’ Gujarat. (UNI)