Friday, December 27, 2013

Rendezvous with Success: Narendra Modi

To describe in one simple sentence, what makes Narendra Modi click or why should Narendra Modi be considered a successful political leader, one must say it’s his ability to pluck victory from defeat and do it almost single-handedly.

Creditably for him, all these years since 2002 Modi though had good team mates in the likes of Arun Jaitley and Amit Shah, he has been practically a loner in his strive to remain politically relevant to his party, his state Gujarat and also the nation – the ‘raison d’etre’ – a reason to justify  one’s existence!

Modi over the last decade has able to brave through the challenges from all corners – political rivals in Congress and other secularists, international community and numerous forces within his own party.

Today, everyone including the European Union and United Kingdom seem
to be falling in line.

His admirers say Modi has always challenged the concept of ‘status quoist’, a feature hailed in Indian polity and instead he had banked on certain ‘out-of-box’ thinking and actions. 

Narendra Modi represents uniqueness in the Indian political scene in more ways than one. He has a very humble political background and from the hind side, he has or had nothing in his favour. The caste, the political party and even the family background; nothing in normal circumstances would have worked for him.

The party he represents and today leads in the run up to the Lok Sabha elections as the prime ministerial-candidate is outright dismissed as ‘communal’ Hindu chauvinist outfit owing allegiance to the RSS in Nagpur.

Although the party has tasted power in the centre for 6 years under the illustrious Atal Behari Vajpayee, the party does not have pan-India presence yet. 

Even in the run up to the Lok Sabha polls, the BJP’s one of the chief challenges is to ensure party’s comparatively good performance in states like Andhra Pradesh and Odhisa where the saffron party remains organizationally weak.

Caste wise – he is an OBC – a Teli unlike political dominant castes like Dalits of Mayawati or the Yadavs. Moreover, very few in BJP have risen against the hierarchy of an upper caste dominated leadership. 

Even the RSS, the fountainhead of the Sangh Parivar, which backs BJP with ideological moorings, cadres and resources is known for their historical ‘weaknesses’ towards Brahmins, especially from Maharashtra. The repeated attempts to push Sanjay Joshi, a known Modi bete-noire in the affairs of BJP, could be easily understood from this perspective. 

In the run up to the December 2012 Gujarat assembly polls, many BJP leaders and spokespersons maintained that if one obvious factor that weighed in favour of the man of the moment - Narendra Modi – was his assertive approach. By refusing to be defeated he had in a sense emerged a winner long before the battle was over.

The December 26, 2013 court ruling in Ahmedabad is only one part of that feature in the man.

As Narendra Modi himself has said a number of times, that confidence comes from a politician’s ability to read the ‘pulse’ of the people.
One can refer to Modi’s comments given to this writer in 2002 when he was castigated for his now infamous ‘Hum panch, Hamarey pachis’ remark against absence of family planning by Muslims. 

“Whatever you all in the media have to say, say! I don’t mind. I know the pulse of the people and they do approve my comments against large families and absence of structured family planning system,” he had told me in 2002.

Over the decades this confidence has not only come handy for him but has also represented the basic characteristic of a man, who is otherwise at the receiving end of large scale criticism from possibly all quarters. 

It is his assertive approach that makes things different. Modi has shown that without kneeling down before the western powers and Americans, he can compel the US and United Kingdom to come closer to him.

A few inferences:

A key takeaway from Modi’s success tale will be that this virtue or trait can be either born with or can be nurtured too. 

A focused liking for one’s ambition gives a purpose to actions and as a result of this passion would come in. 

But it can be kept in mind that according to modern management theory, Passion is not the same as a single-minded determination although in pursuance of one’s goal all elementary essentials body, mind and spirit would play their respective roles in pursuing a passion. 

According to Nancy Huber’s book ‘Leading from Within’ passion for a higher purpose is characterized by openness to possibilities and passion along with possibilities give one the courage to go for the kill. Narendra Modi cannot agree more. 

 Modi resembles an ideal case of fighting back with his back on the wall. Success is definitely not what one attains easily spoon fed. The success is always sweeter when one braves through all odds and it can come only after one has crossed the hurdles. 

The reputation of a successful person and the credibility about it lies in the story of his or her struggle. Success, therefore they say, is how high once bounced back from the rock bottom.

$$Pursue the goal and preferably taking an off-beat road:

Narendra Modi’s track record also exemplifies that avoiding a beaten track puts one on advantage and helps to gain competitive edge over the rivals. The single-minded approach led him to the use of IT tool – the social networking sites – first time by any Indian politician. He was not mellowed down by the near isolation he faced, he chose a bigger and much wider audience of IT users and the rest is history.


Thursday, November 7, 2013

Patna Rally : Litmus test of Namo popularity

“I have made a study of men’s faces when they have lost something of material value. The greedy man shows panic, the rich man shows anger, the poor man shows fear….

(Extracts from a short story by Ruskin Bond)

The above lines strong in philosophical values have more than mere  metaphysical meaning for the date, October 27/2013 and the city of Patna.

On that day, Patna, the capital of politically and communally sensitive state of Bihar, escaped disaster largely due to a singular that the party (BJP) which had organized such a huge rally had felt ‘responsible’ and the big leader in question, Narendra Modi showed calmness. The calm and composed manner he conducted that day despite the provocation and the excitement in it deserves kudos.

Narendra Modi is no longer just the man with political momentum. By his calm composed behaviour at the Patna rally where 10 lakhs braved bombs to listen to him, BJP’s Prime Ministerial candidate has perhaps overshadowed Atal Behari Vajpayee’s popularity. There is so far no stopping of Namo juggernaut. 

Many of his admirers went viral on social networking site that as a true statesman that day, Modi neither panicked nor displayed anger. Rather at the fag end of his speech, he exhorted the large gathering, a record turnout of nearly 10 lakhs, to go home peacefully and in calm.
“Aap log yehan se jab jayenge, shanti se apne gaon jaeyenge…koi accident nahi honi chahiye (when you all walkout from the venue, please return home in good health and peace, there should not be any mishap),” : these words from BJP’s PM-nominee almost brought tears in the eyes of few other BJP leaders who knew about the terror strikes targeting Modi.

With the kind of security preparedness as if jungle-raj or rather the ‘Indian Mujahedden’ raj had taken over the state capital, mere announcement of canceling of the rally would have put the streets in chaos and large scale devastation was inevitable.

In contrast, the less said about the role of the state government and the police under Nitish Kumar, who till the other day tried to offer himself in the political citadel as an administrative messiah.
“Clearly, Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar had done his best to throw Modi to the beasts….However, the beasts contended themselves setting off low intensity blasts,” wrote blogger Manish Anand, a journalist later.

Bihar police and NIA investigations later only confirmed that the target of the explosions on that eventful day was Modi himself. “Two of the accused in the blasts were to act as human bombs and detonate themselves in front of the dais from where Modi was to deliver speech,” sources said adding the plans failed as one of the bombs exploded while being fitted with a timer at a public toilet at the railway station.
None other than Patna’s senior superintendent of police, Manu Maharaj said that the bombings at the Gandhi Maidan planned at Ranchi were “intended to cause a stampede leading to maximum casualties”.

Security analysts in Delhi later concurred to the BJP leaders’ and Patna police contentions that the explosions sought to achieve multiple goals – eliminate Modi if possible, sabotage the rally itself, stampede for one reason or the other could have only escalated casualty, cancellation of the rally would have suggested that “Modi has panicked”.

Much to the frustration of Modi and BJP detractors nothing like that happened.

While BJP leaders like Arun Jaitley or Sushil Modi who were at the rally were predictably anguished, even others had little explanation to make on how and why the two states Jharkhand and Bihar were callous to the ever expanding base of the terror module of Indian Mujahideen.

Thus many found logic when a day after the rally, BJP’s Arun Jaitley, who once shared a good rapport with Nitish Kumar, charged the Nitish Kumar
government with being "callous and casual" about its responsibility
for security of people and VIPs visiting his state and also accused it of being "soft" on terror.

"There were lapses....negligence...the attitude was casual and callous," the Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha said adding rather with a sense of hurt, "If the bigger casualty was averted, it was sheer our good fortune".

"We had no idea of what to do when the blasts were happening as there was no senior officer to help us," he said.

Dismissing Nitish Kumar’s claim that there was intelligence alert about such terror strike, Jaitley said, "a general alert was sounded by the Intelligence Bureau on October 1 in a letter to various states including DGP of Bihar with regard to the Indian Mujahideen planning to organize strikes in different cities. 

A specific alert was sent to the Bihar police by the Central Intelligence Bureau on 23rd October. This alert was specific
enough to mention that the IM modules could organize strikes during Modi’s Patna visit”.

But the Congress and the JD(U) reactions to the blasts were too casual and at times even irresponsible. Senior Congress leader Digvijay Singh twitted in funny manner while JD(U) MP, Sabir Ali initially even suggested that the explosions could be handy work of the BJP cadres.

Another responsible Congress leader and the External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid talking out of turn said Modi should have cancelled the rally.

On the other hand, it took some hours for the Bihar chief minister to come before camera and only two days later when he addressed a JD(U) convention, a ‘smiling Nitish Kumar’s’ repeated potshots at Modi for ‘sweating and drinking water’ left many puzzled.

“Any normal human being would like to drink some water in such situations,” says Bihar watcher Manish referring to the tension BJP leaders were in the wake of blasts and as they were also hardly assured or briefed properly by the Bihar police.
No wonder at his Delhi press conference a day after the rally Arun Jaitley lost his cool when a journo quizzed him on why the private security guards deployed by BJP at the rally venue were not doing any frisking. Jaitley only pointed out the obvious that private guards are not empowered to do so.

“Even the mandatory frisking of the crowd was not done. There were also no
anti-sabotage checks or a full dress rehearsal for security," he said. 

The government callousness could be also measured from the fact that the day such glaring terror strike took place; the country’s Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde was found posing with Bollywood diva for a music release function in Mumbai.
The episode only added insult to BJP’s injuries which has been attacking the UPA government of going soft on terror for political motives.

BJP leader Kirti Azad was furious.

"You find the Home Minister dancing and releasing music cassettes when innocent Indians died. I would say, we should not be asking for his resignation because they have to go anyway within 200 days now," he said.

Even some Patna police officials later admitted that matured handling of the situation saved the day. “The spin being given that blasts were planned to avenge Muzaffarnagar riots is unfounded as Modi, BJP or the people of Patna had nothing to do with that. It’s very simple eliminating Modi and sabotaging the rally itself were the primary targets,” one of them said.

An ambitious Nitish Kumar:

Nevertheless on his part, the beleaguered chief minister Nitish Kumar, whom BJP leader Ravishankar Prasad accuses of having ‘pathological hatred towards Modi’, remains an ambitious and crafy neta quite oblivious of the serious administrative lapses. Only a few days later, Nitish shared dais with the left parties and the third front leaders in Delhi at an anti-communalism convention signaling about his national ambition.
But the damage done to his image is much bigger back home.

But Nitish too has fan following and admirers and some of them already feel that among the anti-BJP and non-NDA leaders with Rahul Gandhi really fading out, Nitish is the only man who can possibly somehow puncture the Modi juggernaut.

This school of thought argues that at the Talkotara stadium in Delhi sharing dais with the likes of big-time national players like Prakash Karat and Mulayam Singh Yadav, Nitish “gave” some glimpses of his ability to engage Modi in public discourse. 

Though not quite convincing, Nitish, according to them has proved a better bet vis-à-vis Rahul Gandhi, who is now even being heckled at public meetings.

But even diehard JD(U) supporters know that Nitish is only trying to put up a fight putting his back on the wall. 

“It’s only a case of better than the worse. Nitish has multiple problems. The caste equation he worked out has been decimated with Narendra Modi’s popularity in Bihar nearing that of Jai Prakash Narayan,” confessed one JD(U) insider. 

Disgruntlement is growing as several sitting Lok Sabha MPs are unhappy at the manner Nitish imposed the divorce with BJP and thereby marginalizing themselves in key constituencies.

It’s any body’s guess in JD(U) these days that even Sharad Yadav is felling insecured about contesting from Madhepura yet again. 

Nitish loyalist Shivanand Tiwari is angry about Nitish Kumar’s style of functioning.

“The genuine JD(U) workers are being snubbed by bureaucrats in Bihar. I was removed as party spokesperson. Nitish wants everybody attend his durbar,” says Rajya Sabha MP and a prominent Rajput leader from Jamui region. His shrill voice could be just the tip of the ice-berg for Nitish.


Saturday, June 8, 2013

One Man – Multiple Images and the triumph of Moditva

Holding my book on Narendra Modi, titled ‘Modi to Moditva: An Uncensored Truth’, my daughter Tanvi the other day said in her childish innocence that the word ‘Moditva’ has similarity with her cousin’s name ‘Aditya! The pun is actually well hidden as the word/name Aditya literally means (Aa - ditya – second to none). Now, that’s Namo mantra, I am afraid, is all about.

One of his admirers in BJP recently said,  Modi is a politician who is willing to make a “pitch for himself”  even at the cost of being called arrogance. 

The social networking anti-Modi brigade has dubbed him ‘Feku (a desi version of bluff master). But is that really a vice, which Indian neta is today not a ‘feku’. Dr Manmohan Singh perhaps would lead the gang promptly so would Arun Jaitley—look at his ‘silent performance’ in BCCI and the vocal demand to stall parliament proceedings for public probity etc. 

Even veteran L k Advani has his share as despite his efforts to offer himself as a man with certain firmness – the iron man as MMS mocks at him, it was during Advani’s tenure terrorists were safely landed in Kandahar and more menacingly the Naxal menace grew up in various parts of the country.

If he is trying to be a neo-statesman he forgets he undertook Rath Yatra and played a key role, being still investigated by CBI, on Babri demolition.

Coming back to Modi and his ‘phenomenon’ type image – that he cannot be ignored -
In July 2011 issue the magazine The Economist said rather caustically, “so many things work properly in Gujarat that it hardly feels like India.” In the run up to the 2009 Lok Sabha polls, which BJP after projecting L K Advani lost miserably, a large number of leading industrialists including Anil Ambani had said that Modi is the most potent prime minister material. So did Arun Shourie, then a party MP in the Rajya Sabha. 

Taking a closer view on Modi’s administration, I find there is logic in describing him as a ‘part CEO’ with prodigious management abilities, part a Hindutva poster boy. He could also be a part modern time revolutionary, who is helping to accommodate rural labour in growing manufacturing sector but in doing so, is he neglecting the core agriculture sector? The human development index in Gujarat under Moditva has already faced immense criticism.

Now as the stage is almost set in Goa for according a higher role to the Gujarat chief minister, whose 2002 mayhem ridden image remains as a lasting feature,
one finds left to him Narendra Modi sees himself as an architect of change. 

He only wants to sell the development card to his voters and the rest of the world. That way the story of Gujarat in the last decade though is the story of Modi, but he also remains a source of both strength and weakness for BJP. 

Despite the Godhra train inferno and the subsequent unprecedented anti-Muslim carnage of 2002, Gujarat has attained its developmental success stories, yet, it remains a ‘Hindutva laboratory’. 

His challenge, therefore, has been to tread a path which could ensure that all cynicism or suspicion about him from being a Hindutva zealot is supplemented by the confidence of his works for development. However, he does not quite want the Hindutva poster-boy image to be erased completely.

In 'India Today' conclave on 16 March this year, he refused to yet again tender an apology for 2002 and asserted in his own style, "The way I am working is my USP. I don't think till date there is anything wrong in that”.

To another question on need for healing touch, a veiled reference to the 2002 mayhem, he had skirted any direct reply and merely said, "I have answered all these questions in the past". Whether he still is a 'divisive figure,' the chief minister said, "I cannot analyse that myself... but in my every day life I have never experienced that.. But if there is something like this, will take a corrective step".

The 2002 riots truly is a too strong and powerful influence in Gujarat graph that it cannot be easily erased by a decade of development model as is pursued relentlessly by the state chief minister Narendra Damodardas Modi. 

In 2002, the English media in particular in the country and also the western countries like the European Union and the US made their intention clear about their assessment regarding Gujarat, and more particularly perhaps on the people of Gujarat

My assessment as I recorded in my first book ‘Godhra- A Journey to Mayhem’ published in 2004 was that such merciless killings of a battered community – the Muslims - could take place only on a soil “fertile” with religious “prejudices”.

There was truly a climax situation as hardliner communalism had assumed ominous spectre in a state, which otherwise took pride in a growth rate equaling that of China.

The real challenge in writing a few passages on Gujarat lies in understanding and explaining well this paradox. The challenge is definitely immensely much bigger for Modi himself as well as his party BJP which wants to storm back to power by defeating a Congress-led dispensation which enjoys an advantage of being a ‘secular formation’ and a regime which does successful tricks to win over votes from fragmented sections of population.

None has really asked the vital question, if Modi is a Muslim-hater, why Rajiv Gandhi (RIP) was not a Sikh-hater.


Thursday, April 11, 2013

How Nitish has little to gain on Modi front?

Narendra Modi exemplifies the saying that not every noun needs adjectives. But he has a stock full of those. Gujarat’s ‘ka sher’, ‘new Lion’, Gujarat’s Gaurav or ‘Pride of Gujarat’, Chhota Sardar, a ‘clean Chief Minister’ and a ‘CEO’ are all on the positive realm. Well, there are a few on the negativity too. 

In recent times, social networking sites have given him a title 'feku' (as a comparison to
Rahul Gandhi's tag of Pappu). But who among the two is the bigger 'feku' actually should be understood well.

That's besides the point. The real point to debate is can Modi emerge as BJP's candidate for prime ministership. The JD(U) hiccup as of now looks a rare ornamental and customary as Nitish Kumar, having gone so far against Modi, now has a little choice to make. But he can't go to Congress block and Bihar's caste-factors suggest unlike Naveen Patnaik or Mamata Banerjee, JD(U) cannot take an equi-distance stand too so easily. Actually, having underestimated Modi and perhaps over estimated his 'own Delhi cliche in BJP' led by Arun Jaitley and even L K Advani; Nitish has almost burned his finger.

He will find it very difficult to wriggle himself out of the chaotic jigsaw puzzle. Modi is determined to push his own case and unlike past, the new BJP chief Rajnath Singh is around this time backing him. On the BJP foundation day, Rajnath chose to visit Ahmedabad and laud Modi as "country's most popular leader". Even worst critic of Modi would agree on that line, because the kind of media frenzy Modi has created in last few weeks.

It is difficult to dismiss Modi's presence in television channels on whatever occasions he is speaking these days only to backroom 'machinations' and the art of media management, as his detractors would like to dismiss.

Moreover, party president Rajnath has shed the veil and has unequivocally backed him both in Ahmedabad and elsewhere. The message from Rajnath seems to be clear.
In fact, Rajnath has only given a royal snub to JD(U) when he volunteered to describe Modi as a 'secular leader'. He also made it clear to Nitish and others that a non-secular person cannot survive in BJP, a party which believes in appeasement to none and justice for all.

In other words, he is telling JD(U), look here guys, if my Modi is communal, so am I and perhaps also others in my party.
Modi as a phenomenon also suits RSS and thus to think from ivory tower intellectual hubs that RSS would not allow an autocratic Modi perhaps sounds only a figment of imagination. On April 11, party spokesperson, Nirmala Sitharaman, not the one to belong to one camp or the other in the saffron party, only made it further clear by saying that she was only dutifully endorsing what her party president had said that Modi is secular.

This neo-assertive style of Rajnath and BJP actually can yield better results than the mixed signal politics the saffron party had tried to play all along. 

Narendra Modi is back in news on practically hourly basis – almost
with vengeance. The country’s best known headline hunter that he is,the controversial Gujarat chief minister has able to live up to thatreputation. But the other ‘reputation’ of his --- a Muslim hater or so– is perhaps not altogether deserved. No, I have no qualms about whatsecularism would mean to him. What I have been trying to understand isthat all cynicism or suspicion about him from being a Hindutva zealotis actually supplemented well by the confidence of his works fordevelopment. At the same time, a hardcore political animal that he is,Modi does not quite want the Hindutva poster-boy image to be erasedcompletely.

But a tactful strategist that he is, in February this year, Modi avoided a visit to Allahabad for the Kumbh and instead addressed commerce students in Delhi.

The Late Naga leader Hokishe Sema once diagnosed that to survive and thrive in a political atmosphere that Modi inherited especially after post-2002 riots and highly successful election, one needs to have some peculiar qualities. 

Modi has in him that combined magic box of native understanding, trust in some hardliner ideology, willingness to manipulate things and an astute sense of humour and importantly the timing.

The theatrical perfection – of ‘Mia Musharraf’ rhetoric and ‘hum panch hamare pachis’ lines; his timely decision in 2012 polls not to field any Muslim candidate and telling the party cadres about 'nighwatchman' Sitaram Kesri and Manmohan Singh have added to his electoral support base and also the overall public image. 

It is erroneous to think that Modi did not understand Rahul Gandhi's metaphor of 'beehive'. 

On the contrary, Modi know that most Indians would not like the country to be compared with a 'beehive' --- that's the difference between imported metaphors and Modi's desi approach when he called Sonia Gandhi's aide, 'Ahmed Mia Patel'. Politics is no charity, Rahul and Digvijaya Singh could think inside; Modi tells it on your face -- with or without Nitish Kumar by his side.


Saturday, March 9, 2013


BEG TO DIFFER WITH VINOD MEHTA:: journos can be best friends too.

While as journos we might relish at Vinod Mehta's oneliner in interview to Mint that journalists and politicians cannot be good friends.... it might not be true in strict sense.

As a practicing scribe -- I can vouch for many friends who have helped me, and yes they r and have been journalists. Importantly they will continue to be journalists.. I need to go personal and name a few Thomas Kutty Abraham, Binu Alex, Anosh Malekar, Basant Rawat.... without them in 2002 my Ahmedabad sojourn for a highly demanding organisation PTI would have been disaster... 

I have been helped by many such friends.. R C Rajamani rehabilitated me back in mainstream... all these came selflessly ... 

Among netas too, we often hear of 'friendship' despite often they work at cross purposes. In Nagaland, friendship between hardcore regional Vamuzo and Congress veteran S C Jamir was legendary... 

Jamir once called Vamuzo "a dull fellow" in assembly and Vamuzao called him "habitual liar". both of them ended up laughing at each other. we know of friendship between Advani and Vajpyee. 

In 2001 when reports surfaced about Advani-Vajpayee differences, Vajpayee had called Advani's wife and said he wanted to come for lunch. Advani was immediately summoned home by his wife... What better instance can one give of friendship?
Few years back, Sushma was asked to react for some comments made by George Fernandes against Jaipal Reddy. Sushma was smart to counter: "George Fernandes and jaipal were friends once, they can again become friends and then they will not spare me".... Vajpayee-Narasimha Rao friendship too was more than mere politics perhaps
SO i don't buy the line: politicians and journalists should never be friends.
pls join the debate...