- Login | Register
- Current Issue
- Most Read
- Back Issues
"I am proud that I am a human, and I am a Hindu/ Every moment I
experience I am big, wide, I am Sindhu."
—Gaurav, from the anthology Aaankh aa Dhanya Chhe (Blessed are These Eyes), a compilation of verse by Narendra Modi
As is the rule, his home speaks volumes about the inner man. Most chief ministers, even minor politicians, run huge rambling establishments with a retinue of staff, live-in retainers, and a regular flow of hangers-on. Besides the security staff, Modi employs a personal staff of just three who live at his official residence—one cook, two peons. When the cook is on leave, one of the peons prepares dinner for the man who is the toast of corporate India.
Five months after Godhra and the riots, Modi rewrote history. A BJP joke: "Raju guide became mahatma.
***He is also the rare politician who does not enjoy a durbar. Even the three regular official assistants—O.P., Tanmay and Dinesh—who screen all calls made to Modi do not have access to his home. An old-timer in the Gujarat BJP, considered close to Modi, says, "People used to get hurt as they were unable to establish a personal rapport. But we realised he did not mean any ill. That is just the way he is."
Modi orchestrated a whisper campaign that reduced Ahmed Patel to a Muslim neta.
But even during his years in Delhi, Modi stood out among the regular stock of pracharaks. He understood the mass media and was a master at public speaking but the RSS-ingrained prejudices often showed through. He once told this correspondent that "maas khane wale logon ka vyavhar alag hota hai (meat-eating people have a different temperament)". And Modi wasn't even referring to Muslims but to his own party colleague from Gujarat, the non-vegetarian Kashiram Rana.
Written in... Pracharak Modi from the early ’90s
Years before he occupied political office, Modi had effectively used the Hindu-Muslim card against Ahmed Patel, now one of Sonia Gandhi's closest advisors and then a popular Lok Sabha MP from Bharuch in south Gujarat in 1980 and 1984. In those days, Ahmed Patel was almost never identified as a Muslim, known locally more as Babubhai Patel. That was before Modi the RSS pracharak orchestrated a whisper campaign that reduced Ahmedbhai to a Muslim leader and effectively ended his Lok Sabha career (he now prefers the safe Rajya Sabha route). In a twist of fate, it is the same Ahmed Patel who is today orchestrating the Congress campaign against Modi from New Delhi.
But while the Congress MP has ended up a backroom strategist, the pracharak is now the mega-leader. Historian Ramachandra Guha sees no parallel to Modi in Indian politics. "Jayalalitha, Mayawati and Indira Gandhi, they all had autocratic styles but their careers were built on parties. Modi has obliterated the party and stands for everything in Gujarat. Usually, it is extremist regimes of the Left and Right who throw up such figures, not democracies."
He's even adopted the mannerisms and style of godmen like Murari Bapu. The dress sense too is cultivated.