By Bipin Sangankar Aphone call was placed by the office of Prime Minister Vajpayee for Narendra Modi who was attending funeral in New Delhi of a photo -journalist killed in a plane accident with prominent Congress leader Madhavrao Scindia in the first week of October, 2001. General Secretary of BJP Modi was asked that evening by the PM to take over reign of Gujarat Government from Chief Minister Keshubhai Patel whose Government overwhelmed handling rehabilitation of traumatic earthquake in Kutch-Bhuj area of Western Gujarat on the Republic Day of 2001.
‘I have no legislative experience and I have been out of Gujarat for six years’ was his argument for not accepting the Chief Minister’s position. It was decided by the party high command, the PM conveyed to him. He took a train to Ahmedabad and, since 7th Oct 2001 when he took oath as the Chief Minister of Gujarat, the small town boy from Princely State of Gayakawad in North Gujarat, Narendra Modi has remained in the news for good and bad. Bad news for him came within two days after he was elected from Rajkot constituency on February 25, 2002. At the railway station of Godhara in South Gujarat, Sabarmati Express carrying passengers from Varanasi was put on fire by some Islamic militants in which 59 Hindu volunteers were burned alive. Those dead, including women and children, were brought to Ahmedabad for funeral rites. Uncontrollable grief and wrath of people turned into riots in Ahmedabad and other towns in Gujarat killing 254 Hindus and 790 Muslims. The Godhara incident and subsequent riots received wide publicity . Narendra Modi from childhood has been an active member of Hindu organization RSS. Some accused him of his complicity but no official inquiry found evidence to support that accusation. Punish me if I am guilty was the theme of his defense. However, he was ready to tender his resignation at the BJP conference in Goa in April when Prime Minister Vajpayee gave his ears to Modi’s opponents in the Party. Modi took a gamble and dissolved assembly in July of the same year. He won 127 seats out of 182 in the election held in December of 2002 . He took oath for the second time and was reelected in 2007 and 2012 elections. Modi not only faced opposition from his opponents from Congress and other agencies but also from within his own party in Gujarat. Former Chief Minister Keshubhai Patel has always remained vocal critic and even went on to launch a new party. But people of Gujarat loved Modi. They were not happy when Congress President Mrs. Sonia Gandhi spoke harshly of Modi in one propaganda meeting in 2007. In the 2014 General Election no member of Congress from Gujarat was elected to parliament. Narendra Modi accompanied Prime Minister Vajpayee to state visit of Russia and he was deeply impressed by the economic model of Russia’s industrialization and economic growth. But unlike Nehru, instead of Marxian model , he adopted Adam Smith’s free enterprise for Economy of Gujarat. In 2003 he held the first vibrant Gujarat conference to attract investment in Gujarat. Soon he came to be recognized as a “Progress Person” and ushered many changes in Gujarat’s economy and polity . In India, entrepreneurial Gujarat state has remained in the forefront in the field of industry, trade and commerce . In 2005, Rajiv Gandhi Foundation praised Gujarat’s progress .
Modi Government received accolades from several development agencies and newspapers organizations. He developed contacts with international development agencies also. India’s15th Prime Minister Narendra Modi is the first Prime Minister born in free India He studied in his home town Vadanagar in Mahasana District in North Gujarat His father Damodardas ran a tea stall at the railway station. After school hours Narendra went to help his father and sold tea to passengers of Taranga Local train . He enrolled in Visanagar College but left studies and home in search of vocation of his choice. A local doctor Parikh introduced him to Vivekanand in early childhood . He spent two years roaming from Rajkot to Bellur Math to some odd places in the lap of Himalayas in North India. In traditional Indian Society those days, marriages were arranged and performed even in child hood. Thus, Narendra was married to Jashodaben at the age of 17. However, the two did not stay together. Jasodaben is a retired school teacher now. Modi was deeply influenced by Vivekananda. Buddha and Mahaveer also had a deep influence on his mind. So, one day, in 1968, Modi left home in search of truth. Modi opted life of a sanyasi and spent time, it is said, in the Himalayas. But he is queerly reticent about this period of his life. Modi returned home briefly to see his mother whom he adores. He went to Ahmedabd to stay with his maternal uncle . He helped his uncle to run a canteen at a bus depot in the city. His mentor Mr. Inamdar advised him to stay at Hegdewar House in the city and be a volunteer to promote Hindu unity. He became thus, a PRACHARAK in 1972. In June of 1975, Indira Gandhi imposed emergency. RSS was banned . Modi opposed emergency rule while remaining underground. He donned attires of a Sadhu, a Sanyasi and a Sikh to be able to move around to oppose the emergency, without being detected. . He was briefly in jail also. During this period, he met many political stalwarts who opposed emergency rule. These leaders included Morarji Deasi and Jai Prakash Narayan. He came in close contact with Jan Sangh leader Advani. It was during emergency rule of Indira that he developed writing skill. His book about role of Gujarat during emergency has been translated into several vernacular languages and English. He also published several letters and booklets. He also developed his skill of public speech. He is a well read person among politicians and a good argumentative Indian. He did his bachelor through correspondence from Delhi University and Master in Political Science from Gujarat University. He has imbibed several qualities of Gujarat’s two great souls-one Mahatma Gandhi and , the other, Sardar Patel . He is as good as Mahatma Gandhi in personal relationship. Like Sardar Patel, he is a fearless leader and a good administrator. (A native of North Gujarat, Prof. Bipin Sangankar has taught at assorted universities, including New York and Fordham)