New Delhi, 26 May-2014, PTI: The rise of Narendra Modi to the position of Prime Minister marks a paradigm shift in Indian politics, ending as it did the domination of the Congress party as also the era of fractured mandates.
The rise of Narendra Modi to the position of Prime Minister marks a paradigm shift in Indian politics
The scale of the 63-year-old Modi’s electoral triumph devastated his rivals and even his most ardent supporters. On the way he has re-written the rules of the electoral game with a brilliant though expensive campaign.
Armed with a massive mandate, Modi neverthless faces challenging tasks ahead as he grapples with a weak economy and other problems left behind by his predecessor Manmohan Singh.
A consummate politician and the man of the moment, Modi is known for his bold and unconventional initiatives and is poised to evolve as the ultimate ‘game-changer’ of Indian politics.
The premiership of Modi, who represents a fascinating turning point in the political history of the world’s largest democracy, promises to usher in dramatic changes and reforms.
During the course of his hectic Lok Sabha campaign, Modi, a four-time Gujarat Chief Minister, told his voters he had been chosen by God to do a “difficult task” and promised to replace the business as usual culture with purposeful governance.
One of the trendiest male politicians in India, Modi, who pulled off what had looked like an impossible feat of winning a majority for BJP on the strength of his persona and a muscular poll campaign, dismisses charges of being authoritarian.
Modi told PTI during the campaign that he believed in team work and that those who worked with him believed that he was strong-willed and decisive.
He accused his opponents of resorting to “vague, non-specific and subjective things like saying that I am authoritarian, jingoistic, divisive”. There had never been any serious allegation of corruption, nepotism or incompetence against him, he said.
Modi may be one of the most riled leaders described variously as divisive, polarising and and a Hindutva-hardliner given the backdrop of the riots that had claimed over 1000 lives, mostly Muslims, in March, 2002 under his watch.
But Modi is seen by his supporters as a “strong leader” who will not play the politics of appeasement of any section.
A stocky, bespectacled man with a trimmed white beard, and known for his ascetic lifestyle and enthusiasm for yoga, Modi came under international glare due to the 2002 riots.
A brilliant speaker, the Hindutva poster boy turned a fragmented parliamentary election into a presidential-style referendum in an era of coalition politics in the country.
His mandate, crossing caste, region, gender and demography, will make him one of the most powerful prime ministers in Indian history.
Born to lower middle class parents in Vadnagar in Gujarat, he has transformed himself from a Hindu nationalist into a decisive corporate-style administrator. He is now at the centre of global thinking, having been labelled “the man who dines alone”, a “game changer” and a “poet”.
He takes the reins of the country in a culmination of a fascinating journey from an ordinary RSS pracharak and Gujarat’s longest serving chief minister. Modi also worked in his family’s tea stall, according to a sympathetic biography.
Modi has a formidable reputation as a party organiser, along with an ability for secrecy, which comes from years of training as an RSS “pracharak”.
A rank outsider to the ‘Delhi club’, the Gujarat Chief Minister steamrolled all opposition within and outside to secure for BJP a majority that no party could get after Rajiv Gandhi’s ‘400 plus’ victory in 1984.
On the victory path, Modi virtually blanked out all others in the party and became its sole face in a long campaign that started last summer after he was made the campaign chief in Goa.
Undeterred by the sulk of veterans like L K Advani and grumblings of some others, mounted an untiring campaign criss-crossing the country helping BJP record its finest-ever performance in more than three decades of its existence.
There was more sulk when he was anointed the BJP’s prime ministerial face in September but that did not deter him from his mission in getting the BJP-led NDA back to power from where it was dislodged in 2004.
In the beginning, there were doubts whether Modi can equal the charm of Atal Bihari Vajpayee, considered a moderate even by his rivals, in attracting allies.
But the BJP put all its eggs in the Modi basket, a gamble that has paid off with Modi attracting more allies pre-poll, including those who had left the NDA blaming him for the 2002 riots.