Modi's Role in making new BJP

Book Title: The Architect of the New BJP -How Narendra Modi Transformed the Party
Author: Ajay Singh.
Publisher: Penguin Random House India Pvt. Ltd
Number of Pages : 167
Year of Publication : 2022

The book “The architect of the New BJP” by Ajay Singh engrosses a reader in knowing a leader who has captured the attention of his appreciators and critics equally not only in the political arcades but also in the informal settings. The unique capturing of the mind space of people by Narendra Damodardas Modi is too awful that he is popularly known for his unique charisma. The book unravels the personality traits of Modi who started from scratch that is from a role of silent and dedicated man of service as swayamsevak pracharak of RSS to the highest service role as PM of the country. The insights given reveal his strengths that lie in his unique attributes that honed his skills over the trajectory of experiences traversing from grass root level to the top level. The book makes a good reading as the author has mentioned the relevant contexts and instances behind the accolades given. The book reveals on how BJP transitioned from its mere presence as one of the opposition parties to the centre stage at the helm of affairs under the leadership qualities of Narendra Modi. The revelations justify well the title of the book- The Architect of the New BJP – How Narendra Modi Transformed the Party.
The foreword in the book has been given by Walter Andersen, author and former head of South Asian Studies, School of Advanced International Studies, Johns Hopkins University, USA. In the foreword, Anderson sets the tone with an inquisitive question that pertains to the query of many about what after Modi? As per him, the author is positive about the perpetuity of the Modi’s legacy as he is likely to leave behind a robust organisation that coordinates well with the people on one side and the government/bureaucracy on the other side.
The book is spread across six chapters along with a preliminary chapter on introduction. The introduction starts with the emphasis on the sense of discipline and the organising skills that are inculcated among the volunteers of RSS at Shakhas. To substantiate this descriptive, the author immediately takes the reader to the meticulous security arrangements of the RSS volunteers of the Murli Manohar Joshi’s Ekta Yatra of 1990-91 under the leadership of Modi. The author shares his first interaction with Modi when he was literally exiled from Gujarat and Posted in Delhi. This reference is instantly connected with affirmation about Modi’s character of being focussed and occupied with tasks in hand rather than being low spirited that is expected normally from a person leaving behind natural ecosystem. In order to give base to this affirmation, the author has given reference to the successful completion of the onerous task of building the party’s base in Haryana, Punjab and Himachal Pradesh as his new assignments post exiling Gujarat. The introduction section narrates the different instances detailed later in the ensuing chapters indicating the various significant personality traits of Modi.
The first chapter “The First Sightings of an Organiser” highlights the incidents which brought him in front from working silently behind the curtain and were the rational of his transition from RSS to BJP in 1987 as he was made General Secretary (Organisation) of BJP’s state unit.
Further, the chapter entails about the election of Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) of 1987. At that time the organisation structure of the party was quite nebulours and loose; as well as a succession of defeat had driven the state BJP leadership to such a synicism that a victory seemed nearly impossible. However, the sharp acumen and astute attributes made Modi persistently restructure the organisation through his creative and innovative ideas that helped increase the party base and finally giving the party a clear majority. Backed by the innovative ideas of Modi, AMC emerged as a role model for good governance to others.
The next came 1989 general elections and state assembly election of 1990. The elections were eventually won and coalition governments were formed by BJP with Janta Dal headed by V.P. Singh in the centre and by Chimanbhai Patel in the state. This achievement could be possible only through the ground work done to expand the party base by Modi’s methods of organisation and expansion which were quite mix of unconventional and traditional ways. After discussing various incidents.
At last in the chapter 1, the author focused on the role played by Modi in the successful arrangements of the Rath Yatra of Advani in Gujarat; and Ekta Yatra of Murli Manohar Joshi using his clinical precision of his organisational skills that inducted different social segments including OBC, SC and tribals that subsumed caste cleavages and coalesced Hindu society in one identity for the first time. In the successful arrangements of the Rath Yatras, Modi was having all support from Sangh Parivar’s organisation network that was operating throughout across the state and beyond. This eventually laid a strong foundation for the party’s organisation structure
Overall this chapter has introduced the various characteristics associated with Modi including owning organisational skills, leadership, commitment, dedication, flexibility in adopting traditional and new methods of expansion, meticulous planning, negotiation skills, visionary, trainer and experimenter, practitioner in honing skills , potential to face challenges, audacity and spiritual connection.
The Second chapter is “Audacity in Adversity and a Splash on the National Stage.” In this chapter the author has focussed on the 1995 assembly election of Gujarat wherein Modi had played a great roleon the ground contributing to the win of BJP and coming of BJP in power with Keshubhai Patel as C.M; the chapter further entails about the various defection tactics adopted by Shankersingh Vaghela. In such a scenario there was unexpected compromise formula adopted by the central leadership of BJP headed by Vajpayee wherein no disciplinary action was taken against Vaghela; and Modi was made to exile from his home state.
The description of the Vagehela episode entails that the journey of Modi was never a cake walk. He faced many of the challenges from none other than his own but did not ever cry foul and remained devoted to the party and its ideology. He was inducted straight within the party organisation as a secretary by the then BJP president, Advani in 1995. In Delhi he made a fresh start without even an iota of bitterness at the injustice and kept himself occupied with all the dedication towards the new tasks assigned. The successful pathbreaking endeavours based on his audacity to do experiments by converting the impossible to possible gave recognition to his devotion to the cause of the party. This recognition paved the way for his promotion to the post of the national general secretary (organisation) on 19th May 1998.
The third chapter is on “Gujarat in Full Grasp, Delhi within Sight (2001-2014)”. This chapter highlights about the coming back of Modi to his home state of Gujarat in 2001 with an honour of being elected as C.M of Gujarat replacing Keshubhai Patel. The chapter entails that it had been frequent in his political career to have faced resistance from individuals within the party because of their own insecurities emanating from their incapability of matching with the competencies of Modi. Forinstance, Modi rushed to Bhuj from Delhi in the wake of disastrous earthquake on 26th January 2001, however the then C.M. Kehubhai Patel chose to cold shoulder him. In such scenarios of adversities Modi kept dedicated to the cause of the party.
Reaching at the top level was not so easy. It was too arduous. Modi had with him the rich experience of handling the adverse scenarios and coming out victoriously using creative ideas, organisation skills and bundle of other attributes that emanate from his conviction, self-discipline and dedication towards the highest cause of service to the motherland as part of the values inculcated from the Sangh Parivar. The chapter further entails about how he rebuild Gujarat from the scratch devoid of good governance. This chapter gives details about the multiple challenges he faced in and out of the party. However, Modi’s focus was to put in order the governance and the party so as to keep them on the same page.
The other half part of the chapter 3 entails about the three successive terms of Chief Ministership by winning the assembly elections of 2002, 2007 and 2012 along with the illustrious references to his enormous initiatives and reforms which transformed Gujarat into a template to be emulated by others as “Gujarat Model of Development”.
The 2012 victory of Modi at assembly elections raised his stature to phenomenol level that made him potential Prime Minister Candidate. Post 2012 victory, he did not stop his development agenda as he carried on with the new achievements like an international convention hall symbolising the emergence of new Gujarat. His innovative initiatives made him to have his outreach beyond Gujarat. Forinstance, he conceptualised paying unique tribute to Sardar Vallabh Bhai Pater by building the statue of Unity by mobilizing people across the country.
The chapter 4 is titled “Richter 282: A Quake that Changed India’s Political Landscape”. The chapter focuses on the BJP’s national executive meeting in Goa in June 2013 wherein Modi was decided as the campaign committee chairman for the Loksabha elections of 2014 that in effect means naming the Prime Ministerial candidate for the Lok sabha polls of 2014; and it focuses on the various incidents of Advani doggedly pursuing his personal ambitions at the expense of the organisation.
In his campaign for the 2014 elections, Modi used his best strategies and unique demeanours to connect to the people. Additionally, he chose connection to the Hindu religiosity be that in the form of choosing Varanasi as one of the lok sabha constituency or in the form of being associated with varied religious sects and symbols of Hindus unlike the UPA government which assiduously followed the legacy of Nehru of having distaste for Hinduism.
The various incidents during the campaign further reflect characteristics of Modi as cool and composed personality even in intense situations which normally can make individuals anxious.
The election campaigns done by Modi were too extensive and intensive. For instance, by the end of the campaign on 10th May, Modi travelled around 3 lakh kilometres and addressed over 435 public rallies and nearly 1350 rallies through 3D technology across the country and nearly 4000 meetings as chai pe charcha. This speaks of his hard work done on the ground for the grand success of 2014.
On 16th May 2014, in the election result, BJP got clear mandante by winning 282 seats and with allies its reach was 336. Modi had won both Varanasi and Vadodara seats and thus giving end to the 25 years of coalition based central governance. On 26th May 2014, Modi was sworn in as Prime Minister that attracted international attention.
The chapter five is named “A Knock Here, a Knock There, but Brand Modi Only Gets Bigger”. This chapter covers Modi’s various rational moves that ensued after 2014 election win. Forinstance, invitation to heads of all SAARC nations in the oath ceremony was given to convey a clear signal to the immediate neighbours about the friendly intentions of the new government and busting the narrative projecting Modi as a leader who would rather prefer revanchism to reconciliation as a state policy. This testifies Modi’s remarkable organizational ability to adapt himself to a new situation and reorient the image perception of others.
The next part of the chapter is focussed on the 2019 lok sabha election win of BJP that is immensely influenced with the Modi’s strong nationalism. This is represented by the kind of no dissonance (unlike the previous regime of Vajpayee) between Modi government and the RSS; and the actions like Balakot air strikes targeting a terrorist hideout inside Pakistan in retaliation to the terrorist attack at a CRPF convoy in Pulwama Kashmir on 14th February 2019. On 23rd May 2019, BJP scaled upto 300 in the Loksabha election result that was based on performance rather than expectations.
This renewed and conclusive mandate made Modi to take more audacious decisions than the ones taken in the first term. For instance, getting the bill passed for the ill practice of instant triple talaq in the Muslim community to render justice to the women folk of the community. The next audacious move was revoking the Article 370 of the constitution on 5th August 2019, and thus revoking the special status of J&K and mainstreaming it by transforming J&K into UT. This was ensued by the third move as on 12th December 2019 Parliament passed an amendment o the citizenship Act, granting legal status to the migrants from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan who came before 2014. This was followed by announcement of creating National Register of Citizens (NRC). The next epochal event was the ceremony for the construction of the Ram temple in Ayodhya. Modi’s faith in the judiciary is evident from the fact that he moved ahead in the case of Ayodhya after the supreme court gave its final verdict and green signal in November 2019. The other significant events that ensued include inauguration of Kahi Vishwanath Corridor in Varanasi in December 2021; monitoring of Kedarnath’s reconstruction; plan to link the char dhams with double lane highways. Besides delivering ideological agenda, Modi’s decisions and actions were predominant with his nation first policy and sounder defense of the borders especially against China.
The author finally ends this chapter with Modi’s praise worthy efforts in dealing with the pandemic of COVID 19 in 2020 and 2021. And emphasises upon his ability to see opportunity in crisis, evidently apparent in his call for an Atmanirbhar Bharat that is Self Reliant India.
The last chapter 6 is Conclusion. This chapter concludes by corroborating all the reasoning in justifying that under the leadership of Modi, BJP has been moulded afresh attributing to its growth and stature to such an extent that the predominant political position gained by the party is unlikely to be unsettled in a post-phase, as he will be leaving behind a robust political structure that will keep on creating its own icons of the time.
The author concludes that the real story of Modi’s success lies on his genius for organisation building which he had so assiduously learnt from a generation of leaders from the Sangh Parivar and applied it successfully over the decades. And in the due course of his political journey Modi has ensured that the organisation is not a political expedient for the government by creating a unique harmony between the government and the organisation that never existed before. And this harmony ensures keep creating new icons post -Modi phase.
The book ends with the Acknowledgements and Bibliography.
(The author is assistant Professor, Department of Tourism and Travel Management, Central University of Jammu)