Tuesday, September 20, 2011


Men are often put through fire by the Gods. Ordinary men are consumed or burnt by it; a chosen few emerge from it cleansed, purified and strengthened, and rise to meet the great demands that Destiny has penned for them.

The life-chart of Narendra Modi seems to have been scripted elsewhere. Right from childhood, this brahmachari leader who has been most inspired by Swami Vivekananda, has tread a path uncommon among and with the common masses. At 17, Modi left his home, penniless, and went to the Himalayas in search of the Supreme Truth. For two years he was incommunicado, and when he returned, he joined the RSS which subsequently made his services available to the BJP.

On October 7, 2001, Modi was unexpectedly made Chief Minister of Gujarat, less than 10 months after a devastating earthquake had killed 20,000 people and destroyed 400,000 homes, and when the economy of the state was sinking and growth was stagnant. This was his first ever assignment in any government, and at a difficult time. Little did he know then that in less than five months, Gujarat would be engulfed in horrific communal violence, one that would be exploited relentlessly, remorselessly, endlessly to target, tarnish and terminate him politically, even physically.

A greenhorn administrator who was still on the first steps of the ladder of learning the ropes of his job – he did not have the benefit of imbibing knowledge from his family --Modi did, in my view, based on records available, a better job in controlling the riots and taking on the rioters than any other Chief Minister or Prime Minister had ever done before him. This is not the place to labour on what he did or did not do or what he could or should have done and did not; that will only deflect from the main thrust of my argument.

I am not being cynical or disrespectful of those who died or suffered in Godhra and the riots that followed. But I do believe that along an extremely significant dimension – the kind that destiny show its hand in – 2002 was actually a blessing for Narendra Modi.

When pushed into the pit of calumny, hounded day in and out, condemned for everything and praised for nothing, most men crack. They lose control of themselves and interest in their jobs, and soon become forgotten or hated chapters of history or corners of memory. Men of destiny – and they appear only ever so rarely – on the other hand, take the daunting, seemingly impossible challenge head on, activate and energise their full potential to rise and go on to achieve what they would never have been able to in the placid but enervating routine and red tape that dulls even the sharpest minds.

That is precisely what Narendra Modi has done. While India has languished and regressed and lost hope, he has worked tirelessly and furiously to take Gujarat to unscaled heights with an integrity and at a pace that, as per the accepted logic of the few who have benefitted obscenely disproportionately from graft and drift, is simply not possible in a democracy. Even more significantly – and this is where his irreplaceable ground-level experience with and empathy for the people has proved to be invaluable – he has, in the process, discovered that there is much wrong in the manner in which India has been governed, and that there is an entirely different model of politics and governance that needs to be put in place so that every Indian, irrespective of caste and religion, can reap the benefits of India’s growth and rise which can and should be much higher than has been achieved till now.

Those who ask Modi the politician to unambiguously apologise for 2002 – so that they can then say ‘gotcha’ -- obviously are either not connected or educated enough to see the silent and rigorous penance that has gone into what Modi the man has achieved in Gujarat during the last 10 years. Caught in their narrow prisms of politics, power, pelf and perfidy, they cannot fathom that a fakir-like leader – no family to propagate, no lavish life-style to sustain, no desire to make and hoard/hide money – is doing things differently because he thinks differently and is energised by different values that are nobler and higher than theirs.

Modi has a dream. For India. And that dream is big. It is a dream we should have dreamt before 1947 and started working to achieve on 15 August of that year. On that day, Nehru did speak of India’s tryst with destiny. But, in hindsight it is evident that he was not equipped to fulfill that tryst; the words meant for the world were big, the dream meant for India was not. That set the "happy-to-be-second-best" tone for India, one that can still be heard through the static of the rot that has grown around it.

It has taken 64 years for a leader to realise that the root cause of many of India’s problems is that it does not dream big, ask: “Why can’t we dream like China, Europe or America?” and hit: “Sapne nahin hain toh sankalp kaise hoga, aur sankalp nahin to jodne ki iccha kaise hogi.” (Not translatable by me without unacceptable loss of energy)

Almost exactly two years back, when fresh assaults had been launched against Modi by an embedded media masquerading as free, I was not sure whether he would be able to survive the remorseless and fanatic attacks, and lead his party in the 2014 elections to victory. At that time even to me it seemed to be “Mission Impossible.”

Then I was not sure whether destiny was playing the pivotal role; now I have no doubt it is. The Supreme Court judgement sending back all cases against Modi to the trial court and discontinuation of their monitoring by it has opened the magic door that the entire might of the Indian state had tried to keep closed and hang him on, knowing very well what its opening meant.

Suddenly, what seemed impossible till a few days back, now seems to be the only real possibility. Bar the never-ending shouting, Modi has passed Destiny's fire test. His 'Mission Impossible' is on its way to becoming 'Mission Accomplished.'
P.S. The almost prescient post that I wrote two years back, when I knew much less than I do now, is reproduced below.


The stature of a leader can often be accurately determined not by observing the effusive praise showered on him by his die-hard supporters but by carefully examining the vicious attacks launched against him by his die-harder detractors. By that measure, there can be no two opinions that Narendra Modi is the BJP's tallest leader by many miles, and has been so for some time now.

Pretences apart, no one knows this better than the Congress party. Even more importantly, that party also knows that it has no weapon to counter him, and that if he ever gets to that chair in Delhi, governance will take centre-stage in a manner that will most likely marginalise the Congress nationally in almost the same manner as it has in Gujarat.

Let us tackle the ghost of 2002 straightaway. Those riots in Gujarat were not the first in India, nor are they going to be the last. If one goes by statistics, many more Sikhs and Muslims have been killed in Congress-ruled states and in Delhi, and plenty of its Neros have played more than the fiddle, often deliberately. But, not a single one of them, Rajiv Gandhi included, has been subject to the kind of calumny that Modi has faced and will continue to face.

Let us get one more thing straight: this onslaught has little to do with 2002; it has everything to do with the fear that the Congress has no answer to Modi along any other dimension. He is scrupulously honest; he does not fake austerity - he lives it; he has shown that a clear-headed leader can deliver good governance even with the existing system; he has put Gujarat on an unprecedented path of explosive and inclusive economic growth; he has no family to promote and is manifestly devoted selflessly to his state and its people; he cannot be corrupted and does not tolerate those who can be.

The culture of governance that Modi has put in place in Gujarat is almost the exact opposite of the culture of unbridled corruption and sycophancy that the Congress party has spawned during its long years of reign at the Centre and the states. Things have reached a stage where corruption at the highest political and bureaucratic levels has become institutionalised as an entitlement. The whole nation knows that these guys are becoming rich by foul means alone. Such systems and laws have been put in place that it is almost impossible to catch anyone, and even if caught, little can be done. Terrorists and corrupt leaders cannot find a better environment where they can so fearlessly go about their business of destroying a nation from within.

In such a scenario, if leader emerges who is honest as well as intolerant of the nonsense that has been passing off as sense for decades, the people of this country will have before them, for the first time ever, the real alternative that they have been looking for but have been unable to find. The BJP's decline at the national level has, in no small measure, to do with its embracing of the corrupt and hollow value system that India associates with the Congress. That is why in states where its Chief Ministers are focused on governance and probity, the party remains strong.

The results of the recent Assembly by-polls bear this out. Within months of its morale-sapping defeat in the Lok Sabha elections, the BJP has done surprisingly well, unlike the communists whose downhill ride has only accelerated after the Lok Sabha debacle. In MP, the BJP has wrested on seat from the Congress which has retained one. In Uttarakhand, it has wrested the lone seat from the Congress.

But it is in Gujarat that the results have dramatically defined once again what the Congress and its "Bhaare ke tattoos" (hired ponies) in the "intelligentsia", media and other powerful organs, who have benefitted disproportionately due to Congress rule, are mortally afraid of. Of the seven seats that went to the polls, six were held by the Congress. Now it has just two while the BJP's tally has gone from one to five. This result has come in despite Modi not campaigning in any constituency personally.

No matter what anyone might say, it is difficult to believe that magistrate Tamang accidentally released his report on the Ishrat Jahan killing just before the polls. It is also difficult to believe that the media coincidentally went into hyper-excited overdrive to claim Modi's head because of a fake encounter killing by Gujarat police. But what must shock every Indian's conscience is the fact that sections of the media and the Congress were willing to go to the extent of sleeping with the LeT only to discredit Modi. It needs to be mentioned that the LeT is a Pakistani terror outfit that is waging war against India with the full patronage of the Pakistani establishment, and has already killed thousands of innocent Indians. It also executed Mumbai 26/11. Sleeping with this enemy of India is only one small step short of giving it a "supari" for Modi.

Does this shock you? It must. But remember, this has happened in India's history even earlier. The British, for example, would have found the going very difficult had India's selfish and myopic kings not sided with them only to defeat other Indian kings. Now too, do you not similarly hear Indians who find Pakistan and Pakistanis more friendly and "Just Like Us" than they do their political opponents? Do you not hear them talk about giving disastrous concessions to Pakistan on Kashmir, possibly in the fond hope that it will prevent future loss of votes due to terrorism? Did they even react to the exposure by the SIT of Teesta Setalvad, their award-winning loud voice, for cooking up tales of macabre and wanton killings, and tutoring and threatening witnesses to fraudulently portray Modi and Hindus at large as cold-blooded rapists and murderers?

Personally, like everyone else, I do not know how guilty Narendra Modi is or Rajiv Gandhi was for the killings in Gujarat and Delhi respectively. Unlike some sponsored fellow Indians, I am not going to pass judgment on Modi like they have and tell the whole world that he is a mass murderer. They have a lot to lose personally if Modi comes to power in Delhi; I have nothing to gain or lose, except as an Indian citizen. Like them, I also know that Modi will most likely prove to be the best Prime Minister India has ever had, not for Hindus but all Indians. Like them, I also believe that Modi as PM will bring about a paradigm shift in the manner that this country is governed. Like them, I also know that it will be the death knell for many of them. That is why they have to do everything they can to destroy him before he gets to Delhi.

Since they cannot find any chink in his armour at all, they have to keep 2002 alive, no matter what, till he is brought down.

The next Lok Sabha elections, barring unforeseen developments, will be held in 2014. Four and a half years is a very long time. The misfired cacophony over Ishrat Jahan is a clear indicator that there is no limit that Modi's political opponents and their henchmen will not cross to ensure that he is not the BJP's Prime Ministerial candidate in that election. The stakes are so high that there will, without an iota of doubt, be very serious attempts to physically eliminate him if nothing sticks in the manner that his opponents want.

Whether you like Narendra Modi or not, do not underestimate what he is up against. Will he be able to survive this remorseless, fanatic onslaught, as he has till now, and lead his party in the 2014 elections?

If there was ever a 'Mission Impossible' for Modi to accomplish, it is this.