New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi is the template for what it means and what it takes to be a "national leader," Union home minister Amit Shah has said.
While national leaders were identified in the immediate aftermath of the independence movement by their "name recall," the expression came to be abused, notably at the height of the coalition era, Amit Shah said. He alleged that the "Delhi media" had "generously distributed" the status to its "friends and favourites."
Writing in the book "Modi@20 Dreams Meet Delivery", brought out by Rupa Publications and to be launched on May 11, Shah said such "facile and insincere manufacturing of national leaders" was shown up for what it was after Modi led the BJP to its biggest Lok Sabha win till then in 2014, before repeating the feat with a bigger margin in 2019.
The home minister concluded his chapter, ‘Democracy, Delivery and the Politics of Hope’ in the book with a warning to his rivals that Modi was far from done. "The decade has just begun. Watch for where it takes Narendra Modi, where Modi takes the BJP, and where the BJP and Modi take India."
A confidant of the Prime Minister for over three decades, Shah wrote that the best teacher for a leader was travelling to ordinary places, meeting ordinary families, sharing ordinary experiences and doing all this by ordinary means.
"Modi has done so with greater frequency and perseverance than any politician in the past 75 years," Shah wrote. He said that before the 2014 and the 2019 polls, "there had been no mandate for hope; and no mandate that was simply a reward for tested performance."
He said that no party had won a majority in the Lok Sabha between 1984 and 2014; between 1952 and 1984 parties had won on the basis of the goodwill of the freedom movement, family legacy, anger against the incumbent (1977), a mix of fear and sympathy (1984) with appeasement, sectional prejudice, vote bank mobilisation and "empty sloganeering like ‘Garibi Hatao' of 1971."
"Everybody now recognises that the 2014 polls marked the most decisive shift in the history of Indian politics," Shah wrote.
Shah explained that the Prime Minister embraced state campaigns, issues and idioms. "He is not just an add-on, or a mascot flown in for a few events and rallies. He complements the deep understanding of local politics and concerns that state BJP units and leaders bring to the table. This is very different from the supposed national leaders of other parties. They are fly-in, fly-out visitors with no sense of the ground reality," Shah said.
He said Modi had the precious gift of personal connection with every state and region, noting that one must go back to his years before 2001 and his Bharat Yatra of that period to understand this. "That tapasya was his real-life university."
Modi's measures as Prime Minister for distributing cooking gas cylinders among households and building toilets as part of the Swachh Bharat Mission stemmed from this understanding, he added.
His absolute involvement in the party and commitment to its growth had not diminished a bit, Shah said, adding that Modi had not sacrificed party interests for tactical gains in the government — "he sees them as symbiotic."
Shah said it was Modi who advised him when he was BJP president to use technology and begin the membership drive on the basis of a missed call. Modi's view was if the party did the membership drive in the old-fashioned way, it would only enrol more members from areas where it was strong, Shah said.
The missed call idea was part of a strategy to reach out to silent BJP supporters who were attracted to the party but did not know how to physically interact with its members and sign up, Shah said.