Congress may deny tickets to 40 Rajasthan MLAs

NEW DELHI The Congress in Rajasthan may be...

Let’s be together and make a difference

Our mother EARTH is an incredible planet...

Modi built on RSS sangathan model to mobilise voters, reshape BJP

NewsModi built on RSS sangathan model to mobilise voters, reshape BJP

Ajay Singh first heard of Modi in 1990 in Lucknow when the latter was escorting the then BJP president Murli Manohar Joshi’s Ekta Yatra in UP. A superintendent of police told Singh, ‘There is someone called Narendra Modi, who is managing this yatra in an extraordinary manner.’


Narendra Damodardas Modi’s micromanagement of elections and the emergence of BJP as a robust organisation has been chronicled and analysed in “The Architect of the New BJP: How Narendra Modi Transformed the Party” by former Times of India journalist, Ajay Singh, who since September 2019 has served as press secretary to the Rashtrapati. Launching the book, weekend last, Rajnath Singh said, “It is Modiji who made the BJP accepted by all sects of people. He has created a model to which there is no counter…there is no doubt that whatever glory the BJP has achieved after 2014, it is because of Modiji.” Rajnath Singh, now the senior most Cabinet minister, was the BJP president when Modi was anointed as the party’s face in 2013 and when he swept into power in 2014 with clear majority, ending a quarter century of instability and coalitions. The book has been endorsed by Johns Hopkins University scholar Walter Andersen, whose books, “The Brotherhood in Saffron” (co-authored by Sridhar Damle) and “RSS: A View to the Inside”, are essential reading for anyone trying to fathom the phenomenon called Modi. Andersen served as a US diplomat in New Delhi and in his student days spent time in the Allahabad University—experiences which have given him a ringside view and deep insights on India’s politics. Writing the book’s foreword, Andersen notes: “A study of any organisation requires a deep insight into its functioning ,which is why many scholars analysing political parties either avoid this difficult task or provide only a cursory analysis. Singh is an exception; he knows many of the key figures that are the subject of the book and brings to his study the insights and contacts that he had gained as a journalist. Unlike so many studies on Modi, this is not a book that relies almost exclusively on newspaper reports. Nor does it have an agenda, aimed primarily at condemning or praising.”
Singh first heard of Modi in 1990 in Lucknow when the latter was escorting the then BJP president Murli Manohar Joshi’s Ekta Yatra in UP. A superintendent of police told Singh, “There is someone called Narendra Modi, who is managing this yatra in an extraordinary manner.” The police escort team had found it difficult to penetrate the inner security ring of Joshi’s cavalcade. “Their volunteers are daredevils and drive their Maruti vans in such a manner that it is next to impossible to come near the vehicle carrying Joshi.”
Singh moved to New Delhi in 1995—the same year that Modi was shifted from Gujarat to the party headquarters and given charge of the northern states. His interactions with Modi began then and Singh closely followed how Modi built the organisation in Himachal Pradesh, demolishing the stranglehold of Shanta Kumar and propping up younger faces. In Haryana, Modi was the mastermind of a coalition with Bansi Lal in 1996, which made BJP a ruling party for the first time. Modi’s work in Haryana had a long gestation period—it fructified in 2014 when BJP won a clear mandate. Manohar Lal, his trusted aide of those days, was made the CM, breaking the myth that only a Jat could lead Haryana. Modi oversaw the elections in Madhya Pradesh prior to its bifurcation—bickering in the party denied success to BJP, but the campaign saw the emergence of Raman Singh and Shivraj Singh Chouhan, who became CMs of Chhattisgarh and MP, respectively, later.
Apart from escorting Murli Manohar Joshi’s yatra from Kanyakumari to Kashmir, in 1990 Modi was the coordinator for L.K. Advani’s Rathyatra in Gujarat. His mobilisation for the two yatras laid the foundation of his outreach in the states where Joshi traversed and in Gujarat. The book records that when Pramod Mahajan and Advani reached Veeraval, the major town close to Somnath, from where the yatra was to commence, they were a bit dismayed to see no signs of the coming event—no posters and flags in the streets. Advani later admitted that he was sceptical: had adequate been made to flag off the yatra? The next morning, Advani got a rousing reception with crowds thronging the way—Modi’s team had done mobilisation on the ground—the crowds came from different social segments, including OBC, SC and tribals—for the first time BJP had reached out to the sections of society which were beyond the Sangh Parivar’s circle of influence. This anecdote underscores Modi’s eye for detail and omnibus reachout.
The book mentions how Modi led relief effort in Morvi (Saurashtra) after a dam burst in August 1979—the RSS team led by this young pracharak earned encomiums—this at a time when the Janata Party in New Delhi had split on the “dual membership” issue, with the affiliation of former Jan Sangh leaders with RSS while being part of JP being questioned. The Morvi relief work enhanced the Sangh image in Gujarat, where post Mahatma Gandhi’s assassination in 1948, it had been under a cloud. Modi met his associate Amit Shah in 1982. Neither BJP nor Jan Sangh had made much headway in Gujarat till the late 1980s. The Modi-Shah duo led the party to an unexpected victory in Ahmedabad municipal elections in 1987. This was the beginning of the process of the BJP’s rise in the state. The micromanagement of elections, which was initiated by this duo then, has now become the winning card of BJP.
The book chronicles how Modi moved beyond the RSS’ “sangathan” model to mobilise voter support. “Much is written about Modi’s politics and ideology. It is naively assumed that his rise has solely to do with Hindutva plus economic development—often called ‘Moditva’. But this view ignores the methods he deployed to broaden the base of his organisation, the BJP, and helped to connect it with more and more people”, writes Singh.
Over the past decade, with the assistance of Amit Shah, Modi has ensured that the former national ruling party, Indian National Congress, is decimated, perhaps to the point of disintegration. The non-Congress, non-BJP parties, most of whom are regional in character, are led by what Andersen calls “jealous barons, unable to work together”. Singh notes that having replaced the “Congress system” Modi’s BJP is the “sole contender for the claim of a wholly Indian, home-grown party” in the nationwide scenario. The book, a journalistic narration and documentation of Modi eclectic ways of party building, is a useful reading for anyone trying to fathom contemporary crosscurrents.

Check out our other content

Check out other tags:

Most Popular Articles