Struggle probably taught Narendra Modi to advance in national politics on treacherous and challenging paths.
Strength, wealth, and pinnacle success are less important than the ability to endure struggle and the firmness of one’s values. Therefore, I believe that the significance of Narendra Bhai Modi’s position as Prime Minister and the achievements of his organization are overshadowed by his journey of struggle and the discussion of victory at every stage. The importance lies more in his perseverance than in power and relationships. At every turn, he has had to face new challenges. Supporters and critics of him are found in various regions of the country, from his home state of Gujarat to different parts of India. There is also international opposition from forums in the United States, Europe, Africa, Russia, and China, but Prime Minister Modi has found ways to navigate through cooperation and relationships for India.
While the Pakistan government, military, and ISI are certainly troubled by terrorist attacks, most of the world not only holds Pakistan responsible but is also investing heavily in development in various states of India, including Jammu and Kashmir, on a large scale. The success of missions like Chandrayaan, the Solar Research Aditya campaign, and the G20 Summit of leading countries are being praised by the global community, applauding India and Narendra Modi.
In the capital city, there are likely very few journalists at this time who were working as correspondents in Gujarat from 1972 to 1976. Therefore, I would like to begin from there. As a correspondent for Hindustan Samachar (a news agency), during 1973-76, I had the opportunity to work full-time in Ahmedabad for about 8 months, covering events such as a Congress convention, the subsequent Chimanbhai Patel-led student movement in Gujarat, and the period during the Emergency in 1975. During the Emergency, Narendra Modi was actively involved in underground communication with leaders of the RSS, Jan Sangh, and Opposition, as well as the discreet transmission of information regarding government crackdowns. In the early stages, there wasn’t much visible pressure from the Emergency regime in that area. During those days, I also had the opportunity to have discussions on politics and literature with the editor of ‘Sadhana,’ Vishnu Pandya, at his office. Later, besides being an editor and writer, Narendra Modi also wrote a book on the Emergency in Gujarati, apart from Vishnu Pandya. Therefore, I have the right to say that Modi played an important role in carrying out activities against the Emergency and the government by changing his disguise and working covertly, more so than being in a secure jail (and to some extent, a companion for senior leaders). This period of struggle probably taught Narendra Modi to advance in national politics on treacherous and challenging paths. While the goal may not have been power, his commitment to continuously working for society and the nation in the toughest situations can be seen in his life.
The biggest testament to this commitment was when, within just a few months of coming to power with a full majority, Prime Minister Modi’s government, with the formal approval of the Parliament, dismantled Article 370, which provided for a temporary arrangement for Jammu and Kashmir, and thus, wrote a new chapter in democratic history. People commonly misunderstand that Modiji took this step due to immediate political and economic considerations. Journalists like us remember that from 1995-96, he actively engaged in organizing the Bharatiya Janata Party in Haryana, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, and Jammu and Kashmir as the party’s General Secretary, with full determination. During our discussions, even as an RSS member, he continued to focus more on Jammu and Kashmir because the BJP needed to prepare a political base there. Despite being associated with the RSS, he kept making trips to Jammu and Kashmir.
However, in the 1990s, terrorism was at its peak. During the visit of American President Bill Clinton to India, terrorists in Chittisinghpura, Kashmir, brutally murdered 36 Sikhs. As the party’s regional coordinator, Modi immediately travelled to Kashmir. Without any security personnel or police assistance, he reached the affected area by road. At that time, Farooq Abdullah was the Chief Minister of J&K. When he found out, he wanted to know how Modi had managed to reach there. There were reports of explosives being planted on the roads by terrorists. Modi had a strong sense of duty and commitment to his work. He once told me, “I am not afraid of any danger to myself. If I do, I will find myself in difficulties.” Due to his fearless journeys to remote areas and villages in Jammu and Kashmir, Modi understood the issues of the region and was determined to develop it like the prosperous states of India. The Himalayan valleys had always captured his heart and mind from a young age.
Modi is not only considered a leader in India but also among the world’s elite leaders. However, I believe that he derives more satisfaction from campaigns that focus on providing water to villages, electricity, education for girls, homes for impoverished families, toilets, and domestic gas connections than from space missions, Mars, and lunar missions.
Therefore, I do not agree with the notion that he initially prioritized industrial development and prosperity in Gujarat and later shifted his focus to villages in response to accusations of being a “suit-boot ki sarkar” (a government that favours the rich). After all, he spent his childhood and more than 50 years visiting impoverished settlements, villages, and forests.
Recently, The Washington Post praised PM Modi, stating, “India brokered a deal among divided global powers to allay concerns and achieve 100% consensus on all developmental and geo-political issues at the G20 Summit, a big diplomatic win for PM Modi.” This is the same newspaper that has been known for critical coverage of India and Modi. The United States has considered the G20 Summit, led by India, as a complete success. The spokesperson for the U.S. Department of State, Matthew Miller, said, “This is a significant achievement. G20 is a major organization, and both Russia and China are members of it. We believe in the fact that the organization was capable of issuing a statement that calls for regional integrity and respects sovereignty. This is of utmost importance as it relates to the root cause of Russia’s aggression towards Ukraine.”
Interestingly, China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson also praised India for the summit and the joint declaration. Today, India is not only overcoming its historic hesitations with the United States on defence and strategic fronts but is also working on new dimensions. Present-day India is neither avoiding questions about its alignment with the US nor shying away from asserting that it believes in maintaining harmony between peace and power. The bilateral strategic cooperation between India and the US has been gradually increasing over the past two decades, but in recent years, under Prime Minister Modi’s leadership, significant progress has been made. It is clear that India has shifted its focus towards strengthening defence and high-technology relations with the United States, emphasizing the convergence of interests between the two countries in Asia and addressing issues like nuclear cooperation that were historically sensitive.
Since Modi took office, there has been a rapid increase in foreign direct investment and basic infrastructure development in India. There is no doubt that the foundation of Modi’s vision is based on knowledge power, people power, water power, energy power, economic power, and defence power.
Like Kashmir, PM Modi has given increasing importance to the north-east states over the past nine years. His frequent visits and active involvement of MPs, MLAs, and party leaders in these states have strengthened the BJP’s influence. In Manipur, which has been affected by violence due to conspiracies, it is hoped that the situation will improve soon.
The Modi government’s various welfare schemes are benefiting all the poor and needy people equally. Indeed, electoral success can be achieved not only through welfare schemes, but also by continuous efforts to provide education, healthcare, employment, rural development, fair returns to farmers for their produce, and social awareness for every segment of society.
This will not only lead to electoral success but also a brighter future for the country and democracy. Best wishes to Narendra Modi on his new challenges and successes.
The writer is editorial director of ITV Network-India News and Dainik Aaj Samaj.