PM Modi now template for what it means, takes to be national leader: Amit Shah

NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi is now the template for what it means and takes to be a “national leader”, Union home minister Amit Shah has said, asserting that the label was earlier handed out to even politicians of no proven merit and only capable of winning election from one or two safe Lok Sabha seats.
While national leaders were identified in the immediate aftermath of the independence movement by their “name recall” across regions because of their participation in the freedom struggle, in the latter decades, notably at the height of the coalition era, the expression came to be much abused, he said, adding that Delhi media 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 in 2014 before repeating the feat with a bigger margin in 2019.
A confidant of the Prime Minister for over three decades, Shah wrote that the best teacher for a leader is “travelling to ordinary places, meeting ordinary families, sharing ordinary experiences, and doing all this by ordinary means.”
“Narendra Modi has done so with greater frequency and perseverance than any politician in the past 75 years,” he said, adding 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”.
Noting that no party had won majority in Lok Sabha since 1984 till 2014, he said parties and Prime Ministers won majorities between 1952 and 1984 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.
With Modi’s appeal being seen as a major factor in the BJP’s win in state polls, including the recent phase of five assembly elections, he said the Prime Minister embraces 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,” the home minister said.
Modi has the “precious gift” of personal connection with every state and region, he added, noting that one must go back to his years before 2001 to understand it and to his “untiring Bharat Yatra of that period with a watchful eye, a listening ear and an open mind”. “That tapasya was his real-life university.”
The Prime Minister’s experiential learning is his cognitive base, giving him an enormous understanding of the country as a bottom-up, rather than top-down, imposed-from-above and Delhi-centric, national leader, Shah said.
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 has not diminished a bit after assuming the top executive post, Shah said, asserting that he has not sacrificed party interests for tactical gains in the government but in fact sees them as symbiotic.
It was Modi who advised him to use technology and begin the BJP membership drive on the basis of a missed call, Shah said, recalling the Prime Minister’s suggestions when he as the then party president had gone to him regarding the exercise in 2015.
Modi’s immediate response was if the party did it in the old-fashioned way, it will serve no purpose as it will “easily and lazily” enroll more and more members from areas where it was already strong, Shah said.
The missed call idea was part of a strategy to reach out to silent BJP supporters who was attracted to the party but did not know how to physically interact with its members and sign up, he said.
“In terms of membership numbers, the campaign made the BJP the largest party in any democracy. It galvanised our expansion into regions and among communities that had so far been harder to access,” he wrote.
The home minister concluded his chapter “Democracy, delivery and the politics of hope” in the book with an assertion that Modi is 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,” he said.
‘Modi@20’ is an anthology edited and compiled by BlueKraft Digital Foundation, and is a compilation of chapters authored by eminent intellectuals and domain experts, Rupa Publications have said, adding that it attempts a definitive and expansive exploration into the fundamental transformation of Gujarat and India over the last 20 years due to Modi’s “unique model of governance”.
External affairs minister S Jaishankar, NSA Ajit Doval, psephologist Pradeep Gupta, noted badminton player P V Sindhu, banker Uday Kotak, economist and former Niti Aayog head Arvind Panagariya, leading cardiologist Devi Shetty and Infosys co-founder Nandan Nilekani are among the contributors to the book.