NEW DELHI: Power, prosperity, and peak-success are important, but that is possible through the ability to struggle and the persistence of life values. So Narendrabhai Modi’s Prime Ministership and his journey of struggle are more important than analysis of political successes. And I find it preferable to discuss victory at every stage. There will probably be very few journalists in the capital at this time who have been in Gujarat from 1972 to 1976 as correspondents. That’s why I want to start from there. As a correspondent for Hindustan Samachar (a news agency), I got the opportunity to work full time in Ahmedabad for about eight months during a Congress session during 1973-76, when the Gujarat students’ movement against Chimanbhai Patel and the Emergency in 1975 were taking place. During the Emergency, Narendra Modi was doing a daring task of secretly disseminating news and views on the links between the Sangh-Jana Sangh and the opposition leaders underground and the suppression of the government. In those days, I could not meet him. But incidentally, Pankaj Modi, brother of Narendra Bhai, was also working in the Hindustan News office. At the same time, information was received from Pankaj Bhai and Bureau Chief Bhupat Parikh about this family and Narendra Bhai’s deep loyalty to the Sangh and social service since his youth.
In the initial stages, there was not much of a sense of emergency. Newspapers like Gujarat Samachar and Sandesh were coming out under the shadow of “censorship”. Even the magazine “Sadhana” associated with the Sangh was also being published. Anyway, no anti-government news was given from the agency. The merger of agencies also took place until 1976 under the name “Samachar”. That is why, during the journey of the new capital Gandhinagar by minibus going to and from Ahmedabad every day at the time fixed by the government, and then in the journalist rooms and offices, confirmed and unconfirmed information about Gujarat politics, emergencies, censors, and underground leaders kept coming in. In the same days, Vishnu Pandyaji, the editor of Sadhana, also got opportunities to discuss politics and literature by visiting his office. Later, in addition to editor-literary Vishnu Pandya, Narendra Modi wrote an emergency book in Gujarati. That is why I am entitled to say that Narendra Modi played an important role in running the activities of the struggle against the Emergency and the government. This period of struggle probably taught Narendra Modi to move forward on the rocky steps of national politics. The goal may not have been power, but in the most difficult situations, the determination to work for society and the nation is seen in his life.
The biggest proof of this resolve is that within a few months of coming to power for the second time with an absolute majority, the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, with the approval of Parliament, demolished the wall of Article 370 of the temporary arrangement for Kashmir. A new chapter of history had been written. People commonly believe that this idea came to Modiji as a result of the current political and economic situation. Journalists like us recall that as General Secretary of the Bharatiya Janata Party in 1995-96, Haryana, Punjab, Himachal, and J&K gathered with full capacity to activate the organization. Even during discussions with us, J&K used to be more concentrated because the BJP had to prepare political ground there. Even while in the Sangh, he used to travel to Jammu and Kashmir. But terrorism was at its peak in the nineties. During the visit of US President Bill Clinton to India, terrorists brutally killed 36 Sikhs in Chattisingpura, Kashmir. As the state’s in-charge, Narendra Modi immediately left for Kashmir. Without any security personnel or police assistance, Narendra Modi reached the affected area by road. Farooq Abdullah was then the Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir. When he got the news, he called and wanted to know, “How did you get there? There are also reports of terrorists laying gunpowder on the roads here and there. Taking your risk, I myself will get into trouble.” Not only that, but he complained to party chief L.K. Advaniji that “your colleague is roaming around without security at any time without informing you. This is wrong”. Advaniji was also called. Even then, Narendra Bhai politely replied that “I would return only after the last rites of the dead”. Anyway, the valleys of the Himalayas have dominated their hearts and minds since their youth. In Leh-Ladakh, where people get distracted by the lack of oxygen, Narendra Modi had no problem. Before 2001, he had visited Tibet, Mansarovar, and Kailash Mountain in addition to Ladakh; then he also dreamed that thousands of Indians would be able to go to Kailash Mansarovar via Leh sometime. This would be the easiest way. It is expected that Ladakh and Kashmir will become more accessible, attractive, and convenience-rich than Switzerland in the coming years.
Efforts to improve relations not only with America and Europe, but also with China have been making the entire Jammu and Kashmir region and Ladakh happy. Therefore, along with fulfilling the demand to make Ladakh a Union Territory, Jammu and Kashmir was also kept as a Union Territory for the time being, and the citizens were also provided with facilities and laws applicable throughout India. But by giving complete freedom to the army, the Modi government ensured that even an inch of India’s land could not be touched by the demonic feet of China. With the patience, social, scientific, medical, and administrative ability with which Modi worked in the worldwide crisis of the corona pandemic, India’s prestige in the world increased manifold. The victory of military force and diplomatic success on China’s front is a new chapter in world politics. India’s peaceful policy has played an important role at the United Nations in international disputes like the Ukraine-Russia war. The balance of relations with America, Europe, Russia, China, and Islamic countries in East and West Asia and Africa has given India’s economic power a new twist. There are certainly economic challenges, such as inflation and the unemployment crisis, but the Modi government did not allow any serious social crisis to arise by making arrangements to meet the minimum needs of crores of poor families.
Like the Himalayas, Narmada is attached to his heart. That is why, while being the head of the BJP organisation and the Chief Minister, Narendra Modi ji got opportunities to talk on Narmada. Three years ago, Sanjay Arya of Shubhi Publications admitted during discussion that there was no book in English on the importance of Narmada apart from political controversies. I accepted the assignment. A lot of table books with gorgeous pictures were prepared. I got a message from Modi ji to write for the book. Then he sent the manuscript, which then Prime Minister Narendra Modi, despite his busy schedule, read carefully and sent a beautifully written note. After the publication of the published book, he met with the publisher, and became engrossed in talks on Narmada-Himalaya. Discussions continued beyond the stipulated time. However, the real happiness for both of us was that, after the completion of the construction of Narmada Sarkar Sarovar Dam, which has been hanging for 50 years, millions of farmers are getting drinking water for agriculture and villages. I think that more than the successes of space, Mars, lunar vehicles, water to villages, electricity, education to daughters, houses for poor families, more satisfaction comes from the campaigns to provide toilets and domestic gas. That’s why I do not agree with the notion that keeping in mind the industrial development and prosperity in Gujarat, he first gave importance to industrialists and changed the agenda to villages after being accused of “suit-boot ki Sarkar”. After all, most of his childhood and up to the age of 50 were spent roaming in poor settlements, villages, and forests. Campaigns like Yoga, Swachh Bharat, Ayushman Bharat, Healthy India, and Educate India can make India powerful and prosperous in the true sense. New social reform laws, such as those that freed millions of women from the unfair practise of divorce, also revolutionised India’s social conditions; that’s why, I wrote a book on the historical and current changes of “Social Reform in India,” and Prime Minister Narendra Modi sent a good message to start the book. Along with the elimination of terrorists, the constructive way to deal with terrorism is socio-economic development. That is why the world is standing with India due to the efforts of Narendra Modi, and Islamic countries have also turned away from Pakistan. Therefore, for the determination and dreams of Narendra Modi as a mass leader, aside from politics, controversy, and challenges, he should be congratulated on his birthday for his good works.
The author is editorial director of ITV Network-India News and Dainik Aaj Samaj.