One of the truly enigmatic personalities on the contemporary Indian political canvas, Narendra Damodardas Modi is difficult to ignore. From his humble beginnings as a RSS pracharak to his rise in the Hindutva ranks, and from being Bharatiya Janata Party' master planner to one of the its most popular and controversial state chief ministers, Modi's mantra of change and development is gradually finding many takers. Though he evokes vastly different reactions among the citizens for his alleged role during the Godhra aftermath, what is absolutely clear is that he indeed is racing towards the centre stage, making the 2014 General Elections look more like a Presidential system - where, you either vote for him or against him. And that, as they say, is the Modi effect. Kingshuk Nag paints the most vivid portrait of the extraordinary politician who is poised to take on a new role in the coming years.
The author, Kingshuk Nag, joined IBNLive readers for an interaction on his book 'The Namo Story: A Political Life'.
Q. In my observation Media specially English Media is biased towards Modi. As every news is portrayed as "Blow to Modi ..." . And is every step to propagate development is termed as opportunistic. Why is it so? Asked by: Kisalay
A. This is a question or an observation? I do not think that the English media is biased against Modi. I really do not think so. BTW somesections of the Gujarati press is also not exactly enamored with Modi.
Q. If not Narendra Modi, who is the best bet for the BJP's prime ministerial candidate, according to you? Asked by: Rakesh Shukla
A. Very difficult question since both the BJP and Congress are short of charismatic leaders. I do not know but maybe they can try Sushma Swaraj.. she is a lady, so will appeal to the women. Mr Advani is too old I personally feel......
Q. Do you think it is unfair for the US to have denied Narendra Modi a visa? Asked by: Arvind Kumar
A. Can't say. This was a decision taken by the US in 2005. It was based on the interplay of forces in their country. They revoked Mr Modi's tourist visa saying that it violated a particular section of an Act that governed entry of foreign visitors. At the same time they did not grant him a diplomatic visa saying that he was not coming to the US for a purpose that was diplomatic. If you recollect he was going to address the meeting of hotel and motel owners of Asian origin.
Q. How do you compare Narendra Modi with Rajiv Gandhi as far as their role in controlling the riots. Asked by: Akshat Shankar
A. Both were equal failures. We say how Rajiv Gandhi 'allowed' the anti Sikh program in Delhi in 1984 and similarly Modi stood inert as Muslims were getting butchered in Gujarat in 2002.
Q. Do you think Modi as PM candidate can get 200 seats for BJP in 2014 Lok Sabha elections Asked by: krish
A. Can't say. It is too early to predict considering that the elections are more than a year away....
Q. Why makes Modi so special and y there is an undercurrent for Modi despite him being the most controversial politician of our times? Asked by: Satyendra
A. It is not that Modi is special. It is that the country is yearning for a change. People want change, but do not know what is the change that they want. Some people see Modi as the change and therefore they are rooting for him. The fact that he is energetic and seen as a great administrator is leading to more and more followers for Modi.
Q. Modi has been compared to a modern day Nero by the apex court ? do you think the court went overboard? Asked by: Aniek
A. That was an expression used by a particular judge of the Supreme Court. I do not want to comment on judicial observations, though the Modi government's response to the riots and post riot situation was far from satisfactory - to put it mildly.
Q. Though Modi is racing fast to the centre stage, it will be extremely difficult for him to become PM unless BJP gets clear majority in 2014 elections which looks impossible as of now.Your views pl. Asked by: Shaym Vadalker
A. If BJP emerges as the largest single party, heads and shoulders above other parties, then I think they will cobble up a majority. Remember that the state of politics in the country being what it is, smaller parties will gravitate towards the party that is in the best possible position to form a government. They are not going to be constrained by ideological considerations... In that case if Modi is the leader of the BJP there is a good chance that he will become the PM.
Q. Will Modi's success formula which has been such a huge success in Gujarat and has led to development in the state actually work nationally as well? Asked by: Aniek
A. Gujarat is a forward state and Gujaratis are very progressive and entrepreneurial . The credit of the development of Gujarat should go to Modi or to his predecessors is a moot point. There is nothing known as Modi success formula, in my opinion. Therefore I am unable to answer your question.
Q. How much of effort did you have to put while researching and penning down the book on Narendra Modi? For how many years have you been planning this book? Asked by: Aniek
A. Since 2002 I have been planning the book. But the focus of the book is different from what I planned in 2002. That time it was to be focussed only on Gujarat 2002. But with the passage of time my perspective changed. Last year when it became clear that Modi could be BJP's PM candidate I decided to write a biography of his..
Q. Why media/secular politicians are worried about 2002 riots but are silent on expulsion of Kashmiri pundits from valley or Godhra incident or many other riots took place after independence? Is it not due appeasement of Muslims? Asked by: RAMESH AGARWAL
A. Who said that the media is not concerned about expulsion of Kashmiri pandits from the Valley. They are and also about infiltration of Bangaldeshis into India from the eastern borders...
Q. Is it not due to pressure from UPA govt/Sonia Gandhi to visiting secretary of state of USA that Modiji was denied visa for USA? Asked by: RAMESH AGARWAL
A. I have no direct knowledge of this. From what I know there are strong anti Modi lobby of Indians in the US who lobbied hard in Capitol Hill who worked very hard to deny him a visa. Ultimately the Bush administration and US secretary of state Condoleeza rice to the decision.
Q. What is mantra behind Modi sir's success? Asked by: sukumar
A. Modi is a very focussed man, very determined and single minded in pursuit of his goal. This I think is responsible for his success. He is also an iconoclast and not ready to stop at anything. He is also a very good organizer and has got a very good people connect. This in short is an answer to your question
Q. Are we scared of tough administrators. We seem to be happy with Manmohan types go with the wind ultimately being branded as soft state. Asked by: Rakesh Katyal
A. I do not think this is correct. After all Mrs Indira Gandhi was a very tough administrator and she was PM for a long long time. On the contrary people want a tough administrator.......
Q. What would be 'Modi's Operandi' for 2014 polls? Can Modi have a pan-India charm or will it be Gujarat-centric? Will Modi be an agent of change or will the 'Maut ka saudagar' continue to haunt him? Is Modi the 'Iron Man India' needs or will he be just 'Another Brick In the Wall'? Asked by: lennonsri
A. So many ideas in one question! He obviously has some pan Indian charm and therfore is offering himself as a PM candidate. Fro Muslims Modi will remain as a maut ka saudagar, make no mistake. Modi will certainly NOT be a brick in the wall. I do not know whether he will be an iron man, because he is yet to be tested outside of Gujarat. I do not know Modi's operandi because he is capable of great surprises.....
Q. How do you compare the Modi of 2002 and the prime ministerial in waiting Modi now? has there been a subtle change in all these years? Asked by: Aniek
A. I am sure that the last ten years have changed Modi as well. If in 2002 he were sure that the riots would ruin his reputation he would have made a herculaen effort to control the riots. This he did not do. Ten years later, this man groomed in the Hindutva school obviously realises that this ancient country of ours is basically a secular country. Therefore he has to make himself acceptable to the Muslims and the minorities.
Q. How true is the observation that Modi has a huge fan following among women? Asked by: Pallavi Krishan
A. Modi has a huge fan base among women in Gujarat. However I am told that the craze for Modi is now much less than what it was say five years ago. I do not know whether he has a fan base amongst women across the country. Possibly he does not....
Q. If Narendra Modi does become the prime minister, how effective would he be? Asked by: Ibrahim Hussain
A. Interesting question.. Time alone will show.. But be sure that if Modi becomes the PM he will be dictatorial because thats his basic nature. His effectivity will also depend on other factors, like the sate of theeconomy, the rainfalls, the price sitaution etc. So this is a hypothetical question. We can cross the bridge only whn we come to it...
Q. What best describes Narendra Modi - Magician, Dictator, Fraud, Achiever, or a Gas bag? Asked by: Keerthi Sinha
A. A bit of all ! ( Though the word fraud I will avoid)
Q. Don't you think that the critics of NAMO should visit Gujarat atleast once to see the phenomenal development Gujarat has under gone during the last decade under the leadership of NAMO, before critising him? Asked by: Shaym Vadalker
A. Analysts should certainly visit Gujarat to study the dynamics of development there and understand why Gujarat has grown. They should also try and figure out whether this growth has been due to Modi or due to other factors. BTW this has nothing to do with criticising Modi or praising him. If there is a strong PM candidate it will be good to evaluate objectively and minutely his present performance..
Q. Hi Sir, Hope you have read the book "Narendra Modi: the man, the times", I read it and felt like a book being written by left writer against a right-wing leader. Wanted to know will your book satisfy my appetite to know more good things that Modi has been doing? Asked by: Adarsh
A. I have not read the book so cannot comment. As far as my book is concerned - I think - it is a balanced book and shows both sides of Modi -the things because of which he is lauded and because of which he is criticised. i commend you to read the book.
Q. What is the reason that countries like the US and UK that had branded Modi a murderer for his role in the 2002 Godhra riots and denied him a visa have now done a volte face and arduously wooing him? Asked by: concerned indian
A. The events of Gujarat 2002 had shocked the world and since Modi was the boss in Gujarat these countries ( lobbied hard by anti Modi forces in those countries) derined him a visa. Now they are assiduously courting him for business reasons. money makes the mare go, the lure is where the lucre lies. And Modi's Gujarat offers good investment prospects. Thus US and British companies are making a beeline for Gujarat. Since these business lobbies have great strength in their respective countries they are making their governments move..
Q. There is a perception that Modi enjoys a mass appeal. How pan India is Modi's appeal? Asked by: ek amdavadi
A. Modi enjoys a mass appeal, no doubt about that. How pan India this appeal is difficult to say with precision. The results of Election 2014 will answer that question....
Q. Do you think Modi mania can sweep BJP to power at the centre in the 2014 elections? Asked by: asal gujarati
A. Since the BJP does not have pan Indian presence that will be difficult. But Modi at the head of BJP is going to net more votes from Urban India than if he were not. At the same time Modi's projection as PM candidate can lead to the Muslims rallying behind the Congress once again..
Q. Don't you think in the lager interest of the country as to have an effective government after 2014 elections, Modi and Nitish Kumar should shun their differences and join hands? Asked by: Shaym Vadalker
A. Politics is all about power play. It is also the art of the possible. no politician thinks about the interest of the country. If you think so, banish the thought. Yes if Nitish Kumar and Narendra Modi think that it will be in the interest of both of them to join hands, they will do so. No doubt about that.
Q. Is it not sad, according to you, that even peace-loving, otherwise humane people find no fault with Modi? and don't you think BJP would alienate many voters by choosing Modi as its prime ministerial candidate? Asked by: puneri
A. Yes minority votes will be voted enmasse against BJP,if the party has Modi as the PM candidate. So the second part of your question is correct. The first qustion realtes to a value judgement and I do not want to comment on that
Q. The media perception of Modi as dictator, autocratic. To what extent this is true? Asked by: RR
A. His experience of governance in Gujarat shows it to be correct. His ministers are all unempowered ciphers.He directly deals with bureaucrats. all his MLAS are also nobody's and so is the state BJP. If Modi becomes PM he will reduce the central BJP to the position of his hand maiden.
Q. Both Narendra Modi and Nitesh Kumar are being attributed with transforming their respective states. Who do you think is a better leader - Modi or Nitesh Kumar? Asked by: rathore s
A. This is a very leading question and I do not know how to answer this . bot have their strengths and weaknesses. Nitish Kumar i think is getting traction because a lot of opposition to Modi. If there were no Modi in the fray, Ntiish Kumar would not have emerged as a strong candidate!
Q. Gujarat is the land of entrepreneurs and has always been a progressive state for decades before Modi was anywhere in the picture. Yet wherever Modi goes he is lauded for the so-called transformation of Gujarat. What do you attribute this Modi madness to? Asked by: s chand
A. Modi has come at a particular time in the history of Gujarat and fulfills a particular need. The Sangh parivar since the Ramjanm bhoomi days have worked in Gujarat and has created a situation where Modi has been naturally thrown up as a leader.
Q. Do you really think the battle this time is between Modi and Rahul Gandhi? Asked by: Pallavi Krishan
A. No. We don't have a presidential system of elections in India. So its a battle between parties. But Modi through projection of his personality is trying to make it a presidential type poll. Rahul seems to be reacting to Modi.
Q. What according to you is the 'NaMo mantra'? Asked by: Pallavi Krishan
A. This question you must direct to Mr NaMo himself !
Q. Will Narendra Modi make a good PM? Asked by: neeta
A. We can cross the bridge when we come to it. ! Depends on the situation that is faced by the country if and when Modi becomes the PM,The state of the economy, the balance of power with neigbors etc. There are so many factor.....
Q. India's business class seems to have lapped up Modi's 'development mantra'. Certain other sections of society, especially from among the middle and upper middle class, too believe the man is more about 'action' than 'words'. (while drawing parallels with Manmohan Singh). So you personally think, this 'trend' is going to help Modi win the 'coveted seat'? Asked by: priya
A. It certainly will give him traction ,considering that there are more urban seats this time in Lok sAbha ( due to dilimitation of constituencies that has resulted in more seats in cities). moreover with business supporting him, Modi will have access to good amount of funds. Elections in India are very costly and require access to huge amount of moolah. All this will help Modi.
Q. I am guessing your book takes a critical view of the man who a good part of India thinks, should be the next PM. Do you fear a backlash from Modi supporters, because of the book? Asked by: priya
A. None absolutely .. The book shows his goods points and is also critical of him.. morevoer Modi reveals in criticisms. The more you criticise him, the more he likes it. He is always fighting this foe real or imaginary. So no problem.