Skip to main content

Me Modi, not Hindutva: British biographer says Gujarat CM was always at odds with RSS-Sangh Parivar ideology

By Abhishek Kapoor*
Would it not make breaking news if Narendra Modi gave a sound bite saying he felt like an outsider in the RSS? That he failed to connect with them intellectually? That he had nothing to do with the Ram temple movement? Well, he did that in this campaign, and we missed it!
As journalists and editors, many times our self-absorbed opinion making is self-serving too. So the only point that made news out of British author Andy Marino’s political biography of Modi was his sadness on 2002 riots. Political observers did not bother to look beyond that in the book.
“Most of the time I found that they could not understand me,” says Modi of his disconnect with the RSS on page 62. During brainstorming sessions, “I would always sit on the last bench, preferring to listen than to participate,” is another quote.
Marino builds a narrative – with Modi’s due sanction it seems – where the BJP's Prime Ministerial nominee is at odds with the Sangh Parivar on both legs of its ideological moorings: economic and religious.
In this part of the book Marino is writing of a time when Modi was yet to arrive in the BJP, so if he, with his economic thought, felt like a misfit, clearly it must have been with the Sangh. Here’s what Marino writes: “...the solution was to produce more wealth…that would entail an alternative economic model…a free market economy…that this put him in opposition to Congress was obvious, but this placed him in opposition to his own colleagues in the RSS whose outlook was equally conventional...Modi’s economic thinking in this phase gave him a career full of friction with his colleagues it seems, whom he attempted to persuade to accept new ideas.”
This is backed by a Modi quote: “Not a single proposal, not a single initiative was appreciated…always there was resistance, always there were questions.” The author adds Modi’s experience in the parivar, because of his alternative views, his own way of looking at and approaching problems, was that of an outsider.
On the other leg of the ideological diad – Hindutva and the Ayodhya movement -- Modi’s distancing is even more dramatic. When the Advani led BJP was busy in the Ram temple movement, Modi on a sabbatical was setting up his co-ed model school – Sanskardham – on the outskirts of Ahmedabad. Marino pleads that an objective and balanced assessment of Modi’s life must take note of this. As ironies go, the book underscores that while Modi remained a mere spectator, his arch rival and now Congress’ top leader in Gujarat, Shankarsinh Vaghela was present in Ayodhya and is one of the 68 people indicted by the Liberhan Commission.
Now why is this narrative important? Of whatever I know about Marino’s book, it is by all accounts a sanitized biography. The kind of access the author has been given is incomparable and decidedly deliberate. What can be safely concluded is that contents of the book have clear sanction from the Modi team. The narrative is what Modi wants to be known.
So this is the picture of his that Modi wants the world to know: Yes, he is a product of the RSS, but he does not carry the baggage of Sangh’s thinking on two of its most important moorings. On economics he is going to be a free-marketeer, not a Swadeshi wonk. Comparison is drawn with Margaret Thatcher on page 235. Page 193 mentions how Manmohanomics has impressed Modi, despite the jibes the two have shared in the campaign. And on Ayodhya it’s an arms length. 
The lesson Modi drew from Ayodhya was that India could be governed from the centre... not the extremes. It is clear someone in Modi team told the author this. On page 211, Marino says as much. Modi’s right wing route was by now a reference not to chauvinistic Hindutva – distant, irrelevant – but to the idea of the free market and innovative governance.
If in a week’s time Narendra Modi is India’s next Prime Minister, this is how he would want himself to be seen. India's Thatcher Period.
---
*Times Now representative in Ahmedabad, Kapoor is a prolific blogger. See http://abhishek-kapoor.blogspot.in 

Comments

TRENDING

Bill Gates as funder, author, editor, adviser? Data imperialism: manipulating the metrics

By Dr Amitav Banerjee, MD*  When Mahatma Gandhi on invitation from Buckingham Palace was invited to have tea with King George V, he was asked, “Mr Gandhi, do you think you are properly dressed to meet the King?” Gandhi retorted, “Do not worry about my clothes. The King has enough clothes on for both of us.”

What's Bill Gates up to? Have 'irregularities' found in funding HPV vaccine trials faded?

By Colin Gonsalves*  After having read the 72nd report of the Department Related Parliamentary Standing Committee on alleged irregularities in the conduct of studies using HPV vaccines by PATH in India, it was startling to see Bill Gates bobbing his head up and down and smiling ingratiatingly on prime time television while the Prime Minister lectured him in Hindi on his plans for the country. 

Displaced from Bangladesh, Buddhist, Hindu groups without citizenship in Arunachal

By Sharma Lohit  Buddhist Chakma and Hindu Hajongs were settled in the 1960s in parts of Changlang and Papum Pare district of Arunachal Pradesh after they had fled Chittagong Hill Tracts of present Bangladesh following an ethnic clash and a dam disaster. Their original population was around 5,000, but at present, it is said to be close to one lakh.

Muted profit margins, moderate increase in costs and sales: IIM-A survey of 1000 cos

By Our Representative  The Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad’s (IIM-A's) latest Business Inflation Expectations Survey (BIES) has said that the cost perceptions data obtained from India’s business executives suggests that there is “mild increase in cost pressures”.

Anti-Rupala Rajputs 'have no support' of numerically strong Kshatriya communities

By Rajiv Shah  Personally, I have no love lost for Purshottam Rupala, though I have known him ever since I was posted as the Times of India representative in Gandhinagar in 1997, from where I was supposed to do political reporting. In news after he made the statement that 'maharajas' succumbed to foreign rulers, including the British, and even married off their daughters them, there have been large Rajput rallies against him for “insulting” the community.

Magnetic, stunning, Protima Bedi 'exposed' malice of sexual repression in society

By Harsh Thakor*  Protima Bedi was born to a baniya businessman and a Bengali mother as Protima Gupta in Delhi in 1949. Her father was a small-time trader, who was thrown out of his family for marrying a dark Bengali women. The theme of her early life was to rebel against traditional bondage. It was extraordinary how Protima underwent a metamorphosis from a conventional convent-educated girl into a freak. On October 12th was her 75th birthday; earlier this year, on August 18th it was her 25th death anniversary.

Govt putting India's professionals, skilled, unskilled labour 'at mercy of' big business

By Thomas Franco, Dinesh Abrol*  As it is impossible to refute the report of the International Labour Organisation, Chief Economic Advisor Anantha Nageswaran recently said that the government cannot solve all social, economic problems like unemployment and social security. He blamed the youth for not acquiring enough skills to get employment. Then can’t the people ask, ‘Why do we have a government? Is it not the government’s responsibility to provide adequate employment to its citizens?’

A Hindu alternative to Valentine's Day? 'Shiv-Parvati was first love marriage in Universe'

By Rajiv Shah*   The other day, I was searching on Google a quote on Maha Shivratri which I wanted to send to someone, a confirmed Shiv Bhakt, quite close to me -- with an underlying message to act positively instead of being negative. On top of the search, I chanced upon an article in, imagine!, a Nashik Corporation site which offered me something very unusual. 

Youth as game changers in Lok Sabha polls? Young voter registration 'is so very low'

By Dr Mansee Bal Bhargava*  Young voters will be the game changers in 2024. Do they realise this? Does it matter to them? If it does, what they should/must vote for? India’s population of nearly 1.3 billion has about one-fifth 19.1% as youth. With 66% of its population (808 million) below the age of 35, India has the world's largest youth population. Among them, less than 40% of those who turned 18 or 19 have registered themselves for 2024 election. According to the Election Commission of India (ECI), just above 1.8 crore new voters (18-and 19-year-olds) are on the electoral rolls/registration out of the total projected 4.9 crore new voters in this age group.

IMA vs Ramdev: Why what's good or bad for goose should be good or bad for gander

By Dr Amitav Banerjee, MD* Baba Ramdev and his associate Balkrishna faced the wrath of the Supreme Court for their propaganda about their Ayurvedic products and belittling mainstream medicine. Baba Ramdev had to apologize in court. His apology was not accepted and he may face the contempt of court with harsher punishment. The Supreme Court acted on a public interest litigation (PIL) moved by the Indian Medical Association (IMA).