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Rediff.com  » News » Sheela Says: All the Prime Minister-in-Waiting's Men

Sheela Says: All the Prime Minister-in-Waiting's Men

Last updated on: March 13, 2014 06:26 IST

For the first time ever, the BJP's headquarters for a Lok Sabha election is outside New Delhi.

Rediff.com's Sheela Bhatt's fascinating new column where she reveals the ground realities in the Battle for India.

Many New Delhi-based journalists get calls, smses and e-mails from friends, relatives and acquaintances living outside New Delhi these days, asking, "So what's the big picture?"

As Election 2014 nears, the suspense is building up.

A celebrity film director, who has directed Amitabh Bachchan and Akshay Kumar among others, asked me yesterday, "What do you think will happen?" before adding, "The general feeling (in Mumbai's film industry) is that the NDA (National Democratic Alliance) will form the government. Actually, we are all waiting for him (Narendra Modi) to open his cards. He has saved it for the last, so there is even more excitement."

So true! We have entered exciting times.

On the political chessboard there are swift moves and counter moves.

One interesting event in Indian politics is the breathtaking way in which Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi conducts his political business.

Huge political rallies, larger-than-life image-building exercises, brand-building a la the West, bombardment of his images, quotes and defence on social media, the no-holds-barred use of money power and the first of its kind networking of young minds.

The brains behind the BJP's prime ministerial election campaign work out of Gandhinagar, where Modi lives and works.

For the first time ever, the BJP's headquarters for the Lok Sabha election is outside New Delhi. The BJP's poll campaign committee chief Arun Jaitley operates from New Delhi, but Modi's plans are shaped in Gandhinagar.

The party's events are planned at the BJP's national HQ, 11, Ashoka Road, New Delhi, but all Modi's rallies, speeches and his own and the venue's security are planned in and monitored from Gandhinagar.

There is a huge youth movement on to create a buzz in favour of 'Narendra Modi for PM,' to establish him not just as the prime minister of India, but as a pan-India leader.

Of course, Modi, as a leader well-grounded in the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh's thinking, knows where the buck stops. So Modi, BJP President Rajnath Singh, Arun Jaitley, Modi's lieutenant Amit Shah and junior leaders like Smriti Irani and Piyush Goyal conduct the party affairs in such a manner that conveys the impression of a well-coordinated team.

In reality, there is the Modi brigade in Gandhinagar, and there is the BJP's New Delhi team.

Modi's cadres, not necessarily loyal to the BJP, get their brief in Gandhinagar; the BJP cadres gets their instructions from 11, Ashoka Road. Both will meet soon on the electoral battlefield to work for Modi's triumph.

Modi's Gandhinagar office is known for its efficiency. Whatever Modi wants, the way he wants it, and the speed with which he wants it, 24x7, is achieved by hardworking IAS officers known for their personal dedication to Modi.

As everyone knows, retired IAS officer Kuniyil Kailashnathan, 'KK', is Modi's chief principal secretary. He wields a lot of power and enjoys more proximity than an officer on special duty normally does in various ministries in New Delhi.

KK is a Malayali with close connections with Ma Amritanandamayi. He is considered Modi's most trusted man on the implementation of his agenda. KK worked with Modi in the chief minister's office for some seven years before retiring in May 2013.

He is Modi's interface with industry, handles his political problems, and manages the logistics of all kinds.

Next to KK is G C Murmu, a hardworking, flexible, diligent and loyal officer. He is a tribal from Orissa. Murmu functions as principal secretary and enjoys the confidence of state BJP leaders.

Then there is Arvind K Sharma, another Modi favourite. Chillingly loyal, he belongs to Azamgarh in Uttar Pradesh, and will do anything for the 'honourable CM'. He is additional principal secretary, but in effect, Modi's man for all seasons.

All three men have administrative skills, the kind of integrity that Modi demands, and have the sharp foresight that political analysts usually have. They are good in recognising if trouble is headed Modi's way.

Modi's office functions in a three-tier system. The first is the team that collects information, and works closely with him.

Another huge network works in the outside world. They give Modi the advantage through smarter and faster communication, by doing his work, and helping enhance the Modi Network.

The third tier is full of efficient people who can be called Modi's 'fire brigade'. They are trained to work under stress and are in crisis mode.

Sanjay Bhavsar, Dinesh Thakur and Tanmay Mehta handle various jobs inside Modi's office. They are neither senior nor junior, and are loyal to him.

Bharat Lal, Gujarat's resident commissioner, based in New Delhi's Gujarat Bhavan, is another IAS officer trusted by Modi. He joined Modi on his ambitious China tours and was instrumental in Modi's operation to get the Tata Nano project to Gujarat. He played a role in the Uttarakhand rescue work too.

Modi has no trusted political friends. He keeps his eyes and ears open and listens to a variety of opinion, but in the end does what he wants.

Recently, in the selection of three Rajya Sabha candidates from Gujarat, he proved stubborn and didn't listen to senior BJP leaders from New Delhi.

In the state BJP, I K Jadeja, Dilip Sanghvi, Jayanti Barot and Purshottam Rupala -- his old friends and loyalists -- are no longer close to him. Those who are close behave like slaves these days.

Currently, Amit Shah can be considered a different kind of political ally of Modi's than other party leaders since he works in Uttar Pradesh, where the election will break or make Modi's destiny.

Anandiben Patel, a long-time Modi friend, is in a different category. Currently, Vijay Rupani, a senior BJP leader from Rajkot, and ministers like Nitin Patel and Saurav Patel do Modi's political and state-level work.

These three Patels, KK, Murmu and Arvind Sharma run Gujarat affairs under Anandiben's silent watch during Modi's absence from Gandhinagar.

Anandiben does not keep good health these days, so she is lying low.

Arun Kumar Sharma, joint commissioner of police (crime), Ahmedabad, is also close to Modi.

Arun Kumar Sharma and Murmu have been questioned by the Central Bureau of Investigation in the Ishrat Jahan case for trying to artificially build up a defence case before the Special Investigation Team investigating the fake police encounter.

Those who know how Modi functions claim that seeing is believing. Modi's home, Bungalow number one, the chief minister's residence in Gandhinagar, functions as the corporate office.

Since 2011, Modi works very closely with Rajesh Jain, national convener of the Friends of BJP, who is behind many interesting networking ideas to make Modi a national figure.

Watch him here to know all what he is doing for Modi.

Another brain working silently for Modi is Prashant Kishor who has worked in the United Nations mission in Africa. He is a public health specialist. He has built up the Citizens for Accountable Government.

Jain and Kishor have as much access to Modi as Jaitley and Amit Shah.

It is remarkable to see that Modi is creating a second rung of leaders in many ways through his campaign strategies and Mission 272.

Image: Narendra Modi at an election rally.

Yesterday, Sheela Said: Delhi poll result reverberates in UP

On Monday, Sheela Said: Narendra Modi wants Varanasi, and he will get it!

Do you think Narendra Modi has been able to connect with India's youth? Vote below!

Sheela Bhatt in New Delhi