'When the world was refining itself, India was going backwards culturally with so many rape cases and other atrocities against women, children and the elderly.'
'The growth of evil forces was very bad in the last 10 years,' Malayalam movie star Suresh Gopi, who met Narendra Modi recently tells Rediff.com's Shobha Warrier in this exclusive interview.
Suresh Gopi, the Malayalam movie star known for his social activism and forthright views on politics and other issues, found himself in a tweet Narendra Modi posted about meeting the actor.
Suresh Gopi tells Rediff.com's Shobha Warrier about his encounter with the Bharatiya Janata Party's prime ministerial candidate, and what they discussed.
How did your meeting with Narendra Modi happen?
Even before I met him, I could see and feel his charisma creating ripples all around; not only within India but across the globe.
The ripples even made its way to (United States President) Barack Obama, and when Obama gets the vibe, you know the entire world will come to know of it.
I've been worried by what has been happening in India after 2009. The adamant nature of the ruling front and the blatant way in which they have conducted corruption has been disturbing.
When the world was refining itself, India was going backwards culturally with so many rape cases and other atrocities against women, children and the elderly -- happening almost daily.
The growth of evil forces was very bad in the last 10 years.
Were you dissatisfied with the political atmosphere?
I saw political arrogance.
They were like, 'Take it or leave it, we will do the same thing again'. The attitude of the ruling party was very worrying for me.
I belong to a strong Congress family. Right from my grandfather, my family has been supporting the Congress. They offered solid support till Indira Gandhi ruled; however, the support faded out during the times of Rajiv Gandhi.
Even as a child, I knew what the symbol of the Congress was.
Was it because you were disappointed with the Congress that you started looking at Modi as an alternative?
I had heard a lot about Modi from Hindus, Muslims, even orthodox Christians. They all spoke about how they were attracted by his developmental activities.
Many talk about the 2002 riots...
When people talk about the 2002 riots, I would say, similar riots have happened all around the country; say for example, what happened in Muthanga and Poonthura in Kerala were planned political riots.
What about the Bombay riots and the Delhi riots?
When a riot happens in a city or a town or a village, the man in charge of the place is held responsible, and the same thing has happened to Modi.
But remember, the courts have exonerated him. You have to accept the court's verdict if you believe in democracy.
But what we have is not democracy; it is demonocracy! We are ruled by demons.
That is why I tell everyone, you think of the better option and this is the time to decide on that.
We should not let the devils get a third term. Let the country punish them and elect a fresh system.
We have tried so many things. Now let us try Modi and give him a chance.
His critics say there is no development in Gujarat and he is just creating hype.
Those who say that are fools. Targeting someone is a political plan, and the people of India know what the truth is.
The people of Gujarat know the truth. That is why they are electing him again and again.
When did you start thinking of Modi as a preferred alternative?
The day (Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam MP, an accused in the 2G spectrum allocation scam) Kanimozhi was elected to the Rajya Sabha, I decided, enough is enough. That was like a jolt to me.
After what happened to Nirbhaya in Delhi, after Sheila Dixit was seen as adamant and non-attentive, I just couldn't accept the Congress any more.
Then Anna Hazare started fighting for the Jan Lokpal Bill. A platform was set by Anna Hazare and I joined his think-tank.
The Aam Aadmi Party was born from the seed sown by Anna Hazare. How do you view the party?
It is not a party; it is a concept. It belongs to the people and somebody is exploiting the sentiments of the people and creating anarchy.
They are not eligible enough to carry the concept which belongs to crores of Indians.
Even when Anna Hazare started the movement, what did (AAP leader) Arvind Kejriwal do? He was speculating, calculating and was focussed. But Anna Hazare was not; he was only bothered about the people.
How was it for you, a supporter of the Congress, to switch loyalty?
It was just like supporting Rajiv Gandhi. He was not a Congress person; he was only Indira Gandhi's son. He was a pilot. When the time came for him to join politics, we had to believe in him.
Do you agree with dynastic politics?
No. I hate it now. Till Rajiv Gandhi, the role was getting transferred. It is not so now.
It is like, come what may, it is 10, Janpath and that is disastrous for India.
Let the Congressmen carry the family. Why should Indian people carry it?
Did you express your interest to meet Modi?
No. People from his office in Gujarat contacted me.
Why did they contact you?
I don't know. Later I was told by Modiji that they read about my social activities and that was why they wanted to know my vision for the state.
Those who contacted me asked me to present to him what I wanted for Kerala. They said Modiji wanted to know what I, a social activist, expected from him. So I became a non-political technical person.
I prepared a vision document with 25 points on which I touched upon not only Kerala but South India and India at large too.
When did the call come to go to Gujarat?
I was to meet him on March 17, but suddenly on the 4th I got a call asking me to meet him on the 6th itself. I was shooting then, but the producers gave me a day off and were in fact excited about the meeting. That reflected how the general public felt about Modi.
I took a flight from Coimbatore to Ahmedabad and reached there on the night of March 5. On the 6th, I visited some temples and went around Ahmedabad before going to meet Modiji.
That was the first time I touched the soil of Gujarat.
At 11 am, a car came to the hotel and took me to his office. I passed through five rooms to reach his room. We had to sit in every room before we moved to the next. When I reached his room, he opened the door for me, and then hugged me.
That was when I felt the positive energy first.
I did not go there as an admirer of Modi, but as a person to present the needs of South India.
I spoke to him about the Vizhinjam project, the high court bench, modernising the railway network, etc. and also about the girl child, an issue that is very dear to me, and about the plight of Adivasis in Kerala.
He listened intently, and also made very valuable comments too on each issue.
Till then, I thought, like many Indians, that he should be given a chance. The moment I met him, I felt, he would win.
After meeting him, I felt it would be disastrous for India if he didn't win.
India will lose five years of glory if he doesn't get to rule.
I hadn't told anyone about the meeting, but when I came back to the hotel after visiting the Sabarmati Ashram, my phone had 50 missed calls. All of them called after seeing Modiji's tweets about meeting me.
His detractors say it will be disastrous for India if he were to become the PM...
Yes, it will be disastrous for them!
Image: Suresh Gopi meets Narendra Modi in Ahmedabad on March 6.
Photograph Courtesy: Narendra Modi's Web site