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'If it hadn't been for Godhra, Modi would be history'

Last updated on: April 19, 2013 11:04 IST

'If it hadn't been for Godhra, Modi would be history'



Modi believes that if he is at the helm of affairs in the Bharatiya Janata Party and the party gets 190 seats in the polls, he will have a reasonable chance of becoming prime minister, feels Nilanjan Mukhopadhyay, the author of Narendra Modi: The Man, The Times. 

When Mukhopadhyay took up the task to write on the Gujarat chief minister, Modi initially gave him the rare access but later withdrew. Mukhopadhyay's authorised biography of the man of the moment turned into an unauthorised one.

Nilanjan Mukhopadhyay was on Rediff Chat on Thursday to take questions on Narendra Modi and share his insights about the man whose future that seems to be intricately linked with the future of India. 

Read the chat transcript:

Raghu1962: Good Afternoon Sir. Please let us know your views on acceptance of Mr Modi as leader of India by external parties - that is countries such as USA, China, Russia, Japan, European Nations on one hand and countries like Pakistan, Afghanistan and other middle east countries. We, as people of India, undoubtedly want him to lead India for next 10 years atleast.

Modi's acceptance on the international scenario has changed but there is still opposition to him. I will be supportive of Modi if he becomes more inclusive in his style.

Sandeep: Could you please name some of Modi's initiatives in Gujarat that you truly admire as an impartial observer? 

One of the areas in which Modi has done a lot is rural electrification. He has promoted tourism in Gujarat and now has embarked on developing the coastline of Gujarat. There are several other initiatives of his in education. My book has it all.

raj2212: US think tank says there would be rise in militsancy if Namo is selected as PM?

I do not know which US think tank you are quoting. Moreover, all think tanks, think from a subjective perspective. There is no way one can quantify if Modi becoming PM will result in increased militancy but surely there are a large number of people who are opposed to him just many support him. How many numbers are on which side will be known only in elections and not anywhere else.

Ravi: What would your reaction be if Modi became PM? Would it be good or bad for India?

It is a hypothetical question. First we have to see if he becomes PM. Then we have to see what policies he pursues. Good or bad for the country would depend on that.

Rajan: How about his English language knowledge?

Modi is comfortable in English. But it is not his primary language. He definitely is most articulate either in Gujarati or Hindi.

Jayesh: Every party is communal in india..why blame only BJP or narendra modi? as..1984 shows true face of gandhi family?

There is no clear definition of what is communalism and what does a party do to be called communal. My understanding is any party which considers religion to be main basis of social identity, is communal. Anyone who says we are Hindus, Muslims or Christians first and then Indians is communal. I would say I am an Indian first and only thereafter a Hindu. Similarly, for the others.

Gmmec: If BJP has to win 2014, then they have to project Modi as PM.. otherwise it will be very interesting fight between Congress and BJP...

The BJP will have to decide over the next few months if they are going to have a PM candidate or not like the Congress did not have any in 2004. Modi surely has a base outside Gujarat also, but how much this is we can not say.

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Image: A protest against Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi
Photographs: Reuters


Modi needs to find more support outside Gujarat

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Varungurgaon: Hi Sir, what do you think, that what has made Modi as Modi we see today. Any incident of his life which could have impacted him deeply, kindly let us know.

In my book I have written that Modi was very focused in achieving what he wanted. He worked very hard, continues to be a workaholic, sleeps barely for a few hours and never tires of trying to learn new things. My book has quite a bit of this. A very important part of his life was when he went away from home when he still in his teens. he told me he will write detail about those years at some point.

Hiren: Bjp should not take JDU seriously if they wish to go out of NDA no problem its their choice but BJP agar power me aana hai then Modiji is only choice sure he has capability to bring loss seat of JDU

The BJP has steadily lost allies since 2004. It needs to have allies because on its own, no party, including BJP, are unlikely to reach the magic mark of 272 in the next Lok Sabha poll. The BJP should talk to JD(U) to ensure that it remains within the alliances. But the statements of JD(U) leaders are typical of muscle flexing before polls.

Rajan: Can Modiji sustain in Delhi politics? 

Modi can sustain and be success in Delhi politics if he becomes more inclusive. He must take the poorer sections of people, the under-privileged, the socially ostracized, the backward people. At the moment, there is one section of Indians who are supporting him and another set which does not support him.

Manav: Will Modi ever be punished for what he did? How can a man like him become a public leader?

India is a country where the judiciary is completely independent and assertive. We also believe in the dictum that no one is to considered guilty till found so. Till the time, the courts say that Modi is guilty for anything that happened in 2002, we have to accept the verdict. The opinion of each one of us is subjective but that cannot be considered the truth, not even my view.

Dominic: What are the three greatest challenges before Modi

In the immediate context, he has to make his image more acceptable, find more allies, and secure greater support outside Gujarat.

Mghede: I think people like Adavani ji to make a call and hang their boots. They need to mentor not mislead

That is your opinion that Advani must declare himself to be out of the running for the PM's post. But that decision cannot be forced on him. Just like no one can tell Tendulkar to retire. If the selectors think he is no good for the team they will drop him. In politics the selectors are the people.

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Photographs: Reuters
Tags: BJP , JDU , Modi , Modiji , NDA

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Modi's style is take it or leave it

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Rajesh: 1984 was not riots, it was mass murder 

Of course the anti-Sikh riots of 1984 were terrible. I personally was involved in relief and rehabilitation in Delhi and had spent several months working with the victims of the riots helping them to get back in life. I spent a lot of time in the worst affected areas like Trilokpuri and Sultanpuri and also in new colonies like Tilak Vihar that came up to rehabilitate the victims. But one episode of violence cannot be used as a justification for another episode of selective attacks on any single community.

Anjan: Hi sir, How do you fancy your chances in bringing all the regional parties together if would be chosen as the candidate for PM?

I had posed this question to Modi in the context of the BJP losing allies. He had said that when the BJP was winning seats it was getting allies. But they started deserting the ship when the BJP began losing. He said that if the BJP's winnability increases, the party will get more allies. I think that Modi feels that if the BJP gets to anywhere close to 180-200 seats and he is at the helm, his chances of become PM will be very bright. Whether that happens or not will depend on a lot of ifs and buts.

Ramesh: How do you think Modi will reach out to the minorities? Also what about Karnataka?

I am not sure that Modi wants to reach out to the minorities by making any grand gesture. His style is 'take it or leave it'. It is like extend support Modi for what he offers on a as is where is basis. This has happened to some extent in Gujarat and Modi hopes that collective memory is short.

Deepak: What you feel about future of our mother country India?

I do not look at India as either a mother or a father figure. For me it is a matter of nationality and I am proud of it. I feel the future is bright for India and for it to remain so, we must remain democratic.

Murali: We need leader like Modiji

That is your opinion. I am sure others may have slightly different views. Just as they will accept your right to have your views, you must also allow others their views even if it is different from yours.

Naanee: If you are successful in your party to sleep

I am not in party. I am a journalist and an author.

Gyan: Hmm... So many are logged in... Think most from the IT companies .. As usual no work 

Chat rooms are full of people who are adding to the GDP. Increase consumption. But that is another topic, faraway from Mr Modi...

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Image: Narendra Modi addresses a function in Ahmedabad
Photographs: Courtesy: Narendra Modi's website

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Very little chance that Modi will find any support in Kerala

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Sasa: What Modiji thinks about himself as a PM? Is he ready to leave Guj and join delhi for 2014 elections?

I think Modi began his campaign in 2012 with the intention of preparing for the Lok Sabha polls. He is ready for the Centre. The questions is who will he be most comfortable with in the state. His home base cannot be unstable if he moves to Delhi.

Mghede: Hello Modiji. You are the only hopes for this country, please fulfill our hopes. Don't bother about useless Nitish Kumar. If BJP does not project you, please break and come out we will support you

Is this a question for me or an advice for Modi?

Manoj: Why Modiji is not solving the internal polictics/controversies under BJP? 

Within the party, Modi has just become a member of the Parliamentary Board. Till a few days ago, he was just a chief minister and had no say in party maters in any formal capacity. Let us see how he uses his presence in the party.

Anupam: I just don't understand one riot makes Modi so hated a person which he did not even instigate while Congress instigated 1984 riots and got 3,000 sikhs killed and just one apology makes them the purest human beings on earth. What logic is this.

I said earlier, one riot can not be justification for another. The 1984 riots were terrible and should never have happened. We should have a closure and those who are guilty should be punished. But if that dopes not happen for whatever reason, does not mean that we should not demand justice for the victims of 2002 riots

Kishore: Modi what is ur plans in south India

I am not Modi. But I can try to analyse his strategy. He will look for allies in Tamil Nadu where he has good ties with Jayalalithaa. He also has to look for allies in Andhra. Karnataka, the BJP is in a bad way and Modi will expect some personal base. In Kerala, I do not think there is any chance of any support for Modi. It a totally polarised state.

Gaurav: How would you rate Modi has a human being?

He is a fine human being. He has his positive qualities and his negative qualities like everyone.

raj: How much is the chance of Mr Modi to become PM of India

This question is too premature. I have said this earlier also. A lot would depend on how political developments take place over the next few months.

sa: How do you rate modi as a CM and as a PM

Modi as CM was certainly able to bring in a certain amount of dynamism into the governance of the state. But he also followed certain policies that I disagree with and have written in my book. There are two sides to every coin. That is a beauty of democracy.

DeeptiWhy did Modi stop giving you access? Did he not agree with what you were writing?

I cannot answer that question and do not want to speculate. I remain thankful to him for having spared whatever time he did for my book. But I wish, he had continued to give me access. I had promised I would not slander him though the right to disagree shall remain mine.

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Image: Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi presents a bouquet to AIADMK Supremo J Jayalalithaa at her residence in Chennai

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Sadbhavana fast was the launch of Modi's campaign for 2012 assembly polls

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Modi: Is it possible that Modi can break away to form his own party if BJP does not project him as PM candidate?

In politics nothing is impossible. However, at the moment I do not foresee such a situation in the near future.

duh: What do you people mean by inclusiveness ? Wear skull cap, attend masses etc?

No, inclusiveness does not mean skull caps. For instance in Gujarat; more has to be done by the state government for the SCs/STs and other poorer and deprived sections. One cannot have two groups -- the haves and the have-nots. And this includes political rights and social respectability. No one should be looked at with suspicion simply because of how they look and their clothes.

Sushma: Will Modi get political allies even if they get 190 seats? 

I think Modi believes that if he is at the helm of affairs in BJP and the party gets 190 seats, he will have a reasonable chance of becoming PM.

Rajat: You say that you don't agree with Modi's thinking, why then you studied him and wrote a book on Modi. If despite spending time with him and knowing him, you cannot like him, speaks about your commercial intent of just selling the book and not serious journalism. How you take that criticism? 

Writing a book on any subject does not mean that you agree with the views of the person. I have written a biography and not an opinion article on Modi. I chose Modi because he is one of the most significant leaders in contemporary Indian politics.

Svkumar: What do you think of Modi's Sadbhavana fast?

It was the launch of his electoral campaign for the 2012 assembly polls

LAL: Does Godhra incident still haunt Modi

I have said earlier and will repeat: If it had not been for Godhra, Modi would have been history because the BJP in all likelihood would have lost the polls in 200 when they were due.

Priya: Hello Nilanjan, based on your interactions with Modi, do you see a possibility that Modi can break away to form his own party if BJP does not project him as PM candidate?

Not at this stage. But if he does not get what he wants, he may consider that.

RaShi: Modi's plan to tackle pro-Congress national media?

Thank you all. It was a pleasure to answer your questions. Many could not be taken because of time. As usual, it has been packed with strong views. This is what makes our democracy tick. Hope it keeps doing so. Bye

Image: Narendra Modi with a Muslim leader

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