After watching Prime Minister Narendra Modi walking in the streets of Delhi for about 4 kilometres, ignoring risks to his life, just to witness the final journey of former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee, one could imagine the kind of bonding that prevailed between these two.
Even though Prime Minister Narendra Modi had jumped into politics quite early in his life, he hadn’t contested elections before becoming the chief minister of Gujarat. During the Emergency imposed by Indira Gandhi, Modi was appointed general secretary of the “Gujarat Lok Sangharsh Samiti”, which is an RSS committee coordinating opposition to the Emergency in Gujarat.
But soon after RSS was banned, Mr Modi went into hiding. He had even adopted the attire of a monk and a Sikh to prevent arrest from Indira Gandhi government. Soon Modi gained popularity and dived into national politics. He was better known in the late 1990s for his association in “Ram Rath Yatra” in 1990 and the “Ekta Yatra” (Journey for Unity) that began the next year.
But one fine day Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who was the then Prime Minister, said to Mr Modi “You must leave Delhi and go away from here”. Hearing this statement, Mr Modi was stunned. His immediate reply was “Where would I go?”. The reply given was “Gujarat”. Yes, Atal Ji wanted Modi to go back to Gujarat and take charge of the state.
Mr Modi was asked to reach 7, Race Course Road (now 7, Lok Kalyan Marg), the residence of the Prime Minister, on October 1, 2001 by the then PM Atal Ji. As soon as Mr Modi reached the residence, he pointed at Atal ji and said he had gained weight. But the then PM jokingly said it was due to “Punjabi food”.
As the discussion progressed, Atal Ji urged Mr Modi to take charge of the state of chief minister. Though Modi didn’t agree initially, after consulting the BJP stalwart LK Advani, he agreed to take charge of his home state. Atal ji had taken such a decision after he was impressed by Modi’s strategy in the 1995 and 1998 elections in Gujarat.
Why PM Narendra Modi got this opportunity all of a sudden?
Due to the deadly earthquake that hit Gujarat on 26 January, India’s 51st Republic Day, at 08:46 AM, the state was pushed decades back in almost every aspect. The earthquake was known as “2001 Gujarat earthquake” or the “Bhuj earthquake”.
This killed around 20,000 Gujaratis and left 167,000 injured. The impact was so high that nearly 400,000 homes were destroyed. That’s when the state started to feel the heat as the then CM Keshubhai Patel failed to handle it well. This was due to both his depleting health and failed ways of administration.
So on October 7, 2001, Narendra Modi took oath as the Gujarat chief minister by replacing Keshubhai Patel. The choice of Atal ji didn’t go wrong as since then the state never saw the rise of Congress ( Won the 2002, 2007 and 2012 elections under Mr Modi and even won 2017 elections without PM Modi’s presence). Atal ji had used this technique of hand picking the leaders to even run the central ministries when he was the Prime Minister.
Unfortunately, even after giving an extremely splendid governance, Atal Ji was not re-elected for a second term. Let’s not do the same mistake with PM Narendra Modi.
Source: Times Now News