In 2002, writes British journalist and author Lance Price, Narendra Modi asked an astrologer why nobody had predicted he would become Gujarat CM. “She responded by saying that her prediction was that God had the PM’s position in store for the future,” Modi is quoted as saying in Price’s new book, The Modi Effect: Inside Narendra Modi’s Campaign to Transform India, published by Hodder & Stoughton.
“Basically, we have a belief in our religion, Maro Bhagya Vidhata, which means, I am putting myself at the disposition for what God has in store for me. If this is the case, why be afraid?” Modi says.
Price, who served in Tony Blair’s campaign team from 1998 to 2000 and was the Labour Party’s communications director till 2001, interviewed Modi and his campaign team several times since July 2014. He says his book “lifts the lid on a whole new box of tricks” and describes Modi’s “clandestine team” as one where “message-management and IT wizardry combined to create a vote-winning colossus of awesome potency”.
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Price notes how Modi prefers to talk about himself in the third person and puts himself clearly as the person who won 2014 for the party. “People wanted clarity about who the leading person will be and I was seeing this question being asked in every meeting I attended and was hearing vociferous chants of ‘Give us a trusted name not a party name’.” Modi adds, “In all corners of the country… they believed Modi was the only hope and wanted to see him win.”
Price notes that when Modi “does self effacing, he is at his least convincing”.
Modi tells Price of his daily routine: “I am up daily by 5 am and I do not need any time to settle before I am online checking my messages. It’s a mechanical process to reach out for my iPad within the first four or five minutes that I wake… honestly, I never take breaks and I never really switch off.”
He adds, “I was seen as very tech-savvy from the early days and was the first to use a digital camera in the 1999 elections.
“Another example of my forward thinking relevant to the technology world is my prediction around WhatsApp. When WhatsApp had just started, and long before it had become popular, I was telling my people to start using this as a means for communication as it would be a major messaging platform in the days to come.”
On personal safety, Modi is quoted as saying; “I believe your life is pre-decided, so why worry?” Asked if his answers would have been different had he been a family man and had a wife and children, Price writes it was the first time he was “lost for words”. “Perhaps I have never had them so how can I know? (and after a long pause) But I have a mother. I have brothers.”
On Arvind Kejriwal, he says, “My silence is my strength. Narendra Modi knows the strength of silence. You should know that in the grand scheme of things, Kejriwal was nothing but a small single city leader. He was getting far more coverage than he deserved as compared to other more established opposition party leaders. So why spend time even ignoring someone?”
On being complimented by the author on his sartorial sense, Modi acknowledges, “Yes, I like to dress up well and stay clean. God has gifted me the sense of mixing and matching colours. So I manage everything on my own. Since I am God-gifted I fit well in everything. I have no fashion designer, but I’m happy to hear that I dress well.”