Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi, while releasing a book in April, had said he wanted to repay his debt to mother India, suggesting his preparedness to move beyond the state and play a larger role in the national arena.
But the truth is much before the book launch Modi had shifted his focus from the state to the Centre after leading the BJP to a third victory under his watch in the assembly polls last December.
Over the past six months, he has cleared the decks for his national role, using his highly publicised tours in Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Haridwar and Thiruvananthapuram.
“With the help of corporates, he got events organised in Delhi, where the women’s wing of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry invited him for a talk; in Kolkata, where again a business body invited him; and in Mumbai, where the media helped him with coverage of those events.
This way he established himself as the most popular leader in the country,” one of his ministerial colleagues said.
In February, he stormed the national capital by delivering a talk on the “Gujarat story” at Delhi’s Sri Ram College of Commerce.
Besides companies, religious organisations such as Baba Ramdev’s Ashram and Kerala’s Sivagiri Mutt, founded by saint and social reformer Sree Narayana Guru, also provided him a platform.
In Kerala, at the monastery of social reformer Sree Narayana Guru, he regretted “untouchability in politics”, alluding to his supposed unacceptability to parties such as the JD(U) on account of his alleged role in the 2002 riots, in which more than 1,200 people were killed.
Secondly, before his elevation as the campaign committee chief, he ensured that his tainted aide Amit Shah was appointed general secretary with UP affairs in his charge.
“With the help of Shah, Modi cemented his grip on the BJP organisation at the national level,” a BJP MLA close to Shah said.
According to a senior bureaucrat in the secretariat, in Gujarat after the assembly polls, he set up the system in such a way that things ran mostly on auto pilot mode with the help of a few people such as revenue and urban development minister Anandiben Patel, energy minister Saurabh Patel, finance minister Nitin Patel and some bureaucrats.
K Kailashnathan, Modi’s trusted bureaucrat who recently retired as additional chief secretary, has been reappointed his chief principal secretary.
“Every month, he (Modi) meets at least 2-3 foreign delegations,” an insider said.