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Meteoric rise for Modi in just 3 years

Modi's championing of the cause of Hindutva paid off handsomely for BJP in the just-concluded assembly elections.

india Updated: Dec 16, 2002 15:51 IST

From a backroom strategist to BJP's top Hindutva icon and Chief Minister of Gujarat -- it has been a meteoric rise for Narendra Modi in just three years since he came to the frontline of party leadership.

Just three years ago Modi became a BJP national general secretary and his main job a backroom strategist and later the party's most visible face for the media as a spokesman till he became Chief Minister 13 months ago.

Modipositioned himself as the most aggressive crusader of Hindutva much before elections were announced. His passionate championing of the cause of Hindutva, often bordering on what his critics allege venom, paid off handsomely for BJP in the just-concluded assembly elections.

Almost single-handedly, he led the party's bid to retain power in a state whose poll outcome was viewed as the prelude to the shape of national politics in months and years to come.

Unmindful of severe attack from critics at home and abroad, Modi stuck to his gun despite words of caution even from senior party leaders including Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

His personal appeal and crowd-pulling during Gaurav Yatra in post-Godhra Gujarat earned him the sobriquet of "Chhote Sardar" and had even Vajpayee appear in the campaign as his advocate holding brief for him.

Modi was never apologetic about taking on "pseudo-secularists" and giving a tongue-lashing to Pakistan President Gen Pervez Musharraf. In fact, he gave the menace of terrorism a new dimension in the wake of terrorist attack on Akshardham temple by successfully pleading that a victory for Congress would please Islamabad the most.

In the following year, he became the general secretary of Lok Sangarsh Samiti in Gujarat formed to wage a struggle against the Emergency regime of Indira Gandhi.

A Sangh Pracharak, Modi is among a select band of individuals who were nominated to BJP by the Sangh. He became a general secretary of BJP's state unit in 1988 and won a number of elections from panchayat to Lok Sabha.

The big break for Modi came in 1996 when he became national general secretary of the party and showed his organisational skill by looking after its affairs in Punjab, Haryana, Chandigarh, Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir. He was also given charge of election campaign in Madhya Pradesh.

Modi assumed reins of government in Gujarat at a time when BJP in the state was afflicted by intense internal bickerings. He replaced senior BJP leader Keshubhai Patel as Chief Minister in the wake of criticism over mishandling of relief and rehabilitation after the devastating earthquake of January 26, 2000.

As he sought to gear up the administrative machinery to set things right, he was faced with another challenge in the Godhra massacre on February 27 this year.

Modi was accused by many, both within and outside the country of complicity in the riots that followed and biased but he responded by saying it was an unnecessary hue and cry over violence that was a reaction to the Godhra carnage and had hardly affected two per cent people of the state.

A poet and author of repute, he has penned a number of books including Sangharsha Ma Gujarat (Gujarat under Struggle), Setu Bandhu and "Patra Roop Guruji.

A techno-savy person, Modi is up-to-date with latest developments in information technology and makes it a point to surf internet everyday.

As part of e-governance, he launched "Tele-Fariyaad" and video gramsabha to open the doors of government to remote areas and promote people's participation in rural management.

First Published: Dec 16, 2002 15:51 IST