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Top Hindutva icon back in saddle

From a backroom strategist to BJP's top Hindutva icon, it was a meteoric rise for Modi who was back in the saddle as CM on Sunday.

india Updated: Dec 23, 2002 09:55 IST

From a backroom strategist to BJP's top Hindutva icon, it was a meteoric rise for Narendra Modi who was back in the saddle as Gujarat Chief Minister on Sunday.

Just three years ago, Modi became a BJP national general secretary with his main job a backroom strategist. He soon became the party's most visible face for the media and later Gujarat Chief Minister 13 months ago.

Ahead of the just-concluded Gujarat assembly polls, Modi positioned himself as the most aggressive crusader of Hindutva.

His passionate championing of the cause of Hindutva, often bordering on what his critics allege venom, paid off handsomely for BJP in the elections.

Almost single-handedly, he led the party's bid to retain power in the state whose poll outcome was viewed as a 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 "Chhote Sardar" and made even Vajpayee appear in the campaign as his advocate holding brief for him.

BJP chief Venkaiah Naidu, supercop KPS Gill, who was security adviser to Modi for some time post Godhra, and Bollywood stars Juhi Chawla and Shekhar Suman as also Vinod Khanna, the Union Minister, were also present.

As he sought to gear up the administrative machinery to set things right, he was faced with another challenge in the form of 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 but he responded 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.

As Chief Minister, Modi initiated "Samaras Gram Yojna", a scheme of unanimously elected gram panchayats, and launched "Vidya Lakshmi" and "Kanya Kelavani Yojna" with financial rewards for education of girls besides organising "Lok Kalyan Mela" to bring government closer to the common man.

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

A techno-savvy 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 22, 2002 14:45 IST