‘Godhra – Journey of a Prime Minister’ written by Nirendra Dev
Published by Maya Publishers, New Delhi
Page: 294, Price – Rs 59
If journalism could be in a way described as an art, can writing of a non-fiction by a scribe called or mistaken for a science?
The year 2014 was a year of revelation. It spoke about people’s wishes and the man they would like to guide India. Days before the critical counting of votes which would determine whether Narendra Modi can again govern India for five more years, a new book on Gujarat and the Prime Minister says that in terms of running the foreign policy engine room, Mr. Modi was able to “break” from India’s past hesitation in dealing with the United States and in the process has proved that New Delhi will no longer be ‘non committal and passive’. Prime Minister has also turned the diplomatic mission into a great “personal victory” for himself, says ‘Godhra – Journey of a Prime Minister’ penned by India's premier news agency United News of India's senior journalist Nirendra Dev.
“One single most achievement of the Modi government in foreign policy was the ability to change a global perception that India’s foreign policy is generally non-committal and passive,” the book quotes Praful Ketkar, Editor ‘Organiser’ as saying. Analyzing Indo-US ties especially under the stewardship of Prime Minister Modi, Mr. Ketkar is also quoted as saying, “Basically Modi has addressed three barriers – personal, ideological and institutional. There was hesitation about engaging with Modi. The US was disinclined also because they preferred India merely as an ally not an autonomous partner. They were not clear about institutional engagement”.
The United States – over the years - also had ideological differences with India, but all these have been knocked off, says the book. Senior parliamentarian Bhartruhari Mahtab of Biju Janata Dal in this context also has been quoted in the book as saying, “Modi has shown it clearly that there should not be any hesitation or a kind of shyness in embracing the US with open arms publicly”.
The book deals with the circumstances and socio-political situations those resulted in Mr. Modi’s metamorphosis into a major national leader from the point an ill-fated train compartment was put into flames in Godhra and thereafter. In his Foreword to the book, a scholar from Germany’s Heidelberg University, Subrata K Mitra writes lucidly, “The impressive victory of the BJP under Narendra Modi raises a fundamental question about governance, leadership and the imperative of development and the making of popular will”.
The book ‘Godhra – Journey of a Prime Minister’ is precisely the second edition to the book ‘Godhra – A Journey to Mayhem’ (published in 2004). Mr. Mitra further points out –“The more the ‘secularists’ of India and their foreign backers hit out at Modi as a tainted leader, the more Modi fell back on his identification with the people of Gujarat and his showcasing of Gujarat’s development as the raison detractor of his leadership”.
The book points out how Modi’s rivals have over the years perhaps failed to corner the former Gujarat Chief Minister politically. Even as the four-and-half year rule of Narendra Modi as Prime Minister of India comes to end and stage is set for the fierce parliamentary polls next year, there is a new argument – and somehow an old one that - over the years the “practitioners of secular polity” were only mistaken about Modi.
“The truth of the matter – as I found after closer scrutiny – both in 2002 and at a later stage – has been that Modi may not have the traditional qualities of a statesman in the sense it is understood, but he had a ferocious vision,” says the book. The book essentially is a good page turner and can perhaps spark off refreshing ripples of debate. Author Dev here appears biased, but his study and analyses makes amazing offerings and need not mesmerizes many.
In Modi’s own words, say the author Dev: Prime Minister has “repeated time and again in informal chats – he could certainly gauge public mood” much better than others. The book also says: “Even the politics of his (Modi’s) opponents reflect a journey where the travelers (secular politicians) were disinterested to learn any lesson”.
The Preface from the writer tries to sum up a clearer missive: “......Modi is like the traditional horse of a longer race. He was with the majority. I have been proved right and among Modi’s detractors – a section has reconciled to the fact that at ground zero, the public mood (in 2014 or so) was enormously in favor of ‘Namo Phenomenon”. In this context, the book notes how Ram Vilas Paswan – “a well known opponent of Modi of 2002” turned his co-partner in development and joined the cabinet.
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