Narendra Modi has always had a polarizing effect on Indian population and politics as a whole. He is regarded as a not-so-legible administrator by some, and a messiah by the others. Within the BJP, the party for whom he will contest the 2014 elections as the prime ministerial candidate, his promotion was opposed by Lal Krishna Advani, who himself had wanted the role for himself. Modi’s role in the 2002 Godhra riots cannot be forgotten; at the same time, the progress that Gujarat achieved during his time is too spectacular to ignore. Rarely has an Indian politician commanded opinions so diverse about him.
Let us look at some of the prominent aspects of the life and personality of Modi.
The first thing about Modi is that he is fairly transparent and this is something that even his detractors will agree on. He is someone who speaks the way he sees things, a rare quality among politicians, who measure every word and opinion. Modi is perhaps the most hated chief minister in the country, but at the same time his achievements evoke a sense of awe even among ones who don’t want to acknowledge it.
Not concerned about his own image
Very little is known about the personal life of Narendra Modi. He is supposed to be single, but some critics say that he had once married a lady named Jashodaben. It was stated in a 2009 article that he was her husband, and strangely enough, Modi never debated the contents of that article, which perhaps stamped it as authentic. Jashodaben is a school teacher staying at Rajosana village in the Banaskantha district, and supposedly married him when she was 18-years-old.
About their personal life, however, we have nothing but rumors.
One such account says that their relationship was damaged because she studied only till the 8th standard. She supposedly does not prefer being photographed as she thinks she is not beautiful enough and also wants to cause zero embarrassment to Modi, considering his high standing in regional and national politics. However, she is also hopeful that one day he will publicly accept her as his wife.
In another story it is also said that he got married when he was a child and never saw his wife again. A second marriage never happened as during his youth he was attracted to the ideals of the RSS and vowed to stay single all his life. His wife, purportedly, also took a similar oath of celibacy. Nowadays when everyone in public eye is making sure to stay as correct and acceptable as possible, Modi’s devil-may-care attitude towards his personal life and, by extension, his image, is a welcome change.
Narendra Modi has always been a patriotic Indian right from his childhood. It is said that when India fought Pakistan in 1965 he offered to serve soldiers who were moving between railway stations. At that time he was only 15-year-old. Two years later he helped the people who had been affected by floods in Gujarat. This patriotic fervor is also one of the reasons why he has been popular.
Hardships in early life
Modi, along with his brother, operated a tea stall at Ahmedabad’s State Transport Office for several years. This taught him about what hardship really was, and made him more goal-oriented and focused in his life, qualities that have marked his political career.
Attempts to improve himself
Modi went for a three-month course related to image management and public relations at the US. This has helped him become one of the most sought after as well as affable members of his fraternity in this country. This desire to improve oneself is praiseworthy indeed, considering the fact that most people in his position would have taken their position for granted.
Respect for his mother and other positive traits
The Gujarat CM is a doting son and always takes his mom’s blessings before starting a new initiative – be it in the domain of politics or something else. In fact she is the person closest to him. He is also virtuous in several other respects – he does not smoke or drink, and is totally vegetarian. These are commendable virtues in the eyes of common people in India, and have contributed to his popularity.
Modi is a well known and prolific poet as well as author. He primarily writes in Gujarati, and his most preferred topics are the teachings of icons of Hindutva as well as life in general. He is a major fan of Swami Vivekananda – this may have endeared him to both staunch Hindus as well as people who like the teachings of Ramakrishna Paramhamsa’s most well known student.
It is hard to say whether Narendra Modi will ever become the prime minister of India but what I can say with a certain degree of certainty is that he will never hesitate to take steps that he thinks are necessary for the development of the region under him – it could be the country or the state of Gujarat. However, the fact that Gujarat has progressed so much bears testimony to the success of his methods.
Many think that he is a Machiavellian leader, including yours truly, and in this age of inclusive propaganda and growth, his methods of excluding certain sections of the populace may not go well with others. Such methods are normally equated to dictatorship, and one fears that it may set the country back in some regard that he may not be aware of right now. These apprehensions about him could also make their way to the polling booth and be reflected in the results.
Modi needs to keep in mind that he has to be a secular leader in order to stand a better chance of winning and for the country as a whole to truly progress. He will need to make sure that he displeases as few people as possible with his decisions. Question is, how far will he be able to abandon his ideals for the sake of it? He also needs to be a little diplomatic with his foreign policy opinions and understand that appeasement and discussion, and not direct opposition, are the ways to go.