Meeting Modi

Meeting Modi

"Day after day for hours and hours we sat and chatted - me in a state of mild disbelief that such a man had made himself available at all times simply to sit and talk about a vast range of subjects... The incessant lies told about Modi now stand exposed and in the coming months and years will hopefully be utterly demolished.".

- Andy Marino,Author of the best-selling ′Narendra Modi: A Political Biography′

When I flew to Gujarat in the summer of 2013, Narendra Modi had not yet been declared the BJP's prime ministerial candidate for the upcoming Lok Sabha (parliamentary) election. I had read a lot about him, much of it poisonous; but I had also read between the lines and rejected most of it as being politically directed by a ruling party - and a ruling family - that had more or less owned the country and its media as a private plaything since Independence.Modi had early on been identified by Congress and the Gandhis as a threat to their hegemony, but the vicious assault on him over more than a decade had served only to increase his profile and popularity with ordinary Indians, of whom Modi himself, from a 'backward caste', was one. He was routinely mocked as being rough and unsophisticated by the Delhi elite and the English-language media, but from what I saw, they had dangerously underestimated him.Even Hitler had loved his dog but Modi, according to India's presiding neo-colonial class, had no redeeming qualities. Could he possibly be as evil as everyone, with a few honourable exceptions, had painted him I would soon find out.'Sir,' I said when I first met Modi in his cavernous office in Gandhinagar. 'What should I call you ' A fair question: Modi was chief minister of a state with a population the size of the UK. He had been in office for almost 12 years and in that time had transformed Gujarat from a riot-prone, crumbling and corrupt mess into a well-regulated, peaceful and prosperous green land - a counterpoint to much of the rest of India. I thought 'Sir' was appropriate; if he had said, 'Call me “Your Highness”' I would have learned something unpleasant.'Call me whatever you like,' said Modi with a grin, and shook my hand. So 'Modiji' or 'Narendrabhai' or just plain 'Modi', it was. He began with the boiler-plate that greets all journalists, about where he was born and its history, but I asked him to stop. I'm not a journalist and I know the facts, I said, but I want to get to know you. He looked at me for a moment and then nodded slightly, and we were off.Day after day for hours and hours we sat and chatted - me in a state of mild disbelief that such a man had made himself available at all times simply to sit and talk about a vast range of subjects. He invited me to events (waving and calling from the stage to me as I took photographs: 'Hi, Andy!') and took me with him as he sped across the state in his helicopter to address rallies. We talked and talked and I got to know him, a living repudiation of Goebbels' belief that if a lie is repeated enough times it becomes the truth. The incessant lies told about Modi now stand exposed and in the coming months and years will hopefully be utterly demolished. Here is a politician - and a man - who really does possess extraordinary qualities. He knows India and how it works probably better than anybody else. He has spent his life dedicated to his work, travelling and meeting people and learning to understand and translating it all into good ideas that work.As soon as I met Modi I knew that there was only one thing that could stop him becoming prime minister. Then I looked at the obviously loyal and dedicated commandos of his Z-Plus security detachment and felt reassured. I now think India has voted wisely and is lucky to have him, and that the passage of time will prove the luck is not just India's.
Andy Marino is the author of Narendra Modi: A Political Biography. He trained as an academic and has a PhD in Literature. He lectured at the University of Essex and also for the University of Maryland, teaching the airmen and -women of the US Air Force as they fought during operation Desert Storm. Seeking adventure, he quit academia and began to make TV documentaries and write biographies, while also working as a literary agent and also an editor for many publishers and companies.
The above article was published in
India Inc′s
print edition of the
India Investment Journal
launched in June 2014 in conjunction with the

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