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NaMo THE PM WITH A HUMAN TOUCH!
Lessons in Transformational Leadership from PM Modi
When BJP formed the government for the first time in Gujarat Corporation, after the win, all the councillors were invited as part of a national session in Lucknow. All the karyakartas were there and I was also a part of it. Honourable Narendra bhai was present as well as he was handling the corporation when it came first to Gujarat.
Arrangement for accommodation of the participants had been made in a tent. We had received intimation from the national leadership that if anybody wanted to stay in a hotel, he or she was free to do so. There were obvious challenges for those living in the tent - washroom facility was about 300 mt away from the main tent. So many of the newly elected councillors expressed their desire to shift to a hotel. Now my bed was close to hon Narendra bhai. People asked to me to convince Narendra bhai to allow all those who wanted to move to a hotel and I said to him “Narendra bhai, people from all over the country are asking you to give them permission to move from this tent and well, this conversation happened at around 2 in the afternoon. Narendra bhai refused to give permission and I conveyed the same to the newly elected councillors.
At 4pm, Narendra bhai changed his stance and allowed everyone to shift to a hotel. Well, I must admit, I was the first one to pack up lock, stock and barrel from the tent! When he saw me packing, he said “You will not go. You need to stay back here!” And I did not like that, frankly speaking. I was unhappy with Narendra bhai holding me back in the tent.
Later on, mapping my mood, he came to me and said “Suresh, a BJP karyakarta who wants to go ahead in the Sangathan must know how to survive on ‘bhuna sing chana’ (roasted peanuts and chickpeas) for days and he must find comfort in sleeping on the floor. Only then, can a karyakarta hope to go up the ladder within the Sangathan.” Narendra bhai later on took me out for chaat, we visited places together, and today, I reminisce my time with him. Narendra bhai would share his vision how Sangathan should be, how it should function and his vision has always been very useful for future generations.
Once it so happened, the rates of electricity went up by a paisa or two in North Gujarat, and people would look for me to complain of government policies. They would say “Modiji has been unfair to farmers.” So I went to him and reiterated what I had been hearing. Let me tell you here, Narendra bhai is not at all that strict, or intimidating as he might sometimes appear to be. I get to meet ministers day in and day out, and out of all of these, the most ‘low profile’ minister that I have come across is Narendra bhai. He has an air of peaceful equanimity around him and his aura is that of supreme calm, and there is never a trace of anger in his demeanour. He listens to people very intently, hears them out with patience and always takes a very balanced and grounded stance in all his decisions.
So he kept looking at me and listening to what I had to say and when he saw me standing there even after I had finished, he asked me why I was still there. I said “Sahab, what difference will it make to the government? Why don’t we reduce the rates of electricity there?” He said with a smile “Don’t worry! You may go!” and I left. That’s the time when Narendra bhai launched the Sujalam Sufalam project for people in North Gujarat for whom even a drop of water was priceless. Water was the greatest challenge in the area in those days so much so that people from certain areas often had to get water from their neighbouring villages. In Sujalam Sufalam Jal Abhiyan, Narendra bhai gave North Gujarat a gift for which generations to come would be thankful to him. When water was allowed to let flow in the villages after the completion of the project, people who had never seen water in their areas and had suffered so much on account of its scarcity, started getting water at 100 ft rather than at 1000 ft. The villages got ponds and greenery in lands that had been parched since decades.
So when I visited Northern Gujarat after 2 years, the tune and tone of the people had changed. They had started saying that Modiji has achieved the unachievable in North Gujarat. While I had completely forgotten about the incident I just mentioned, he had not. He remembered very clearly the opinion of people I shared with him two years back and said to me “Now do you hear the opinion of people?” I said, “Of course, Narendra bhai! You have given them a new life.”
Another idea that transformed the life of the poor has been the Garib Kalyan Mela which is organised every year. This is Narendra bhai’s brainchild. When Modiji witnessed how the middlemen were eating into the schemes meant for the poor and that several pro-poor welfare schemes were not even reaching their intended audience, he conceptualized the Garib Kalyan Mela.
I remember, Manojbhai Makwana was a councillor and he wanted to organize a program for around 100 beneficiaries. He expressed his desire to invite Saheb to this programme. Saheb said to me, “Please go and meet Ramanlal Vohra.” When I went to meet the minister, Vohraji said that Narendra bhai has expressed his desire to organize this program on a larger scale. Later on I realized what he meant! More than 10,000 beneficiaries were invited from all over Ahmedabad to this program organized in Maninagar. It took about a month’s time to plan for this event. When it happened, these many people availed the benefits of government welfare scheme face-to-face and here in Maninagar was the genesis of Garib Kalyan Mela!
Earlier middlemen would often loot the poor by handing over `500 while making them sign for `5,000. Narendra bhai put an end to this exploitation by getting rid of the middlemen and taking the schemes to the poor, rather than the poor struggling to avail the benefits. TO BE CONTINUED...
Narendra bhai’s vision has always been useful for future generations - Sureshbhai Patel, Maninagar MLA
Narendra bhai said me, “Suresh, a BJP karyakarta who wants to go ahead in the Sangathan must know how to survive on ‘bhuna sing chana’ for days and he must find comfort in sleeping on the floor. Only then, can a karyakarta hope to go up ladder within Sangathan.” Narendra bhai later on took me out for chaat, we visited places together, and today, I reminisce my time with him. He would share his vision how Sangathan should be, how it should function and his vision has always been very useful for future generations.
There is never a trace of anger in Narendra bhai’s demeanour
Narendra bhai is not at all that strict, or intimidating as he might sometimes appear to be. I get to meet ministers day in and day out, and out of all of these, the most ‘low profile’ minister that I have come across is Narendra bhai. He has an air of peaceful equanimity around him and his aura is that of supreme calm, and there is never a trace of anger in his demeanour. He listens to people very intently, hears them out with patience and always takes a very balanced and grounded stance in all his decisions.
COMPILED AND EDITED BY SHASHIKANT SHARMA AND SHWETA SHARMA