The man to pip in the BJP, Narendra Modi, isn’t entirely self-made. No one can be in politics, though the Modi mythology might have you believe he owes no one anything.
Before the Modi bandwagon buries them for all time, let’s take a look at seven persons who have, right or wrong, had a role in the making of the man.
1. Murli Manohar Joshi
The man who gave Modi his first chance to test his skills across India. Joshi was BJP president between 1990 and 1992, a crucial period for the party as it later turned out.
It was in Joshi’s tenure that rightwing activists demolished the Babri Masjid. But before that, Joshi organised an Ekta Yatra from Kanyakumari to Srinagar.
Joshi’s plan was to hoist the Tricolour at Srinagar’s Lal Chowk on the Republic Day of 1992. New Delhi had studiously avoided such functions at Lal Chowk and Joshi thought he could make a name for himself and the BJP by doing something that the union government was not keen on.
Kashmiri militants had sort of taken psychological control of Lal Chowk when Joshi’s yatra was conceived.
Joshi gave Modi plenty of work in organising the yatra – it was divided into several legs and Modi was given charge of one section. As they neared Srinagar, Joshi suddenly began to have second thoughts.
The BJP contacted PV Narasimha Rao, who was the prime minister, for help. Rao ordered heavy security for the yatra and thus helped Joshi unfurl the Tricolour. Joshi was in and out in about 15 minutes.
It was partly because of this that Rao may have trusted the BJP when they said nothing would happen to the Babri Masjid in December the same year. Modi did his work without attracting too much attention.
He soaked in the nitty-gritty of Indian politics as it played out during the yatra. Joshi had, perhaps unwittingly, written the first big chapter in Modi’s life.
Image: A file photo of BJP leader Murli Manohar Joshi
Image: AP/ PTI/ Reuters