Six firsts if Modi becomes PM...

Last Updated: Wed, Apr 02, 2014 12:38 hrs

If BJP Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi indeed gets the country's top job, then it would set a record of many firsts.

A look at some of them...

1. First PM to be born in post-Independent India.

Current PM Manmohan Singh’s date of birth is way back in 1932. That's been the case with all Indian PMs: They've all been born before Independence. The closest we've come to 1947 was Rajiv Gandhi, who was born in 1944. Even his wife Sonia (who almost became PM) was born in 1946.

Modi in contrast was born in 1950 and could well be the first PM to have taken birth in post-Independent India.

2. First lower caste PM.

Jawaharlal Nehru was a Kashmiri Brahmin, but more like a monarch and both Indira Gandhi and Rajiv were from the dynasty. VP Singh was also the Raja of Manda.

The list of Brahmin PMs also includes: Morarji Desai, PV Narasimha Rao and Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

Lal Bahadur Shastri was a Kayastha, H D Deve Gowda is a Vokkaliga, Chandra Shekhar was a Thakur and IK Gujral was a Khatri. Manmohan Singh is a Sikh and an Oxbridge elite.

Modi in contrast to all of these is a Ghanchi, which is part of the Other Backwards Classes (OBC) list.

Note: Charan Singh was a Jat, but at that time, it was not in the backward classes list. Moreover one of Charan's ancestors was Raja Nahar Singh, who played a prominent role during the 1857 War of Independence.

3. First to leverage social media in a huge way.

After 2002, the entire mainstream media went after Modi in such a way that any other politician would have been totally finished. It certainly seemed to be so in 2009.

However after that Modi slowly and steadily resurrected himself through the social media. He first found acceptance on social media and cyberspace is the space where he won most of his wars that helped him offline big time.

Shashi Tharoor in contrast perished by Twitter. First with his battle with the then IPL chief Lalit Modi costing him his ministry and then his late wife's open spat on Twitter.

It is quite debatable, but still it is quite possible that Modi may not have reached where he was had it not been for Internet politics. He could well be called India’s first social media PM.

4. First "US Presidential style" PM.

Most Indian PMs were either nominated, of the dynasty or ended up sitting on the high chair merely by chance. Not so Modi, who has literally fought his way to the top and grabbed the PM's chair.

The way he fought his way to the top is quite reminiscent of the US primaries. Modi slowly and steadily got one by one constituency on his side. Social media. The RSS. The BJP party workers. The citizens of India...

The only parallel is probably another Gujarati in the form of Morarji. Morarji challenged Shastri for the PM's post in 1964 and Indira in 1966 and 1967. But he campaigned among Congress MPs on those 3 occasions and not the people.

He finally became PM in 1977 as part of the Jayaprakash Narayan movement.

5. First to face such scrutiny.

Mahatma Gandhi said Nehru would be PM and the debate ended even before it began. Indira held a relatively unimportant ministry for two years and still made PM.

Rajiv had exactly zero days experience as CM or minister and the same goes for his son Rahul. VP Singh took over as UP CM in June 1980 and in August the Moradabad riots saw the deaths of 1000-2500 people (depending on which report you read). That's eerily similar to Modi but nobody’s bothered.

Narasimha Rao was Home Minister during India's horrific anti-Sikh riots in 1984.

It's funny how it is only Modi who has been under such tremendous scrutiny for 12 years and running. Godhra. Ehsan Jafri. Supreme Court. SIT. Administration. Governance. Development. Malnutrition. Snoopgate. Ishrat Jahan...

The list is endless. It is amazing how one person has been analyzed in such a threadbare manner and it is unprecedented in Independent India's history.

6. First to make India a genuine two-party system.

India was a one-party system from 1947-77, but the Janata Party changed that. However that party went kaput in 1980 and we were back to square one. The Janata Dal offered a glimmer of hope from 1989-98, but that also became irrelevant at the national level.

Had the BJP been re-elected in 2004, then they would have been the first ever non-Congress party to return at the national level after completing a term. Alas that was not to be and the BJP got decimated in 2009 too.

Despite the wealth of UPA2 scams, opinion polls before the Modi wave showed the BJP getting 160 odd Lok Sabha seats. What this means is that a Third Front backed by Congress was still possible.

That could have shut out the BJP for good and it could have gone the JP-JD way. However the Modi wave could well take the BJP beyond 200 seats. If that happens, then we could enter a healthy 2-party system (or 2-coalition system, if you like).

Modi has the biggest hand in the BJP's current revival.

He could also become the first chaiwallah to be PM and the first to have been denied a US visa before he got the top job.

Incidentally Modi is not the first Gujarati to make it big at the national level. Morarji was the first Gujarati PM. Mahatma Gandhi was the father of nation and Mohammed Ali Jinnah was the founder of Pakistan. Sardar Vallabhai Patel was the unifier of Independent India.

That way, Gujarati politicians have always done well at the national level!

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The author is a Bangalore-based journalist and blogger. He blogs here.