Narendra Modi, born on September 17, 1950, in Vadnagar, India, is an esteemed Indian politician and government official. He achieved significant prominence as a senior leader within the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). In the year 2014, he successfully led his party to triumph in the Lok Sabha elections, securing victory in the lower chamber of the Indian parliament. Consequently, he took office as the Prime Minister of India. Before assuming this national role, Modi held the position of chief minister, serving as the head of government for Gujarat state in western India from 2001 to 2014.
Narendra Modi: Early Life and Political Career
Early Life and RSS Association
Narendra Modi was raised in a small town in northern Gujarat. He pursued his education at Gujarat University in Ahmadabad, where he obtained an M.A. degree in political science. During the early 1970s, Modi became associated with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), a pro-Hindu organization. Demonstrating his leadership abilities, he established a local unit of the RSS’s students’ wing, the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, in his area.
Entry into BJP and Rise to Power
In 1987, Narendra Modi joined the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), marking a significant turning point in his political journey. Just a year later, he assumed the role of general secretary for the Gujarat branch of the party. With his strategic approach and tireless efforts, Modi played a pivotal role in strengthening the BJP’s presence in the state, gradually expanding its influence.
Successes in Gujarat Politics
Narendra Modi’s political career in Gujarat reached new heights when, in 1990, he became a key member of the BJP’s coalition government in the state. His contributions were instrumental in the BJP’s victory in the 1995 state legislative assembly elections. As a result, in March of that year, the BJP formed the first-ever BJP-controlled government in India, marking a significant milestone for the party. However, this period of governance came to an end in September 1996, although it laid the groundwork for Modi’s future endeavors.
These formative years in the RSS and BJP set the stage for Narendra Modi’s rise to prominence in Indian politics, foreshadowing the impactful role he would later assume as Prime Minister of India.
Narendra Modi: Political Ascent and Term as Chief Minister of Gujarat
Stepping into BJP Leadership: National Secretary and General Secretary Roles
In 1995, Narendra Modi’s political journey took a significant turn as he assumed the position of secretary within the BJP’s national organization in New Delhi. His capabilities and influence continued to rise, leading to his appointment as general secretary three years later. Modi held this influential role for another three years, solidifying his standing within the party.
Chief Ministerial Appointment and Controversies
In October 2001, Modi’s political trajectory reached a crucial juncture when he replaced the incumbent Gujarat chief minister, Keshubhai Patel, following the state government’s criticized response to the Bhuj earthquake. With more than 20,000 lives lost, Patel faced blame, leading to Modi’s ascent as chief minister of Gujarat. However, his term would be marred by controversies, particularly surrounding the communal riots that erupted in Gujarat in 2002.
Electoral Debut and State Assembly Seat
In February 2002, Narendra Modi entered his first electoral contest through a by-election, securing a seat in the Gujarat state assembly. This victory further solidified his political presence and influence within the state.
Controversies and Acclaim
Modi’s tenure as chief minister was marked by deep controversy and self-promoted achievements. He faced criticism for his handling of the 2002 communal riots, where over 1,000 people, primarily Muslims, lost their lives. While Modi himself avoided indictment or censure, some of his close associates faced legal consequences for their involvement.
During his time as chief minister, Modi earned recognition for his efficient administration and was credited with driving the rapid growth of Gujarat’s economy. The BJP, under his leadership, achieved electoral victories in the state assembly elections of 2002, 2007, and 2012, solidifying his position as the most influential leader within the party and positioning him as a potential prime ministerial candidate.
Leadership in BJP and Prime Ministerial Campaign
Modi’s repeated political successes in Gujarat established him as an indispensable leader within the BJP. His achievements and popularity propelled him into the political mainstream. In June 2013, he was chosen to lead the BJP’s campaign for the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, positioning him as a prime ministerial candidate.
Narendra Modi’s journey from Gujarat’s chief minister to the national political arena would redefine India’s political landscape and shape his future role as the Prime Minister of India.
Narendra Modi: Prime Ministership and Policy Shifts
Victory and Reforms: Economic Focus and Diplomatic Achievements
Following an energetic campaign emphasizing his ability to revive India’s economy, Narendra Modi and the BJP secured a clear majority in the national elections.
On May 26, 2014, Modi was sworn in as India’s prime minister. Soon after taking office, his government embarked on a series of reforms, including infrastructure development and liberalizing rules on foreign investment. Notably, Modi hosted Chinese President Xi Jinping and made a successful visit to the United States, meeting with President Barack Obama.
Promotion of Hindu Culture and Economic Reforms
As prime minister, Modi oversaw a promotion of Hindu culture alongside economic reforms. The government implemented measures that appealed to Hindus, such as attempting to ban the sale of cows for slaughter. Economically, the reforms were comprehensive, introducing structural changes that had nationwide effects.
The demonetization of 500- and 1,000-rupee banknotes aimed to combat “black money,” but caused disruptions. The Goods and Services Tax (GST) centralized the consumption tax system, streamlining the tax structure. While these reforms expanded the tax base, they also led to rising living costs and increased unemployment, resulting in unfulfilled promises of economic growth.
Setbacks and National Elections
In late 2018, the BJP suffered defeats in five state elections, including its strongholds of Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Chhattisgarh. The Indian National Congress gained more state assembly seats, raising concerns for Modi and the BJP’s prospects in the upcoming national elections.
However, Modi’s charismatic image and a security crisis in Jammu and Kashmir worked in his favor. The BJP dominated the campaign, ultimately securing victory and making Modi the first non-Congress prime minister to be reelected after completing a full term.
Policy Shifts: Jammu and Kashmir, COVID-19 Response, and Agricultural Reforms
In his second term, Modi’s government revoked the special status of Jammu and Kashmir in October 2019, drawing criticism for its impact on self-determination and the restrictions imposed on communication and movement within the region.
In March 2020, Modi implemented strict nationwide restrictions to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. Indian biotechnology firms played a crucial role in vaccine development. Amid the economic impact, Modi undertook agricultural sector liberalization in June, which faced opposition and protests from farmers who feared exploitation. In response, the government announced the repeal of the agricultural reforms in November.
Unforeseen Challenges and Political Backlash
Modi’s policies faced significant challenges in 2021. Protests escalated, culminating in the storming of the Red Fort, and the government’s attempts to suppress them proved unsuccessful. Additionally, despite initial success in containing COVID-19, a surge in cases caused by the Delta variant overwhelmed the healthcare system.
Modi faced criticism for neglecting the situation, and the BJP experienced electoral setbacks in key battleground states. In response to ongoing protests and ahead of state elections, the government announced the repeal of the agricultural reforms.
Narendra Modi’s tenure as prime minister witnessed significant policy shifts, diplomatic achievements, economic reforms, and unforeseen challenges. His leadership and the impact of his policies continue to shape India’s political landscape.