politics Reviews

Ajay Singh’s The Architect of the New BJP — How Narendra Modi Transformed the Party review: The political mind of Modi

The book is an excellent guide to anyone wanting to know how Prime Minister Modi oversaw both the strategic and tactical aspects of the BJP’s growth. 

The book is an excellent guide to anyone wanting to know how Prime Minister Modi oversaw both the strategic and tactical aspects of the BJP’s growth. 

There were certain established norms in Indian politics till Prime Minister Narendra Modi burst onto the national scene. It was expected that Hindus would largely vote on caste lines and minorities would exercise their franchise in a bloc. This created hurdles for a party like the Bharatiya Janata Party which largely fought elections on a Hindutva plank, with a North Indian appeal base, and prevented it from coming to power at the Centre with a majority.

Before the BJP came to power in 2014, and returned stronger in 2019, ending decades of coalition politics, parties like the Congress or socialist parties banding together, covering a ‘big tent’ of competing and complimentary interests of various regional, tribal and religious communities, usually got a majority.

The year 2014, and more so 2019, changed all that, with the BJP being able to appeal to a large section of society (a vocal minority still opposed it). Confirmed support bases of opposition parties could not stand up to the BJP’s onslaught, and the party registered victories in States like Manipur, Assam, and the rest of the Northeast, formed a government in Jammu and Kashmir, and also won Lok Sabha seats in Telangana. How did this change happen? Ajay Singh traces this development to the rise of Modi in his new book, The Architect of the New BJP: How Narendra Modi Transformed the Party. As a political journalist, it gave Singh a ringside view of how Modi, an RSS pracharak, and then general secretary in the BJP, articulated his thoughts on how to win elections and influence people on the ground.

PM Modi’s role in BJP’s growth

Singh’s book is an excellent guide to anyone wanting to know how Prime Minister Modi oversaw both the strategic and tactical aspects of the BJP’s growth. Singh points out three basic tactics: one, with the help of full-time workers loaned from the RSS, Modi helped build a superstructure of the BJP organisation. Second, he urged “notables” from outside the Sangh fold to join the party so that they could appeal to a wider audience. Third, once Modi realised people were responding to him, he used his ability to move voters like none other, distilling ideas he had picked up on various assignments for the RSS.

The first two tactics had their detractors. Leaders with a conservative bent of mind, like former BJP president Kushabhau Thakre insisted on roping in only those fully immersed in the RSS organisational culture and not outsiders. Prime Minister Modi, however, persisted with this strategy, says Singh.

Singh gives copious examples from his observations of various elections — from local bodies to the Lok Sabha, from the time he first met Prime Minister Modi in 1995-96, when he was national general secretary of the BJP and even before that. Modi’s journey from Gujarat to the national stage is meticulously documented. Singh also takes us through the various setbacks that Modi received at the hands of his own party (being moved to Delhi despite being in charge of the party when it won the Gujarat Assembly polls of 1995), and his dogged persistence in making headway in States considered “difficult” for the BJP like Haryana.

This book is a must-read for all those seeking answers on questions regarding the BJP’s victory of 2014 and the persistence of its electoral success. Simply written with a reporter’s eye for detail, Ajay Singh profiles the political mind of Narendra Modi.

The Architect of the New BJP: How Narendra Modi Transformed the Party; Ajay Singh, Vintage/PRH, ₹599.

nistula.hebbar@thehindu.co.in


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Printable version | Jul 16, 2022 7:46:41 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/books/books-reviews/narendra-modi-prime-minister-bjp-political-party/article65630427.ece