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The initial euphoria and optimism surrounding the formation of Gujarat on May 1st 1960 had subsided by the end of the decade. The dreams of quick reform and progress had given way to disillusionment amongst the common man in Gujarat. The struggles and sacrifices of political stalwarts such as Indulal Yagnik, Jivraj Mehta and Balwant Rai Mehta had been undone by the greed for money and power in politics. By the end of 1960s and early 1970s, corruption and misgovernance of the Congress government in Gujarat had reached new heights. In 1971, India had defeated Pakistan in war and the Congress government got reelected on the promise of uplifting the poor. This promise turned out to be an empty one as ‘Garibi Hatao’ gradually changed into ‘Garib Hatao’. The life of the poor worsened, and in Gujarat this misery got coupled with a severe famine and steep price rise. Endless queues for basic commodities had become a common sight in the state. There was no respite for the common man.

Instead of taking remedial action, the Congress leadership in Gujarat was immersed in deep factional quarrels and displayed a complete apathy towards the situation. As a result, Ghanshyam Oza’s government soon toppled and was replaced by Chimanbhai Patel at the helm of affairs. However, this government too proved to be equally inefficient and there was a rising discontent against the state amongst the people of Gujarat.  The discontent turned into public anger when in December 1973, a few students of the Morbi Engineering College protested against the exorbitant rise in their food bills. These protests soon gained widespread support and ignited a state wide mass movement against the government. The state and central governments failed to quell this discontent despite all their efforts. Matters became worse when then Education Minister of Gujarat accused the Jan Sangh for the movement even though it was a broad based movement against corruption and rising prices. By 1973, Narendra Modi had displayed a keen interest in social activism and had already participated in several movements against price rise, inflation and other issues affecting the common man. As a young Pracharak and associate of Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), Narendra joined the Navnirman movement and dutifully performed the tasks assigned to him. The Navnirman movement was a mass movement in every sense as ordinary citizens from all sections of the society stood up in one voice. The movement was further strengthened when it gained the support of Jayaprakash Narayan, a well-respected public figure and a known crusader against corruption. With Jayaprakash Narayan in Ahmedabad, Narendra had the unique opportunity to closely interact with the charismatic leader. The several talks held with the veteran left a strong impression on a young Narendra. The Navnirman Movement was a major success and Chimanbhai Patel had to resign after a mere six months in office. Fresh elections were called and the Congress government was duly dislodged. Ironically, the results of the Gujarat elections came on 12th June 1975, the very day when the Allahabad High Court had found Prime Minister Indira Gandhi guilty of electoral corruption and put a question mark on her future as Prime Minister. A week later a new government under the leadership of Babubhai Jashbhai Patel was instated in Gujarat. The Navnirman Movement was Narendra’s first encounter with mass protest and led to a significant broadening of his worldview on social issues. It also propelled Narendra to the first post of his political career, General Secretary of the Lok Sangharsh Samiti in Gujarat in 1975. During the movement, he particularly got the opportunity to understand student issues from close quarters, which proved to be a major asset once he became Chief Minister.  Since 2001, he has focused significantly on educational reforms and made world-class education accessible to the youth of Gujarat. The optimism post the Navnirman Movement in Gujarat was short-lived. On the midnight of June 25th 1975, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi clamped a state of Emergency in India suspending civil liberties and curbing freedom of expression. One of the most important phases of Narendra Modi’s life had begun.

‘মন কী বাত’ৰ বাবে আপোনাৰ ধাৰণা আৰু পৰামৰ্শ এতিয়াই শ্বেয়াৰ কৰক!
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Happy Birthday Mr Modi: Your friend from Goa!
September 17, 2021
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I like you Mr Modi. Your are a good person and an inspiring leader.

I like you because your intentions are driven purely for India. I saw that passion, care and love for our motherland and its people, in your eyes when we meet on August 6, 2021.

You called me your friend from Goa and that too me was such a wonderful way to describe our friendship.

I remember your laughter when I told you, about my retort to people who call me a ‘Bhakt of Modi’ – ‘I am a Bhakt, are you a Kambhakt’. It showed me your witty side.

I know you face immense criticism for the sincerity of your work; some decisions, some might not understand. But I see a plan behind your actions, that plan is not for the destruction of India but for its welfare. There are short-term objectives and then there are long-terms goals.

In our discussion for 25-minutes, I understood that you care for India, as a child cares for its mother. It is this single-minded courage of conviction that you possess that endears many committed nationalists like me to you as a person and as a leader.

It is not easy managing and governing India. It is diverse and often difficult to comprehend, especially the needs, wants and aspirations of the people of India.

I know it is impossible to be appreciated by every quarter in India but I can see most people in the country admire your efforts and dedication Towards a Better India. The people of India have a sense of hope in you and they are willing to put their trust implicitly in you.

The fact about your life that is inspiring to me is that you were a common citizen, who came from humble beginnings to work your way up the ladder of success. You were not born into aristocracy or political legacy. You have strived arduously over the years to rise up and take forward your visions and missions for Gujarat first as a state and now over the last seven-years India as a nation.

Your rise in the political space in India and globally has been phenomenal but it has not come without strife and hardships. You have surfed the tough waves of your political career with confidence and taken people that believed in you and followed you, along with you.

Life, in my simple understanding has been your greatest teacher.

It is wonderful to learn from your strategies in dealing with the different hurdles you have faced as the Chief Minister of Gujarat and now as the Prime Minister of India. I have been following your work since 2000. And it has not been an easy ride for you. Every step of the way has been a struggle but with each challenge you have emerged stronger than before and more determined. It as though, your challenges in life have moulded your career for the better. That grit you possess is infectious.

I realized in my personal meeting with you, which was huge high in my personal achievements of my life, that you are not pretentious. You are who you are and you just want to give your best to India in the best that you can give.

People look for perfection in their leaders. I do not think any leader can be perfect in his actions or decisions but he can be honest in his intentions and that’s what I found in you during our conversation. You are honest about your duty to the country and its people.

Such is the honesty you possess in your intentions for India, that dishonest people in India and nations outside of India fear you. They feared you when you were the Chief Minister of Gujarat, they fear you even more now that you are the Prime Minister of India for a second-term and I am quite confident you will be the Prime Minister for the third-term too. Our nation’s enemies know that under your leadership, India can strengthen its roots to grow into a global nation that is valued, respected and feared.

Your life’s experiences of 71-years is an interesting learning for most Indians because it is about a man from the grassroots of India who dreamed of a Better India and worked for the last several-decades to do his duty to the nation.

I am in awe of you as a politician but I have even more admiration for your humanness. You are good human being. You have a heart of care and concern for the common people.

The Congress has termed your birthday as ‘Panuati Day’ and ‘Bad Omen Day’. That is the pathetic level of their political maturity. Once tall political leaders and political parties have exposed their fall into an abysmal pit of degeneration and degradation. Such is their hate for you, because you have shafted their political arrogance with your governmental policies, some very tough decision, but most of all, they cannot get over your connect with the people of India. They don’t understand what makes people connect to you.

The answer to the question of your people connect is simple. You are one of them, you think like them, you act like them, you live like them and you dream like them. It is your simplicity and lack corruption in governance that makes people believe in you.

On your 71st birthday, I wish the very best for you and your years ahead as leader of one of the world’s most promising nation – India with our people of great ethos and culture.

Humbled that you considered me to be a your friend from Goa. I am glad to have a friend like you from whom I can learn.

You are a leader that has stirred a spirit of confidence in our people. It is a confidence that will reshape the future of India for the better.

Some people can continue to mock you for reasons known to them, I see you differently. And I am glad that our country at this point of time has you as our leader. You are not perfect but you are the best we have.

From the people of Goa, my family and myself: Happy Birthday Mr Modi!

Author Name : Savio Rodrigues

Source : Goa Chronicle