Innovative Field Organizer: An example from 1980s Gujarat

Published By : Admin | September 16, 2016 | 23:49 IST

It is well known that Narendra Modi before he became Chief Minister and Prime Minister was an innovative Field Organizer. He has been involved in organisation work from Panchayat elections to Parliamentary elections.

 His innovative organising skills are best understood from how he, as a key member of the Gujarat BJP organisation helped the BJP win the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation elections in the 1980s.

His innovation in Organizational Methods was focused on two things. First was division of labor by making sure every Karyakarta had a goal driven task and every task driven goal had a Karyakarta assigned to it. The second aspect was ensuring there was an emotional connect with the campaign. He was able to inspire that emotional connect by advocating a sense of ownership towards the City and its Governance. 

The highlight of his community organizing during that campaign was micro-engagement with Karyakartas and engaged citizens through 1000 Community level Group Meetings in Ahmedabad. As a preparation for these 1000 Community level Meetings he had conducted a Training Course for 100 Karyakarta volunteers. The focus of the training was on what the Karyakarta was expected to do at a Community level Group Meeting - what issues to highlight what arguments to make ?

This was a novel and radical move as far as election strategy was concerned.

The Community level group meetings would comprise of citizen groups of 25 to 30 where articulate speakers would be encouraged to speak up on the issues concerning the city. To get women engaged in the process he had started all Women’s Group Meetings in the afternoons after 2pm. He even managed to persuade Atal Bihari Vajpayee ji to come for a Municipal Campaign.

There is something to be said of the uniqueness of Narendra Modi’s approach to Field Organizing. This blending of a structured process of volunteer training, volunteer mobilization with an emotional local connect created the ground conditions for the BJP victory in the Ahmedabad Municipal Election to provide Narendra Modi with a template for statewide Organizing of the Sanghatan with a micro-focus at the Local Level. 

Such precision was repeated election after election, be it in Gujarat, Lok Sabha Elections as a General Secretary and when Shri Modi finally joined electoral politics in 2001. His ability to connect with people and understand their needs and aspirations has been truly beneficial.



It is part of an endeavour to collect stories which narrate or recount people’s anecdotes/opinion/analysis on Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi & his impact on lives of people.

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Narendra Modi: The Underground Warrior Against the Emergency
June 25, 2024

During the infamous Emergency period in India (1975-1977), when the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi imposed a dictatorial regime, Shri Narendra Modi emerged as a critical figure in the resistance movement. Shri Modi's activism during this period, marked by his innovative and fearless approach, significantly contributed to the underground communications network and sustained the fight against the oppressive regime.

The Beginnings of Resistance

Shri Narendra Modi's journey into the heart of the resistance began before the official declaration of the Emergency on June 25, 1975. The student-led agitations against the corruption of the Congress Party were already sweeping the nation, and Gujarat was a significant epicentre of this movement. During the Navnirman Andolan in 1974, Shri Modi, then a Yuva Pracharak of the RSS, was deeply influenced by the power of student voices in driving change. He actively participated in these agitations, leveraging his Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad role to deliver fiery speeches that galvanized the youth.

Role in the Underground Movement

Once the Emergency was imposed, censorship and repression became the norm. Shri Modi and other volunteers organized secret meetings and took on the dangerous task of disseminating underground literature. Collaborating closely with senior RSS leaders like Nath Zagda and Vasant Gajendragadkar, he developed ingenious methods to bypass tight security measures.
One of Shri Modi's remarkable strategies involved using the railway network to spread information. He would load materials related to the Constitution, laws, and the Congress government's excesses onto trains departing from Gujarat, ensuring the messages reached remote areas with minimal risk of detection. This innovative approach was pivotal in maintaining the flow of information across the country.

Leadership and International Outreach

With the RSS forced to go underground, the Gujarat Lok Sangharsh Samiti was established, and Shri Modi, at the young age of 25, quickly rose to the position of General Secretary. His leadership was instrumental in sustaining the revolt against the Congress government, especially during the challenging periods when key movement leaders were imprisoned under the MISA Act.

Shri Narendra Modi also extended his efforts internationally, reaching out to individuals abroad and urging them to publish underground publications to amplify global resistance. He coordinated the collection of articles from the Gujarat Newsletter and Sadhana Patrika, which were then disseminated through platforms like the BBC. Shri Modi ensured that international publications critical of the Emergency, such as 'Satyavani,' were circulated back to India, including inside jails.

Covert Operations and Disguises

Shri Modi frequently adopted various disguises to evade detection. His ability to blend in was so effective that even his acquaintances often failed to recognize him. He dressed as a Swamiji in saffron attire and even as a Sikh with a turban. On one occasion, he successfully deceived jail authorities to deliver an important document, highlighting his resourcefulness and bravery.

Post-Emergency Recognition

After the Emergency was lifted in 1977, Shri Modi's activism and leadership during this tumultuous period began to gain recognition. He was invited to Mumbai to discuss the youth's resistance efforts, and his contributions were acknowledged with a modest monetary reward. His relentless efforts during the Emergency led to his appointment as the 'Sambhag Pracharak' of South and Central Gujarat, and he was tasked with preparing official RSS articles documenting the period.

Authoring 'Sangharsh Ma Gujarat'

In 1978, Shri Modi authored his first book, 'Sangharsh Ma Gujarat,' a memoir of his experiences during the Emergency. Remarkably, he completed the book in just 23 days, subsisting solely on lemon water and no solid food. The book, launched by then Chief Minister of Gujarat Babubhai Jasbhai Patel, received widespread acclaim for its objective coverage of the Emergency and was reviewed on national public radio and in prominent newspapers.

The memoir not only chronicled the events of the Emergency but also served as a testament to the collective resistance. It was praised for its wealth of information and objective approach, earning personal accolades from numerous leaders.

Legacy, Continued Vigilance and Solemn Vow

Fifty years later, as Prime Minister of India, Shri Narendra Modi continues to remind the nation of the dark days of the Emergency. He emphasizes the importance of preserving democracy and vows never to let the recurrence of such authoritarianism again. His legacy as a fearless warrior against the dictatorial regime of Indira Gandhi during the Emergency remains a significant chapter in India's history, inspiring current and future generations to uphold the values of democracy and freedom.