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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.

 

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"Jaago Bharat Ke Laal" — How PM Modi motivated citizens to keep up the fight against Article 370
August 05, 2022
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On 5th August 2019, in a historic move, Article 370 and Article 35 A were abrogated. This led to complete integration of Jammu and Kashmir with the rest of the country.

The temporary Articles, which were in place for almost 70 odd years, denied rights to the people of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh. Both these Articles were a huge hurdle in development of the region. Abrogation of these Articles fulfilled the dream of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, Atal Bihari Vajpayee and countless citizens.

Since the early 90s, Shri Narendra Modi had raised his voice against the Article 370 and motivated people to keep up their fight against it. He spread awareness how the Abrogation of these Articles would benefit our nation.

Bhavna Thakur, a Karyakarta from Gujarat reminisced the time when Shri Modi, during the organisational days, used to discuss about the Article 370. In a video, she said, "When Modi Ji used to take lectures during the organisational days, he would tell us a lot about the nation as well as the Article 370. He talked about the difficulties we had to face due to the Article 370 and how its abrogation will be good for the nation."

Smt. Thakur further said that to motivate all the Karyakartas, Shri Modi even used to sing a song.

"The song is in Gujarati. It goes like: Kashmir Bharat Nu Kevay, Eto Koi Thi Na Chhinvay, Jando Farki Rahio Chhe Hindustan No, Jaago Jaago Re Bharat Maa Na Laal, which means wake up all Indians, no one can take Kashmir from us. It is an integral part of our nation and will always be," recalled Bhavna Thakur.

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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.