Arnab Goswami

As a journalist, I have had the opportunity of interacting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi for over 16 years now.

My interaction with him started in the years that he was based in New Delhi as BJP General Secretary and I was covering the party as a beat reporter.

Two things which struck me greatly were his accessibility and his simple lifestyle.

Always willing to chat with reporters sitting in the lawn in 11 Ashoka Road, Shri Modi’s entire personal belongings could probably be packed in a couple of suitcases.

In those years, he shared a room in the party headquarters where we were welcome for a clarification and a conversation.

Around that time, I got my first big break in anchoring when I was asked to anchor one episode of the Big Fight, a popular show in those days. The subject was Kashmir, and I called Shri Modi to ask if he would join in.

There were three panelists on that episode on Kashmir, Mirwaiz Omar Farooq of the Hurriyat, G Parthasarthy the seasoned diplomat and Shri Narendra Modi representing the perspective of the Atal Behari Vajpayee government.

The clarity with which Shri Modi challenged the Hurriyat’s perspective was remarkable. I got a massive response for that episode and recently, on a flight from Mumbai to Delhi, Mr Parthasarthy and I recollected the episode as a reflection of the depth and conviction of Shri Modi’s views on issues concerning national security.

At a personal level, I must share that each time I have had the privilege to interview the Prime Minister, his humility and warmth while interacting with my TV crew has been heart-warming.

He makes it a point to interact and thank each cameraperson, researcher, technician and producer. He obliges requests for pictures, and leaves a deep impression on the crew every time by thanking them for their effort.

On the occasion of his birthday, I would like to wish Prime Minister Narendra Modi health, happiness and many many more years in the service of our nation.