'Chaiwala' turns insult into compliment
Ridiculed about his humble origins as a 'chaiwala', Narendra Damodardas Modi turned insult into compliment and will be sworn in on May 26 as the 15th Prime Minister of the world's biggest democracy.
'NaMo tea stalls' sprang up across the country as spots for debate and exchange of ideas in the course of the 16th Lok Sabha campaign.
Declared by the BJP as its Prime Ministerial candidate nine months ago, Modi's development mantra is based on the 'Gujarat model.'
Hard work, clear strategy, and ability to take criticism with a smile marked his advent with the industry and the commoner alike.
Curtains fell on the UPA era that had been marked by political and administrative paralysis, particularly in the closing years of its decade.
Never in the past six decades of independent India, had a politician been subjected to scrutiny and ridicule in equal measure like Modi by political adversaries, media, judiciary, and social groups.
Born on September 17, 1950 in a family of grocers at Vadnagar in Mehsana district of then Bombay province and present day Gujarat, he came up in life by dint of his hard work and single minded resolve to overcome all odds.
Known for his political and administrative acumen, he was in his fourth term as Gujarat Chief Minister before becoming the BJP's PM nominee for the 2014 general elections.
Modi, 63, was the most attacked politician during the Lok Sabha polls from the Congress and other political parties.
He also had to face resistance from within his party with BJP patriarch L K Advani's opposition to his elevation as the prime ministerial candidate. Advani had even resigned from all the party posts only to take back his resignations after intervention of the RSS.
Controversies haunted Modi from the day of his political baptism in Gandhinagar in 2001 with post-Godhra riots, and charges that dub him as ''arrogant'' and ''autocratic'' though no fingers have been raised on his personal probity despite a 'snoop gate' charge slapped by his detractors.
Even as he became a target of political barbs, Modi garnered applause within the country and from abroad for his policies which have led to resurgence of Gujarat as industry friendly state, and rebuilding of Kutch after a devastating earthquake in 2001.
The vibrant Gujarat Summit became his calling card that attracted huge domestic and international investment.
Modi, the third of six children born to Damodardas Mulchand Modi and Heeraben, helped his father sell tea at the Vadnagar railway station and on trains.
As a teenager, he ran a tea stall with his brother near a bus terminus. He also worked in the staff canteen of Gujarat State Road Transport Corporation before joining the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh as a full-time 'pracharak' in 1970.
Modis schooling took place at Vadnagar, where a teacher described him as being an average student, but a keen debater.
He was married very young in keeping with the traditions of the Ghanchi caste to which he belongs.
But he and his wife Jashodaben never lived together. It was only while filing his nomination for the Lok Sabha elections this time that he publicly acknowledged Jashodaben and mentioned her name as his spouse.
Till then, Modi used to leave blank the column related to marriage in all his nomination papers.
Modi was elected general secretary of BJP's Gujarat unit in 1988 and his electoral strategy was central to BJP's victory in the 1995 and 1998 state elections.
In November 1995, he became BJPs national secretary; in May 1998, he was elevated to the post of the general secretary and was transferred to New Delhi where he was assigned responsibility for the party's activities in Haryana and Himachal Pradesh.
His role in Advanis Ayodhya Rath Yatra and Murli Manohar Joshis Ekta Yatra made him a household name in the political circles.
Modi first became the Chief Minister of Gujarat in October 2001 after the resignation of veteran leader Keshubhai Patel owning responsibility for BJPs defeat in the by-elections.
A vegetarian, Modi is a workaholic and introvert who also writes poetry in Gujarati.
(Posted on 21-05-2014)