The use of technology to gather data of people across India was one of the biggest political shenanigans of Modi’s rise. When Modi started campaigning after winning Gujrat Chief Ministerial berth third time, his government started working on his bigger role and used the technology to ensure his obvious win in India’s polity.
Fetching data by means of the ruse was a political agenda and a critical part of winning the election of 2014 with major numbers. Inviting IT pass outs and professionals who were eager to volunteer for BJP and ensure Modi’s win in the 2014 elections. Gradually, BJP learnt how to use technology effectively to gather the data. The Adhaar was born post-coronation of Modi as Prime Minister, to devise the same policy as used during pre-polls to collect data of people and use it to meet the political intentions and objectives and linking data with other areas was the by-product of this scheme in order to have a complete surveillance mechanism in place on the movements of people across the states of India.
Ullekh NP wrote a book on Modi’s rise “War Room” published in 2015, Ullekh was born to a family of politicians in the Marxist hotbed of Kannur, Kerela. NP is a Journalist and political commentator now based in New Delhi. He worked with India’s biggest news publications such as The Economic Times, DNA, and India Today. He writes on Politics, public health and corporate affairs.
This book “War Room” is titled after the real war room were set up for BJP workers, technicians and volunteers who were seen working for the Modi’s government tirelessly to make him a face of people and overhaul his blemished political image during the electoral process of 2014 elections, and present him in such a way that he would be seen as messiah for the poor Indians. Off-late he was chosen as the best suitable alternative candidature for the Prime Ministerial berth.
India is a thriving middle-class society driven by the idea of change and modernity besotted with the winds of political change around the world, voters across the spectrum during 2014 election were eager to exercise their choice in a country that prides itself on its vibrant democratic history, the highlights of which is the general election held every five years. The sheer number of India’s democratic machinery is staggering and the frenzy on the streets during election time surpasses that of the world’s biggest carnivals.
The country of 1600 plus languages and dialectics has more than 1500 large and small parties were prepared to pack a punch. Politics anywhere is an exercise in selling, and the value of promotion in India is much-enhanced thanks to the enormity and diversity of its voters. The increasing influence of corporate sector that lavishly funds political parties has distorted India’s secular political tradition, for their part, libertarian’s claim the system is skewed in favour of an ill-informed uneducated majority.
Despite its flaws, the system continues to flourish and inspire innovation. This time around, the elections acquired a techie halo. More than 65 percent of India’s population is aged and elections in India have never been a tepid affair. In 2014, India saw an unprecedented participation in both voting and campaigning.
In the succinct prose, always concise never belaboured, Ullekh NP tells the story of Modi’s ample victory in his book ‘War Room’. The book contains seven chapters all related to the Modi’s rise in BJP and how he was placed in Gujrat strategic geography to lead as a Chief Minister backed by MrAdvani and how did he sever his relationship with family and other relatives in order to do something extraordinary in life.
Ullekh begins his book with the chapter ‘Varanasi’ which is considered as a critical state in terms of political and religious fervor, Varanasi which is an oldest than Jerusalem and Athens continued to be one of the Hinduism’s holiest cities, maddeningly dirty, yet undeniably holy, Varanasi also called Banaras is bound to fascinate any political party that espouses the Hindu religion cause. This place is still a hotbed for upper-caste politics and has seen a shattering of caste hierarchies and the dismantling of Brahmin dominance in most parts. Much has changed from the 1980s in Varanasi, the late Congress Veteran KamalpatiTripathi managed to stay in power using his ties with the Brahmins, a powerful high-class group of opinion leaders that continued to handle the affairs of various affluent temples and wields tremendous influence among Hindu voters. The Ram Janambhoomi agitation of the late 1980s and the early 19902 changed the equations. The agitation called for building a temple in the name of Lord Ram in the place of a disputed sixteen-century mosque at Ayodhya built by Babar, the invader emperor who founded the Mughal dynasty in India. The dismantling of Mosque and set up a Ram temple kicked up the religious passion across the country and especially in the Hindu belt which suddenly catapulted BJP to the mainstream, since then BJP made deep inroads in this town, winning it in all LokSabha elections since 1991 with the exception in 2004. Lately, it after acquiring the huge position at the national level, Kejriwal in the recent election tried to tap Modi in Varanasi but failed to win the election. Modi polled 5, 81,022 votes, securing 56.37 percent of the votes in the constituency. The runner-up Kejriwal got 2, 09,238, Ajay Rai got 75, 614 votes which made Modi’ margin of victory with 3.71 Lakh votes.
Modi’s was unbeatable despite saddled with the infamous Godhra Riots and wearing the saffron non-secular and often berated body of thoughts that are synonymous with bigots like RSS, it was hardly possible to inherit an India, with its multitude of peoples and diversities, unless there were many other factors that came into play, prior to the 2014 elections.
Ullekh NP states that the campaign for Modi followed the American – style Presidential Elections. More than two years ago, at the back end of the BJP Offices, a war was already afoot, making Modi the most preferred candidate for the PMO, in India.
The figures were well known – the Digital cascade had already happened in India; it was known that 65% of the electorate were under 35 years of age and 35% of these were first time voters, in the age group of 18 – 21 years. The Smart Phone users were growing at an unprecedented number in India than it had done in any other part of the world. And almost all of the 65% of the electorate were on mobile devices and certainly on the internet. They were young, hungry for change; they needed jobs and to get onto the fast track. They were tired of seeing men – and women, with grey heads and bulging paunches whom they could not identify with, and they were very tired of corruption. They had put all their eggs on a young Leader, ArvindKejriwal who promised a corruption-free society, in Delhi, but had been lead down by his resignation in 49 days, after being elected as CM in Delhi. They might have enjoyed an elite Rahul Gandhi, but he was too much of a Mamma’s boy and could hardly be considered a PM candidate, even if all his party people, to please his mother, Sonia Gandhi said so. Moreover, after having one highly educated but a non-vocal puppet – down – Sonia Gandhi’s – string, as PM, they certainly did not want another ‘Madam’s’ boy around. They wanted to make sure that their choice made the difference in India and they were the Change Leaders of India. Their voice resounded on Social Media, and even before the war was won on the ground, the Modi Wave had swept the Digital space to a landslide victory.
It was strategy, excellent communications, use of technology to the hilt to reach far-flung areas of India, with new ideas like ‘Chai par Chacha’ and Piyush Pandey’s ‘Abki bar Modi Sarkar’, catch lines and deliverables, that caught the imagination of the youth which eventually saw a change maker who promises to take India on a growth path like never before. It is in this background that NarendraModi, who once helped his father to sell tea at railway stations, came to power.
In the last chapter, Ullekh explains that how Modi supporters in diaspora helped him to build his image in the remote villages in India. Many NRIs fly into India with an intent of doing what it calls “save” (service) and would work for weeks long among Dalits of central Uttar Pradesh to highlight NarendraModi’s achievements in Gujrat where Modi had been Chief Minister since late 2001. The strong base in abroad gave Modi a kick start to his popularity. His ninety minutes address at New York’s iconic Madison Square Garden on 28, Sep 2014 was a stunning hit, with the packed crowd of more than 18,000 people chanting his name and missions of others watching it all over the world. His overhauling image abroad was reminiscent of the foreign relations obsessed PanditJawaharLal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of India. He began to travel many countries, later on, and pleaded the NRIs to come back and build India, but failed in his attempts to what he promised including creating new jobs, and Make in India, bringing back black money and using the tactics of demonetization subsequent to which GST regime implementation crumbled the business community of the India which eventually faded his aura.
(Altaf Bashir is a South Asia Association for Regional Cooperation Fellow, he has recently completed his Master’s In International Relations Major’s In Peace and Conflict Studies. Feedback at: [email protected])