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Modi And Me

The prachark who is now Prime Minister 

2/2/2015 1:49:41 PM
written By : Rajdeep Sardesai Print

My 26-year career in journalism has parallelled the journey of two individuals who have achieved iconic status. The first front page article I got a byline for was Sachin Tendulkar’s maiden first class century in December 1988. The first major outstation assignment I got a chance to track was the Ram Janmabhoomi Rath Yatra where I met a certain Narendra Damodardas Modi for the first time in 1990.

Tendulkar has since got a Bharat Ratna, Modi has gone on to become the Prime Minister.

Tendulkar’s superstar status has meant that he is far removed from the shy little boy with curly locks who would come with his brother to our cricket matches on Bombay’s maidans. Modi too has evolved from the politician, who self-confessedly would organise the chairs at a BJP press conference in the 1990s into a muscular larger-than-life neta.

Ah, the 1990s! Modi and I got along rather well in that period: I moved to Delhi in 1994, and knew a fair smattering of Gujarati, always an advantage in the national capital’s multi-lingual culture. Modi had known of my grandfather who was a police officer in the Gujarat cadre, and we were able to strike some kind of a rapport as we often joked over a plate of kadhi-chawal, “We are the ‘outsiders’ in the big, bad world of Delhi!”

In the late 1990s, private news television was just about taking its baby steps. We were constantly on the lookout for the TV-savvy politicians, who would appear in our studios.

The BJP was blessed with quite a few: Pramod Mahajan, Sushma Swaraj, Arun Jaitley, Govindacharya (remember him?), and, of course, Narendrabhai. Of the many anecdotes that you will find in my book 2014: The Election that Changed India, my own favourite is of asking Modi to rush for a programme as a last-minute guest for a 10pm show I was co-anchoring with Arnab Goswami. That Modi came for the show despite being a replacement for Vijay Kumar Malhotra, who had fallen ill, shows how nothing is constant in life and politics.

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