New Delhi: AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal may have inflicted a massive defeat on BJP in Delhi Assembly polls last month, but months earlier Prime Minister Narendra Modi saw him as a “small single city leader” not even worth “my time to ignore”. These comments were made by Modi to former BBC journalist Lance Price in July last year explaining his decision not to name Kejriwal during the campaign for the Lok Sabha elections. Price, who spoke to Modi four times during that period, recounts Modi’s responses on a variety of issues in his new book “The Modi Effect: Inside Narendra Modi’s Campaign to Transform India”.
It makes a mention of the contest between Modi and Kejriwal for the Varanasi Lok Sabha seat. After Kejriwal announced his candidature and promised a ‘political earthquake’, Modi decided to keep mum. When asked about it, he told Price, “My silence is my strength..You should know that in the grand scheme of things, Kejriwal was nothing but a small single city leader. He was getting far more coverage than he deserved as compared to other more established Opposition party leaders. So why spend time even ignoring someone. It was, therefore, not even worth my time to ignore Kejriwal.
“Kejriwal was elevated by select group of vested media interests fuelled by the Congress to target Narendra Modi and try and save the Congress. Keep in mind he was not even a Member of Parliament; had lasted only 49 days as CM and had won less than one per cent of the national vote.” Kejriwal lost to Modi in Varanasi but led AAP to a resounding victory clinching 67 seats in the 70-member Delhi Assembly. BJP won the remaining three seats while Congress drew a blank.
Modi recounted that while all eyes were on the Lok Sabha results on May 16 last year, he was alone in his room meditating with no television on and took telephone calls only after 12 noon. “In the morning when the counting was going on, I was totally alone and had no TV on. I was finishing off my own spiritual activities and enjoying my meditation time after the grueling elections,” the Prime Minister says. On the day of counting, he says he “started taking calls only from 12 noon and the first call on the results was from BJP president Rajnath Singh telling me that it was a foregone conclusion that we would sweep the polls”. This and several other titbits about Modi, his life – both personal and political – find mention in the book by Price, former media advisor to the then British Prime Minister Tony Blair.
Published in India by Hachette, the book is based on the author’s interviews with the prime minister, his Cabinet colleagues like Piyush Goyal, Prakash Javadekar and Smriti Irani and his team of advisers and analysts.