Young Modi was argumentative, often defied teachers: Book

PTI New Delhi | Updated on April 14, 2013

Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi was quite argumentative as a child and often defied his teachers but showed leadership qualities from an early age and was mostly at the forefront of articulating concerns of his class mates, says a new book.

In “Narendra Modi: The Man The Times”, published by Westland Ltd, journalist Nilanjan Mukhopadhyay brings out hitherto unknown aspects of the BJP leader’s life — early childhood, youth, renunciation, rise in politics, his struggles and his eventual win to become the chief minister.

There are some rare pictures of Modi from a slim and emaciated young man to a confident chief minister. There is also a comprehensive look at Gujarat’s progress under Modi’s regime complete with figures and statistics.

Modi’s teacher Prahladbhai G Patel in the B N High School remembers him as an extremely argumentative child who would often defy teachers.

He also recalls that he had once asked Modi to show his homework to one of his class monitors but he refused — he said if he has to show it to anyone for evaluation, it must be the teacher himself and no one.

According to Mukhopadhyay, the reasons behind Patel’s decision to ask Modi to get his homework scrutinised by a peer was simple: he was not a “very bright student” and was “commonplace” in studies.

“In a class of 50 students, while Modi could not be called a poor student, Patel was clear in saying that he was ’ranked medium and at best could have been called a mediocre’ student,” the book says.

Modi, however, was very active in external activities and liked to be in limelight, the author quotes his childhood friend Sudhir Joshi as saying.

“He was often at the forefront of articulating concerns of his class fellows and despite having a very strict disciplinarian in the school principal, would go to him to convey viewpoint of students. From an early age, he displayed leadership qualities and was very determined.”

He also was an avid swimmer and participated in debates and plays.

The book also chronicles Modi’s life in the background of RSS and BJP, the way these organisations functioned and continue to function and the politics thereof.

It also tells how Modi as a six-year-old boy sold tea to help out his father; distributed badges and raised slogans at the behest of a local political leader; abandoned his family and wife in search of his definition of truth and initiation into the RSS as a fledgling who ran errands for his seniors before his meteoric rise.

“A young Modi used to help his father Damodardas to run a tea shop. The tasks were divided -- father would make tea and the son would take it in a kettle and sell it whenever a train came,” the author writes.

He also says that the house where young Modi jostled for space with his five siblings and parents was 12 feet wide and 40 feet long.

“Modi’s childhood home is a typical ‘railway compartment’ type of a house where you enter through the first room located upfront and then move to the other rooms in the same sequence.

The house was poorly ventilated and had little natural light.”

Modi was always conscious of what he wore, Mukhopadhyay says.

“He liked to dress properly and took care of his clothes.

He did not allow them to get frayed and ruffled like other children. He spent a lot of time in grooming,” the author quotes Modi’s uncle Jayantibhai as saying.

Published on April 14, 2013

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