Yet again, Modi’s job was to print pamphlets to be distributed at the event, and also to the masses across India. The problem arose when members in Rajasthan demanded 2,00,000 pamphlets in Hindi. Modi had to run around in Gujarat to find printers, who could publish in the language. But he refused to arrange for the transportation to Rajasthan; the members were asked to come and collect the pamphlets. A few reports indicate that the RSS and the GLSS used female couriers for the purpose.
His mass communication skills improved further when Modi became the publisher of a small underground newspaper Muktwani. He was also asked to bring out long commentaries against the Emergency, and how it violated the letter, spirit and principles of a democracy. Published in both English and Gujarati, these included, Story of Two Emergencies, Twenty-two Point Deception, Emergency X-rayed, Proposed Constitutional Reforms and Review of a Decade.
Master of political successes
Intellectually, these responsibilities grounded Modi in the country’s political, economic and social history. He understood the intricacies and nuances of democratic principles and philosophy. More importantly, he understood how to communicate with the masses in a manner to make an emotional and intelligent impact. He used these skills quite effectively during his subsequent political campaigns.
However, it is ironical that the man who agitated against Indira’s semi-dictatorial regime during the Emergency years, and who ranted against the interference of an extra-constitutional personality, Sanjay Gandhi, in governance, has adopted similar means during his initial reign as the prime minister. Most critics, including those within the Sangh Parivar, maintain that this government is run by a single individual.
As was the case with nasbandi (male sterilisation) scheme during the Emergency that was forced down people’s throats, Modi’s Swachh Bharat campaign comes with threats of punishment. In 1975, Sanjay Gandhi proposed policies without being in power. Today, the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) has appropriated the powers of Cabinet ministers and senior bureaucrats. Even the states are asked to report to the PMO.
As a seasoned observer avers, “Maybe it is time for Modi to re-read the booklets and pamphlets he wrote during the Emergency. Maybe his friends should read them out to him. As a prime minister, if he imbibes some of the issues that he talked about in those days, this government will provide better governance. Or else, we may enter a new era of Emergency, where one person’s diktat would determine the fate of 125 billion people.”