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Interview | Connect with masses is PM Modi’s secret sauce for repeated poll wins: Axis My India CMD Pradeep Gupta

Demonetisation should continue to happen regularly, says Gupta, noting that the currency recall was proof that Prime Minister Narendra Modi does not blindly back the rich

May 12, 2022 / 11:19 AM IST

On October 7 last year, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) marked 20 years since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took charge as the chief minister of Gujarat. On May 11, Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu released the book, Modi@20: Dreams Meet Delivery, an anthology, published by Rupa Publications India, about Modi’s public life since 2001.

Pradeep Gupta, chairman & managing director of Axis My India, who has written a chapter in the book, believes the secret sauce behind Modi’s repeated success is his connect with the masses. In an interview to Moneycontrol, Gupta, whose agency has successfully predicted the outcome of 53 of 57 assembly and general elections since 2013, says Modi has a very deep understanding of people’s psychology because he has spent a sizable time with or as a common man.  Edited excerpts:

It has been more than 20 years since Narendra Modi first became the chief minister of Gujarat. You have been predicting election results since 2013. What is your assessment of the Prime Minister?

Winning the election means winning the hearts of the people. And when you say winning hearts, it has to be genuine. In a diverse country like India, if someone is winning elections repeatedly and with a majority, there is something special about that person.

In India, the well-being of about 80 percent of people is dependent on the government of the day, be it a local body, a state government or the Central government. Thanks to communication, technology and media, voters have become well-informed in the last 20 years, coinciding with the rise of Modi.

Also read | Narendra Modi restored people’s trust in our parliamentary democracy: Amit Shah at launch of book on PM

When it comes to PM Modi, he has been winning elections continuously since October 2001 (Gujarat elections) with three state and two Lok Sabha elections with a full majority and he has never sat on the Opposition benches. But why? Because his government's fundamentals are like social science.

He has got a very deep understanding of people’s psychology because he has spent a sizable time with or as a common man. That is very important. He understands the real pain of common people and he makes sure to address the pain through governance.

Book copy

How do you say he has addressed the problems of common people?

Modi, by paying heed to Gandhiji’s talisman, takes decisions keeping in mind the need of the common man on the street. In his first term as PM, his government delivered life-altering schemes. Most importantly, he addressed the issue of women having to bear the humiliation of open defecation or suffer in smoke-filled kitchens. Toilets in every house under Swachh Bharat and gas connections under the Ujjwala scheme were game- changers.

Also read | Brand Modi, his govt’s welfare schemes biggest factors in elections

While previous governments promised empowerment of women, Modi made it a reality by opening Jan Dhan accounts for direct benefit transfers. Finally, women had cash in hand that they could call their own and spend according to their wishes. Women became the proud owners of their homes under the PM Awas Yojana. They were no longer at the mercy of the men in their house. Their position was elevated significantly in their homes, and by extension, in society. This meant that the dependence of women shifted from the chief wage-earner of the house to the government.

You say Modi is inspired by Mahatma Gandhi. How?

Like Gandhi, Modi knew from day one that in order to connect with the masses, one has to be like them. When Gandhiji came back to India in 1914-15, he spent the first two years traveling second class. That is the time he took the freedom movement from the elite to the masses. After Gandhiji, you see a passionate following towards PM Modi in rallies and roadshows. With Modi, the biggest thing is that he lived to the expectations of the people, of the chair and of the government.

Also read | Even Modi's detractors agree he is a phenomenon: Vice President Venkaiah Naidu

Well before becoming the CM, Modi had left his home at the age of 17. He saw society from very close quarters and understood the fabric of this nation. Well before his win in 2001, Modi was in charge of the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation elections in 1987 that the BJP won for the first time. This was two years after the BJP could win just 11 out of 182 assembly seats in elections held in the backdrop of Indira Gandhi’s assassination. In 1996, Modi was made in charge of Chandigarh municipal elections where the BJP won.

After becoming CM, Modi spent Diwali with the Bhuj earthquake victims. Even after he became PM, he has been spending Diwali with soldiers. That is why I say he doesn’t have any family baggage, which has worked in his favour.

You have said that demonetisation worked for Modi…

Demonetisation was proof that Modi did not blindly back the rich and big businesses as alleged by the Opposition. It came as the great leveller, where the poor and underprivileged keenly followed how the rich had to part with their ill-gotten spoils. The record GST collections in March this year exceeded Rs. 1.23 lakh crore in the aftermath of COVID-19. I am a firm believer that demonetisation should happen regularly.

Where do you think Prime Minister Modi has an edge over the others?

If you see other politicians, no one has shown this kind of upbringing, the understanding of the country and the dedication level. When a person is showing so much dedication, someone who wants to beat him has to show more dedication. Naveen Patnaik, for example, is also seen as a dedicated politician with no family baggage, though he is a dynast. But for some reason he stops work at 6 pm. So, he cannot be considered even a competitor in terms of working hours.

Gulam Jeelani
Gulam Jeelani is a journalist with over 12 years of reporting experience. Based in New Delhi, he covers politics and governance for Moneycontrol.