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Narendra Damodardas Modi, born 17 September 1950) is the 15th and the current Prime Minister of India. Modi, a leader of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), also served as Chief Minister of Gujarat from 2001 to 2014.
Modi was a key strategist for the BJP in the successful 1995 and 1998 Gujarat state election campaigns. He became Chief Minister of Gujarat in October 2001 and served longer by far in that position than anyone else to date. He was a major campaign figure in the 2009 general election, which the BJP led National Democratic Alliance lost to the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA). He led the BJP in the April–May 2014 general election, which resulted in a majority for the BJP in the Lok Sabha, first time any party has done so since 1984.
Modi is a Hindu Nationalist and a member of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). He is a controversial figure both within India as well as internationally as his administration has been criticised for the incidents surrounding the 2002 Gujarat riots. He has been praised for his economic policies, which are credited with creating an environment for a high rate of economic growth in Gujarat. However, his administration has also been criticised for failing to make a significant positive impact upon the human development of the state.
Early life and education
Modi was born on 17 September 1950 to a family of grocers belonging to the backward Ghanchi-Teli (oil-presser) community, in Vadnagar in Mehsana district of what was then Bombay State (present-day Gujarat), India. He was the third of four children born to Damodardas Mulchand Modi and his wife, Heeraben. He helped his father sell tea at Vadnagar railway station. As a child and as a teenager, he ran a tea stall with his brother near a bus terminus. In 1967, he completed his schooling in Vadnagar, where a teacher described him as being an average student, but a keen debater who had an interest in theatre.
That interest has influenced how he now projects himself in politics. At the age of eight, Modi came in contact with RSS and he began attending its local shakhas where he came in contact with Lakshmanrao Inamdar, popularly known as Vakil Saheb, who is known as his political guru and mentor. Inamdar inducted Modi as a balswayamsevak, a junior cadet in RSS. During his morning exercise session at the keri pitha shakha of RSS, he also came in contact with Vasant Gajendragadkar and Nathalal Jaghda, leaders of the Jan Sangh who later founded the BJP's Gujarat state unit in 1980.
Modi's parents arranged his marriage as a child, in keeping with the traditions of the Ghanchi caste. He was engaged at the age of 13 to Jashodaben Chimanlal and the couple were married by the time he was 18. They spent very little time together and were soon estranged because Modi decided to pursue an itinerant life. However as per Modi's biographer Nilanjan Mukhopadhyay, the marriage was never consummated. Having remained silent on his marital status, during declarations related to candidature during four state elections since 2002 and having claimed that his status as a single person meant that he had no reason to be corrupt, Modi acknowledged Jashodaben as his legal spouse when filling in his nomination form for the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.
As per Modi in Kishore Makwana's Common Man Narendra Modi, published in 2014, after leaving home at 17, he went to Ramakrishna Mission ashram in Rajkot and then to the Belur Math near Kolkata. Then he went to Guwahati and later joined another ashram set up by Swami Vivekananda in Almora, in the Himalayan foothills. Two years after, he returned to Vadnagar and after a brief halt at his house, Modi left again for Ahmedabad, where he lived and worked in a tea stall run by his uncle where he again came in contact with Lakshmanrao Inamdar who was then based at Hedgewar Bhavan, the RSS headquarters in the city. He then worked in the staff canteen of Gujarat State Road Transport Corporation until he became a full–time pracharak (propagandist) of the RSS in 1970. In 1978, Modi graduated with an extramural degree through Distance Education in political science from Delhi University. In 1983, while remaining as a pracharak in the RSS, completed his Master's degree in political science from Gujarat University.
Early political career
Modi formally joined the RSS after the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971. After Modi had received some RSS training in Nagpur, which was a prerequisite for taking up an official position in the Sangh Parivar, he was given charge of Sangh's student wing, Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, in Gujarat. During 1975-1977, when Prime Minister Indira Gandhi declared a state of the emergency, political opponents were jailed and political organisation including RSS were banned. Modi went underground in Gujarat and to evade arrest was occasionally disguised as a Sikh, saint, elderly man etc. and printed and sent booklets against the central government to Delhi. He also organised agitations and covert distribution of Sangh's pamphlets.
He also participated in the movement against the Emergency under Jayaprakash Narayan. He was made the general secretary of the Gujarat Lok Sangharsh Samiti and his primary role was to coordinate between activists in the state. During this period he wrote a book titled Sangharsh ma Gujarat (Gujarat’s struggle) in Gujarati which chronicles events, anecdotes as well as his personal experiences. The RSS assigned Modi to the BJP in 1985. While Shankersinh Vaghela and Keshubhai Patel were the established names in the Gujarat BJP at that time, Modi rose to prominence after organising Murli Manohar Joshi's Kanyakumari-Srinagar Ekta yatra (Journey for Unity) in 1991. In 1988, Modi was elected as organizing secretary of BJP's Gujarat unit, marking his formal entry into mainstream politics. As secretary, his electoral strategy was central to BJP's victory in the 1995 state elections.
In November 1995, Modi was elected National Secretary of BJP and was transferred to New Delhi where he was assigned responsibility for the party's activities in Haryana and Himachal Pradesh. Vaghela defected from the BJP after he lost the 1996 Lok Sabha elections, having previously threatened to do so in 1995. Modi was promoted to the post of General Secretary (Organisation) of the BJP in May 1998. While on the selection committee for the 1998 Assembly elections in Gujarat, Modi favoured supporters of Patel over those loyal to Vaghela, in an attempt to put an end to the factional divisions within the party. His strategies were credited as being key to winning the 1998 elections.
Chief Minister of Gujarat
In 2001, Keshubhai Patel's health was failing, and the BJP had lost seats in the by-elections. Allegations of abuse of power, corruption and poor administration were being made, and Patel's standing had been damaged by his administration's handling of the Bhuj Earthquake of 2001. As a result, the BJP's national leadership sought a new candidate for the office of chief minister, and Modi, who had aired his misgivings about Patel's administration, was chosen as a replacement. L. K. Advani, a senior leader of the BJP, did not want to ostracise Patel and was worried about Modi's lack of experience in governance. Modi declined an offer to be Patel's deputy chief minister, informing Advani and Atal Bihari Vajpayee that he was "going to be fully responsible for Gujarat or not at all", and on 7 October 2001, Modi was appointed the Chief Minister of Gujarat, with the responsibility of preparing the BJP for elections in December 2002. As Chief Minister, Modi's ideas of governance revolved around privatisation and small government, which stood at odds with what political commentator Aditi Phadnis has described as the "anti-privatisation, anti-globalisation position" of the RSS.
Narendra Modi was sworn in as prime minister on 26 May 2014 at the Rastrapati Bhavan. He is India's first prime minister born after the country's independence. In a first of its kind, Modi invited all SAARC leaders to attend his swearing-in ceremony; the attendees included Prime Minister of Pakistan Nawaz Sharif, Sri Lankan president Mahinda Rajapaksa, Afghanistan president Hamid Karzai, Bhutan Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay, Nepal Prime Minister Sushil Koirala, Maldives president President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom and speaker of Bangladesh Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury and Prime Minister Navin Ramgoolam of Mauritius (SAARC observer).