I was pursuing to be a chartered accountant when fate decided to intervene and gave me a nudge to follow something I had always dreamt of: writing. With no prior writing or journalism experience, I knew I was on a thin ground.
But I knew I could write and I knew I could learn and learn to write better. Writing, after all, is an art, right? I joined a leading financial daily in Ahmedabad. I thought I’d combine my love for writing with my strong finance background and perhaps business journalism is my calling afterall.
Barely four months into my shift in career, I was still learning on the job on how to file a copy. Basics of journalism, how to find a peg in a story and how to try and turn a boring story into something that could become interesting. And that is when it was announced that Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi was made the prime ministerial candidate for the 2014 general elections which were just few months away.
I extensively covered the Vibrant Gujarat pre-event sectoral summit which the then CM Modi used as a platform to make promises to the nation. He would showcase Gujarat model of development and promised the stars. He promised to break the policy paralysis the country was trapped in since a decade.
I remember the one time I was watching one of his rallies on the television with my dad, my father clapped when Modi said, “yeh maa-bete ki sarkar to gayi”. Yes, I come from a family of BJP, especially Modi supporters. I am not embarrassed or ashamed about it even though during my brief stint in the mainstream media I was scoffed at for not really hating on theli then chief minister.
In 2014, on voting day, I woke up and walked to the polling booth in the school nearby. I cast my vote for the prime minister I want, not necessarily the member of parliament who represents my constituency.
On 16th May, 2014 the results were to be declared. On 14th May, Rajnath Singh, Arun Jaitley and Nitin Gadkari had flown down to Gandhinagar to have a word with Modi. Entire media was gathered right outside the chief minister’s residence, we all hoped we would get ‘major news’.
All we got in return was this image from the chief minister residence.
Look at the body language of the defiant Narendra Modi. Perhaps it was only him and his most trusted lieutenant Amit Shah who were most confident of not only winning but winning with an absolute majority.
Cut to 2019, things are different. The BJP is now the ruling party and Modi is not fighting to win a seat, but to keep it. From Congress vs others, it is BJP vs the rest. Congress is phenomenal as an opposition, more so because of the support system it has built over the decades in the form of academia, media and ‘intellectuals’.
Rahul Gandhi can lie through his teeth and no one in media questions him. He pulls out populist schemes from places where the sun doesn’t shine and no one questions him how will he even fund those schemes? By increasing tax burden on the already over-taxed middle class? You see, it is not Congress which is good with setting an agenda. It is the media which helps Congress further a narrative.
As for me, between 2014 to 2019 I got disillusioned by mainstream media, quit my job, wrote a book, fell in love, got married and moved to a new city, Delhi, the power capital. But as luck would have it, I am back at being a journalist. I am happy that at the end of the day, I do not have to be ashamed of supporting Narendra Modi. I get called names, but then at least I am being honest with myself. I don’t have to pretend I am neutral.
As India goes to vote tomorrow in the first phase of elections, I am again transported back to the 2014 time when I was not sure what would happen on 16th May. Today, too, I am not sure what will happen on 23rd May.
All I hope for is a stable and decisive government where the prime minister is not someone whose election slogan is as old as himself.
May the best man win.