Monday, March 02, 2015

Book Review: War Room - The people, tactics and technology behind Narendra Modi’s 2014 win

There is no power in heaven and earth that can stop an idea whose time has come.

I say this because the idea of ‘Indianness’ – the deep feeling of belonging to a country which is our motherland, is one of the motivating thoughts that pushed many high-tech Indian professionals to take a break from their careers to support and ensure that Narendra Modi, who to them symbolised the Indianness they so much felt with, was for sure the candidate they wanted to see win in the 2014 elections in India.

Politics is a lot of serendipity. You are in the right place and the right time and you’ve got the right message, and it either connects for you, or it doesn’t.” – Jon Huntsman Jr, American politician.
Indeed, for a man saddled with the infamous Godhra Riots and wearing the saffron non-secular and often berated body of thoughts that are synonymous with bigots like RSS, it was hardly possible to inherit an India, with its multitude of peoples and diversities, unless there were many other factors that came into play, prior to the 2014 elections.

In his riveting book, War Room – The people, tactics and technology behind Narendra Modi’s 2014 win, Ullekh NP states that the campaign for Modi, followed the American – style Presidential Elections. More than two years ago, at the back end of the BJP Offices a war was already afoot, making Modi the most preferred candidate for the PMO, in India.

The figures were well known – the Digital cascade had already happened in India; it was known that 65% of the electorate were under 35 years of age and 35% of these were first time voters, in the age group of 18 – 21 years. The SmartPhone users were growing at an unprecedented number in India, than it had done in any other part of the world. And almost all of the 65% of the electorate were on mobile devices and certainly on the internet. They were young, hungry for change; they needed jobs and to get onto the fast track. They were tired of seeing men – and women, with grey heads and bulging paunches whom they could not identify with, and they were very tired of corruption. They had put all their eggs on a young Leader, Arvind Kejriwal who promised a corruption free society, in Delhi, but had been lead down by his resignation in 49 days, after being elected as CM in Delhi. They might have enjoyed an elite Rahul Gandhi, but he was too much of a Mamma’s boy and could hardly be considered a PM candidate, even if all his party people, to please his mother, Sonia Gandhi said so.  Moreover, after having one highly educated but nonvocal puppet – down – Sonia Gandhi’s – string, as PM, they certainly did not want another ‘Madam’s’ boy around. They wanted to make sure that their choice made the difference in India and they were the Change Leaders of India. Their voice resounded on Social Media, and even before the war was won on ground, the Modi Wave had swept the Digital space to a landslide victory.

It was strategy, excellent communications, use of technology to the hilt to reach far flung areas of India, with new ideas like ‘Chai par Chacha’ and Piyush Pandey’s ‘Abki bar Modi sarkar’, catch lines and deliverables, that caught the imagination of the youth which eventually saw a change maker who promises to take India on a growth path like never before. It is in this background that Narendra Modi, who once helped his father to sell tea at railway stations, came to power.

Ullekh NP, gives us a well researched, absorbing and gripping tale of the war room that finally caused Narendra Modi to win, not only the 2014 elections in India, but also a humongous number of die-hard fans from very educated and technology savvy communities across the world. In his book, he draws the readers to a fact that might change the way, elections are fought hereafter, by the path laid out by Modi in his war to win the most coveted thrown by any seasoned politician. Also, he brings to the fore, Narendra Modi’s resilience and his will to make a Vibrant India, just as he did Vibrant Gujarat. Needless to say, he is taking his ‘Make in India’ and Invest in India, very, very seriously, Ullekh NP tells us.    

“Years after War Room is published, people will refer to it as a book that told the story of India’s most spectacular elections in May 2014 in all its subtle and magnificent details.” – Chitra Subramaniam, Award winning Journalist and author.

For me, as a Digital Marketing professional, the book is a case study that will go down as a must-read for anyone interested in the fast-changing, technology driven, new media that is threatening to displace mainstream media, just like Narendra Modi did the fuddy-duddy, Congress. Which is best amplified by false pride of only a senile mind like Mani Shankar Iyer, Congress Leader who said on 16th January, 2014 at a high level party meet, “I promise you, in the 21st Century, Narendra Modi will never become the prime minister of the country ...But if he wants to distribute tea here, we will find a place for him.”

Alas! He has had to eat his own words and I hope he is selling idli-dosa on the streets of Chennai, by the now defunct, Amma’s grace.

About the Author: Ullekh NP was born in the family of politicians in Marxist hotbed, Kannur, Kerala. He is a journalist and a commentator based in Delhi. He has worked with Economic Times, DNA, India Today. Presently he is with Open Magazine. He writes on politics, public health and corporate affairs. He covered the 2014 elections from badlands UP to Orissa’s hinterland, from Modi’s hometown Vadnagar to the capitals power corridors. He witnessed firsthand, the ‘Modi Wave’ that started from the Ghats of Banaras and finally engulfed the entire nation.

: The Lotus Collection (An imprint of Roli Books), M-75, Greater Kailash II Market, New Delhi – 110048 Phone: 91-011-40682000 Email:, Website: 
Price: Rs 206

No comments: