Prime Minister Narendra Modi's defining trait is determination and an absolute commitment to success, says British author Lance Price, noting that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader has the potential to transform India's politics.
Price, whose book "The Modi effect: Inside Narendra Modi's campaign to transform India" (Hodder & Stoughton; pp 352; 25 pounds (hardcover); 14.99 pounds (paperback), was released earlier this month, said that Modi had been "a very successful" front man for India.
Modi's "defining trait is determination and an absolute commitment to success for himself and for his country", Price told IANS in an interview, adding: "I think perhaps the one defining thing about him is (not) to consider a failure as an option. That is something successful leaders have in common."
He said that Modi was a remarkable leader "who deserves to be compared alongside some of the greatest in the world" in the way he focussed on what he had to do to win the April-May 2014 general election for the BJP.
Price, who has presented a copy of his book to Modi, said it is not often that there is a political leader who changes the weather and manages to achieve quite a radical transformation in his country's politics.
"It is a bit early to say whether that has been achieved. Over the next few years we will discover whether that is the case. But the potential is there," said Price, a former BBC correspondent and a former director of communications of the Labour Party.
"He has been very successful as a frontman, if you like, for India. There is real eagerness not only to know about him as a man but also about India. It has come at a time when people are looking at India as a powerhouse. Its prospects for growth seem to be very encouraging," Price said.
He said that Modi's single biggest challenge was "to maximise the potential of India as a growing economy".
The author, who had talked to Modi "at length" for the book, said the BJP leader was determined to be a successful as prime minister.
"I have to say this is a foreigner's perspective but I think Mr. Modi is his own man and he will make his own decisions based on what he thinks is right for the country," said Price, who is a writer, broadcaster and commentator.
Price said that Modi, like any good politician, knows that secret to success is in changes that affect the everyday lives of the people.
Thus, while Modi had spent a long time as a "pracharak" of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, the BJP's ideological mentor, he has made great efforts in recent years to position himself as a development-oriented politician. He said that the RSS, like many other organisations in a democracy, has a right to influence politicians.
"Everybody has a right to try to influence politicians and governments and I am sure the RSS is not alone in that. How much he will listen to them and will be influenced by them, only time will tell," Price noted.
He also said that whether one agreed with Modi's politics or his ideological background, he deserved the victory in the last general election.
"Whether it is oratorical skills, the ability to inspire his followers, the communication skills, the organisational skills - all those elements go together to make him a successful politician. Modi has so many of those qualities," Price told IANS.
He said it was possible for the BJP to do better in the 2019 general election, but this would depend on the performance of the Modi government and the circumstances at the time.
"But if you look at (February assembly) election result in Delhi, it shows that the BJP bandwagon does not roll on relentlessly and can be stopped. It will also depend on whether the other parties, the Congress in particular, learn the lessons of their mistakes," he said.
(The Congress won a mere 44 seats in the general election to the BJP's 282 of the 543 elected seats in the Lok Sabha. The Congress was wiped out in the Delhi assembly polls, with the three-year-old Aam Aadmi party winning 67 of the 70 seats and the BJP the remaining three.)
Price said he wrote the book as people outside India did not know much about Modi before his elevation as prime minister.
"One of the reasons I wanted to write a book was that there was real appetite outside India to know more about him, his background," Price said, adding he wanted to to bring the West up-to-date about Modi, his ambitions for India and why he did so well in the campaign.
Price also said Modi was a "new guy on the world stage" and was making "a big impression."
"You saw (this) in the way he was received in America, in Australia. He really (has) drawn attention to himself, asked people to look at India afresh as a result of his election."
Price also noted that there had been a series of visits by foreign leaders to India since the Modi government assumed office last May, adding that the attention given by US President Barack Obama to India has been "quite exceptional."