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Exclusive Excerpts From Official Biography of Modi's 'Mann Ki Baat'

The genesis and evolution of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s one-of-a-kind public broadcasting show Mann Ki Baat is set to be unveiled on Friday in the presence of President Pranab Mukherjee, Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan and Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley.

Marya Shakil | CNN-News18maryashakil

Updated:May 26, 2017, 11:04 AM IST
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Exclusive Excerpts From Official Biography of Modi's 'Mann Ki Baat'
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has written the preface for Mann Ki Baat - A Social Revolution on Radio, which will be presented to the President.

New Delhi: The genesis and evolution of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s one-of-a-kind public broadcasting show Mann Ki Baat is set to be unveiled on Friday in the presence of President Pranab Mukherjee, Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan and Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has written the preface for Mann Ki Baat - A Social Revolution on Radio, which will be presented to the President. “Talking on a one-hour radio show once a month while addressing challenging tasks as Prime Minister requires tremendous efforts, and I cannot but feel his strong passion for dialogue with his people,” Abe writes in the book.

The book reveals names that were originally considered for the programme ranged from ‘PM ke saath ru-ba-ru’ to ‘Varta Modi Ji Ke Saath’ to ‘Modi Vaani’.

CNN-News18 got exclusive access to the book. Excerpts from the same:

“When Narendra Modi was asked whether he gets time to read all the letters, he said:

"Most certainly not. The volume is too much for me to do so. But the letters I read, I read word to word and even if I do not talk about them in the programme, I ensure that people's issues are addressed or their thoughts are given active consideration".

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So, if not Narendra Modi, then who scans the letters? A preliminary scan is done by the AIR team itself. Every letter is read and a short list is made which is then sent to the Prime Minister. The choice of letters to be taken up in the final programme lies with Narendra Modi himself. AIR officials add that any letter that is political in nature or uses any abusive language (which is rare though) is not entertained at all. This is in sync with Narendra Modi's philosophy of keeping 'Mann Ki Baat' apart from the daily rough and tumble of politics.

While talking about the letters being received for 'Mann Ki Baat, Narendra Modi noted:

"Even in this age of emails and technology, the joy of a letter is very special. I think the medium is very personal. Receiving a handwritten letter has a very different feeling. A few years ago I had urged people to share Diwali greeting through handwritten letter and people responded very well". During a meeting with his aides on a rainy August evening in 2014, the Prime Minister expressed his desire to communicate with people through the medium of radio. He wanted to begin this programme in September 2014 itself. His team, a mixture of government officials and those he had brought along with him from Gujarat, began to work out the modalities of such a programme.

The book reveals names that were originally considered for the programme ranged from ‘PM ke saath ru-ba-ru’ to ‘Varta Modi Ji Ke Saath’ to ‘Modi Vaani’.

Then came the toughest part, that of deciding on a suitable name for the programme. How would it be branded? Inputs and options were sought through MyGov, the Government of India platform for public engagement and participation. Another set of questions persisted-how would people interpret the name? Would it connect with people across India? Meanwhile, a series of options for names ranging from 'PM Ke Saath Ru-Ba-Ru' to 'Vaarta Modi Ji Ke Saath' to even 'Modi Vani' started pouring in. It was now time to take a decision.

ALSO READ | Exclusive Excerpts From Official Biography of Modi's 'Mann Ki Baat'

When his officials went back to him with the issue of the nomenclature, Narendra Modi exclaimed, "Arre isme kya kai? Kaho kuchh halki phulki Mann ki baatein karoonga." The christening was done! They had finally found the name for the radio programme-it would simply be called 'Mann Ki Baat'.

ALSO READ | How @narendramodi Redefined the Way Indian PM Interacts With Masses

Narendra Modi could have opted for any medium. He chose the radio for a reason. 'Mann Ki Baat' is not about votes or television optics. It is about behaviour, responsibility, hopes, dreams, struggle and achievement in everyday life. Narendra Modi gave a very logical explanation on the subject:

"I have been a quintessential organisation man all my life. I know the difference the radio can make. American Presidents used it well. So many people heard Martin Luther King's 'I have a dream' speech on the radio. It has a transformative power like no other medium."

On the radio, Narendra Modi explains, he coaxes; he never imposes. He looks at both sides of the argument. This is why he can confidently say in one broadcast, "I know I am choosing those topics which put the government in the dock:' This is always more about the conviction that politics.

At a larger level, the 'Mann Ki Baat' exemplifies a new method of communication. It is direct, it is wide in its reach and it is soft in the nature of the message. It is in tune with the 'Modi way' of doing things reaching out to the people without barriers. The most effective example of how brand 'Mann Ki Baat' has become a part of the mainstream is seen in how the opposition leaders use it to criticise Narendra Modi. In August 2015, the Congress President said, "The champion of 'Mann Ki Baat' has retreated into a 'maun vrat' (vow of silence):' She was referring to the ongoing opposition pressure on the government to dismiss the External Affairs Minister, Sushma Swaraj and Rajasthan Chief Minister, Vasundhara Raje on perceived corruption charges. In both cases, the party and the government firmly backed their leaders. In September 2015, at a programme in Odisha, Rahul Gandhi pointed out that Narendra Modi only talks about his 'Mann Ki Baat' and ignores the 'Mann Ki Baat' of the rest of India. He compared the 'Mann Ki Baat' to mere lip service.

Even the ally of the Modi government, the Shiv Sena, uses 'Mann Ki Baat' to taunt the Prime Minister. Though an ally in both Delhi and Maharashtra, the Sena has always criticised the BJP and the Prime Minister on every possible occasion. Not to be left behind, MNS founder and Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackeray's nephew Raj Thackeray termed it as 'Maun Ki Baat' at a rally in his home state.”

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