Train journey with Narendra Modi

A Facebook friend shared “A train journey and two names to remember“, which had appeared in The Hindu on June 1, 2014.

The writer, Ms. Leena Sarma, General Manager of the Centre for Railway Information System, Indian Railways, New Delhi, has written about a train journey in 1990 from Delhi to Ahmedabad, in which she and another female colleague were co-passengers with Shankersinh Vaghela and Narendra Modi, both BJP members at that time.

I strongly suggest you read the entire article, but for those who are short of time, here’s the summary:
Ms. Sarma and her female colleague, then Indian Railway (Traffic) Service probationers, had wait-listed First Class tickets to travel from Delhi to Ahmedabad. The train was heavily booked. The TTE (Travel Ticket Examiner) asked them to sit in a particular coupe, and assured them that he would try to get their tickets confirmed. The two persons who had confirmed tickets for that coupe were both politicians, as could be discerned from their white khadi attire. The TTE assured the two women that, “They’re decent people, regular travellers on this route, nothing to worry.” The politicians readily made space for their co-passengers by almost squeezing themselves to one corner.

After initial introductions, the 4 co-passengers started discussing various topics, particularly in the areas of History and the Polity. Eventually, the discussion veered around to the formation of the Hindu Mahasabha and the Muslim League.

After the food, four vegetarian meals, arrived, the four ate in silence. When the pantry-car manager came to take the payment, the younger man (Narendra Modi) paid for all four meals.

Soon, the TTE came and informed the two women that the train was packed and he couldn’t arrange berths for them. Both men immediately stood up and said: “It’s okay, we’ll manage.” They swiftly spread a cloth on the floor and went to sleep, while the two women with wait-listed tickets occupied the berths.

As the train was nearing Ahmedabad, the politicians asked the two women about their lodging arrangements in the city. Vaghela told them that in case of any problem, the doors of his house were open for them. There was some kind of genuine concern in the voice or the facial contours of the otherwise apparently inscrutable younger one (Narendra Modi), and he told them: “I’m like a nomad, I don’t have a proper home to invite you but you can accept his offer of safe shelter in this new place.” The women thanked the politicians for that invitation and assured them that accommodation was not going to be a problem for them.

I leave it to readers to draw their own conclusions about the politicians involved in this episode.

My observations:

1.The entire episode took place far away from media scrutiny. The manner in which Shankersinh Vaghela and Narendra Modi conducted themselves speaks volumes about their character.

2.Since Ms. Sarma first wrote about this train journey in an Assamese newspaper in 1995, when neither Shankersinh Vaghela nor Narendra Modi was a minister or a famous person, it can be safely assumed that she had nothing to gain by writing an article praising them. As Ms. Sarma herself says, “It was a tribute to two unknown politicians from Gujarat for giving up their comfort ungrudgingly for the sake of two bens (sisters) from Assam.”

Please share your observations on this episode.

11 thoughts on “Train journey with Narendra Modi

  1. It is such small good gestures for others on their part that make personalities stand apart from other self-seekers. NaMo became the PM and AK 49, charged with being an ‘autocrat’ is seeing his jhaaddoo cleaning party disintegrate with principled founding members distancing from his style of functioning.A classic case of contrasts!

  2. Well, if this is true, then very good of the two gentlemen to have behaved that well.

    But then as you say, at that time, these two were hardly known and were still trying their luck in politics.. would they have done the same had they been well known then.. We don’t know. .

    Power and money make people do a lot of things. . Good or bad both..

  3. We always have bad habit of judging Politicians and other Celebs…just by watching some news channel or reading an article about them…I know majority of them havent left a good impression but in every field there are good and bad people…
    Secondly, there field is very complex…too much politics and favors…so sometimes it really become difficult to define a persons character…he might be doing it under some pressure…who are we to judge them…but this gesture was really appreciating…thank you for sharing it with us 🙂

  4. From all that I have read and seen (and I am not speaking of our usual MSM concerned with ratings etc), in a way this doesn’t surprise me. I am happy that such a person is leading the country today. A lot can be accomplished by leading by example, and good manners, basic decency, grace, an honest sense of responsibility and willingness to serve and help – these can go long way. I am happy about the recent directives he has given about no-feet-touching and keeping offices clean. They may seem to be small things but they really are not. Thanks Pro for bringing this article to our attention.

  5. You’ve said it already. She wrote it when neither of them was well known. I always give people the benefit of the doubt. In my mind, people are always innately good. What they choose to do with that goodness is up to them. I read this article last week too.

  6. Actions speak louder than words!! Thorough gentlemen indeed! On a tour through Gujarat all we heard was praise and more praise from the aam aadmis (AAP was not in existence then!) for their beloved CM for his no-nonsense approach and dynamism Definitely he will replicate it at the Centre!

  7. I didn’t vote for Mr. Modi. But I’m happy that he’s our PM. The story clearly shows that he’s a noble person. While the story doesn’t show anything to prove that he’ll prove to be a good PM for us, it is still a nice change.. to see ‘good’ things being shared for our country’s PM. For all my life, the moment a person comes into power, we start hearing bad things about her/him, and people lose all hopes for the country.
    A good person at the top brings positivity and a desire to be positive, for everyone underneath. Thanks for sharing.

  8. Nice coverage by The Hindu to bring out this story. Thanks for sharing with us – I was not aware of this. I also believe people are innately good and these two were no exceptions. I would have done similarly had I been in their place and am sure most of would do the same way…Am sure those two ladies cherish this journey…BTW, I have started respecting Narendra Modi as a human being and am not judging or pre-judging him… let’s wait and watch

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