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The speech factory

Narendra Modi

The content for Narendra Modi’s speeches is provided by a 250-member Citizens for Accountable Governance (CAG) team, helmed by former UN public health specialist Prashant Kishor, which functions from Modi’s residence and an office in Infocity, Gandhinagar. It’s made up largely of investment bankers and IT professionals on sabbatical from their assignments.

Over 20 researchers working out of a small room in Ahmedabad write the speeches. They are engineers, academics and graduates of the Indian Institute of Management and the National Institute of Design in Ahmedabad.

They coordinate with various agencies, mainly the CAG, and collate facts and local information. These are then marked with bullet points on sheets of paper that Modi goes through on his way to rally venues. Apparently, he fleshes out the speeches himself.

But the last lap is crucial. Modi has a mobile secretariat on his new 13-seater campaign jet. A key figure there is K. Kailasanathan, a 1979-batch IAS officer who has been working as Modi’s principal secretary since retiring from the civil services in May 2013. He also advises Modi specifically on southern politics.

On board, Kailasanathan vets the data to spot bloomers that used to mar Modi’s pre-campaign speeches.

If Modi wants additional information, it is organised by his personal assistant Om Prakash Chandel or his public relations officer Jagdish Thakkar once the flight lands.

Chandel, 33, is a one-time protégé of former BJP general secretary K.N. Govindacharya and a product of an RSS-affiliated training school for youths in Haryana, called the Surya Foundation. Thakkar is a retired Gujarat government official.

Thakkar and Chandel call up the resource teams in Gandhinagar, who are expected to fill in the blanks at lightning speed so that Modi has his facts and figures in hand before he climbs onto the dais.

The resource back-ups at the CAG and the other information vends cross-verify their facts and figures with the BJP’s local leaders.

A revamped party IT cell, headed by former Palo Alto techie Arvind Gupta and headquartered at the central party office in New Delhi, electronically disseminates Modi’s speeches to multiply the impact.