Nilanjan Mukhopadhyay


The author of Narendra Modi: The Man, The Times, Nilanjan Mukhopadhyay is a journalist, who has authored other books as well. He started off as a journalist in the 1980s and has been working for quite a few publications. Some of the publications that he has worked for include The Statesman, Hindustan Times, Outlook and The Economic Times. He currently resides near Delhi.

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What inspired you to write about the Hindu Nationalistic politics?

I grew up in North India in the town of Roorkee where, as a child, I visited Dargahs and learnt about India’s rich composite culture. I was taught at home that the way to spiritual attainment was not the monopoly of a single religion. Later, I entered journalism when I was just 21-22. My first outstation assignment was reporting on the communal riots in Meerut in 1982. The 1980s was by then shaping into the decade when religion transcended personal belief and spill into public life and influence politics. I covered other riots and went about trying to understand the roots of communalism. In 1986, the locks on the disputed Babri Masjid – Ram Janambhoomi shrine were unlocked for Hindu devotees. It triggered one riot after another. I became an ‘Ayodhya expert’ and studied the history of the dispute, about the Vishwa Hindu Parishad and other organisaitons of the Sangh Parivar. From Ayodhya, it became a big chain of subjects that I learnt about and wrote on. I wrote my first book, The Demolition: India At The Crossroads in 1993 after the demolition of the Babri Masjid in 1992. Thereafter, the role and impact of Hindu nationalistic politics and communalism kept increasing and I remained firm to writing about the issue.

What challenges do you have to face while unraveling the phenomenon of the Indian Politics in your books?

The biggest challenge is that my presented facts ought to be absolutely indisputable. Especially, while writing about somebody who happens to be alive. Even if the person or events that I write are in the past, contemporary supporters abound aplenty and care has to be taken that no sentiments are offended. Moreover, as a writer I think it is important to ensure balance and take care that nuances of the subject are not lost.

With reference to your Biography on Mr. Narendra Modi, how difficult was it to write on a man who is sure to receive strong reactions across the nation?

Not Mr. Narendra Modi alone but writing on any given topic related to politics invites strong reactions. Moreover, being inclined to none of the parties at all makes it even more challenging to write from both the sides. I received both brickbats and laurels from both admirers and detractors of Mr Modi and for a writer not being able to please any camp is a sign that a balance has been maintained. It was also a difficult book to write because I was certain that he had a fair chance to become Prime Minister and that the book of would be examined ¬†minutely especially as it was the first book on him after he became a prime ministerial candidate. It was doubly difficult as despite being an admirer of Mr Modi’s administrative ability and that his emergence from a small village is one of the greatest success stories, I have several disagreements on his politics. Even for my forthcoming book on iconic leaders of the Sangh Parivar, I have maintained balance and think I have been able to create personal sketches and critical evaluation of leaders who have motivated and been revered by today’s leaders of the Parivar.

How excited are you for the upcoming Art and Literature Festival? What are you looking forward to in it?

I am looking forward to the upcoming festival because it will give me an occasion to listen to other writers and thinkers and engage with a new audience. I believe that writers must keep interacting with new people and use feedback to improve their skills.

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