ANI Photo | “Constantly challenges you, fond of team review”: Jaishankar on working with PM Modi

Noting that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is a person “who constantly challenges you when you work with him”, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar has said that he’s fond of “a kind of a team think, team review” and seeks to do things in a better way.
In an interview with ANI, Jaishankar noted that inviting India’s SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) neighbours for his oath-taking in 2014 was his idea, not of the bureaucracy.
“My acquaintanceship with Prime Minister Modi before he became Prime Minister was all of about three days when he came on a visit to China. But those three days were enough for me to understand that he had views and he had his assessment and he had a lot of experience much more than people who didn’t know him or didn’t care to find out, their impression was very different,” Jaishankar told ANI.
“Then I met him, about maybe two weeks after he became prime minister. I was then in US. I came back. And I could see again that he had a view and part of those had already been expressed in the fact that he had got all our neighbours to come for the oath taking. Yeah, in the 2014. Yeah, that was very much his personal idea. It was not a bureaucracy’s idea,” he added.
Answering a query, Jaishankar recalled PM Modi’s visit to the United States when he was India’s ambassador.
“I’ve always felt he had views. He has this ability to question, to continuously kind of, can we do it differently? Can we do it better? Self-improvement, you can say in a way. And he keeps challenging you. But the challenge is a two-way process, you know. It’s not like he’s reached the conclusion at the beginning of a conversation. He will throw up a set of propositions. Or he invites you to throw up a set of propositions,” Jaishankar said.
Answering a query on de-hyphenation in ties with other countries, External Affairs Minister recalled PM Modi’s visit to Israel in 2017.
“I know in the case of Israel and Palestine, he had that view very clearly. And he said this very, very early. But when I do that Israel visit, he said, I want to do only that Israel visit. There he had made up his mind…So look, it’s interactive. He’s very, you know, he’s in a way a person who constantly challenges you when you work with him. You have very active conversations. And he’s very fond of a kind of a team think, a team review. You know, everybody gathers around the table,” he said.
“So, some favorite words, review, feedback, kaisa gaya. And normally he speaks at the end. And it starts with the junior most person so that, you know, they don’t get crowded. They don’t get crowded by somebody senior speaking first, then senior. you know, there’s pressure on them otherwise. So, there’s a kind of culture, there’s a culture about it,” he added.
Jaishankar also shared his experiences of electioneering in the ongoing general elections and called it a “very different experience.”
“In a way for me campaigning was different because I have campaigned before in Gujarat Vidhan Sabha elections, also I campaigned in Karnataka. But general election is something very different. So it’s one thing to be a voter to even to be a very interested voter, politically aware… to have watched elections across the world, but when you have your own and you are part of it and you are participating, campaigning, motivating others, it’s a very different experience,” he said.
On West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee’s remarks regarding BJP, Calcutta HC order on OBC certificates and CAA, Jaishankar said: India takes pride in its democratic credentials. So if we are doing very well in the democratic process why would we have any doubts about it? This is a loser’s argument. She knows what the results are going to be on June 4. Regarding the high court don’t say to the court I will not obey what you say. You say okay, I will appeal to some higher court if that option is open to you…Defying a court is not a way of practising democracy. On CAA, we have created a faster pathway for people who needed that, who have a claim to that. We feel this is the way of normalizing them,” he said. (ANI)

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