New Delhi: Narendra Modi's real strength is his strong mind like that of great sportspersons, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said on Sunday, explaining how the Prime Minister has overcome odds to reach the top.
Jaitley, who has watched Modi closely since their days as BJP spokespersons over 15 years ago, observed that he is also a "strict disciplinarian" for himself and has a strong self-belief.
These qualities, because of which he carries forward his agenda of development despite contrarian views, make him virtually unmatched in the political arena, he said.
"While in government, needless to say, he is extremely hardworking himself and he is activity-oriented. So he has a clarity on what every department in government is supposed to do," Jaitley, who also holds the portfolio of Information and Broadcasting, said in an interaction with PTI at its headquarters here.
Talking about Modi's evolution, he said the factors that seem to be contributing are that he is very sharp, a great learner and has an ability to adjust to be an international leader.
"He is a great learner, so he evolved. And now that he is having an opportunity to make an impact in diplomacy, you can see him gradually evolve literally within months from a Chief Minister to a Prime Minister to a powerful international leader...
"I don't think there are many others in the political arena who could have done it so fast," Jaitley said.
While talking about Modi's focussed determination, he said, "I think the real strength was visible when he went to Gujarat... I think that was the real test of feasibility."
He said Modi governed the state by focussing on the agenda of development rather than being "blown out" by "contrarian views", an apparent reference to the legal and media scrutiny the former Gujarat Chief Minister faced over the 2002 riots.
Talking about difficulties faced by Modi in the aftermath of the 2002 riots, Jaitley said most people were not even willing to report his viewpoint.
But "he went over the heads of the media and communicated directly with the people", laying down his roadmap and his agenda - the Gujarat development, the senior BJP leader said.
"And when I said strong in the mind, for the next 10-12 years, he did not deviate from that agenda and finally succeeded in bringing his own agenda to the centre-stage rather than respond to the critics' agenda," he said.
Describing Modi's abilities, he said, "He has a lot of confidence in his own self in what he is doing."
In this context, he referred to Modi's conduct of international diplomacy in Hindi and his extempore English speeches like that in Australia recently.
Talking about his abilities in running the government at the Centre, Jaitley said while his 12 years of experience in running Gujarat despite contrarian views, Modi is hardworking himself and he is activity-oriented and has clarity on what every department in government is supposed to do.
"He has his nerve on it. He is very clear," he said, adding that he also keeps getting briefed both by the bureaucracy and by the ministers, besides his own core team in his office.
"I think just as from a Chief Minister of a state, he created his great acceptability for the Prime Minister's post," he said.
Turning to the electioneering in run up to last Lok Sabha polls spearheaded by Modi, Jaitley said, "The manner in which he carried on the campaign, it was a blending between him and the party, but clearly he was the leader of the campaign."
Modi defied all conventional punditry about poll prospects by his "sheer pace and velocity" of campaigning, he said, while referring to projections that BJP may fall short of majority and be politically isolated.
"I had said, the next election is not about arithmetic but about chemistry. The old arithmetic has changed and that is what happened. The chemistry of the ground had changed," he added.
"To be honest, I don't want to sound boisterous, I could see it a year, a year-and-a-half earlier. So, at least two years earlier I was one of the first who said there is no option and he should be the leader," the senior BJP leader said.