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S Jaishankar Recalls First Impression Of PM Modi: 'Never Met Someone More Prepared'

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said it was Prime Minister Narendra Modi who first asked him to join politics, but the decision was left entirely to him.

S Jaishankar on PM Modi, BJP and his political life. (Image: shutterstock/ANI)

S Jaishankar, the Indian External Affairs Minister, talked about his first impression of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a recent interview. The diplomat-turned-politician said he met the PM for the first time in Beijing when he was the Chief Minister of Gujarat. "PM Narendra Modi frankly made a very big impression on me, when I met him for the first time in Beijing, China, as a bureaucrat and he being the Chief Minister of Gujarat. As a bureaucrat in foreign service, I have seen politicians come and go, but I had never met someone so prepared, so serious with his responsibilities, having so many ideas and so interesting as a politician," Jaishankar said.

The External Affairs Minister said it was Prime Minister Narendra Modi who first asked him to join politics, but the decision was left entirely to him.    

Why Jaishankar joined BJP 

S Jaishankar also spoke about his transition from being a bureaucrat to become the External Affairs Minister. "I didn't purposely make the transition, it just happened. I come from a bureaucratic family and we don't have anyone remotely who entered politics or ever joined any political party. It just happened in May 2019 that I entered politics."

"I was very unsure when I initially entered politics. As a bureaucrat in foreign service, I had watched politicians up very close and worked with them closely, but to actually join politics and become a cabinet minister is entirely a different experience. I have learnt by watching others, more senior people, more experienced people in the party or cabinet or in other parties as well. I watched and learnt a lot from everybody," the foreign minister said. 

Responding to his experience as a politician, he said, "It's been four years now and honestly it was an interesting four years for me when I look back at these years. For me, it was a very intense learning process as a politician and as a cabinet minister, getting a chance to work in a particular constituency in Gujarat as its Member of Parliament (MP), about which I had very little knowledge. With all these learnings as a politician, I find every day a new day and I am quite enthusiastic about it."

Expressing his views on why he chose to join the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and how he went on to get indulged in speaking for the party and following the party line, Jaishankar said, "This cabinet is very much a team cabinet, where you don't do your own thing or don't work in your domain, even if you have a background. The idea doesn't gel with this cabinet." 

"I don't come from a political background, nor I was a part of the Parliament, nor any party, when I was selected as a member in the cabinet. I was given the option to join the government, but it was something left on me to decide. I decided to join the team. Importantly, when you join a team, you need to join it wholeheartedly. Since, that is when you give your best performance and get best support," the EAM responded. 

He added that joining the BJP for him was of great importance, since he genuinely believes that the party captures sentiments, inspiration, and interests of India in the best way.

Citing the difference between operating as a diplomat and operating as an External Affairs Minister and BJP worker, the minister said, "In a way it's a very different life, which was also very challenging. I am from a bureaucratic family with my father, grandfather and brother all being bureaucrats and hence we used to have only bureaucratic discussions at home. The opportunity of becoming a politician came completely out of the blue to me." 

Being a bureaucrat and being an External Affairs Minister of the country is an entire different world and needs an entire different vision. The political responsibility as the EAM was very different from that of the political responsibility I was given as the foreign secretary and it was very challenging.

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