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Modi's Dream India: Building India with 'good' Hindus and Muslims

October 19, 2013 21:58 IST

Modi's Dream India: Building India with 'good' Hindus and Muslims

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Sharat Pradhan

In an obvious bid to cast himself in a new statesman-like mould, Gujarat Chief Minister and Bharatiya Janata Party’s prime ministerial nominee Narendra Modi on Saturday stressed upon the need for India to rise above politics of caste and religion and to build a nation with equal participation of both Hindus and Muslims. Sharat Pradhan reports.

Modi was addressing a huge rally in Kanpur to mark the launch of the BJP’s campaign for the 2014 Lok Sabha election in Uttar Pradesh, which could prove to be extremely crucial in making or unmaking his dream to ride on to the most important office in the country. He left no stone unturned to make ample display of his effort to rise above his established image of a rabid Hindutva torchbearer.

Emphasising upon the need to build his “new dream India”, he said, “most importantly, what we need to do is to make every Hindu a good Hindu, every Muslim a good Muslim, every Sikh a good Sikh, every Christian a good Christian and every Buddhist a good Buddhist; and then we must ensure that they all pitch in their energies together to build a good nation.”

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Image: Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi addresses a rally at Kanpur
Photographs: Sandeep Pal

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To stress on his point, he went on to add, “yaad rakhiye, ek achhi sarkar ka ek hi mazhab hona chahiye -- aur who hai India First . Uska ek hi granth hona chahiye -- aur who hai Indian Constitution. Uski ek hi shakti honi chahiye- aur who hai 1.25 crore logon ki Jan Shakti. Uski ek hi karyapranali honi chahiye -- sabhi ki tarrakki” (remember, a good government ought to pursue only one religion -- India first. It should have only one scripture to follow – the Indian Constitution and it should depend only on one power -- power of 1.25 crore people. It must adopt a uniform system of working -- for the larger and common good of all)”

Urging people to rise above the politics of vote, he said, “It is time that we bury the politics of vote bank and evolve a new era of politics of development.”

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Image: The crowd cheers for Modi
Photographs: Sandeep Pal

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Modi's Dream India: Building India with 'good' Hindus and Muslims

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He also blamed the Congress for playing divisive politics. “The Congress party has always believed in divide and rule -- a policy it inherited from the British. We wish to bring the society together to ensure that the nation can march ahead.”

The Gujarat chief minister easily connected with the crowds, who cheered him with thunderous applause each time he asked them to answer his questions in his unique interactive, albeit melodramatic style. His 50-minute extempore speech was spiced with sarcastic references to the failures and infirmities of the ruling Congress and its top leaders -- the Gandhis as well as Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

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Image: Modi supporters pose with a cutout of the Gujarat chief minister
Photographs: Sandeep Pal

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Image: A mock-up of the 'Modi rath'
Photographs: Sandeep Pal
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Striking an emotional chord with the gathering, he embarked upon his tryst with poverty and compared it to Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi’s perception of poverty.

“Having been born with a silver spoon, the Congress shahzada (prince) cannot understand the pangs of poverty; no wonder he terms poverty as a state of mind; and he therefore has to make forays into the homes of the poor where he makes it a point to keep cameras in focus. But I have tasted poverty from the closest quarters at every stage of my childhood. Therefore it pains me to find someone making mockery of poverty,” he observed.

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Image: The huge gathering at the rally
Photographs: Sandeep Pal

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He lambasted Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for letting the Planning Commission (headed by him) set ridiculously low standards to gauge the poverty levels in the country. “Can a government which treats Rs 26 (in rural areas) and Rs 36 (in urban areas) as the ideal minimum wage understand and solve the problems of the poor people of this country?” he asked, only to get a prompt reply, with a thunderous “No”.

The crowds cheered him further when he went on to add, “Be it any government, it should have the country’s poor on it agenda, a government is not meant to be only looking after the interests of the rich.”

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Image: Modi supporters at the rally
Photographs: Sandeep Pal

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Modi also sought to dismiss what the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government considers its trump card -- the Food Security Ordinance -- as an ‘eyewash’. He said, “Do you know that the food allocated to an adult under the Food Security Ordinance is equivalent to what a child gets under the mid-day meal scheme?” 

Obliquely referring to the criticism that he faces for his acts of omission or commission in 2002 Gujarat riots, the Gujarat chief minister said, “Every time we remind the UPA government that time has come for them to give an account of whatever they have done, they start asking me about what I have done in Gujarat; I therefore wish to ask them -- is Gujarat going to poll in 2014 or is it the nation that is going to elections?”

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Image: Modi concludes his speech
Photographs: Sandeep Pal

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He added amid cheers, “I wish to remind the Congress that I have given my ‘hisab’ (account) and the people of the state have passed me with flying colours.”

While focusing on the rising prices, he first asked the crowds,“Do you remember that the Congress had promised in 2009 elections that it would bring down prices within 100 days of assuming office?” And just as the gathering affirmed with aloud “yes”, he asked, “Did they bring down the prices?” The reply came with a louder “no”.

Taking on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi and son Rahul Gandhi, he asked, “Has the prime minister said anything about it; did Madam Sonia Gandhi express any concern or regret on that account; has her shahzada even cared to make a mention of price rise anywhere?”

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Image: Modi at the stage with senior BJP leaders
Photographs: Sandeep Pal

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Attributing this to “the arrogance of the Congress party and its leaders, who have no concern for the common man”, Modi  again posed a question to the crowds, “I wish to ask you if you should still have anything to do with a party like that/shouldn’t they be punished for their apathy towards your plight?”

In the same vein, he also ran down the Samajwadi Party as well as the Bahujan Samaj Party -- whom he termed as “partners in crime” as they were supporting the UPA at the centre.  “Both the SP and the BSP had struck a deal with the Congress which has finally got their leaders clean-chits in the corruption cases they were facing” he pointed out.

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Image: A Modi supporter addresses the crowd
Photographs: Sandeep Pal

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Sharat Pradhan

He not only lambasted the Akhilesh Yadav government for poor law and order and for increasing communal violence, but also for “withdrawal of cases against those booked for terrorist acts.”

BJP chief Rajnath Singh who addressed the rally before Modi, also trained his guns at the SP government. Earlier, former UP Chief Minister Kalyan Singh addressed the gathering and while showering praise on Modi, termed him as a “lion”.


Image: The huge gathering at the rally
Photographs: Sandeep Pal

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