Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi’s speech at Hyderabad had the usual Congress-bashing rhetoric, but also had elements of reaching out to allies in his own and other parties, writes Aarthi Ramachandran.
Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi’s bolsters his anti-Congress rhetoric with a call for potential allies in the South; the crowds welcome the Modi phenomenon, give him a rock star’s reception.
The more-than-capacity crowds at Hyderabad’s Lal Bahadur Shastri stadium roared in anticipation as Bharatiya Janata Party leader wearing a brick-brown kurta and white churidar, climbed on the dias.
They continued cheering non-stop as Modi waved at them standing centrestage and then walked to both ends of the podium. The outbursts were continuous through his 45-minute speech, much of it in Hindi after a short opening in halting-but-well-received Telugu.
If the atmosphere, the sheer exuberance of the crowds, at Modi’s Navabharata Yuvabheri or youth conclave in Hyderabad is anything to go by, it would appear the Modi wave has crossed the borders of Gujarat and is now a headed to become an Indian political phenomenon in its own right.
Modi himself played to a different tune as he kicked off his southern foray. Backing up his usual anti-Congress rhetoric and the call for creating a “Congress mukt bharat” or an India free of the Congress, was a reaching out to potential allies in other parties and his own.
Modi wound his way through a generous serving of Cong bashing
Invoking N T Rama Rao, the iconic former chief minister of Andhra Pradesh and founder of the Telugu Desam Party, Modi called on the same party to “fulfill his dream” of establishing a non-Congress government.
At the same time, he asked the Congress government in Andhra Pradesh to take lessons from J Jayalalithaa’s government in neighbouring Tamil Nadu in the area of skill development for the youth.
If this was an attempt at stitching up a wider political alliance, then he also focused closer home. There were words of praise for the Shivraj Singh Chouhan government in Madhya Pradesh and the Raman Singh government in Chhattisgarh, both successful chief ministers like him who may nurse a grudge him for being anointed the BJP’s unannounced prime ministerial face.
However, this was the subtext. And it came well into his speech after he had wound his way through a generous serving of Congress bashing -- he focused on the government’s recent bungling of the situation on the line of control with Pakistan, where five soldiers were killed, the situation in Kishtwar, the recent Chinese incursions, and the killing of two fishermen by Italian marines in Kerala, among other issues to raise concerns about India’s security environment.
The Modi touches were all in place
He then spoke of Telangana and Seemandhra as two separate political entities. The crowds lapped it up. He blamed the Congress for playing games to create a “rift between brothers” (Telangana and Seemandhra) and forcefully called for the two sides to live together “lovingly”.
The line was appreciated by many villagers in Telangana who had come from nearby areas. They refused to endorse his “Jai Seemandhra” slogan at the end of the speech but took back the message that Modi was fully backing the formation of a separate state.
He spoke the parlous state of the economy and the falling rupee, and outlined his vision of development by highlighting what was missing. Everything -- “There are no houses to stay in, no clothes to wear, no education for those who want to learn, no medicines (for the ill),” he said, blaming it all on the Congress government at the Centre.
It was not a sparking speech as Modi speeches go. However, the Modi touches were all in place. He sought the blessings of an 85-year-old woman who had expressed a wish to be at his rally by inviting her on stage and touching her feet.
Many came to hear Modi, some to get a measure of his pan-India following
Her son, who lives abroad, had communicated her wish to hear Modi on the social networking platform Twitter, he said. There was also a freedom fighter, in his nineties, who Modi said had gone on satyagraha to convince his family that he should be allowed to attend Modi’s programme.
He too was on stage, blessing Modi and cheering him on.
If there were many who had come to hear Modi, there were others who had come to get a measure of Modi’s pan-India fan following.
For Ravi Bollina, an IITian and a technical consultant, it was his first outing to a political rally. He attended, he said, because he wanted to “see the response of the crowds”. He said he got his money’s worth, Rs 5 that he paid online will go towards Uttarakhand flood relief.
Aarthi Ramachandran is an author who has written a book on Rahul Gandhi, titled Decoding Rahul Gandhi
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