Thursday, February 07, 2013

Modi at Delhi Univ: outreach programme. “Awesome, mesmerising,” cooed the girls

New Delhi: A few days after BJP president Rajnath Singh appealed to partymen to refrain from making statements about Narendra Modi as PM, the Gujarat chief minister delivered the Shri Ram Ram Memorial Oration at the Shri Ram College of Commerce indoor sports stadium in Delhi and held around two thousand students spellbound for an hour and more on Wednesday (Feb 6) evening. It was as if this was Modi's outreach programme, and that he will find, seek endorsement on his own. Both Modi and the BJP can claim that there is no more to the function than a students union event. The politics of Modi at Delhi University's north campus was palpable. The roads leading to the college were barricaded and there was posse of police all around. When Modi arrived and was delivering the speech, students of unions representing the non-ABVP persuasion protested loudly and forcefully and they had to be held back even as other students shouted Jai Shri Ram. Modi's speech was heavy on facts and economy-oriented programmes, the forte of Modi's development model. He showcased the many things he has been able to do in Gujarat in the four times that he has been chosen chief minister of the state. He talked about an economic model which laid equal emphasis on agriculture, industry and manufacturing and the services, with a share of one-third each in the economy. He appealed to the youth by saying that 65 per cent of the Indian population was below the age of 35, and that while Europe and China were old in terms of population, India was a young and energetic country. Hitting out indirectly at the Congress' Jaipur statement about youth and the middle class, Modi said that he did not look at the youth as voters but an embodiment of youth power. Adopting the language of a management guru, he said that his emphasis is on skills, scale and speed, and that he believed in P2 (pro-people) and G2 (good governance). He said 60 years after 'swaraj' (independence), 'suraj' (good governance) has not been achieved. Modi was playing the card of developmental politics though he could not keep away from saying that India will be the “Jagatguru” of the world when the country fufils its economic potential. After the speech, some of the girls in the stadium who sat in a daze after Modi took a victory lap around waving to the students as the the youngsters clicked away with their phone cameras as well as their full-fledged Sony and Nikon cameras. When asked what they felt about the speech, they exulted, “Awesome, mesmerising”. Modi is no inspirational speaker with high rhetoric. His speech is replete with facts and examples but his language remains mundane. It also appears that he looks at complex issues in a simplistic mode, not for the sake of communicating with a larger audience but because he believes that there are simple answers to difficult questions. He interspersed his Hindi speech with free-wheeling English sentences and phrases.

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