Watch recorded Hangout chat here:
Narendra Modi's arsenal of answers in his much-hyped video chat was stunning to say the least. Poetry, metaphors, subtle criticism and smart-politicking coloured his live video chat. Following is a compilation of a few points from his conversations. And yes, in case anyone missed him, Ajay Devgn was there too. Looking dapper in a suit. Just that.
10.40pm: This was probably a question the whole chat was headed towards. One young man from Delhi asked what Modi probably would have just said anyway. "The UPA's connect with the people is bad. Do you think they'll suffer from it?" Modi quipped, "People in a democracy have a right to question the government. If the UPA fails to answer people's questions, they'll pay for it. The masses are not silly, they will not settle for anything less than a convincing explanation and they have every right to protest." Does that translate into another spree of Parliament adjournments? We'll have to wait and watch.
10.25PM: "Gujarat is one state when seven months of the year are in drought. We are a state who depend on rain for agriculture. We have only two big rivers which are Narmada and Tapi. But with rain harvesting, technological approach to farming we have achieved a growth of 10% in a decade while the national growth in farming is 3%. We have the Soil Health Card and tele-consultancy services for agriculture. We have also focussed in dairy farming and have taken steps to do cataract operations on animals when other parts of the country are failing to extend of this kind of facility even to human beings. We have associated ourselves in a milk revolution and I am proud to say that the India Army gets milk supply from my state."
10.20pm: "I am going to bring in a new law on black money. Nobody will be able to contest an election in Gujarat unless he gives a declaration that he has no investments and money stacked away abroad," says Modi. Here comes the first pronounced dig at the government too: "The Indian government's white paper is so white, so white, that you can't read anything on it. So it's useless."
10.10pm: Now comes a Modi fan's favourite. How does he handle media criticism? By dismissing it, like most famous people. "Criticism is welcome, but not from people with vested interests. There's no criticism, just allegations with political motivations," he says. "When people throw stones at me, I make stairs out of those stones," he explains with a metaphor. Poetic leaders have always been a hit with the masses. Remember Mamata Banerjee? However, an afterthought from him: "I am the livelihood of a section of the media. That's why I keep calm."
10.05pm: Who designs Modi's kurtas? NaMo himself! That's how the 'Modi kurta' was born! "I used to lead the life of a vagabond with a small jhola with me. I cut the long kurta short and cut off its sleeves so that it becomes easy to carry them around. It's another thing that my simplicity has turned into a fashion statement for some!" Apparently, the kurta is a rage in the US. Is Anna Wintour listening?
10pm: Now, NaMo tells you, how he's just one of us! Here comes a question on his favourite food and diet! "Main bhiksha maang ke khaata tha (I used to go to people's homes and eat whatever they offered me.)" He is only one of us in that his stomach is as troubled as an average Indian's. Otherwise NaMo is a simple, almost ascetic eater, he says.
9.50pm: If the video chat has not yet been sounding like a smart spin to a poll promotional, it does with a question asked to him about labour relations. A software engineer asks him about the secret to peaceful labour relations in his state. The question: "How will you convince investors that there won't be a Manesar like incident in Gujarat." Modi, being the clever politician, first dismisses comparisons with any other state. Then attributes peaceful relations to the understanding of business running in the 'genes of Gujaratis'. But the point has already been made. A Congress-led Haryana government couldn't stop violence in the Maruti plant, Gujarat, on the other hand, has no such trouble.
9.45PM: In a fix for his comments on malnourishment and beauty, Modi was handed over an elaborate opportunity at defending himself by Sathyalaxmi from Hyderabad who asked about women and the girl child in Gujarat. "Progress can only happen with help from our mothers and daughters. To go ahead, we have to empower our mothers and daughters," he added. That's another bouncer hit to the boundary!
9.37pm Sathyalaxmi from Hyderabad asks a question to Narendra Modi
What have you done to increase the girl child ratio in Gujarat?
Modi: You have touched upon a topic that is closer to my heart. We strengthened the rules to protect the girl child. We forced the doctors to stop bias against the girl child. We are trying to bring in a new revolution. Our mothers and daughters are the hope of the future.
9.29pm Shiva from New York posts a question to Narendra Modi
Shiva wishes to meet Modi in New York as a prime minister in the future. Hopes to see him as prime minister.
The question: When will be the documentation of the visa process and the e-passport done?
Narendra Modi: I am looking forward to the day when Americans will be in queue for an Indian visa. E-passport is not far away. But I am not sure when the Central government will do that. If the Centre allows me I shall digitise all passports within a year.
All Indians abroad should be connected to the country's democratic process. Fill Form - VI of the Election Commission and exercise your right to franchise.
9.28pm: Governance is not like fire brigade where we only react.
9.25pm: There is no power cut in Gujarat. My idea is to create a rural-urban connect where the soul is of the rural bent but with an urban touch. In Gujarat all 18,000 villages are broadband connected where we use e-governance technologies.
9.15pm: The Naroda Patiya conviction might have put NaMo in a spot, but he seems to have waded out of the mess in the video chat by zesty patriotic declarations. "For me secularism is India first. Even a micro-minority like the Parsis from Iran stay in Gujarat happily." "However, people have distorted the idea of secularism for their own benefits, given it a completely new meaning. We shouldn't let it happen. There's no problem for anyone in my state," he adds. Note how he skirts past all things 'minority'. That's some verbal cricketing!
9.10PM: Modi plays to the gallery and how! To a question posed by a Pawan Kumar Bansal, Modi starts off rather poetically,"The pain in your heart for the country, is India's biggest strength." Devgn, we hope, is taking notes!
9.05PM: Effusive in his praise for Google Plus, Narendra Modi finally enters in style after a brief, rather dull, introduction by Ajay Devgn. Modi throws in a bit of humour in his apology and says that probably traffic policemen might not have had to handle this amount of traffic like the people at Google had to in the past one hour.
9.00PM: Fashionably late, yes,but Ajay Devgn finally is on YouTube!
8.45pm: The official site of Narendra Modi continues being down and the YouTube channel isn't live anymore. YouTube India had promised 15 minutes back on Twitter that the chat will go live soon - seems like 'soon' isn't in sight yet.
8.20pm: Good news for Modi and Devgn! These men have fans! And how many! Narendra Modi's official website and the YouTube channel both went down even before the chat could take off. Villain: Too much online love, we're guessing! However, Modi tweeted the following:
#ModiHangout will start in few minutes
— narendramodi_in (@narendramodi_in) August 31, 2012
8.15 pm: Except for a blink and you miss appearance of Ajaay Devgn, with a Singham-esque frown pasted on his face on the YouTube channel, the much-hyped chat hasn't taken off on time. Fashionably late, maybe? Fans, however, may cry technical difficulties, given the number of people who might be trying to join the hang-out!
Swami Vivekananda, Ajay Devgn, Google Hang-out and Narendra Modi - difficult to imagine in a single sentence, but the Gujarat CM is all set to make it possible. A tech-savvy Modi, or his image managers, have organised a Google Hang-out live video chat where political controversy's favourite child is supposed to take questions from the aam janta between chit-chatting with Ajay Devgn. While he might just wrestle a few more voters away from the Congress with his tech-coolness if the video chat is successful, he might also be given a refresher's course in beauty if some caller fancies.
The possibilities are many, one can only hope, diplomacy decides to skip this one event, big on India's net calendar.