Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi speaking at the IndiaToday Conclave in New Delhi on Saturday slammed the UPA's developmental model, spoke of how the country lacks a feeling of pride and suggested ways in which the country can move ahead.
Choosing to begin his speech with a 10-minute film on Gujarat's development model, the Gujarat chief minister highlighted how his state has grown over the last decade in fields ranging from solar energy to education.
On being the next prime minister, Modi said he wasn't dreaming of it and said the country needs a Gujarat growth model, not so much a Modi.
He also hit out at the UPA government on issues ranging from its chairperson's flagship MGNREGA to the recent anti-rape ordinance.
In what seemed to be a hint of how he would lead the country ahead, Modi spoke of how existing policies can be changed.
Here are some highlights of his speech:
* "What we lack is a feeling of pride. In Gujarat, there is a feeling of belonging. Many would question why they should pay tax, but when they see Gujarat moving ahead, they say yes, I want to contribute to the growth."
* On secularism, Modi said: Everyone should be protected. Where is the question of being a Hindu or a Muslim? All this minority talk is vote-bank politics.
* When asked whether he would be able to take Gujarat's growth model across India given coalition politics, Modi said coalition politics is not a problem. "Tell me one good thing the current government wanted to do and it was stopped due to coalition politics? There needs to be a will, that's all."
* Hitting out at the UPA's MGNREGA, Modi said: Instead of employment, the scheme should have said development. The scheme should have instilled a pride of contributing to the country's growth in everyone. Hundred days of working for the country's growth. You need to take people into confidence while planning for them.
* Modi also slammed the government for talking only about Acts. "For every problem, they suggest a new Act. We don't need Acts. We need action. When Vajpayee was in power, there was no need of bringing acts. There was action."
* On being dropped as a keynote speaker by Wharton, Modi said he cannot analyse himself. I think my style of working is my USP and I don't intend to change it.
* Asked if he regretted what happened in 2002, Modi refused to comment saying: All that I had to say I said, you can look it up on the internet. When a member of the audience asked why he was scared to answer the question, Modi snapped: I'm not scared. If I were, I wouldn't have come here.
* On why Gujarat is low on human indices, Modi chose to put the blame on immigrants. "Go to any station and see the number of poor that come in. The problem is due to immigrants."
* When asked what was his response to the growing clamour of him being the country's next PM, Modi said: I don't dream about being the PM. India needs the Gujarat growth model, not me. On being asked who in the BJP was stopping him from coming to Delhi? Modi quipped: I'm sitting in Delhi, has anyone stopped me? This is Delhi right?
* He also hit out at dynasty politics saying one should be happy that there is a party in this country which follows a constitution. "Shouldn't you be happy that there is a party (BJP) that has a democratic set up? We don't work under a family we have a constitution that we follow."
* On defence, Modi said he wants India to be an exporter of arms. "I'm working on a defence manufacturing policy for Gujarat, it will come soon," he said.
* On bureaucracy, Modi said he has changed the way it functions in Gujarat. "I don't ask them what has not been done, I ask what are the good things that have been done."
* Speaking about education, Modi said there is 100% enrollment in Gujarat. I have done everything. Providing school uniforms, books, infrastructure... In terms of jobs as well Gujarat has 78 percent employment, the country just 22 percent."
* On the problem of malnutrition, Modi said it was not just a problem with the poor. "Children want fast-food, and refuse to drink milk. Their parents have to run after them, they fear they'll get fat. For how long are we going to run away from the truth? the problem of malnutrition is also there within well-to-do families."
* Taking a dig at Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Modi said: I once met the PM at his residence. Both of us sat, none of us spoke. So I started. I gave the PM ideas on how certain changes can be made to the JNNURM. He even asked me for a report which I submitted. It has been three years now. Nothing has been done."
* Modi also spoke of how India can outshine China by making use of two strong weapons. Democracy and youth. "If we use these two weapons, we can outshine China"
Not surprisingly, all through his speech, the IndiaToday website was down and Modi was trending on Twitter.
Clearly the Gujarat chief minister's speech at the Conclave has given him brownie points in his race to Delhi. What is left to see is how his detractors react to his growth story, or as it's known - NaMoMantra.
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