In the months, nay, years, leading up to this momentous election, Narendra Modi has maintained his most fierce battle face. Imposing, uncompromising, hyper aggressive, it's been Loh Purush all the way on the campaign trail. Even victory it seemed could not soften the Gujarat warrior as he led a triumphant victory march from Vadodara to Varanasi via New Delhi. None of his initial speeches indicated a hint of softening, or even a statesman. Modi seemed to be stuck in campaign mode.... until he delivered an unprecedented speech that surprised his worst critics, even if it may have failed to convince them.
Modi's speech at his official anointment as the leader of the NDA revealed several different Narendra Modis -- some old, but others very new.
Even the Loh Purush could not remain untouched by the enormity of the moment. There he was, standing in the central hall of Parliament, a few steps away from becoming the next Prime Minister of India. Who can blame him for breaking down?
Advani ji said Narendra bhai has done us a favour. I would request him not to use that word. Can a mother's devotion be a favour? Like India is my mother, BJP is my mother too. A son can never do a favour for his mother. The party has done me a favour by giving me an opportunity to serve it, he said, his voice breaking. He then paused unable to continue.
Although his 'chaiwallah' origins were well known, they became so politicised during his campaign that it almost took on the aura of myth. It was here at this moment, when Modi acknowledged what the BJP meant to him that it seemed more real. It wasn't just his party but the organisation that enabled the grand trajectory of his life, taking him from tea vendor to RSS pracharak to Gujarat CM and now India PM.
Pan to the assembled BJP leaders, Rajnath Singh, LK Advani and Rajiv Pratap Rudy, all of whom are crying with Modi, but for other reasons. Modi's ascension is also a dream come true for them. They have waited a long long time for this, exiled out in the political wilderness. Ten years in the opposition and now here they are with such a decisive mandate.
The next few lines, when Narendra Modi thanked the BJP leaders including LK Advani were full of emotion. "You can see Modi not because Modi's stature is very large. You can see Modi because the party's senior leaders have hoisted me on their shoulders"
It marked an important moment for a man best known for ruthlessly eliminating all opposition, who was feared and isolated within his own party, and whose rise to its leadership was fraught with internal warfare. Modi the divider was replaced by Modi the uniter, at least within the BJP.
Modi the workaholic
On the campaign trial, Modi has often played fairy godmother, or rather magician who made lofty promises that he would deliver with the swoosh of the development wand. The 'acche din ane wale hain' spouting Narendra Modi who sold India a dream of prosperity swiveled back in his speech to an older avatar: the Modi who delivers not with magic but due to sheer persistence, dedication and hard work.
Soon after acknowledging the massive mandate he received, Modi reminded the gathered BJP leaders that they had just been handed a massive responsibility and they had to start working right away.
"We will have to devote ourselves to fulfilling people's aspirations. I have been taught values about fulfilling whatever responsibilities the party gives me. We are not here for any positions but for a responsibility. On 13th September I was declared PM candidate, on 15th I started working. As a hard working party worker I made sure I didn't waste a single minute of my time"
In other words? Success and electoral victory are all well and good, but now it's work work work for India!
It was the perfect message for the man who declared himself as the "mazdoor" of the people: here is a Prime Minister who will get to work from day one.
Modi the statesman
To say that the Lok Sabha elections have been bitter would be an understatement. Nothing was too low, too mean, or too dishonest to say on the campaign trail. From manipulating caste to calling out abandoned wives, to twisting quotes to speaking ill of the dead, nothing was off the table.
Modi himself launched some of the most vitriolic attacks on the campaign trail, mocking the 'silent' Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, the policies of the UPA government, and above all, the greed of the maa-beta sarkar.
Today, however, he finally held out the hand of reconciliation, speaking not as a politician, but as a prime minister giving due deference to his predecessors.
"Neither me nor the BJP feels that the last government did nothing. Every government has contributed to India's growth. I congratulate previous leaders, we will take their good work forward. The country has already moved ahead, now it is up to us whether we want to move or not. I want to assure the people, let's forget negativity.. whatever may have happened in the past. This is an era of responsibility. It has already begun".
This was a remarkable statement coming from a man pegged as a vindictive, even wrathful individual who is quick to anger and slow to forgive.
Modi the populist
Narendra Modi has long been the darling of free market economists, but today he sounded more like a reincarnation of Indira 'garibi hatao' Gandhi.
While it isn't the first time he's spoken of poverty, Modi did so today with unprecedented passion and urgency. "What is a government? A government is that which thinks about poor, works for poor and lives for poor. I dedicate the new government to the poor", he said. 'This new government is for the poor people, for the youth, for the mothers and women & Dalits".
He touched on the old themes of progress and development, but with a new emphasis on inclusive growth.
"We want everyone to progress but we also want to take everyone along. We want to move forward with this slogan: "sabka saath, sabka vikas" "I promise you when we meet in 2019, I will give the nation my report card.I will work as hard as I can, not for myself, but for the entire nation. I remember all the generations who spent their lifetimes furthering the cause of nationalism in country. We are here thanks to them".
Of the many speeches made by Modi, today's address will likely leave a more indelible mark. If he contravenes its spirit, the very same words will come back to haunt him. But if he fulfills its promise, it may well spell the birth of yet another new avatar from a man who once sold tea.
Updated Date: Aug 04, 2014 18:39:02 IST