New Delhi, Jan 9: Taking a dig at Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi Thursday said the prime minister’s statement that there is no need to despair and good times lie ahead would certainly ring true in a few months — with the general elections.
Modi, addressing a global audience of Indian diaspora at the 12th Pravasi Bharatiya Divas here, elicited loud applause and laughter and even a few whistles from the audience at Vigyan Bhavan when he said: “We may have to wait a few months, but I sincerely feel that good times are coming.”
The Gujarat chief minister, who got a round of applause before he got up to speak and while he was being introduced, said: “The prime minister had said a good thing during his speech here yesterday (Wednesday at the PBD) that there is no need to despair and very good times are to come.”
He paused waiting for the laughter and clapping to die down, and then said smiling: “I don’t need to say anything more… we may have to wait a few months, four or six. But I sincerely feel that good times are coming.”
This was Modi’s first public reaction, though oblique, to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh saying during his press conference last week that “it will be disastrous for the country to have Narendra Modi as the prime minister”.
The hall was packed, with many standing in the aisles, when Modi was speaking.
The Gujarat chief minister, who was mobbed by the diaspora members after the speech, referred to two major events in history in which the Indian diaspora had come together to support the country — during the 1975 emergency and the 1998 nuclear test by the BJP-led NDA government.
“There are two events when the diaspora took a proactive role and with self-initiative stressed their Bharatiyata (Indianness),” said Modi.
“One was the 1975 Emergency, when all the Indians abroad got together and pushed for democracy. The second was the nuclear test by Vajpayeeji (former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee),” he said, adding that the Indian diaspora had put their weight behind India to support the move and against the sanctions imposed by the US.
He said the two incidents stand out for the participation of the Indian diaspora.
He said that with the general elections round the corner, he was observing renewed enthusiasm among Indians abroad.
“I am observing with the 2014 elections that the Indians abroad are very enthusiastic and keen to contribute,” said Modi.
On corruption, raised in a question by a diaspora participant, Modi said the debate in the country is on “post-corruption” measures – like Janlokpal and Lokpal – after corruption has taken place.
“The requirement is that there should not be any corruption, the focus should be on that,” he said. He cited the Gujarat experience of putting state policy online in “black and white” as an effective measure to tackle corruption.
“Corruption can be easily tackled, it only needs resolve. The focus should not be on the sickness, but on health and prevention,” he said.
His speech on the achievements of the state was given in a booklet form to the audience in advance. An invite to a separate session that he was to address after his speech was also placed for the audience, indicative of careful planning for the major event.
Enthusiastic diaspora delegates mobbed Modi, with many using their mobiles to click photographs of themselves with him. Delegates hung on to his each word and applauded him lustily.
Modi did not take any questions from the media as he exited the hall. He also got a lot of written questions from the audience — so many that he remarked it would take him weeks to answer them. To those who had written down their email addresses with the questions, he promised he would answer all the queries.
“We Indians abroad are looking for change. We are all supporters of Modi,” said a diaspora member from the US.
The other chief ministers who spoke were Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda and Meghalaya’s Mukul Sangma.
Sangma, whose turn to speak came after Modi, saw the crowds leaving the hall as he was speaking. But unfazed he gave a veiled rejoinder to Modi’s reference of good times ahead, saying that better days are sure to come as the government has laid a strong foundation with the steps it has taken through Right to Education, Right to Information and National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA).