Shunning his corporate-friendly image, Narendra Modi came across more as a leader coming from a humble background as he tried to make a connect with the aam aadmi here in the Capital on Sunday.
The style remained assertive as ever, but there was a claim to being a “servant” of the people, in apparent contrast to Rahul Gandhi, whom Modi referred to as a Shehzada (prince).
“(I am) someone who sold tea in trains as a child... All of you have made the son of such a poor family sit here today. This is the BJP’s culture. I was never a ruler at heart, I am not a ruler and I never dream of becoming a ruler. I am a servant (das), not a master (nath). I assure you that I’ll serve you,” Modi told the crowds amid applause.
He added: “The poor should have homes and get education by the time the nation turns 75. Farmers, Dalits, the deprived: they should all get their rights at their doorstep.”
This was a nuanced shift from the image of an industry-friendly politician, who, critics said, wouldn’t work outside business-friendly states like Gujarat. He spoke little on industry this time around.
But there were continuities on national security amid this break, with Modi conjuring the image of a hostile Pakistan and doubting whether Prime Minister Manmohan Singh would be able to stand firm on terror and the killings of Indian soldiers. This hawkish tone on Pakistan – though reflective of Modi’s image – was a break with a more moderate address at Rewari recently, where he appealed to Pakistan to shun the path of terror and address poverty.