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HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times
Ahmedabad, April 04, 2013
Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi on Thursday dropped the strongest hint so far of moving to the national arena — something his admirers have long wanted their ‘PM-in-waiting’ to do. He said the people of the country expected him to “repay the debt I owe the nation”. “We must give back to Bharat Mata in any way we feel is appropriate,” Modi said while releasing a book written by Odisha-based industrialist RP Gupta.

“The people are saying that I have repaid my debt to Gujarat and now must repay the same to the country. However, it is not only Modi but every Indian who owes India a lot. We must make use of every opportunity that comes our way to repay our debts to our motherland,” the chief minister said.

His statement is seen as being part of his well-orchestrated campaign to position himself as the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate during the next general elections.

Any Modi speech would be incomplete without a strong pitch for development in his state. “Gujarat has taken a lead with regard to politics of development and now people are talking about it. There is healthy competition among the states and that is very good for the country,” he said.