In his first acceptance speech after being elected leader of BJP’s parliamentary party, PM-designate Narendra Modi sought to project an image of a ‘pro-poor leader’, and attempted a transition from being a man who led his party in a bitter and vicious campaign to a man who would rise above the partisan fray.
By focusing on improving the economic conditions of poor, projecting himself as an organisation man, reiterating his respect for the Constitution, and reaching out to allies, Modi also sought to counter the criticisms that are often hurled at him by rivals and critics.
“Our government would think about the poor, listen to the poor and will live for the poor,” Modi said in his address to newly elected MPs and party leaders at Parliament’s Central Hall.
The political message of Modi’s speech could not be missed. In emphasising his government’s thrust on poor, Modi very deftly appropriated the “pro-poor” pitch that had become the highlight of the UPA government.
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In the run-up to the poll, Modi was targeted for his pro-business stance.
In several addresses in the past six months Modi had said his policies would centre on ushering investment.
However, he left no doubt about the need to improve the economic conditions of India’s poorest, generating employment for India’s youth and ensuring women’s safety and security.
Modi’s appreciation of the importance of alliance partners, despite the fact that BJP got a majority on its own, was also being seen as an oblique reference to UPA’s shabby treatment of its alliance members.
His remark that “the government would be yours (allies) and it has to be run collectively,” is being seen as an attempt to send message to smaller parties that BJP was ready to welcome them in its fold.
In his 30-minute address Modi also hailed the “strength” of India’s democracy and Constitution and the need to respect these institutions.
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Modi said his anointment is an example of the polity’s strength, for where else could a man from a poor background like his rise up to the highest office of the land.
Modi recalled he had been given a responsibility by his party on September 13, 2013 — when he was appointed the PM-candidate.
After fulfilling his responsibilities, on the last day of the campaign, Modi said he had ‘as a disciplined solider of the party’ reported back to his party president.