Denying that he has any ambition to become prime minister, Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi has told a gathering of his Indian American supporters over video conferencing that his entire focus is on developing the state.
The man who has revived hopes of his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to rule India again said that Gujarat has the potential to change the fate of the country with its model of development and progress.
"Every Indian has a right on Gujarat, no matter where they were born. Gujarat has the responsibility to change the fate of India," Modi said Saturday from his official residence in Gandhinagar in an address beamed live via satellite to over 1,200 Indian Americans supporters assembled in a banquet hall in Ford, New Jersey.
The event was organised by the Overseas Friends of the BJP to celebrate the party's poll victory in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh in December.
The proceedings of the event were telecast live in the US and Canada by MH1 channel on Dish network and in India by TV9 Gujarati channel.
Modi was denied a US visa in 2005 after his allegedly biased handling of the communal violence of 2002 in Gujarat. Then too, he had circumvented the entry ban by speaking to his supporters assembled in New York via video conferencing.
Modi, in a saffron jacket over a maroon shirt, mostly steered clear of politics and devoted his hour-long address in Hindi to the issue of development in his state.
"Behind development is right policies," he said. "One makes mistakes in policies, too, but then you keep fine-tuning them.
"But what is important is that our intentions are good," he said.
He informed the audience here that Gujarat has uninterrupted power supply even in rural areas and his government plans to take broadband connectivity to every nook and corner of the state.
Modi said people have to actively participate in the development process because they are equal partners in it. "Democracy is not just about voting," he added.
Referring to NRIs drumming up support for him during the Gujarat assembly polls, Modi said it shows their attachment and concern for India, which they see marching towards progress.
"NRIs' emotional bonds with their motherland remain strong. It is their concern for the country which galvanises them to action, may it the Emergency (1975-77), a war or a national calamity," he said.
Modi appealed to NRIs to contribute, in whichever way they can, for the development of Gujarat as well as India.
He told the Gujarati diaspora to be ready for the golden jubilee of the formation of the state in 2010.
"I appeal to all of you to take a step forward. There has to be an inspiration for development and that is how we want to celebrate the golden jubilee," he said.
Asked a question about taking along the Muslim community - which feels alienated in the state - were he to become the prime minister, Modi said he represents and works for the welfare of the entire "five and a half crore" (55 million) people of Gujarat and not just one caste or community.
At the event, messages were read from BJP leaders including former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, L.K. Advani, Rajnath Singh as well as new Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister PK Dhumal.