An intelligence Bureau alert about a security threat to Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi made the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Jalgaon cut short its programme for the evening on Friday.
But the alert and the curtailed programme did not make the address delivered by the BJP’s star campaigner for the Lok Sabha elections, due in a few months, any less feisty than reputed to be.
Surrounded by National Security Guard commandos and police personnel, Modi issued a clarion call for change at the Centre from Sagar Park in Jalgaon.
The event was organised to felicitate BJP legislator Eknath Khadse and hand over to him a cheque of Rs 1 crore contributed by party workers for party activities.
“This country needs change and soon,” said Modi who opened his speech with Marathi, much to the delight of the audience. “And Maharashtra will show its colours these elections.”
The whistles and applause from the crowd indicated Modi had moved beyond being a leader from Gujarat and was being looked at as a potential national leader. The usual slogan ‘Dekho dekho kaun aaya, Gujarat ka sher aaya (see, see who has come, the tiger of Gujarat has come)’ had changed to ‘Hindustan ka sher aaya (the tiger of India is here)’. Modi used the example of his state to talk about how political will can deal with anything, from farmer suicides to terrorism.
“The Assam Government is fed up of Bangladeshi infiltration,” he said. “And here, Pakistan is fed up of Gujarat.”
He demanded strict anti-terrorism laws and called “toothless” the laws brought in after November 26.
“We have been asking for laws like POTA (Prevention of Terrorism Act) for so long,” said Modi. “But now when people from big families have died in five-star hotels in Mumbai, the government decides to bring in anti-terror laws, and those also turn out to be lame.”