Narendra Modi, tipped to be the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate for Elections 2014, made his presence felt in the national Capital on Wednesday, giving a keynote speech at a prominent college that saw noisy protests outside its gates amid heavy security.
Addressing a packed audience of students, most of them women, at the Sri Ram College of Commerce — his first public appearance in Delhi after winning a third straight term as Gujarat CM in December — Modi spoke on his pet subject, development, as well as capitalist aspiration and the power of youth. “The nation has been destroyed by votebank politics. It needs development politics,” he said.
In an apparent reminder of what he would bring to the Centre, Modi projected himself as a go-getter in comparison to what he claimed was a laggard government, calling for “minimum government and maximum governance”.
The speech came on a day Vishwa Hindu Parishad leader Ashok Singhal, speaking at a Kumbh gathering of Sangh leaders, compared Modi to Jawaharlal Nehru in the popularity stakes.
But the fact that Gujarat’s development poster boy hasn’t been able to shake off the taint of the 2002 riots was evident when a huge crowd of students and teachers carrying banners of ‘Communal Modi get lost’ tried to block his entry.
“India is a secular country and we want a secular leader,” said one student. “Development in Gujarat is just one side of the picture. On the other side, we have riots and communalism,” added DU girl Garima Singh.
Police used lathis and water cannons as the protesters clashed with some Modi supporters.