Rewari (Haryana) : In his first outing as the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate, Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi Sunday told Pakistan to “shun its anti-India attitude”, pitched for a strong leadership and said the massive crowds gathered to hear him were an indication of a “call for change” to the “sultanate of Delhi”.
In his 65-minute speech to former soldiers and party supporters in this south Haryana town, 90 km from Delhi, Modi sought to project a national outlook, as he accused the United Progressive Alliance government of vote-bank politics and called upon ex-servicemen not to forgive it.
Though the event was scheduled weeks in advance, the rally turned out to be Modi’s first big political show after the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Friday named him its prime ministerial candidate for the 2014 general elections.
The massive crowds cheered Modi every time he made an important point.
On Pakistan, Modi said that promoting gun culture had done the neighbouring country no good over the last 60 years.
“The rulers in Pakistan should resolve that they will not allow terrorists (to operate) in Pakistan for 10 years. I can say with authority that if this happens, Pakistan will see the progress that it has not seen in the last 60 years,” he said.
“Earlier, the war used to take place on the border. But when you (Pakistan) could not defeat the Indian Army, you started going for killing innocent citizens.”
Modi, who has often taken a strident line on Pakistan, took a relatively soft line despite the harsh words of some of the earlier speakers. Olympic medallist Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore who joined the BJP recently, said Pakistan would be finished if it eyes Kashmir upon Modi coming to power.
Modi, dressed in a white kurta-pyjama, also charged neighbouring countries like Pakistan and China of trying to create trouble on the borders with India and alleged were being aided by the “weak policies” of the central government.
“The neighbours are troubling…is it due to weakness of forces? The problem is not on the borders but in Delhi. The problem is in Delhi. We have to find solution in Delhi,” he said and added that a solution can only be found if there is a strong leadership.
Hailing the armed forces’ secularism, Modi attacked UPA overa survey to know religion of the personnel “through the Sachar commission” and complimented the forces for not accepting the suggestion.
Sharing the dais were former army chief Gen. V.K. Singh and a number of retired military officers.
Thousands of people, including former soldiers, turned up for the rally. Seeking to reach out to the ex-servicemen, Modi asked the UPA government to bring out a white paper on the long-standing demand of former soldiers for “one rank, one pension”.
He said if the Atal Bihari Vajpayee-led government returned to power in 2004, the issue would have been sorted out.
He also said that the country should become self-reliant in production of arms and youth should be encouraged to join forces.
As Modi got on to the dais, he was greeted with thunderous applause by the crowd gathered there despite sweltering heat inside the tented venue.
An enthused Modi responded: “No camera can capture this moment. No eye can capture it fully. This is a call for change from this land of Haryana. This is a call to the sultanate of Delhi.”
Modi flew to Rewari, not a traditional BJP support base, in a helicopter from Delhi.
As he started to speak, there was almost a stampede-like situation around the dais. “He is a decisive leader and an honest person,” retired JCO Rajinder Singh, who was present, told IANS.