The BJP’s prime ministerial candidate and Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi sought to cast himself as a poor man, a servant of the people who has risen to prominence due to the strong democracy in the country, at a pre-election rally in this north Karnataka town.
Speaking to a large crowd in a region where the BJP has traditionally enjoyed a strong support base, Modi referred to himself and said if democracy had not become so deep rooted in India, then “a boy who sold tea in train compartments would not be before you today”.
“When I look back to my childhood, what I see is a mother who washed dishes to earn a living and a son who sold tea — now being cheered by the whole country,” he said.
In a speech that was remarkably toned down in terms of barbs aimed at the Congress and the UPA — compared to speeches Modi made earlier this month in Karnataka — the BJP’s prime minister candidate showed signs of making attempts to reach out to the poorer sections of society.
“Those born in poverty, those who live in hardship, if you give them a little affection they are willing to give their lives for you. I was also born in poverty. When you give me love, my mind tells me to put everything I have at your feet,” Modi told the gathering.
“I want to serve you in return for the love you show me. I want to get rid of your problems. The country needs servants, not rulers. We have had enough of rulers,” Modi said, sounding almost like the Aam Aadmi Party.
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Speaking on the issue of price-rise, Modi said the Congress had gone silent on this issue which affects families. “The Congress is tongue-tied when it comes to price rise. The UPA government has become a burden on the country,” he said. Earlier speaking at a rally in Gulbarga, that was delayed by a couple of hours on account of a rain storm, Modi claimed that an anti-Congress storm was brewing in the country which could strike like a tsunami at the time of the parliament polls.
“People of the country have understood that the reason for their troubles is the Congress. For the poor, youth and farmers, the most important thing is to uproot the Congress,” he said. Referring to eminent jurist Fali Nariman’s refusal to be part of the Lokpal search committee, the Gujarat chief minister said this was proof of “corrupt Congress politics”.