A day after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, while inaugurating the 12th Pravasi Bharatiya Divas, assured that the country is “heading towards better times”, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi on Thursday used the same platform to promise “better days” in “four-six months”.
“The Prime Minister said yesterday that there is no reason to despair about the future… better days are slated very soon. I need not repeat it. It is only a matter of four-six months… I am confident that better days are on the horizon,” said Modi at the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas on Thursday, indicating that his party would come to power after the Lok Sabha polls.
Addressing the gathering on Wednesday, Singh said, “I wish to assure you that there is no reason to despair about our present or worry about our future. Indeed, as I have said earlier, we are heading into better times ahead and I would urge you to remain engaged in the future of this country with confidence and optimism.”
Targeting the UPA government, Modi, in his written speech, said, “The last decade in particular has witnessed unprecedented depths of petty politics, self interest and exploitation, overwhelming the exalted principles of inclusive and sustainable nation building… A deteriorating economy, unrelenting stream of scandals and corruption exposes, poor delivery of basic services, policy paralysis, stagnating society and an overall atmosphere of divisive politics has severely hit the people’s perception of and trust in the government and its leaders.”
He, however, praised the competition among chief ministers to highlight their developmental work. “Even the world’s focus has shifted away from the Centre to the states. They want to deal directly with the state governments. It is a welcome development for a federal structure like India. In the last 12-15 years, an atmosphere has been created where states are competing for developmental achievements. This is a healthy competition… a healthy situation for the country. Everyone (chief ministers) wants to deliver and move forward,” he said.
A reflection of this came at the same session, with Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda and Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy both highlighting their investment-friendly environment.
“The state’s average economic growth rate of nine per cent was higher than the national growth rate of 7.7 per cent for the last eight years. The progress of any state can be assessed from four broad parameters — per capita income, per capita investment, per capita plan budget and resource mobilisation. I am happy to share with you that Haryana leads on all these fronts,” said Hooda.
Similarly, Chandy drew attention to the state’s investments in the health and education sector to project Kerala as the “human resources hub”. Meghalaya Chief Minister Mukul Sangma, on the other hand, sought to underline the achievements of the UPA government — schemes like RTE, MGNREGA and RTI Act.
Replying to a question on corruption, Modi said, “There is a lot of post-corruption discussion in our country. Somebody talks about Lokpal or Jan Lokpal. We should change the focus… and instead of focussing on post-corruption, we should take steps so that corruption does not take place.”
Reaching out to the NRI audience, he said, “We usually look towards NRIs with an eye on investments from them. We must rise above that. They also have experience of a work culture, discipline, knowledge, wisdom and global exposure to offer. We should think of how to leverage that for India.” Modi also urged them to participate in bringing a “change” in the country.