September 16, 2013 2:21:22 pm
Addressing his first public rally after his nomination as the BJPs prime ministerial candidate two days ago,Narendra Modi Sunday struck a balanced note,apparently in tune with his new stature,as he raised issues of national security,especially pet target Pakistan.
At a massive rally for ex-servicemen here,he shed his trademark Mian Musharraf-type belligerence and repeatedly invoked Atal Bihari Vajpayees global diplomacy while talking about the sacrifices made by the armed forces,terrorism and the neighbourhood situation. Former army chief V K Singh shared the dais with Modi at the rally.
Ataljis diplomacy not only forced the world to discuss the issue of global terrorism,it also ensured that the world stopped listening sympathetically to Pakistan, Modi said,adding that in the nine years of the UPA rule Pakistan had climbed back to its previous position.
In what will provide some comfort to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh,who is exploring possibilities of talks with Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif in New York on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly,Modi stopped short of the BJPs stand that dialogue with the neighbouring country be halted.
Pakistan recently got a new democratically elected government,which has offered hope that it would keep aside anti-India sentiments and begin reconciliation, he said,adding,But the way our soldiers have been killed along the LoC,its intentions are suspect.
Modi began his speech by praising scientists for the successful re-test of Agni-V missile Sunday,describing it as one of the rare good news the country has had in the UPA regime.
Almost repeating what Vajpayee wrote in 2001 to then Pakistan military ruler Pervez Musharraf,inviting him to India,Modi said: I want to tell the rulers of Pakistan that battle should be waged against poverty,battle should be waged against illiteracy,battle should be waged against fundamentalism. I want to tell my friends from Pakistan that the culture of guns,pistols and conception of terror does not bode well… If you stop being a breeding ground for terrorists for the next 10 years,you will progress more than in the last over 60 years… Your birth might have its basis in anti-India sentiments,but you cannot survive on anti-India sentiments.
As for the recent border tensions,Modi said it was not the Army but the soft and weak policies of the UPA regime that were to blame. Pakistan is not giving up its designs,China is daring us on our frontiers,it is even trying to control the flow of the Brahmaputra river (into India) and trying to capture Arunachal Pradesh. Is it because of a weak Army? The problem is not at the borders,it is in Delhi… Unless there is a capable government in Delhi,there can be no guarantee of security, he said. Sashakt sarkar,sashakt neta hi sashakt desh ke liye bal pradaan kar sakta hai (A strong government,a strong leader alone can provide strength to the nation).
He claimed that he dreamed as a child to join the Sainik School but could not do so for want of money.
Making his only reference to senior leader L K Advani,who has been sulking over being sidelined in the party,Modi said: It feels good to recall the government of Atalji and Advaniji.
Setting the tone for the rally were the slogans raised as Modi arrived: Aaya,aaya,aaya,kaun aaya?…Bharat maan ka sher aaya (Indias tiger has arrived).
The Gujarat Chief Minister praised servicemen for their work and sacrifices,highlighting their help following the 2001 earthquake in the state and recently in the aftermath of the Uttarakhand flood devastation. He expressed concern over the vacancies in officer ranks in the armed forces and questioned the countrys reliance on imports for its equipments.
Delhi is not interested in the welfare of armymen,but when the next (arms procurement) tender is coming, Modi said,advocating development of indigenous production cababilities.
However,despite several retired Army officers raising the demand for one rank,one pension,Modi did not give much assurance except asking the government to issue a white paper on the issue.
He accused the UPA government of doing a religious headcount in the armed forces and praised the latter for its secularism as well as for resisting recommendations of the Sachar Committee.
V K Singh told ex-servicemen that they had a role in construction and change. Olympic medalist Rajyavardhan Rathore,who recently quit the services to join the BJP,also spoke on the occasion.
Modi repeatedly exhorted people to come out and vote to get the change they seek,and also solicited their support in collecting iron from farm equipments from each village to erect the worlds largest statue of Sardar Patel in Gujarat.
However,Modi avoided his other pet political subjects,including corruption and price rise,as well as his governments own developmental achievements.
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