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Tears at Temple we built
Sob-by-sob story: how the baton and the hanky passed

New Delhi, May 20: Narendra Modi today nationalised the last remaining asset on which L.K. Advani had near-monopoly rights: the button that activates lachrymal glands in public.

The Prime Minister-elect choked up twice in Parliament’s Central Hall — first when he referred to Atal Bihari Vajpayee and later while recalling Advani’s expression of gratitude for Modi’s “kripa (benevolence)”.

Advani is known for tearing up in public — something he has managed to accomplish in spite of his “Iron Man” image that had already been inherited by Modi. (Boys do cry, including the most powerful man on the planet, Barack Obama, who did so after his re-election as US President.)

The two persons who brought tears to Modi’s eyes represent a generation that has little option but to make way for the “vote of hope” — as Modi described Mandate 2014.

The place where Modi shed tears offers the BJP a chance to break away from another past. Modi paid obeisance to Parliament just like ardent devotees at shrines, prostrating at the entrance, touching his forehead on the stepping stones and folding his hands in prayer.

Stepping inside for the first time, the Prime Minister-elect — he will be sworn in next Monday at 6pm — said: “We are here in the temple to democracy. We will work with all purity….”

Temple is a metaphor that brings out tears — of delight and despair — in the country. The BJP had achieved critical mass by promising to build a temple in Ayodhya — the charioteer who led the surge then was Advani.

Today, when Modi rode an SUV — the modern-day chariot — to Rashtrapati Bhavan, the reins were not in Advani’s hands. The only temple that Modi spoke of was located in the capital of the republic, neither in Ayodhya nor in Kashi where he took part in a very public puja a day after the election results were declared.

As Modi spoke of “hope”, “aspirations”, “crores and crores of youths” and “the poor”, large sections of the population will be hoping that he will remain a devotee of the temple he discovered today while he governs the country.

The following is the sob-by-sob account:

Modi starts his acceptance speech as BJP parliamentary party leader at 12 noon in Parliament’s Central Hall on a lectern. Seated below are BJP president Rajnath Singh and Advani.

Modi thanks Advani, Rajnath, the BJP’s chief ministers, the senior office-bearers and the newly elected MPs for unanimously bestowing the new responsibility on him. He said he was especially grateful to Advani and Rajnath for their blessings.

Modi pauses. Runs his gaze on the sweep of the assemblage. Pauses. His voice chokes as he says: “I was thinking if Atalji (Atal Bihari Vajpayee) were in good health and if he were here today (his voice cracks and his eyes well up with tears), if he was here today, sone pe suhaga hota (it would have been the icing on the cake). His blessings are always with us.”

Recovers and continues speaking for 15 or 20 minutes in normal tone.

Then comes the coup de grace. “Advaniji ne ek shabd kahaa aur main Advaniji se prarthna karoonga ki woh iss shabd kaa istemaal naa karein (Advaniji has uttered one word and I would appeal to Advaniji not to use that word).”

Audience looks perplexed. Advani looks at Modi. What was the word Modi was displeased with?

Modi continues: “Unhone kahaa ki Narendra bhai ne kripa ki (He has said Narendrabhai has shown benevolence).”

Voice cracks again. Modi rests his head on the lectern. Asks for a glass of water. Sips and pauses for 10 seconds.

Modi continues: “Kya maa ki seva kabhi kripa ho sakti hai? Katai nahin ho sakti hai (Can serving your mother be called benevolence? Never).”

Voice cracks. “Jaise Bharat meri maa hai waise hi BJP bhi meri maa hai (Just as Bharat is my mother, the BJP is also my mother).”

Modi pauses. A worried-looking Rajnath pulls out his handkerchief, gestures to a watch-and-ward staff to give it to Modi. The kerchief is given to Modi.

A sniffle and a suppressed sob from Modi.

Ravi Shankar Prasad, Kirron Kher and Kariya Munda in the audience wipe away tears.

Modi speaks again, voice choked. “Aur isliye beta kabhi maa par kripa nahin karta, sirf samarpit bhav se maa ki sewa karta hai (So a son can never bestow benevolence on a mother. He can only serve her in total submission).”

Faces down, Rajnath and Advani listen.


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