The Telegraph
Saturday , May 17 , 2014
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First take: India’s century, govt for all
Victor thrust on post-1947 generation

Vadodara, May 16: The hurly-burly of the campaign behind him and ready to lead India’s next government, Narendra Modi metamorphosed into an Atal Bihari Vajpayee-like statesman and delivered a victory speech in Vadodara that stressed “inclusion and growth”.

“The government belongs to all the people of the country, from Kashmir to Kanyakumari, from Kutch to Kamrup… all the people of this country are ours. There shall not be any discrimination from my side in addressing the problems of the people. I want to make the 21st century India’s century. It will take 10 years,” said the Prime Minister-elect to chants of “Modi Modi” that often drowned his voice.

Acutely aware of the significance of his victory, Modi underlined time and again the historic importance of this election.

“This is an election where most people who have voted, and most candidates who have contested, were born after Independence. So it is necessary to remember that those of us who could not die for swaraj (Mahatma Gandhi’s call for self-rule) must now live to take this nation to greater heights and bring surajya (good governance),” he said.

“It is our responsibility to take everyone along. A government cannot be of just a few people… Our mission will be sabka saath, sabka vikas (take everyone along, progress for all),” Modi added, chalking out before Vadodara and India the road he wants to walk.

Having led the BJP to the largest number of seats won by a single party in over three decades, Modi underlined that his “mantra will be inclusive growth”.

There was no sarcasm when Modi mentioned that as Gujarat chief minister, he had not taken a single day off. But those at the venue could not help but remember that a speaker before Modi’s arrival had snidely said that while “Rahul Gandhi took off on a vacation every two months, Namo did not take a vacation during his tenure between 2001 and 2014”.

“I work like a mazdoor (labourer) I am Mazdoor Number One. The country will not get a mazdoor like me in the coming 60 months. I will work day in and day night for the welfare of the 1.25 billion people of my country,” Modi said, drawing laughs.

Between indulgently minding the hugely enthusiastic crowd and requesting colleagues on stage to move out chairs that blocked the people’s view of their leader, Modi thanked Vadodara “for his win by over 5 lakh votes in return for a 50-minute campaign speech in the city”.

Sometimes earthy, sometimes grand, Modi was at his dramatic best, now conversing with the crowd in colloquial Gujarati, now making sublime statements about his vision.

“How do you all feel,” he asked the cheering crowd in Gujarati about the results. “Did you have fun?” he asked again to applause and compared the results to a nugget from every-day life. “We (the BJP) have also got a freebie from the people of Gujarat in these elections. They not just gave us all 26 seats in the state but also four of the seven Assembly seats that had byelections... it is like the sabziwala giving you extra mirchi and kothmbir (coriander leaves),” Modi joked.

Seconds later, the BJP mascot was serious, flashing a message to rivals, reminding them that the bitterly fought elections were over. “It is now time to work unitedly for the sake of the nation. There are no adversaries in politics.”

“I am very grateful to the people of India and I bow in their respect,” he said, signing off. Vadodara’s Khanderao Market Chowk will be grateful for the evening of May 16, 2014, and more.