Garibon  are new mitron

Poverty on Modi lips; also heard at meet: 'Core chhodo '

By J.P. Yadav
  • Published 8.01.17
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Prime Minister Narendra Modi leaves Rashtrapati Bhavan after the ceremonial reception of Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa on Saturday. Picture by Prem Singh

New Delhi, Jan. 7: Prime Minister Narendra Modi today invoked a triumvirate of the "G" word -" garib, garibi, garibon (the poor, poverty, all the poor) - at the BJP national executive, testing a poll plank aimed at cushioning any backlash from the party's core base of traders hit by demonetisation.

One national executive member who had risen to warn that the note recall had angered the party's core support base earned a rebuke from party chief Amit Shah: "Core chhodo, sampoorna dekho (Forget the core, look at the whole)."

Sources said the member, a new entrant to the BJP, had indicated that traders had been hit hard by the note withdrawal and might turn away from the party. But Shah told him the demonetisation had earned the party a new vote bank.

Apart from this stray note, sources said, the two-day conclave was an exercise in Modi worship. Sidelined veterans L.K. Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi did not speak.

Delegates said the Prime Minister had let loose an avalanche of the "G" word. " Garib, garibi, garibon... they are still ringing in my ears," one of them said.

The sources did not say whether Modi referred to " mitron", his trademark opening line that appears to have taken a backseat after the demonetisation announcement made it a butt of ridicule on social media and the word came to be used as a euphemism for impending disaster.

Delivering the concluding address, Modi sought to project himself as a monk of sorts, quoting the mythological king Rantideva to say he had no desire left in life but to serve the poor till his death.

"One shouldn't crave a kingdom, heaven or rebirth; all one should crave is the removal of the sufferings of the poor," a BJP delegate quoted the Prime Minister as saying.

Modi said his government was devoted to transforming the lives of the poor. "Serving the poor is serving God," he said.

On record, BJP leaders said they had rarely heard such an "effective" speech.

"I have been in the national executive since 1995 but this kind of an effective speech I have heard very few times," law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said while briefing the media.

Asked whether Modi had surpassed even Atal Bihari Vajpayee, regarded as one of the most powerful orators the BJP has had, a cautious Prasad said: "Let's not make comparisons. Atalji was a great orator."

He added: "The Prime Minister said he was born in poverty and lived in poverty, and asked party leaders to welcome criticism (saying) 'Inner strength will take you forward'."

Asked whether the party had changed tack and decided to play the pro-poor card in the upcoming Assembly elections, Prasad said the poor had always been central to the Modi government's thoughts.

"The day he was elected as Prime Minister in Central Hall of Parliament, Modiji said his government would live and die for the poor," Prasad said. The BJP has traditionally been seen as close to the trading community and the upper castes.

Modi gave his party some bad news too: they must rise above family ties and not press for poll tickets for relatives.

"He literally told us all to give up all worldly desires and turn into saints," a delegate grumbled.

Modi said the BJP would win the five states riding on support from the poor. But he warned party cadres that good booth management alone would yield results.

He said the BJP should spearhead the demand that all political donations be transparent.