In the 100th episode of "Mann ki Baat", Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday said the broadcast filled the "emptiness" he felt after coming to Delhi in 2014 and described it as an expression of the feelings of crores of Indians which has ensured he is never cut-off from people.
The milestone broadcast was an occasion for Modi to walk down the memory lane as he asserted that it was not merely a programme but a matter of faith and spiritual journey for him.
"Mann ki Baat has become a festival that celebrates the positivity of India and its people," he said and added he was filled with emotions at the thousands of letters he received from listeners on the occasion of its 100th episode.
The prime minister said the programme is a reflection of the "mann ki baat" of crores of Indians and an expression of their feelings.
Be it 'Swachh Bharat', Khadi or 'Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav', issues raised in "Mann Ki Baat" became people's movements, he said.
Modi said the monthly radio broadcast, which mostly steers clear from politics, has become an important medium of learning from others.
"This programme has ensured that I am never cut-off from you," he said.
During the 100th episode, Modi also had a telephonic conversation with some people who were featured earlier on the broadcast for their unique initiatives.
Noting that the programme started on October 3, 2014 on the occasion of Vijaya Dashami, he said it has also become a unique festival of goodness and positivity of the countrymen.
Recalling that his mentor Laxmanrao Inamdar, one of the early RSS functionaries in Gujarat, always advised "worshipping" the good qualities of others, including rivals, Modi said 'Mann Ki Baat' has been an exercise for him to worship the qualities in others and learning from them.
Modi said the programme has never let him to be away from people and added that as the Gujarat chief minister, it was natural for him to meet and interact with the common people.
"But after coming to Delhi in 2014, I found that life here was very different. The nature of the work is different, the responsibility is different, and one is bound by circumstances, the rigours of security and time limits. In the initial days, something felt different, there was an emptiness," he said.
Fifty years ago, Modi said, he did not leave home just to find one day that it would be difficult to connect with the people of his own country.
"The very countrymen who are my everything. I could not live separated from them. 'Mann Ki Baat' gave me a solution to this challenge, a way to connect with the common man," he said.
"For me, 'Mann Ki Baat' is not a programme, it's a matter of faith, of worship or 'vrat'. Like when people go to worship God, they bring along prasad. For me, 'Mann Ki Baat' is like prasad at the feet of God in the form of the masses the people," he added.
Noting that he connected with people involved in inspiring journeys, like planting trees, cleanliness, educating the poor, for decades, these efforts of the countrymen have inspired him to keep striving, he said.
Modi said, "The people whom we mention in 'Mann Ki Baat' are all our heroes who have made this programme come alive," he said, speaking to some of them.
They noted that their work received a big boost after being mentioned by the prime minister.
During the broadcast, a special message from UNESCO DG Audrey Azoulay appreciating the programme was also played.
She also enquired about India's efforts regarding education and cultural preservation, two issues which Modi has been frequently highlighted at the programme.
Senior Bharatiya Janata Party leaders, including Union ministers, listened to Modi's address at different places as the ruling party went all out to make the 100th episode a mega exercise in public connect.
The BJP had earlier said nearly four lakh venues would be set up for people to listen to the prime minister's broadcast.