Friday, January 18, 2008

Modi, a hit in Chennai

If the BJP had any doubts about Narendra Modi’s pan-India impact, his first public meeting at Chennai after being elected Gujarat chief minister would have dispelled them.The massive crowd turnout, its hysterical reaction to Modi’s arrival on stage at the Thuglak anniversary and the thunderous cheer to his nearly one-hour speech had Tamil Nadu’s BJP leaders wondering whether they finally had the charismatic campaigner who could breach the Dravidian fort for the BJP.“I have never seen a more electric response to any other national leader,” said H Raja former BJP MLA. “Modi’s speech and the way the crowd reacted to it have given the state BJP a huge hope,” said state president L Ganesan.Modi highlighted how he overcame official apathy to provide water and electricity to the remotest parts of Gujarat. When he patiently explained how he paid Rs 2,000 to every gynaecologist if she safely delivered the baby of a rural mother as an example of private-public partnership, the crowd cheered.Talking about secularism, Modi described how its definition had morphed along the years. “There was a time when secularism meant religious harmony. Later, it became lip sympathy to the minorities, and then appeasement of minorities...As for me, development is the strongest foundation of secularism as it would benefit the poorest of the poor,” Modi said inviting a huge applause.Thuglak Editor Cho Ramaswamy surmised it all when he invited Modi to the stage with the words, “I welcome the merchant of death to – corruption, official apathy, terrorism, darkness and despair.” The cheers reached a roaring crescendo.

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