On November 27, Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi kickstarted his election campaign from the city of Botad, in Bhavnagar district. The election speech gives a fair idea of the issues of Election 2007. It also gives an insight into the mind of Modi who is loved and hated with passion by his friends and enemies.
In his maiden election speech he raised the issue of development, security, regionalism, anti-Congress politics and his own clean image.
Managing Editor Sheela Bhatt presents his speech, rendered in Gujarati, verbatim to understand Modi's gameplan for the coming election and maybe beyond.
Why is Narendrabhai inaugurating his programme from Botad? Our friends in the media must also be investigating the reason for this. Friends, this is the karmabhumi of the great revolutionary poet Jhaverchand Meghani. This is also the birthplace of Botadkar, the poet who immortalised the city of Botad in Gujarati literature. If we look at the development and evolution of the BJP in Gujarat, at the root of the BJP's success is the land of Botad. When Pandit Deendayal Upadhyay was alive, we celebrated even if our candidates could save their deposit in local elections. In those times, it was in the municipality of Botad that the farsighted citizens voted the Jan Sangh into power and Pandit Deendayal himself came to Botad and felicitated the citizens of Botad. This event took place some 40 years ago. So it was the citizens who laid the foundation of the BJP, who recognised our worth all those years ago, and I have come to pay tribute to that land of Botad.
I want to congratulate the entire district of Bhavnagar. Look at our talented Saurabh Patel (the BJP candidate from Botad). He has made a place in the hearts of the people by identifying with their pleasures and pain. The opposition could not find a single candidate from the district to pit against Saurabhbhai.
Today, in the whole country, 'Gujarat' and 'development' are synonymous. And the reason for this? Weren't there governments before? Weren't there secretariats before? Didn't government officers have cars before? Everything was there before. And yet, why was the situation not improving?
The reason is that the Congress had created a political culture under which candidates enjoyed power after being voted into office. Again after five years they will fool the people and conspire to get votes again. Since four years it has been Soniaben's (Sonia Gandhi) rule in Delhi. Isn't it her duty to tell people what all her government has done for Gujarat? Yet she says not a word. And these media-people are not even asking her! But they keep nagging me. She does not even meet them. At least we meet them
Image: Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi with Bharatiya Janata Party supporters and workers in Ahmedabad, prior to filing his nomination papers from Maninagar on November 28.
Also read: Pix: Clash of millionaires in Gujarat
Photographs: Sam Panthaky/AFP/Getty Images