On January 12, 2003, Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi addressed a massive rally in Mumbaiís Shivaji Park as the Maharashtra unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party felicitated him for sweeping back to power with a staggering mandate.
On January 20, 2008, Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi addressed a massive rally in Mumbaiís Shivaji Park as the Maharashtra unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party felicitated him for sweeping back to power with a staggering mandate.
Then, as now, there were barbs at the Congress in general and party chief Sonia Gandhi in particular. Then, as now, there were patronising asides at the Maharashtra government in general and Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh in particular.
So, just what is the difference between Modi in Mumbai - 2003 and Modi in Mumbai - 2008?
At first glance, a couple of subtle but significant things set his current visit apart. Now, unlike then -- when he rose from the womb of a huge lotus in 2003 -- he entered the stage on a tableau of a chariot drawn by five roaring lions. Yes, the stage was set in the trough of a lotus, but Modi didnít look like he had any intentions of ensconcing himself in the lotus. He virtually towered over it as he rode in to deafening choruses of Chotte Sardar and Gujarat Ka Sher.
Now, unlike then -- when Hindutva rhetoric was the bedrock of his speech -- he based his hour-long speech on development, governance and prosperity. Never did he bring in Hindutva, barring a fleeting moment when he mentioned Prime Minister Manmohan Singhís call to the nation that Indian Muslims had priority over the countryís wealth. Even then, he juxtaposed Muslims with the poor of the nation, not the Hindus of the nation.
These two deviations from the Modi of 2003 pretty much sum up the Modi of 2008.
His speech on Sunday could be broadly divided into three parts. The first part where he talks about himself and his return to power in Gujarat, the middle part where he tried to convey why his brand of developmental and good governance is better than the politics of caste and appeasement, and the third part where he ripped into the central government in general and the manner in which it has failed to stem terrorism in particular.
Following is a closer look at the first major public appearance of the leader who is expected to play a major role in the next general election.
Image: The massive stage, set in the trough of a lotus, at Shivaji Park in Mumbai.
Text: Krishnakumar | Photographs: Reuben N V
Also read: Understanding the alchemy of Modi's victory