Narendra Modi speaking to the nation has something of the legendary cleaning out of the Augean Stables about it. Hercules too was not expected to succeed by King Augeas who gave him a seemingly impossible task, but he did.
Hercules innovated boldly, redirecting and channelling two nearby rivers into the entrance of the stable, flushing out all the filth via the exit.
Modi too, has, over the last 12 years, performed a development miracle in his home State. And he has done it using the same administrative machinery and system as all the others had available to them. His short film on Gujarat’s progress, used at the start of his lecture, demonstrated this almost overwhelmingly with a mass of impressive statistics.
Modi’s tone also has a missionary zeal to it, something of Jesus chiding the Pharisees, particularly for their self-serving hypocrisy.
Narendra Modi was relaxed and comfortable in his skin at the enclave. He did not disappoint. Everything about this occasion was somewhat special. The live audience was august and distinguished, comprising of business and industry leaders, foreign diplomats, professionals, journalists, and also some politicians. They were attentive and more than willing to hear him out. The entire occasion was broadcast live by Headlines Today TV Channel, and will no doubt be reflected on plentifully elsewhere.
The ringing introduction by Aroon Purie, Narendra Modi’s own far from self- effacing speech, and the question and answer session that followed, was revealing of his vision for the country, and exciting in its forward-looking implications.
All of it had the ring of a full-fledged campaign event akin to an American style presidential town-hall meeting, but amongst the high and mighty of the land. It covered a great deal more ground than his speech at SRCC or his address to the Indian diaspora in the US.
It particularly laid out the typical Modi vision of privatisation, good governance, motivation of the administration, people responsiveness, accountability, effectiveness, innovation, and development as a solution to all ills. Modi also laid out his vision of a uniform polity without special privileges for specific groups and ethnicities.
There was wry humour too, and a jauntiness that denotes confidence in the future of India as part of his vision. He also clearly indicated that he was speaking his mind with the tacit, if not explicit, backing of his party BJP.
The audience in the packed hall listened to Narendra Modi with a degree of fascination and dawning recognition that this man could well be leading the nation come 2014.
No one else in the Indian political firmament speaks in quite the manner as Modi does, with his tremendous emphasis on change, transformation and a conviction in the power of good governance and development. In Modi’s case, the lofty vision is not merely rhetorical, because he always returns to the track record of Gujarat to drive home his point.
Modi reiterated here, as he has before, that he saw ‘vikas’ as a general solution to all the country’s problems. Not only that, he did not hesitate to welcome privatisation in various fields, including, for example, Indian Railways.
Modi brought an enthusiasm to his exposition at the enclave’s Leader’s Lecture that is definitely rare in the mouths of politicians, particularly one that has ruled his State since 2002. He demonstrated an urge to innovate at the national level, transferring the same positivity he has been able to infuse in his State.
A key takeaway from this unusual man of the hour, is his emphasis, not on endless legislation but on action to deliver results. The fate of India’s progress could well hang on his advent into national politics and a success at that level that is no less resounding .