BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi fired the imagination of urbanising India by talking of the need to build 100 smart cities, natural gas and optic fibre grids criss-crossing the country and, taking off from where Atal Bihari Vajpayee left off, building a new Golden Quadrilateral of bullet trains. If young India’s aspirations needed to be fulfilled — 65% of India is under the age of 35 — Modi suggested, the country needed to think big.
As with most of Modi’s speeches, this one was also full of jibes at Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi. In response to Gandhi’s speech on Friday detailing the various Acts — RTI, MGNREGA, FSA — the Congress had cleared to empower the common man, Modi said the nation needed Action, not Acts; it didn’t need a Bill, it just required political will.
Modi tried to address issues raised in the party’s economic resolution like inflation and unemployment. While his solution to unemployment was more Singapore-style planning for skill development — see how many steel workers are needed if 10 million tonnes of capacity is going to come up and train them — the suggestion of a price stabilisation fund for inflation-control was woolly and not fully thought through. He steered clear of the need to reform labour laws, or the need to hike FDI in retail or insurance. Though there was nothing explicit on the party’s stand on issues like the food security Act or MNGREGA, Modi sought to distance his party from such policies when he said “dole, dole, dole, phir bhi sarkar hai dol (despite all the dole, the government is shaky)”.