Addressing his first public rally after his nomination as the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate two days ago, Narendra Modi Sunday struck a balanced note, apparently in tune with his new stature, as he raised issues of national security, especially pet target Pakistan.
At a massive rally for ex-servicemen here, he shed his trademark “Mian Musharraf”-type belligerence and repeatedly invoked Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s global diplomacy while talking about the sacrifices made by the armed forces, terrorism and the neighbourhood situation. Former army chief V K Singh shared the dais with Modi at the rally.
“Atalji’s diplomacy not only forced the world to discuss the issue of global terrorism, it also ensured that the world stopped listening sympathetically to Pakistan,” Modi said, adding that in the nine years of the UPA rule Pakistan had climbed back to its previous position.
In what will provide some comfort to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who is exploring possibilities of talks with Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif in New York on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, Modi stopped short of the BJP’s stand that dialogue with the neighbouring country be halted.
“Pakistan recently got a new democratically elected government, which has offered hope that it would keep aside anti-India sentiments and begin reconciliation,” he said, adding, “But the way our soldiers have been killed along the LoC, its intentions are suspect.”
Modi began his speech by praising scientists for the successful re-test of Agni-V missile Sunday, describing it as one of the rare good news the country has had in the UPA regime.
Almost repeating what Vajpayee wrote in 2001 to then Pakistan military ruler Pervez Musharraf, inviting him to India, Modi said: “I want to tell the rulers of Pakistan that battle should be waged against poverty, battle should be waged against illiteracy, battle should be waged against fundamentalism. I want to tell my friends from Pakistan that the culture of guns, pistols and conception of terror does not bode well... If you stop being a breeding ground for terrorists for the next 10 years, you will progress more than in the last over 60 years... Your birth might have its basis in anti-India sentiments, but you cannot survive on anti-India sentiments.”
As for the recent border