Shri Narendra Modi’s speech at the India Today Conclave 2013 was quite different from the speeches he has given in the past few months. The speech, followed by the interaction lasted slightly over two hours, which has not been the case in any programme of Shri Modi or any other leader recently. In the beginning of the interactive session, it was clear the audience was eagerly awaiting Shri Modi’s speech. “Have attended several India Today Conclaves. At none have I seen such a huge crowd waiting to get in,” Tweeted renowned economist Bibek Debroy. Noted author and intellectual Madhu Kishwar Tweeted, “Unprecedented stampede at India Today Conclave for Modi speech. Never seen the high and mighty line up like this for any political speech.” The website of Headlines Today crashed and the programme had to commence 20 minutes later, reminding many of Shri Modi’s Google+ Hangout, which witnessed similar public excitement. When Shri Modi concluded his speech the entire audience gave him a standing ovation!
Writing about Shri Modi’s speech at the Conclave, columnist and blogger Shashi Shekhar noted that Shri Modi’s speech broke establishment stereotypes and baffled the Lutyens Delhi elite and that it was perhaps for the first time that a leader from the principal opposition held forth on national television on a range of nation issues. “It was not a political speech…It also marked for the first time a major Indian politician in elected office laying out clear Centre-Right principles on a host of issues that marked a clear line of distinction between the path Narendra Modi intends to tread and the path on which the current UPA Government is on.” He added that the punch line of “We don’t need more acts, we need action” was a hit among the audience, both at the venue and those seeing it on television and Internet.
In his column in Niti Central, Gautam Mukherjee wrote that Shri Modi demonstrated both enthusiasm and a zeal for innovation at the Conclave (like he does everywhere he goes- ed.) and that he transferred the same positivity to the national level as he has been able to infuse in the state. Mukherjee lauded Shri Modi’s stance on crucial economic issues, noting his pro-reform stand.
Mukherjee went on to elaborate, “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.”
Expressing his opinion on Shri Modi’s interactive session, Kartikeya Tanna opined that the Conclave was yet anther occasion where the ‘Idea of Modi’ also called the ‘Modi Mantra’ was showcased, effectively challenging the flawed ‘Idea of India’ propounded by the Congress and their style of governance. Tanna states that the choice is between an idea that seeks to entrench public dependence on the Government that is championed by the Congress versus Modi’s idea that seeks to empower people directly.
Renowned journalist Kanchan Gupta was equally impressed by Shri Modi’s speech. Gupta rightfully says that the two biggest challenges India faces today are that of leadership and confidence and that during the conclave Shri Modi showed the nation that it is possible to overcome these challenges and offered a dazzling hope for the future. “Modi is not cynical. He is not crafty. He looks beyond votes and elections: He looks at India as it can be in a rapidly changing world of the 21st century. He is all set to rock the status quo. He detests double-speak and bluntly states what he believes in,” writes Gupta. Gupta also lauded Shri Modi’s mention of federalism, consultation, saying that it showed the true democrat in him.
Gupta put it very well when he wrote, “The last time India embraced such a leader was when Atal Bihari Vajpayee, the son of a small town teacher, became Prime Minister. This time, it’s Modi, a small town boy from a humble family who has risen to the top because he not only preaches but also practices what he calls the ‘Modi Mantra’: Don’t dream of becoming somebody; dream of doing something.”
One of the first commentaries on Shri Modi’s speech came from Kishore Trivedi. Writing on leading news portal One India, Trivedi listed five principal reasons as to why he was left spellbound after Shri Modi’s speech. Referring to Shri Modi’s take on renaming NREGA as National Development Guarantee, Trivedi notes that Shri Modi effectively showed how it was aspiration and good governance, not crumb throwing or populism that shapes Shri Modi’s vision for India. Trivedi also writes that Shri Modi made every point with facts and a solid experience of brining about change in Gujarat.
An important point Trivedi made was that Shri Modi showed he is a leader willing to interact and engage with people. He compares Shri Modi’s willingness to take questions, even on some of the most controversial issues to other leaders who have not been willing to engage with the media and people at large. He notes that Shri Modi has no such issues and is willing to answer every question to the best of his ability and engage with people.
Former IPS officer Dr. Kiran Bedi took to Twitter to express her views on Shri Modi’s speech. She Tweeted, “If u r missing NaMo Speak on HT, IToday Conclave, u r missing something of value! Listen to him. Ideas for all in Governance” and added, “Namo Says we have more Acts than Action! Hearing him at HT Conclave! Don't miss!” She also noted, “NaMo Sharing correct ideas of National Development! Totally out of box thinking! Which is generating development already in Guj!”
There was immense praise for Shri Modi’s speech from his colleagues in the BJP. Former Union Minister and BJP leader Shri Vijay Goel Tweeted, “Listening to Narendra Modi instills a hope of Swami Vivekanand's vision of strong India” and BJP MP Shri Tarun Vijay Tweeted, “You may criticize. You may adore. But he has arrived. India's destiny never looked so promising.”Rahul Kanwal, who is a part of the Headlines Today channel and was on stage asking questions to Shri Modi Tweeted, “Most netas busy scoring petty points, no one bothers to present vision for country. Modi exception. Would like to hear other netas' vision.”
All the leading news agencies and news sites comprehensively covered Shri Modi’s speech. Social media was abuzz with activity since even before the first words were spoken. Since the morning there was great excitement surrounding Shri Modi’s speech. ‘#Conclave13’ was trending since the morning and the largest chunk of Tweets under this trend were relating to Shri Modi. After Shri Modi spoke, netizens gave a resounding thumbs up to his speech. People were impressed with Shri Modi’s vision for a strong, developed and self-reliant India. His stand on economic reforms and privatization was also hailed. Shri Modi’s befitting reply to the anti-Gujarat cottage industry was also praised uniformly. Everyone was impressed by the confidence Shri Modi showcased and the vision he displayed…deep in their minds they all thought- there is still a lot of hope!