Shri Narendra Modi delivered his first speech after being announced as the BJP’s Prime Ministerial candidate for the 2014 Lok Sabha elections at the ex-servicemen rally in Rewari, Haryana. Shri Modi spoke out against being selective on the issue of terror and called for fighting wars against poverty, lack of education and blind faith. He urged Pakistan to embrace the path of peace and leave the path of bombs because it has not done any good to the people, especially the youth and the poor. “From the land of Mahatma Gandhi, let us give a message of peace to the world,” declared Shri Modi.
Narendra Modi ji shared that it is his honour to be present at this historic gathering of ex-servicemen and other well-wishers, where lakhs of people gathered to listen to Shri Modi. He said that he is feeling more special being here than he did when the BJP declared him as their PM candidate for 2014 elections. Paying tributes to India’s brave soldiers Shri Modi remarked, “Be it any battle, it is the soldiers who make sacrifices. One cannot imagine their courage, the courage that is there in this land.” Shri Modi added that the nation is very proud of its servicemen. He congratulated the scientists of India for the successful launch of Agni V missile earlier today, saying that getting good news like this in the last decade has become extremely rare.
During his speech Narendrabhai shared personal anecdotes of his desire to serve in the Army but could not sit in the exam due to financial constraints and how he volunteered to give tea and snacks to soldiers during the 1965 India-Pakistan war. He added that years later in 1995 the BJP gave him the responsibility of North Indian states like Haryana, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh and Jammu & Kashmir, which is when he got to visit cantonments and meet officers. He opined that it is some divine indication that out of all this ex-serviceman rally became his first public meeting after the PM announcement, even though the public meeting was planned long before that.
Paying more tributes to the Army Shri Modi pointed, “The level of toughness with which our armed forces deal with enemy nations is same as the level of compassion and kindness with which they save lives during times of natural calamities.” He lauded the work of the armed forces in the wake of the Uttarakhand floods and noted that nobody can forget the work done by the army in the aftermath of the 2001 Kutch earthquake.
The Chief Minister described the armed forces as epitomizing the true nature of secularism. He said, “Votebank politics has reached new lows and society is being divided. I want to tell those who divide the nation in the name of secularism- to see real secularism, see the army. We can learn the true essence of secularism from our armed forces and I salute our armed forces for upholding the ‘Aan’, ‘Baan’ and ‘Shaan’ of secularism.” He recalled that right from 1857 Hindus and Muslims fought shoulder to shoulder and this tradition still goes on in the Army. However, he spoke against the decision to count the religious demographics of the army under the Sachar Committee report and lauded the army officials who stood their ground and did not let it happen.
Expressing concern at the reduced interest among youngsters to join the army, Shri Modi pointed that educated youngsters must get drawn towards the forces because the nature of war is changing where aspects like technology are becoming more important.
Shri Modi spoke about the ‘One Rank One Pension’ issue that has been a very important issue for the ex-servicemen community. He called for a White Paper on the issue and said that if the NDA Government under Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee would have returned to power in 2004, Atal ji would have found a way to this. He also talked about welfare of disabled servicemen and creating opportunities for retired servicemen so that the nation can gain out of their skills and discipline. He gave the example of how he sought the assistance of ex-serviceman in Gujarat to curb power theft.
Stressing on the need to become self sufficient in defence production, Narendra Modi questioned the reason why such a skilled nation has to get defence equipment from outside. “Delhi is not interested in Army welfare, they are more bothered about the next tender,” avowed the Chief Minister. He spoke of a dream of India exporting arms to the world. Shri Modi recalled that becoming self sufficient in defence equipment production is beneficial because it frees us from being bound by the foreign policies of the nations that are selling arms to us.
Taking on the ambivalent attitude of the Centre and other members of the political class towards the issues affecting the armed forces Shri Modi remarked, “When we were praising the work of our soldiers in Uttarakhand, Pakistan was killing our soldiers. And see the misfortune, the defence minister said people dressed in Pakistan army uniform came. Imagine how our soldiers would feel. Delhi remained unbothered. For them, such events keep happening. Then a Minister said people join the army so die…what can be worse? If one cannot cry for the soldiers and is stone hearted let it be but do not insult our soldiers please.”
Narendra Modi opined that the armed forces and their welfare is not a priority for the Centre. He remarked that whenever he celebrates Diwali, he does so with Jawans on Gujarat’s India-Pakistan border. He also talked about the Gujarat Government’s decision to build a pipeline that carries drinking water for the Jawans in Kutch. Shri Modi also shared that the Gujarat government has built a war memorial and has put it on the tourist map as well. Shri Modi remarked that reasons behind the issues around the crisis we are facing do not lie in the army but they lie in Delhi, which is why answers must be sought from Delhi.
Shri Modi spoke about the inherent dangers that come with terrorism and noted that the nature of war has now changed. “More than wars we are being troubled by proxy wars like terrorism and Maoism,” affirmed Shri Modi. He called for a strong and united voice against terror. Shri Modi recalled that when the world was discussing only the issue of who Kashmir belongs to, it was Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee who brought the attention of the world to the issue of terrorism. In a clear message to Pakistan, Shri Modi stated that instead of guns and bombs, Pakistan should attempt not to make their land a home for terror. “You may be anti-India by birth but your existence cannot be anti-India.” Shri Modi spoke against cross-border terror, saying it does not help anybody.
He talked about the close ties between Gujarat and Haryana. During his speech, Shri Modi urged the youngsters to take up voter registration in a big way and even urged farmers to contribute their agriculture implements in the building of the Statue of Unity, which is a tribute to Sardar Patel.
Former Chief of Army Staff General VK Singh affirmed that the Indian soldier serves with the motto of ‘Nation First, Always and Every time’ and he praised the courage and bravery of the Indian soldier. He pointed that a nation that does not respect its soldiers cannot move ahead. General Singh’s wife was also present on the occasion.
A speech was made by BJP leader, former Uttarakhand CM and former Union Minister Shri BC Khanduri where he took on the UPA on the issues of corruption, price rise and a lackluster attitude towards the nation’s security. Shri Raj Kadyan raised various issues related to welfare of servicemen in his speech. Lakhs of people were present to hear Shri Modi speak.