Victorious Modi fights tears in first address to Indian parliament

By Shyamantha Asokan
Reuters, May 20, 2014

NEW DELHI (Reuters) – Narendra Modi fought back tears in an emotional first address to his party in India’s colonnaded parliament house on Tuesday, after the Hindu nationalist swept to power in an election that has changed the face of politics in the country.

Modi will be India’s next prime minister after leading the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to a historic victory in a ballot that ended on Friday. He is likely to take his oath of office to lead the world’s biggest democracy on Monday.

The win handed the BJP its first parliamentary majority and reduced the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty’s ruling Congress party to 44 seats, the lowest ever tally for a party that won India’s independence and has ruled for most of the 67 years since.

Modi, 63, choked up and stopped his speech to drink water during his inaugural appearance in the round, colonial-era building.

He addressed BJP lawmakers filling more than half the seats of the lower house with uplifting words that commentators immediately contrasted with the often wooden addresses of his predecessor Manmohan Singh.

“It is proof of the strength of our constitution that a man from a poor family is standing here today,” said Modi, who sold tea on a railway platform as a child before entering politics. For the past 12 years he has governed the state of Gujarat.

India’s next prime minister and Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Narendra Modi, bends down with folded hands on the steps of the Indian parliament building as a sign of respect as he arrives for the BJP parliamentary party meeting in New Delhi, India, Tuesday, May 20, 2014. The BJP has started putting together a new government by formally choosing Modi to be the country’s next prime minister following a resounding victory in national elections. (AP Photo/Manish Swarup)

“This government (will be) one which thinks of the poor, which listens to the poor, a government which lives for the people,” said Modi, who kissed the steps of the pink sandstone parliament building before his speech.

His comments appeared designed to counter criticism that his record of business-focused government and fast economic growth in Gujarat did not do enough to lift people from poverty.

Congress has traditionally cast itself as India’s champion of the poor and downtrodden.

“LONG LIVE MODI!”

Modi faces a huge task in meeting the sky-high expectations of India’s 1.2 billion people, who hope he can drag the country from economic torpor, tackle corruption and cut red tape in order to create enough jobs for its burgeoning youth.

With thunderous applause and shouts of “Long live Modi!” the 282 BJP members, who comfortably make up a majority in the 543-seat house, officially chose him as their parliamentary leader, one of several formalities before he is sworn in.

Hindu nationalist Narendra Modi arrives to attend the BJP parliamentary party meeting in New Delhi. Photo: Reuters

Modi was later due to visit President Pranab Mukherjee, who has little political power but, as head of state, has the task of formally appointing the prime minister.

The parliamentarians, who traveled from as far afield as the icy Himalayan plateaus and the palm-fronded southern tip of the subcontinent, included dozens who, like Modi, are first-time MPs.

Dressed in clothes ranging from multi-colored Rajasthani turbans to bright saris and white cotton pyjama suits, the members listened as Modi paid homage to party elders he pushed aside in his rise to power.

He also avoided criticism of the outgoing Congress party, saying all of India’s governments had worked for the good of the country.

Party president Rajnath Singh was less conciliatory, saying that Modi’s victory meant the BJP had replaced Congress as the natural party of government in India.

“With pride we can say that we are members of a party that is now bigger than the Congress in stature. Before the 2014 elections, politics used to be BJP versus Congress, now it’s BJP versus the others,” said Singh.

Modi also cast his view forward and promised to repeat his tireless campaigning in five years’ time to take the BJP to an unprecedented two full, consecutive terms in office.

(Additional reporting by Nigam Prusty, Sruthi Gottipati and Mayank Bhardwaj; Writing by Frank Jack Daniel; Editing by Mike Collett-White)

Link to this story

G+ Comments

Facebook Comments


Live & Die for Buddhism

candle

Maha Ghosananda

Maha Ghosananda

Supreme Patriarch of Cambodian Buddhism (5/23/1913 - 3/12/07). Forever in my heart...

Problems we face today

jendhamuni pink scarfnature

Of the many problems we face today, some are natural calamities and must be accepted and faced with equanimity. Others, however, are of our own making, created by misunderstanding, and can be corrected...

Major Differences

Major Differences in Buddhism

Major Differences in Buddhism: There is no almighty God in Buddhism. There is no one to hand out rewards or punishments on a supposedly Judgement Day ...read more

My Reflection

My Reflection

This site is a tribute to Buddhism. Buddhism has given me a tremendous inspiration to be who and where I am today. Although I came to America at a very young age, however, I never once forget who I am and where I came from. One thing I know for sure is I was born as a Buddhist, live as a Buddhist and will leave this earth as a Buddhist. I do not believe in superstition. I only believe in karma.

A Handful of Leaves

A Handful of Leaves

Tipitaka: The pali canon (Readings in Theravada Buddhism). A vast body of literature in English translation the texts add up to several thousand printed pages. Most -- but not all -- of the Canon has already been published in English over the years. Although only a small fraction of these texts are available here at Access to Insight, this collection can nonetheless be a very good place to start.

Just the way it is

1. Accept everything just the way it is.
2. Do not seek pleasure for its own sake.
3. Do not, under any circumstances, depend on a partial feeling.
4. Think lightly of yourself and deeply of the world.
5. Be detached from desire your whole life long.
6. Do not regret what you have done.
7. Never be jealous.
8. Never let yourself be saddened by a separation.
9. Resentment and complaint are appropriate neither for oneself nor... read more