Emotional Modi pledges to work for downtrodden

Modi was briefly overcome in a rare public display of emotion and pledged to try his best to live up to the aspirations of India’s teeming millions.



By Sonny Abraham (Reporting from New Delhi)

Published: Thu 22 May 2014, 12:14 AM

Last updated: Sat 4 Apr 2015, 2:00 AM

Narendra Modi goes on his knees as a sign of respect before entering the parliament building for the BJP parliamentary party meeting in New Delhi on Tuesday. — AP

In his acceptance speech, Modi was briefly overcome in a rare public display of emotion by the hardliner who pledged to try his best to live up to the aspirations of India’s teeming millions.

Prime Minister-elect Narendra Modi fought back tears when he declared on Tuesday India is entering a new era of hope and strength and pledged to work for the poor, youth, women and other vulnerable sections of society and make their dreams his own.

The 63-year-old leader bowed and kissed the steps of the parliament building as he arrived to attend the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Parliamentary Party meeting, announcing later that he would take the oath as prime minister on May 26.

Modi, who has been the Chief Minister of Gujarat since late 2001, was elected leader of the parliamentary party, consisting of its newly-elected members of the Lok Sabha and the sitting members of the Rajya Sabha.

The BJP won 282 seats in the 543-member house, to become the first ever non-Congress party in India’s history to win a majority on its own in the lower house.

In his acceptance speech in the historic Central Hall of Parliament, Modi was briefly overcome in a rare public display of emotion by the hardliner who pledged to try his best to live up to the aspirations of India’s teeming millions. Other BJP figures could be seen weeping.

“I said this earlier and I say it again: that 125 crore (1.25 billion) Indians’ hopes and aspirations are embedded in this temple of democracy,” he said, recalling his humble origins as the son of a tea seller.

He said “the common man has got renewed self-confidence and faith in democracy” after the BJP’s resounding victory last Friday. “For rural areas, farmers, dalits, weak and the pained, this government is for them. To meet their aspirations and hopes, this is our responsibility because our weakest, poorest have sent us here,” he said.

“We will work with all purity, not for any designation but for the people of the country. Work and responsibility are the biggest things,” he said.

He recalled his own humble beginnings and said it was the strength of India’s democracy and principles that helped him to reach this position.

“Today I’m standing before you as the son of a poor man. This is the strength of democracy,” he said. “This is the time for new hope and strength,” he said.

Modi broke down briefly when he referred to Advani’s passing mention that he had done a favour to the party by taking up the responsibility.

“Can serving one’s mother be a favour? A son is only dedicated to serve the mother. For me, the country and my party are both my mother. If anything, the favour has been done by the party to me,” he said.

Modi also praised the work done by previous governments in the country, saying he would carry forward all good programmes initiated by them.

“Any individual, if he has dedicated his life to the country, it is but natural for him to become emotional,” senior BJP figure Smriti Irani told AFP after Modi’s speech.

“I have seen his softer side before so I was not surprised,” she added.

A little later, Modi called on President Pranab Mukherjee, who welcomed him with a bouquet and congratulated him on his “grand victory” in the elections. After a brief exchange of pleasantries, Mukherjee formally invited him to form the new government.

In the coming days, Modi will submit his resignation as the chief minister of Gujarat and return to the national capital to begin his five-year term as the head of government in the world’s largest democracy.

Between now and then, he will also have to complete the exercise on choosing members of his Council of Ministers and other key appointments.

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