New Delhi: Described by many as a “hard taskmaster” and a “strong leader” who led the BJP to a landslide victory in the Lok Sabha polls, Narendra Modi got emotional on Tuesday as he referred to veteran leader L.K. Advani’s remark that he had “done a favour” to the party by taking up this responsibility. Mr Modi, whose elevation in the party had been opposed by Mr Advani, earlier touched the veteran leader’s feet on entering the Central Hall of Parliament.
Mr Modi also invoked former PM Atal Behari Vajpayee, saying it would have been “sone pe suhaag” (icing on the cake) if the ailing veteran leader could have been present. Addressing the party’s newly-elected MPs at the Central Hall after being unanimously elected leader of the BJP parliamentary party leader, Mr Modi appeared overcome by emotion as he referred to Mr Advani’s remarks.
He stopped speaking, with his head bent low, apparently trying to compose himself. He then asked for a glass of water, took a few sips and resumed his speech. Some other leaders, including Ravi Shankar Prasad, were also seen equally overcome by the occasion.
Mr L.K. Advani used the word “kripa” (favour) to describe how the BJP parliamentary party meeting in the Central Hall, after party’s triumph, would go down in history as a landmark event, and gave credit to the BJP and Mr Modi.
“Advaniji said I have done a favour to the BJP. Like India, the BJP too is like my mother. Can serving mother be a favour? A son is only dedicated to serve his mother ... The favour has been done by the party,” Mr Modi said, trying hard to control his emotions. Mr Rajnath Singh, who was sitting with Mr Advani few steps away, even gave one of the staffers a handkerchief to give Mr Modi. There was complete silence in the hall as Mr Modi took a pause.
Earlier, Mr Advani too became emotional as he remembered how BJP workers’ and leaders’ hard work helped the party in getting the resounding victory. The veteran leader added that he was moved to tears when Mr Modi greeted him after entering the Central Hall.
Referring to his humble background, Mr Modi said it was an ode to Indian democracy and its founding fathers that he was standing there, all set to be the new PM. He asked party leaders to “work with purity”, not for posts, but for the people of the country.
“We are here in the temple of democracy. We will work with all purity... not for designations but the people of the country. Work and responsibility are the biggest things,” said Mr Modi. He recalled how he had reported to party chief Rajnath Singh after the campaign for the elections got over on May 10, and said he will similarly report to MPs, the party and the country about the work of his government in 2019.
“I want to assure people there is no need for pessimism, and they should not go by past bad experiences. The country has huge potential. If all countrymen take one step, the nation can move forward by 125 crore steps,” he said.
Mr Modi bowed, with his forehead touching the stairs of the main gate, on entering Parliament House to register his high respect for the “temple of democracy”. He was welcomed by senior BJP leaders, including M. Venkaiah Naidu and Ananth Kumar.
He made a 30-minute speech of acceptance after being elected BJP parliamentary party leader at Central Hall. His name was proposed by Mr Advani and supported by a number of others, including Murli Manohar Joshi, Sushma Swaraj, Arun Jaitley, M. Venkaiah Naidu, Nitin Gadkari, Ravi Shankar Prasad and Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi.